By Dr. Mohammed Salahuddin

Communalism is a strong sense of belonging to a particular thing, may be a religion, caste or creed. It is synonymous with violence. The raw material used for their formation are hatred, enmity, revulsion and ill-will against other communities. It exploits a religion and a religious community which can lead to extreme behaviour or violence towards other communities, especially a minority community. Thus communalism and violence are two sides of the same coin.

Nationalism means a feeling of love for and nurturing pride in one’s country. It is also a feeling that one’s country is better than another country. It is patriotism. But a new term, religious nationalism has been coined by certain religious zealots. It is a tool used by the zealots to safeguard their vested interests.

Religious nationalism has political and social motifs. It has been derived from dogmas of hatred and ill-will against a particular community. Communal religious nationalism and violence are inseparable. They are antithetical to inclusivism. Their flames will burn the plural fabric of the society. It is dangerous when it is used as a tool to polarise the society.

Thus we have two types of nationalisms, real nationalism and religious nationalism. The former thrives on love for the nation while the latter demands love for particular religious dogmas and principles. The former is inculcated by justice-loving people while the latter by communalists who oppose the former’s real nationalism, dubbing it as anti-national.

Today Indianness as a macro identity is being dominated by religious identities. The problem is when a state, which, by definition has to be secular, is governed by a party with a particular religious affiliation and its system of administration is flinted by those religious identities. Now the pendulum is swinging from the Left to the Centre to the Right. A new epoch has begun in India which will be defined by ideological predictions of right-wing Hindutva brigade.

India is a democratic country. It has never propagated religious nationalism. We have a Constitution which gives us freedom of professing, practising and preaching the religion of one’s choice. But we are witnessing a sea change. It is becoming an intolerant state. The signs of it are seen through the cruel acts of mob lynching, atrocities on Dalits and minorities, and the violence against women. These new trends of communalism are explosive, unprecedented and transformative.

Real nationalism is based on the teachings of Buddha, Gandhiji, Patel, Nehru and Maulana Azad. It is based on love, sympathy, prosperity, peace and compassion for every citizen. Contrary to it, religious nationalism is based on right-wing ideology of Golwalkar and Savarkar. It aims at forcing people either to merge in their ideology, adopt their culture and live at their mercy or quit the country.

It is high time we strived tirelessly to restore the values of real nationalism.

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