Communalism : A Threat To Indian National Integrity

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India is a unique nation in itself. Since the time of the Harappan Civilization, people of different religions and races came over here, and the great soil of India sleltered them all. The bounteous Indian culture adopted all their customs and festivals to and soon they incorporated here. Thus  India used to nourish all kinds of religions and races from the beginning of culture and civilization. Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs, Christians and many different religious communities resides in India, having businesses with each other. Everything is so simple and satisfactory untill here. But now a problem named “Communalism” occurs and ruined their easy going life. So, now a question comes before us that what is Communalism ? Who gave it birth, and What for ?

Communalism is originated from a French word “Commune”, which stands for a kind of independent state, and the national government a confederation of such states, having only limited powers. In fact, Communalism describes a broad range of social movements and social theories,       which are in some way centered upon the community. It can take the form of communal living or communal property, among others. It is sometimes said to put the interests of the community above the interests of the individual, but this is usually only done on the principle that the community exists for the benefit of the individuals who participate in it. Very often, Communalism is associated with Anarchism, Socialism, and Communism, particularly with Primitive or Religious Communism. It is a practice of communal living and common ownership i.e. loyalty and commitment to the interests of one’s own minority or ethnic group rather than to society as a whole. Communalism, in many parts of the world, is a modern term that describes a broad range of social movements and social theories which are in some way centered upon the community. But in South Asia, it is used to denote attempts to promote primarily religious stereotypes between groups of people identified as different communities and to stimulate violence between those groups.

In modern India, the term Communalism is related to the violent activities of religious extremists. Now it designates the conflicts not only between extremist religious communities and the people of the same religion, but also between the people of different religions, regions and states. There are historical evidences of the riots, caused by Communalism.  Hindu-Muslim ‘Lat Bhairo’ riots 1809-1811,  ‘Hep Hep’ riots 1819,  Hindu-Muslim ‘Banaras’ and ‘Kanpur’ riots 1931,  ‘Manzilgah’ and ‘Sukkur’ riots 1940,  ‘Kolkata’ Hindu-Muslim riots 1946,  Hindu,Sikhs-Muslim riots 1947 ( During the partition of India and Pakistan ),  Sikh riots 1984,  Mumbai riots 1992,  ‘Wandhama’ massacre 1998 ( 25 Hindu victims ),  Chittisinghpura massacre 2000, Gujarat Hindu-Muslim riots 2002,  ‘Kuluchak’ and ‘Marad’ massacres 2002,  Kherlangi massacre 2006,  Indore Hindu-Muslim riots 2008, are some of the fatal examples of Communalism.

Communalism is a potential threat to the sovereignty, democracy, integrity, and in short the very existence of India. Communalism is a modern day phenomenon – a sectarian, restrictive, and negative response to the process of modern nation building. As Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru wrote, “One must never forget that communalism is a later day phenomenon which has grown up before our eyes.” In a multi-religious society like India the secular interests such as social, cultural, economic and political of one religion are dissimilar with the followers of other religions, and communalism raises its head when the interest of different religions are seen as mutually incompatible, hostile and antagonistic.

It is said that the the foundation of communalism in India was laid by the British think tank, during the British rule over India. Communalism flourished in India and reached monstrous proportions in 1947 under British rule. But British did not create communalism. It only took advantage of socio-economic and cultural differences and amplified those differences to serve their political ends. Hence the British policy of ‘divide and rule’ was planted on an earth made very fertile by those existing differences. Post 1857, British shifted to a policy of ‘concession, counterpoise and coercion’ to accommodate new rising class, to counterbalance strong class and to browbeat recalcitrant class. some of the certain innocuous political trends, though not communal in themselves, obliquely led to its growth. Some tactful reasons as the derision for Congress as Hindu body and fear of majority gobbling up the minority led to the growth of communalism. And the foundation of the communal organizations like All India  Muslim League (1906) and Hindu Mahasabha (1915) provided the gory feast of hatred and mistrust from which communal forces drew their sustenance and balancing justification for each other.

And now after India’s independence communal forces are so deeply indexed in our beliefs, that is is hard to recognize them. This particular manifestation of the contradictions set in motion after independence, lays the objective basis on which the present  concerted offensive by the communal forces has been mounted. The discontent amongst the Indian people, as a result of the crisis of the system,  accumulated over the years, is growing. Discontent is affecting also the expanded and vocal middle class,  drawn more from the former exploiting classes rather than from the upward mobility of the exploited classes.  The domination of the consciousness of the exploiter classes combined with discontent provides fertile soil for the growth of communal ideology.   Exploiting this discontent and on the basis of the perpetuation of backward consciousness, the communal forces are able today to divert this discontent into communal channels in pursuit of their political objective. the communal forces have adopted a two pronged strategy. On the one hand, they seek to generate a sort of a monolithic unity amongst the vast diversity within the community of Indians embracing Hindu religion, and, on the other, they generate  hate against enemies outside of the Hindu faith, i.e. the Muslims and the Christians. The entire propaganda mechanism based on fascist  techniques unleashed by them is to achieve this dual strategy.

As if we talk about the solution of this monsterous problem of communalism in India, we found no easy solution to it. For we have to put a redical change in mentality, and to respect all other religions. We have to try to create a faith in all minor religious communities, that their feelings, faiths, ways, and places of worship would not be tolerated anyway. Respect of their thoughts and customs would arouse it into them. Political parties should keep themselves away from the communal issues, or the issues that enthreat the communalism. This is the only easy way, we can keep our unity and integrity safe and secure.

About dkshamli

I am a student with having a post-graduate and a professional teaching degrees. I am a single guy involved in computer technology and software developing business. Reading and surfing the web are my personal interests. Although i am a bit introvert but i have a good number of friends and i always try to make some more good friends to share myself with them.

12 responses »

  1. India as a distinct, free political entity did not exist before 1947 (or should one say 1857, the year Victoria declared herself the empress of India!). Following the partition of the Indian sub-continent on religious grounds with the creation of a Muslim Pakistan there is no way but to accept present day India as a Hindu country.In order to strengthen the unity of the country there is no escaping the fact that we will have to put up with some amount of Hindu extremism in order to ensure that our lingual, cultural and race identities do not overwhelm the Hindu identity thus leading to eventual dismemberment of the country

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  3. ur article was helpful to me, paving way to understand much more on communalism. For me until n unles there is a communal division there wont be national integrity ant communal problem cant b solve easily.

  4. Dr. N.K.Das, Visiting Fellow, Anthropological Survey of India, replies-
    You are right. Poverty and illiteracy ultimately lead to indulgence in communal activity which the managers of ‘communal-disturbance’ exploit. Here lies the role of the state. Strengthening of the democratic institutions and appropriate balanced educational curriculum for imparting early education is must. At the early stage the children need to be taught the relevance of celebration of the ‘cultural-diversity’ which is rampant in entire South Asia.

    These issues are thoroughly discussed in a new book titled ‘Identity, Cultural Pluralism and State: South Asia in Perspective’, which is edited by
    N. K. Das, V. R. Rao, and published by Macmillan India publishers.

    This is the first composite book on South Asia dealing with such vital issues as the cultural identity, nationhood, ethnicity, and politicization of religion, ethnic conflict and the efforts of the states to engage with them. Politics of religion, minority languages and promises of cultural pluralism have received critical appraisal in this stimulating volume. The broad theoretical intent of the volume, then, is to find out what is at stake in contemporary adjustment of culturally pluralistic societies of South Asia, and what threats and promises stretch out ahead.

    In order to understand the issues of cultural identity, pluralism, and the ‘mixed’ cultural and linguistic traditions of South Asia in general and the people of India, in particular, the Anthropological Survey of India organised an International Conference on Identity, Cultural Pluralism and the State, where South Asian specialists from India, Germany, Sweden, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and the Survey’s scholars presented erudite papers. Prof. T. N. Madan delivered the keynote address and he also chaired the panel, which was formed to discuss ‘Cultural Diversity in the Context of Globalization’. Recommendations of this panel are contained in this book. In these recommendations the issue of education is raised and incorporated.
    This book is designed as a comprehensive introduction to identity, ethnicity, and cultural pluralism and indeed it promises to herald a fresh brand of anthropological enquiry for future scholastic discourse in South Asia. Anthropologists, sociologists, linguists, historians, South Asian Area experts and SAARC specialists will find the book immensely valuable.

    N.K.Das,
    Former Deputy Director and Visiting Fellow,
    Anthropological Survey of India,
    KOLKATA

  5. you write a niice article about indian communalism but can you make the role of education clear in this regards. Becoz I think to control communalism is not so easy but at least we can take some measures through the education system.

  6. India being a complex and diverse linguistic -cultural society, needs to be seen from historical-anthropological perspective to get a prgmatic perspective. Politicisation of certain issues ,blown out of context, needs to be seperated from the real issues.

    Dr. N.K.Das
    Deputy Director, Former, Anthropological Survey of india
    September 20 2009

  7. According to Dr. N.K.Das, Fmr. Deputy Director, Anthropological Survey of India, the colonial construction of India was intensely religious. This misconception was due to belief that entire region associated with being east of the Indus was taken to be one, captured under the label “Hindu”; this region was construed to be one religion, which in turn was constructed to be a religiously homogeneous identity with a core essence. This tendency to locate the unity and the essence of India in religion, that is, Hinduism, also aided to imperialistic purposes. The colonial ethnographers differentiated, groups from groups, tribes from non-tribes on the basis of religion alone.

    Unfortunately the Adivasis and Dalits seek their true identity even today in India. Unfortunately, the Census officials and anthropologists, colonial and postcolonial, described tribes as ‘Hindus’. The tribal religions tend to be less systematized and less specialized than Hinduism, Christianity or Islam. The religion of the tribal people is generally defined in terms of animatism or animism. It is conceived that everything in this world has life and is animate whether plants, minerals, animals or the natural phenomena and that there are a number of souls sneaking around which are intangible and non-material spiritual beings which can influence and interfere in the life of the living persons. Belief in a high god or a Supreme Being is present in most tribal societies.

    Issues of identity, religiously, and secularism have come for debate in India social science literature. The need of the hour is the recognition of the fact that India does not owe its virtues of pluralism, diversity and tolerance to any western concept or ideology, but to the influences of its pluralistic tendencies and principle of co-existence.

    According to Rajeev Dhavan India is not a nation but a complex secular civilization. Its demography tells part of its impressive story. The 687.6 million Hindus of innumerable sects, 101.6 million Muslims (making India the third largest Muslim-populated country), 19.6 million Christians, 6.3 million Buddhists, 3.3 million Jams and 3.1 million people of other persuasions (according to the 1991 census) reminds us of the many splendoured diversity of our subcontinent. Authentic documentation of this cultural diversity is accomplished in the Anthropological Survey of India’s the People of India (Pol) project. Amongst the 4635 communities from entire India a high correlation of cultural-linguistic traits is reported between different cultural regions as revealed in Pol project. There is also a high correlation between different religious groups, such as Hindus and Buddhists at wider level. The data set of Pol project suggests that people in religious sphere share a high percentage of traits: Hindu-Muslim (97.7%), Hindu-Buddhist (91 %), Hindu-Sikh (88.99%) and Hindu-Jain (77.46%). Other religious communities with a high percentage of sharing of religious traits are Muslim-Sikh (89.95%) Muslim-Buddhist (91.18%) and Jain-Buddhist (81.34%). Other forms of traditional linkages are participation in each other’s religious ceremonies and festivals. Such sharing, according to this survey includes performing actual roles in religious ceremonies. The proportion of adherents of such communities (Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains) visiting ‘other religious shrines’ vary from 80 to 92 per cent while 60 to 75 per cent of the communities following Islam, Christianity and other religions (mainly Tribal) visit other people’s shrines. Similarly participation in each other’s festivals is common (81-91 percent) for all categories of population. About 15-22 per cent of people perform specific roles in festivals of other religions such as making image, dress, and ornaments for deities, organizing worship and processions (Singh 1992 (2002); Anthropological Survey of India;“People of India and Indian Anthropology”, by N.K.Das in Economic and Political Weekly, July 22, 2006).

    Communities in India share common culture traits irrespective of their distinctive religious traditions, even though the religious groups are themselves segmented (Muslims have 584 communities, Christians have 339 communities, Sikhs 130, Jains100, Buddhists-93, Jews-7, Parsis-3 and tribals-41l). According to Pol survey:” There is very high correlation of traits between SCs and STs, between STs and Hindus, between Hindus and Sikhs between Hindus and Buddhists and between Hindus and Muslims. There is a phenomenal growth in bilingualism in India during last two decades (1961 census-9.7 per cent, 1971-13.4 and according to Pol survey done in 1985 = 64.2 per cent bilingualism). It signifies expansive syncretistic growth in cultural interaction. Y. Singh has reviewed the POI data. He says “the fact that the local cultures of castes, ethnicity and communities dispersed into over four thousand entities (4635 communities are identified and studied) lend itself to rationalization of culture zones into 91 configurations affirms the presence of linkage and interaction between the local and trans-local cultural manifestations (Y. Singh Sociologist; “People of India and Indian Anthropology”, by N.K.Das in Economic and Political Weekly, July 22, 2006).

    Cultural-Integration and more particularly inter-culturalism has been an ancient phenomenon. People visited sacred centres all over the country and thus a process of continuous interaction operated continually at the grass roots level in all historical phases. Regular exchange and sharing of cultural and religious traits, thoughts and ethos contributed to cultural synthesis. One scholar has perceived Indian society as a “honeycomb” in which communities are engaged in vibrant interaction, sharing space, ethos, and cultural traits (Singh K.S. Anthropological Survey of India). Between themselves the communities look more at commonalties than differences and they easily establish rapport. Many significant culture changes have taken place in India since independence. While on the one hand, ethnic and regional self-consciousness or identity of castes, tribes, and minorities and other groups is increasing, there is prevalence of many integrative – cultural processes. In India now there is ‘increased inter-regional migration’ which makes it possible for regional cultural traits, culinary products, cultural performances, ritual forms, styles of dress and ornamentation to flow to other parts and mix together. The Pol survey has identified 91 cultural regions all over India. According to this survey ‘analysis of cultural values and practices of communities (caste/tribe) in terms of culture traits indicates significant commonalties’ (Singh, K.S. Anthropological Survey of India, Yogendra Singh- Sociologist). These facts explain that despite contradictions and diversities, there exists vibrant sharing of cultural and religious traits. A basic sense of harmony prevails which dissolves animosity and ultimately contributes towards shaping Indian unity.

    The subject matter of anthropology has steadily got restructured over the last few decades. On account of the secular-democratic philosophy, which is enshrined in the Constitution of India and the Gandhian vision of Indianness, which was well founded during freedom movement, crucial social changes have occurred which generally followed non-ritualistic pathway. New researches indicate that the forces of politicisation, economic development, and secularisation have produced a credible situation whereby the collapse of the association of ritual status and politico-economic power has taken place. The weakening of caste as a ritual status-based group has corresponded with its strengthening as an ethnic group. There has been gradually a greater secularisation of cultural sphere in Indian society. Hinduism is affected by a popular surge as more and more household rituals are fading and religiosity is turning to be part of the wider ceremonial shows-with increase in the congressional worships.

    A panel of anthropologists and linguists recently discussed the issue of management of cultural diversity. The panelists observed that, recent debate on ‘multiculturalism’ of the western societies is a non-issue in the Indian context. In the Indian context cultural pluralism and the issues related to identity of all the sections of society should be value free. It was felt that issues related to culture should be treated as part of the development issues. The policy of promotion and protection of diverse forms of culture needs to be re-contextualized and must consider issues beyond folk forms of music and dance. The role of the State is not expected to be only that of the facilitator of cultural programmes. It was felt that the State has not taken adequate notice of all vanishing cultural traditions. There should be preservation, documentation and revitalization of these traditions before they die out or change under commercial pressure. In the context of globalisation, when indigenous knowledge systems are fast losing their relative isolation, it is essential that people’s knowledge related to biodiversity, the intangible cultural heritage, and the folk knowledge of sustainable development are combined with broader development issues. There are native institutions and traditions of management and utilisation of natural resources as per age-old systems of knowledge. The tribal and rural communities possess indigenous knowledge systems aimed at conservation of the physical and cultural resources and assets around them.
    Scholars believe that India’s historical identity and unity have always been derived mainly from its culture, not from politics or economics, and that this culture is inherently, inalienably, and anciently pluralistic, syncretistic, and tolerant, in other words, perfectly compatible with and supportive of the liberal and secular nationalism of modern India. Bhikhu Parekh reaches out to define Gandhi’s position: `for Gandhi, Indian civilization was not only plural but pluralist, that is committed to plurality as a desirable end’. Gandhi believed that Hinduism itself `included all that is known to be best in Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism’ and more from India’s folk culture, where he witnessed Indians of all communities ready to share in each other’s cultural and religious life. The challenge to the Gandhi-Nehru secular state comes from leaders of the Hindu majority community. Cleavages within Hindu society is seen mainly in the attempts at the construction of a “homogenized, revitalized and supralocal Hindu identity”. Anthropological findings however indicate that no such uniformity, whether of cultural identity or of homogeneity, is to be found across the landscape of Indian society. Secularization, as a programme, intends to restore a proper balance between the valuing of this world in relationship to valuing the other, the sacred. It becomes an important social agenda. Two Indian scholars–the social anthropologist T. N. Madan and the social philosopher and psychologist Ashish Nandy took the position that secularism was an alien, Western invention; that under the auspices of contemporary modernization theory it had been arbitrarily elevated to a “universalized” feature of all societies transiting from tradition to modernity; that “as a generally shared credo of life” as Madan observed, it “is impossible, as a basis for state action impracticable, and as a blueprint for the foreseeable future impotent” ; and that it needed replacement by something better suited to India’s indigenous cultural genius. Arguing that political progress could not be made in India by denying “the very legitimacy of religion in human life and society”, Madan confessed to having no substitute for secularism readily at hand.
    In India the persistence and change in cultural traditions remains crucial (Milton Singer-American Anthropologist). India’s `composite culture’ shows how diversity of cultures has been synthesized in Indian society. This has been a continuous tradition. Looking from this perspective the theme of syncretism emerges as a vibrant and thriving realistic phenomenon. Contemporary India is experiencing a systematic opposition to various expressions of cultural plurality. However we observed that despite penchant at certain quarters to envisage the culture of the nation by way of a common religion is anthropologically flawed. Since the late medieval period India witnessed a creative synthesis of Hindu and Islamic cultures and thus grew a composite tradition, a pluralistic synthesis of the Indo-Islamic tradition including inter-faith convergence. There are numerous other minor religions such as adivasi religions and dalit sects. Minor religions and smaller sects have adopted elements from major/dominant cultures and religions around them but in doing so they have not diluted their identities. The sharing of space, regional ethos and cultural traits cut across religions and linguistic differences and bind the people together. This phenomenon is epitomized in the rich data, whose brief discussion we have provided above. In the ultimate analysis then we witness a fine harmonization and balance between pluralism and syncretism pervading the foundation of Indian culture.
    The People of India (PoI) findings have reestablished the truth of unity in India’s diversity. These data have provided a scientific basis to the identity of Indian communities, and it also revealed the multiple patterns of bio-cultural and linguistic linkages, which define ultimately India’s pluralism. As a people we are one of the most diverse people in the world. There are 4635 identifiable communities in this country, most of whom have their unique dress patterns, languages, forms of worship, occupations, food habits and kinship patterns. Some of the major fundamentals of this paper, based on our re-interpretations of retrieved data from different sources, and which have bearing on our basic themes of diversity and syncretism, are that large numbers of populations show diversity in biological traits. Most Indian communities have a mixed ancestry.
    Every community recalls its migration in its folklore, history and collective memory. All received the regional ethos of the area that they settled in, and contributed to its local traditions. Indian culture has enriched itself by adopting elements from diverse sources. Language is an important source of diversity. There are as many as 325 languages and 25 scripts in use, deriving from various linguistic families- the Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, Dravidian, Austro- Asiatic, Andamanese, Semitic, Indo- Iranian, Sino- Tibetan, and Indo- European, apart from thousands of dialects. At least 65% of the communities are bi-lingual; most tribal communities are tri- lingual. The numerous mother tongues are important instruments of cultural expression and preservation of diversity. Language contact through bi- ligualism is a major vehicle for social and cultural interaction and creolisation. 85% of the Indian communities are rooted in their resources. The lives and livelihood, the occupations, dress patterns, the songs and hut settlements of the different communities cannot be really separated from their landscape, climate and occupations deriving from their resources. The “rootedness in the eco- cultural zone is an outstanding characteristic of our communities; no matter what religious label attaches to them”. Even the migrants seek to identify themselves with their local environment except in the matter of languages they speak at home or in marriages. Only 3% of the communities derive their names from religious sects, while 71.77% live within a single regional or linguistic boundary and are rooted in its ethos. 55% of the communities derive their names from the traditional occupations they pursue. 14% have their names associated with their environment i.e. mountains,plains,river etc. 14% from their places of origin, such as Gond, Alhuwalia, Kanpuria, Chamoli, Arandan, Shimong.Many surnames derive from occupations pursued, offices traditionally held, and original villages, cutting across community boundaries and region. Singh, Acharya, Patel, Naik, Prasad, Gupta, Sharma, Khan are examples. Popular cultural expression cuts across religion.
    775 cultural/material traits have been identified (in PoI) – relating to ecology, settlement, identity, food habits, marriage patterns, social customs, social organization, economy, and occupation, linkages, and impact of change and development, which reveal a sharing of traits across religious categories. Hindus share 96.77% traits with Muslims, 91.19% with Buddhists, 88.99% with Sikhs, and 77.46% with Jains. Muslims share 91.18% traits with Buddhists, 89.95% with Sikhs. Jains share 81.34% traits with Buddhists. The Scheduled Tribes share 96.61% traits with OBCs, 95.82% with Muslims, 91.69% with Buddhists, 91.29% with Scheduled Castes, 88.20% with Sikhs (K.S.Singh, 1996, Identity, Ecology, Social Organisation, Economy, Linkages and Development Process: A Quantitative Profile). Markings of identification by different communities are mainly non- religious. In dispensing their dead, 3059 communities cremate them. As many as 2386 bury them. Many communities follow both practices. So is the case with many marriage symbols, food habits, dress, dance and musical forms. Clans bearing names of animals, plants or inanimate objects cut across religions, language, region etc.

    The fact remains that the notion of ‘community’ has itself been subjected to analytical deconstruction (Haim Hazan, 1995; see also David Morley and Kevin Robins, 1995). Cohen (1985) has reduced ‘community’ to its symbolic boundaries. Here it may not be out of place to restate that cultural practices are integrated in religious practices and vice-versa. Throughout in our discussion we have tried to elucidate in a broad anthropological- historical perspective the mingling and fusion of religious/culture practices and traits as observable in day to day life.Gauri Viswanathan in an article titled “Beyond “Orientalism”: Syncretism and the politics of knowledge” (SEHR, volume 5, issue 1: 1996) has reviewed the issue of syncretism from a broad historical –sociological angle. Beginning the arguments around “In an Antique Land”, by Amitav Ghosh, Viswanathan finds it disturbing to see Ghosh’s twist to a culturally and religiously hybrid medieval past and its engagement with the romance of syncretism, as a solution to sectarianism, nationalism, ethnocentrism, and religious intolerance. Does syncretism offer truly global possibilities for a merging of religious difference, or is it a code word for the incorporation and assimilation of “minority” cultures? Is syncretism indeed the language in which, as Ghosh claims, people “once discussed their differences”. Peter Van der Veer has established that the historical roots of syncretism’s semantic association with transdenominational universalism lie in the rise of Protestantism and the decline of the absolute authority of Catholicism; and he further argues that syncretism’s subsequent identification with cultural relativism accompanied the spread of colonialism and the politically charged contact with alien religious cultures that colonial expansion promoted(1994). Viswanathan, while putting the ‘state’ and ‘law’ above other considerations, argues that this syncretism gets transferred to the secular plane of plural identities, (thus) allowing for the creation of a homogeneous national identity, mediated by law. This point indeed may require valid data based evidences and justification, particularly in reference to India. Viswanathan is particularly insensitive to any official data, such as Nandy’s use of 1911 Census wherein the Muslims of Gujarat identified themselves as “Mohammedan Hindus”. Contrary to what Viswanathan and many sociologists believe, Nandy rightly concludes from this example that there existed “a prior state of harmony” between Muslims and Hindus which was disrupted by the colonial state (1990, emphasis added). While equating the syncretism of Ghosh’s narrative voice as analogous to Matthew Arnold’s culture, Viswanathan suggests that both culture and syncretism have been able to deal with difference by amalgamating difference to a totalizing, homogeneous whole. Syncretism in the review presented by Viswanathan is closely seen from certain basic ‘difference’ perspective, viewed at larger macro -national level. This approach will eventually lead us to miss the core of very process of coming together of practices and beliefs of people (in cultural –religious sphere) which result in multiple levels of syncretic traditions to be seen in unique manner in places like south Asia. Christophe Jaffrelot has recently advanced the concept of “strategic syncretism” as a sub-category of the invention of Hindu tradition and Hindu ideology. Such an ideology is syncretic, argues Jaffrelot, because its content is supplied by material taken from the cultural values of groups who are seen as hostile to the Hindu community (1993). Christ no longer is a threatening alien religious figure, but made into an Indian god. Indeed, ‘indigenization’, (discussed elsewhere by this author, N.K.Das 2003 Anthropological Survey of India) is the term comes close to what is stated above.

    Societies in various parts of India have evolved through dialogue and interactions at many levels. The multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious society like India could survive because of dialogue and exchange of ideas. Scholars agree that the great heritage of Indian civilization spanning over 5000 years is sustained broadly through its pre-dominant agricultural and rural character of its population. Appadurai finds the use of traditional techniques and folk knowledge as critical for survival of Indian farmers. Similarly, playwright Girish Karnad sees continuity in indigenous Indian dramatic forms and finds a sense of energy in folk theatre.For Girish Karnad, the past coexists with the present in a parallel form. Similarly, Muslim painter, Gulam Mohammad Sekh revealed a close convergence of Hindu and Muslim rituals in family custom and ceremonies.

    The reality, however, is that every culture has, in fact, ingested foreign elements from exogenous sources, as a result various elements gradually becoming ‘naturalized’ within it. As Said (1979) argues ‘the notion that there are geographical spaces with indigenous, radically “different” inhabitants who can be defined on the basis of some religion, culture or racial essence, proper to that geographical space is a highly debatable idea’ (Clifford, 1988: 274). As many authors have noted (Arjun Appadurai, 1990; Homi Bhabha, 1987; Hall, 1987), cultural hybridity is, increasingly, the normal state of affairs in the world, and in this context any attempt to defend the integrity of indigenous or authentic cultures easily slips into the conservative defence of a nostalgic vision of the past – what Salman Rushdie (1982) has described as an ‘absolutism of the pure’.

  8. I accept your views..bt not agree with the conclusion…communalism can never be controlled or stopped…why i am saying this, because reality lies somewhere else..i have recently come accross an article titled Communalism and Separatism in india: An Analysis…the author of this article present a very black future of india..i.e India may witness the threat of second partition between Hindus and Muslims in future…after reading this article i also beleive in this….visit the link..he has analyzed pre partiton phase,Congress era, and contemporary era of liberalization..and fr him this communalism will lead india towards future civil war and revival of two nations theory between hindus and muslims….India is running towards the threat of second partition…..visit this link…
    http://jas.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/42/6/533

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