This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Rais Ibrahim Shaikh. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why Do We Get Swayed On Communal Lines When History Shows Us Otherwise?

More from Rais Ibrahim Shaikh

India is an enormous landmass of convergence; the convergence of numerous cultures, languages, religions and a unique amalgamation of civilisations. Amidst this diversity, there does exist a super-bug of communal politics which hinders growth, induces communal discord and erodes rationality. It causes a major setback to the growth, prosperity and development of the nation and its citizens.

There’s an immediate need to understand our past, so that; one, we appreciate our secular past, secondly, find the causes that intensify the ‘super-bug.’ The past few years, especially the days close to the elections saw a rise in hate speeches signifying intolerance, leading to a greater divide between the various sections of the society. These can be clearly seen in reference to communal politics, re-emergence of radical organizations, atrocities on minorities, mob lynching merely on suspicion, heated 9 p.m. debates, etc.

Having a look at the history of India, we see a lot of instances where Hindus and Muslims lived harmoniously for more than 1000 years and still, the counting goes on except a few historic sporadic moments. In the medieval times, various Sufi and Bhakti saints accepted devotees irrespective of religion, and caste. For example, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Sant Kabir and Sant Tukaram. Sufi saints often held langars and offered shelter to them at their Khanqas (communal residence for Sufi disciples). This is why many downtrodden people of the society accepted Islam and not because of the fear of sword, as is propagated by some anti-social elements.

It was also during this period that Southern India was famous for two empires namely the Vijayanagara and the other being the Bahamani kingdom. Rulers of the Vijayanagara empire allowed many Arab Muslim merchants to settle in their empire and build mosques. The founder of the Bahamani kingdom, Alauddin Bahman Shah( Hasan Gangu) was a disciple of a Brahman named Gangu. In respect to his master, he adopted the title Bahaman.

These Bahamanis recruited Hindus in large numbers in the administration. Zain-ul-Abedin ( 1420-1470 CE), the Sultan of Kashmir was famous for his policy of religious tolerance and public welfare activities. He brought back the Kashmiri Hindus who had fled due to the persecution by the previous rulers and gave patronage to Persian and Sanskrit scholars.

Humayun, the Mughal king, was given refuge by a Hindu King when he was defeated by Sher Shah Suri. During the reign of Humayun, Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujarat invaded Chittor. The queen of Chittor, Rani Karnavati, sent a rakhi to Humayun and requested for help which was positively acknowledged by Humayun.

The famous Akbar (1556-1605) is known for his policy of Sulh-e-Kul i.e. peace for all. He established friendly relations with the Rajput through his matrimonial alliances. Jahangir and Shah Jahan had Hindu mothers and Aurangzeb too, had a Hindu wife. It is a fact that there were more Maratha nobles in Aurangzeb’s army than that of Shivaji’s.

The title Mirza was given to Raja Jai Singh (1611-1667 CE) by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and the point here to be noted is that Mirza means “one who belongs to the Mughal family.” Tipu Sultan (1782-1799 CE), the Sultan of Mysore, rebuilt Sringeri temple which got destroyed during the Maratha raids. Also, Adil Shah offered grants to the Vitthal temple at Pandharpur, Maharashtra.

Moving to the events in modern history, there are ample examples of Hindu-Muslim unity. The famous Revolt of 1857 ,also known as the First War of Independence, was organised by Hindu and Muslim soldiers. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan once said that Hindus and Muslims are the two eyes of a beautiful bride.

In December 1885, the Indian National Congress was established to arouse the feelings of nationalism amongst the Indians. The Deoband school supported the INC and urged Muslims to participate in the movement. The peak of Hindu-Muslim unity can be observed in the Khilafat Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-1922) led by Gandhi. The Muslims and Hindus fought together during this movement. Swami Shraddhanand Saraswati also addressed the crowd from Jama Masjid, Delhi.

Later in the modern period, divisive and communal politics garnered strength which amounted us a painful partition. India adopted the constitution in 1950. Secularism along with freedom is the basic tenant of our constitution. The rulers were replaced by an elected government. But the tragedy is, elected representatives most of the times indulge in communal politics for political gains. Their provocative speeches often lead to hate crimes, riots, polarisation and badly hamper the social fabric of the society.

Coming to the present time, our school textbooks hardly find any mention of these historic events of Hindu-Muslim unity. They glorify wars and war heroes rather than glorifying the best policies of rulers in administration, diplomacy and resource management. These are essential to be incorporated in the curriculum so that values like tolerance, secularism, fraternity and non-violence could be inculcated in the minds of our young generation.

This huge democracy is no more a “secular polity” as envisaged in the constitution. The appeal is, why are the people still motivated by religious, regional and personal sentiments? When would the true democracy in words and spirit be realised?

It’s not about political leaders using communal element, it’s we, i.e. the people, who allow ourselves to be moved by such political rhetoric. Evils of politics are bound to emerge, an active rather proactive citizen must ensure adherence to core values enshrined in the constitution, the modern values of our forefathers.

Each step must be a progressive one. These minute changes should get reflected in family, society and world at large. This would help us create a modern state in real terms;  the world of Gandhi’s socialism and Adam Smith’s free market, together; a world moved by development and growth, the reign of social upliftment and communal harmony, the era of reason and reform. When the nation would truly realise unity in diversity.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
You must be to comment.

More from Rais Ibrahim Shaikh

Similar Posts

By S.Ramarajan | Adivasi Awaaz Creator

By Tina Sequeira

By Mumtaz Rehman

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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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