About Us  :  Online Enquiry




  • Communalism was rooted in modern economic, political and social institutions where new identities were emerging in a haphazard manner even as the old, pre-­modern identities had not diminished.
  • A clash of this fundamental dichotomy gave rise to a communal ideology.

Socio-economic reasons:

  • The professional classes and the bourgeoisie emerged later among the Muslims than among the Hindus. There was rivalry for jobs, trade and industry between the two communities.
  • The Muslim bourgeoisie used the lower middle classes of the Muslims against the Hindu bourgeoisie to further their class interests.
  • Because of the economic backwardness of India and rampant unemployment, there was ample scope for the colonial government to use concessions, favours and reservations to fuel communal and separatist tendencies.
  • Also, modern political consciousness was late in developing among the Muslims and the dominance of traditional reactionary elements over the Muslim masses helped a communal outlook to take root.                                                          REASONS FOR GROWTH OF COMMUNALISM IN INDIA

British policy of divide and rule:

  • Muslims were generally looked upon with suspicion initially, especially after the Wahabi and 1857 revolts, and were subjected to repression and discrimination by the Government.
  • Also, the introduction of English education had undermined Arabic and Persian learning which added further to the economic backwardness and exclusion of the Muslims from service.
  • After the 1870s, with signs of the emergence of Indian nationalism and growing politicisation of the educated middle classes/ the Government reversed its policy of repression of Muslims and, instead, decided to rally them behind it through concessions, favours and reservations, and used them against nationalist forces.

The Government used persons like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to counter the growing influence of the Congress. Sir Syed Khan had a broadminded and reformist outlook initially but later he started supporting the colonial government, exhorting the Muslim masses to stay away from the Congress and not to get politicised. He also started talking of separate interests of Hindus and Muslims.

Communalism in history writing:

  • Initially suggested by imperialist historians and later adopted by some chauvinist Indian historians, the communal interpretation of Indian history portrayed the ancient phase as the Hindu phase and the medieval phase as the Muslim phase.
  • The conflicts of ruling classes during the medieval phase were distorted and exaggerated as Hindu-Muslim conflicts.

Side-effects of socio-religious reform movements:

  • Reform movements such as Wahabi Movement among Muslims and Shuddhi among Hindus with their militant overtones made the role of religion more vulnerable to communalism.
  • Reforms, at times, were seen as a process of insulating one community from the influence of another religious community.

Side-effects of militant nationalism:

  • The early nationalists made conscious efforts to remove minority fears. Dadabhai Naoroji, presiding over the second Congress session (1886), declared the intentions of the Congress not to raise socio- religious questions in its forums.                                                  REASONS FOR GROWTH OF COMMUNALISM IN INDIA
  • In 1889 the Congress decided not to take up any issue opposed by the Muslims. But later, with the coming of militant nationalism, a distinct Hindu nationalist tinge was palpable in the nationalist politics.
  • For instance, Tilak’s Ganapati and Shivaji festivals and anti-cow slaughter campaigns created much suspicion.

Aurobindo’s vision of an Aryanised world, Swadeshi Movement with elements like dips in the Ganga and revolutionary terrorism with oath-taking before goddesses were hardly likely to enthused Muslims into these campaigns in a big way.                                    REASONS FOR GROWTH OF COMMUNALISM IN INDIA

The communal element in the Lucknow Pact (1916) and the Khilafat agitation (1920-22) was too visible to be of insignificant consequences.

Communal reaction by majority community:

  • Naturally, the minority communalism met with a reaction from the majority community which set up militant organizations like the Hindu Mahasabha (established in 1915) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS established in 1925).                                        REASONS FOR GROWTH OF COMMUNALISM IN INDIA

The resultant one-upmanship of different versions of communal tendencies was one-factor which deterred any effective counter-offensive against communalism.



Modern History