Challenge of Communalism in Indian Society and Politics

Communalism continues to be a hard reality of Indian society and politics. Even after the adoption of the principles of secularism and equality of all the people, communalism continues to afflict the polity.

A very disturbing fact is that it has been even increasing in intensity and spreading its fangs. It constitutes the biggest strain on the unity and integrity of India as a nation.


The communal riots which accompanied the dawn of independence and the unfortunate partition greatly shook the people of India. The leaders of free India decided to meet this menace through the adoption of secularism as a fundamental feature of Indian Constitution. It was designed to secure an emotional integration of people. Right to religious freedom for all was guaranteed and no religion was given the status of being a state religion.

For nearly 15 years after the independence, the people of India lived in peace characterised by almost total absence of communal riots. And then, unfortunately in 1960s, communalism resurfaced in the form of communal riots in U.P., Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa since then the communal virus has been spreading to various parts of the country.

Communalism has been a recurrent phenomenon in Indian politics. Between 1967—2007 as many as 230 big incidents of communal riots took place in various parts of the country. Communalism involves the exploitation of social pluralism of Indian society by various fundamentalist groups, organisations and sects for securing their respective narrowly conceived political, religious and sectarian goals.

Communalism has been showing its ugly presence in several forms, fanaticism, sectarianism, bigotism, narrow-nationalism, religious fundamentalism, dogmatism, linguism sub-nationalism and anti-nationalism. Even small incidents involving members of any two communities at times lead to the outbreak of communal riots.

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