India is a vast country where people belonging to many religion live. Some of the important religions practised by its people are Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism. By ‘Communalism’, we mean the opposition of religious communities of each other.
It is an ideology which emphasizes the separate identity of a religious group in relation to other groups and often a tendency to promote its own interests at the expense of others. In simple term, communalism means to distinguish people on the basis of religion-to treat the people belonging to one’s own religion as friends and others as enemies.
In India, the origin and growth of communalism can be traced to the pre- independence days and the policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ adopted by our British rulers. In the first was of independence in 1857, all the Indians-Hindus and Muslims had united to throw the British rulers.
After crushing the revolution the British rulers adopted the policy of ‘Divide and Rule’. They encouraged the differences on the basis of religion among the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. There were communal riots between Hindus and Muslims in the country which ultimately led to the partition of the country on communal lines in 1947.
After independence, it was felt that communalism would not raise its ugly head in free India, but the feeling of communalism has rather increased in independent India. Communal riots take place in India every now and then.