This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Abdul Muheet Chowdhary. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Hatred Communalism Breeds: What We Need To Learn From Our Violent Past

More from Abdul Muheet Chowdhary

By Abdul Muheet Chowdhary

The recent communal attack on Muslims in Atali village in Ballabhgarh, Haryana is yet another symptom of the great cancer that is afflicting the body politic of the Indian nation – the cancer of communalism.

Growing Communalisation Of Society

muzaffarnagar-riotsThe events that took place in Ballabhgarh follow a pattern that has become fairly standard: as elections approach, a communal riot is engineered by politicians through deliberate provocations that polarise communities on religious lines. Once the riot begins, the police remains inactive owing to political pressure. Survivors flee leaving behind their possessions which are then looted and grabbed by their neighbours. The majority of perpetrators – especially the main ones – go scot free, arrests are minimal and prosecutions drag on for decades and frequently end in acquittals. The victims of the attack are terrified to return and generally end up in a ghetto or in miserable refugee camps.

 

This sequence of events can be applied to any of the communal riots that have occurred recently – Trilokpuri in Delhi, Muzzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Alirajpur in Madhya Pradesh and so on. However the communalisation of society can continue without riots, which are only an indicator of a ‘boiling point’ being reached in an otherwise simmering cauldron. The process of communalisation has devastating consequences and is one of the greatest challenges being faced by the nation today. It is therefore a matter of urgency that we understand this phenomenon, what its effects can be, and how it can be stopped.

Communal Ideology And Its Fallacies

The essence of the communal ideology or outlook assumes that society is primarily comprised of religious groups and that people belonging to one religion have common social, economic and political interests. Even those who want peaceful relations but still see religious communities as having common interests are using the communal framework and are prey to succumbing to more extreme forms of communalism, as the historical examples of M.A. Jinnah and Lala Lajpat Rai show.

In its extreme forms, the communal outlook assumes that the interests of different religious groups are hostile and antagonistic towards each other. For the communalist, ‘Hindus’ across the country have common interests regardless of differences of class, language, region, ethnicity, caste, etc and these differences are opposed to the interests of ‘Muslims’ who again are seen as a homogeneous group having a homogeneous set of interests.

Thus for the Hindu communalist, a male Brahmin IT professional from Delhi, a female Dalit construction worker from Tamil Nadu, a male Baniya Gujarati businessman from Ahmedabad, a male landlord from Punjab and a female marginal farmer from eastern Uttar Pradesh all have common social, economic and political interests by virtue of being ‘Hindus’, and these interests – whatever they are – are directly opposed to the interests of ‘Muslims’.

This ideology in action is visible to us day in and day out through the politics and activities of the Hindutva Right – the BJP, VHP, RSS, Bajrang Dal, etc. However a close examination of the issues raised and demands made by these groups invariably shows that their obsession is more with Muslims and Christians than with Hindus and their welfare.

The reason why this happens is because of the very flaw in the communal ideology. It seeks to lump together an extremely diverse group of people under the amorphous category of ‘Hindus’. First, Hinduism is an extremely diverse faith by itself and any attempts to define a real Hindu is an exercise fraught with danger as it can lead to terrible infighting between differing sects such as Vaishnavites and Shaivites. Second, Hindu society (and South Asian society in general) is afflicted with the reality of caste and each caste has a very different set of interests.

Therefore to speak of a unified Hindu identity and its interests is something which practically cannot be done. It is far easier to define it in negative terms and say that a Hindu is not a Muslim or a Christian, that their needs are not the needs of these communities and that in fact the needs of these communities form a danger to the needs of Hindus. This is why the core agenda and the obsession of Hindutvawadis is always with issues of Muslims and Christians – beef eating, temple construction over disputed sites, religious conversions, love jihad and so on. Simply put, they have nothing constructive to offer and are negative because they have to be.

One has to only look at Pakistan – a country founded due to Muslim communalism – to see the truth of this. The ideologues for Pakistan raised the cry of Islam in danger to pit ‘Muslims’ against ‘Hindus’. After its creation they had the country almost entirely to themselves (Pakistan is today 97% Muslim) but the question necessarily arose as to who were the Muslims for which the nation had been created and whose interests now had to be served. This led to the beginning of terrible infighting between the various sects of Muslims and the civil war in Pakistan today – for it cannot be called anything less – is the direct result of this politics of communalism. India is headed in the same direction and unless urgent steps are taken it will end up as a Hindu version of Pakistan.

This is the first of a four part series that explores the issue of communalism and communal violence in India. Part I explains the phenomenon of communalism and why it occurs. Part II examines the likely implications if this phenomena is left unchecked. Part III and IV discuss solutions.

You must be to comment.
  1. Anees

    Absolutely true. I couldn’t agree more. My fear is everyone knows the underlying motives but tends to ignore humanity and acts as per the common ideology of a particular community or religious group. We should challenge every act and find some logic instead of blindly following community or political leaders.

More from Abdul Muheet Chowdhary

Similar Posts

By Mir Tajamul Islam

By Nikhil Gujjar

By Deepshikha Pandey

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below