Answer in Brief
What is communalism?
- Communalism refers to aggressive chauvinism based on religious identity. Chauvinism is itself an attitude that sees one’s own group as the only legitimate or worthy group, with other groups being seen as inferior, illegitimate and opposed.
- Communalism is an aggressive political ideology linked to religion.
- This is a peculiarly Indian or South Asian meaning which is different from the ordinary English word.
- In the English language, ‘communal’ means something related to a community or collectivity as different from an individual. The English meaning is neutral, whereas the South Asian meaning is strongly charged.
- Communalism is about politics not about religion. Although, communalists are intensely involved with religion, there is no necessary relationship between personal belief and communalism. A communalist may or may not be a devout person, and devout persons may or may not be communalists.
- Communalists cultivate an aggressive political identity and are prepared to condemn or attack everyone who does not share their identity.
- One of the most important features of communalism is that religious identity overrides everything else, it also, constructs large and diverse groups as singular and homogenous.
- Examples of communal riots in our country- Anti Sikh riots of 1984; the Gujarat riots.
- But, India also has a long tradition of religious pluralism, ranging from peaceful co-existence to actual mixing or syncretism. This syncretic heritage is reflected in the devotional songs and poetry of the Bhakti and Sufi movements.
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