Crescendo on Communalism

Hindu and Muslim politics have become double-faced, looking forward to change and looking forward to religion, which means caste, conservatism and priesthood
Ram Ugrah Lucknow

Communal hysteria is one of the striking features of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections marked with a crescendo at its climax in campaigning by all political parties in the fray. Vituperative hate speeches on communal lines by leaders of BJP and Congress alike against each other are motivated simply by politics of communalism. It is apparently indicative of the aggressive resurgence of caste and communal politics for attracting the voters. Sadly enough, it is politically promoted by abandoning the ideology of secularism to the detriment of our constitutional and democratic ideals.

 Argumentation on communalism versus secularism seems to be undying. Secularism meant that no one following any particular religion would suffer any disability in the eye of law and that men of all religions will have equal opportunities, privileges and rights under the Constitution.

This is what secularism should mean to all secularists. But some Hindus draw a distinction between their secularism and non-communal secularism by attributing all possible virtues to one religion above all religions.       

The past two decades have seen a dramatic collapse of the old political formations and parties which dominated the politics of the Nehruvian era followed by a gradual erosion of the secular-nationalist imagination. One of the factors responsible for it was the re-emergence of caste and religion in public discourse. The failure of political parties to absorb adequately people of all religion into their fold is a shortcoming of Indian secularism. Regretfully, not enough has been done to secularize life in India.

Gandhiji was the most religious-minded of men and his attempt was to spiritualize politics, but he affirmed the universality of all religions and did not think that all religions were equal only in the eye of law. Hinduism which was known for many protestant movements is losing its philosophical inspiration and becoming ritual more than ever and Islam in India seems to have lost its capacity for introspection.

Hindu and Muslim politics have become double-faced, looking forward to change and looking forward to religion, which means caste, conservatism and priesthood. We must understand that unity in diversity is the essence of national integration. But Hindu revivalists want a unity based on a monolithic structure. To them all Indians are Hindus; the Indian nation is the Hindu nation. This is anachronistic.

The name “Hindu”, for the people and for the religion, was given by the Muslim invaders and conquerors. It could be applied to all Indians before Islam and other religions came but it could no longer be so applied. The rapid integration of the diverse elements of the country had to be based on secularism and socialism, which Parliament adopted, is a secular idea. The secularist provisions of non-discrimination in the Constitution are not enough; it provides recognition of institutions with religious denomination.