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Communal harmony and the internal security of India are interlinked

Communalism is 'the loyalty to a sociopolitical grouping based on religious or ethnic affiliation rather than to society as a whole'. It is an ideology which takes three forms or stages, one following the other. The first stage starts with a belief that those who follow the same religion have common secular interests, that is, common political, economic, social and cultural interests. The second stage is characterized by the notion that in a multi-religious society like India, the secular interests of followers of one religion are dissimilar and divergent from that of the followers of another religion. In the third stage it is believed that the interests of the followers of different religions are mutually incompatible, antagonistic and hostile.

The communist ideology in India went through all these stages during the freedom struggle against the British. The hard earned, precious independence of India was won after decades of glorious struggle but along with a bloody, tragic partition that ripped apart the fabric of the emerging free nation. Thousands of lives were lost from both the sides, that of the Hindus and the Muslims in the communal riots and being left with no other alternative, a separate Muslim state of Pakistan was conceded. India was made a secular country with provisions for protection of minority communities. Despite precautionary and preventive measures having been taken, the communal legacy still continues.

At the time of freedom and partition, it was believed by great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru that partition was a temporary phenomenon and once the communist fervour subsides, a United and strong India would be formed. However, contrary to their expectations, India and Pakistan stand apart as separate nations and the fraught question of their bilateral relations remains unsolved till date. The disputed State of Kashmir has been ravaged by violence, civilian casualties, damage of property, curfew and the resulting disruption of normal life. Communal problem, which is the root cause, with all its social, political and economic ramifications remains unabated even today and bedevils the State.

With the passage of time, the path taken by communalism has changed. Earlier it was the large scale communal riots, now it has taken the route of terrorism. Bomb blasts and shooting attacks have rent asunder the major cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune, Ahmedabad and others. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were maimed and devastated. Authorities blame terror groups ranging from Islamic insurgents of Kashmir to the Hindu terror groups in Maharashtra. Whatever the reason or religion behind such activities be, the loss is to humanity as a whole. All the religions basically preach love and the feeling of brotherhood towards fellow beings. It is only the parties with vested interests that sow the seeds of communal hatred and violence in the minds of people.

"The mullahs of the Islamic world and the mullahs of the Hindu world and the mullahs of the Christian world are all on the same side. And we are against them all".

–Arundhati Roy

India is a developing country, and the fourth largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity. The vision of our national leaders is to make India a 'developed nation' and an 'economic superpower'. However, the internal security of the nation is a pre-requisite for the attainment of this vision. As long as the communal tensions inside the country do not ease, the internal security of the nation cannot be ensured, despite the strength of the army or paramilitary employed to control the situation. Once the communal tension inside the country subsides and India becomes internally secure, then the problems in the bilateral relations between the twin nations of India and Pakistan can be smoothly dealt with.

In order to strike at the base, that is, to bring about communal harmony, there must be harmony in the minds of the people. 'Aaman ki aasha' is a voluntary initiative taken to improve Indo-Pak relationship. Similar voluntary organizations that encourage communal harmony should come up. Minorities complain that they are looked upon as aliens and trouble-makers in their own land and the Majority community in turn puts the blame on the Minorities. Mental revolution among people, considering the fellow citizens as brethren is essential to bring about communal harmony in the country. The communal harmony thus attained is a sine-qua-non for the internal security of the country.

Only when the internal security is ensured can the nation embark on the path towards development and economic advancement. Recently, the Allahabad High Court gave its judgement regarding the Ayodhya controversy, dividing the disputed land into 3 parts and distributing them among the three contesting parties involved, the Nirmohi Akhara, the Sunni Central Board of Waqf and the Ramlalla Virajman. The peaceful air that surrounded the country following the verdict, bodes well for the nation.

Dr.Purvaja Mahadevan