Communalism and Politics in India
Text of the lectureI would like to put before you some propositions to explain the phenomena called ‘communalism’ and its impact on security. First of all, I would like to state that security is also a ‘state of mind’. As far as the issue of communalism is concerned, it would be surprising to know that the number of people killed in communal violence in the last 50 years is lesser than the people killed in street crimes in the city of Detroit alone. Two million people were killed during the Partition violence, which again is below the five million people involved in separatist movements in various parts of the country. These statistics reveal that communalism is not as grave and hopeless a problem as is made out to be.I would like to begin my lecture by narrating a small story that typifies communalism inIndia. During the communal riots that rocked the nation in 1992, following the demolition of the Babri Masjid, a Hindu family gave refuge to an old Muslim man. The man was provided refuge in the room of their young daughter-in-law. When the rioters went scouting door-to-door to kill any Muslims they could get hold of, the host family saved the old man’s life by introducing him as their daughter-in-law’s uncle. While this entire drama was unfolding, the son of the house went missing. Many days later when the riots subsided and the old man rejoined his family, a prayer was held for the safe return of the son. It was only later that they came to know that the son who had gone missing was a part of the mob that destroyed the Babri Masjid. This story reveals two facts: 1) There can be internal contradictions between the members of a single household on communal issues; and 2) Common people of both communities have come to each other’s rescue during riots. All these prove that communalism is a complex phenomenon and has many facets.Now coming to the propositions1. Communalism is an urban phenomenon. Though 3/4th of India’s...
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