The Furies of Indian Communalism: Religion, Modernity, and Secularization

By Achin Vanaik | Go to book overview

India faces its strongest ever secessionist movement. But so many are the variables in operation, national and international, that only the foolhardy would confidently predict that this will lead either to a breakup of the Union or to generalized repression. Secessionist pressures remain confined to the geographical periphery of India. A more serious problem is the possibility of an anti-secular reaction in other parts of India to Islamic militancy in Kashmir and the more general anti- democratic and brutalizing effects of a state repression legitimized in the name of 'national unity'.

Perhaps the best vantage point to take in judgin the future prospects of Indian democracy is to remember that within the catch-all term of the 'third world', meant to signify a collective unit sharing some common characteristics, India is both the most and least third world of countries. It is among the most third world in the character of its mass poverty and in the various forms of extreme social backwardness. But in the general sophistication of its economic and political structures it is in so many ways much closer to the advanced industrialized democracies than to developing countries.

Is there reason then to be more than a little hopeful about the future survivability of Indian political democracy? One might tentatively suggest that there is and that this might be of some comfort to socialists as well. After all, hopes of realizing a progressive form of an Indian socialism also rest on the survivability of such a historic gain.


Notes
1.
B. Anderson, Imagined Communities, London, 1983.
2.
H. Kohn, The Idea of Nationalism, New York, 1944.
3.
R. Guha and G. Chakravorty Spivak (eds), Selected Subaltern Studies, New York, 1988. See especially G. Pandey, "'Peasant Revolt and Indian Nationalism'"; and S. Amin, "'Gandhi as Mahatma'".
4.
S. Freitag, Collective Action and Community, Oxford, 1989.
5.
B. Chandra, Communalism in Modern India, New Delhi, 1984.
6.
R. Singh, "'Communalism and the Struggle Against Communalism: A Marxist View'", Social Scientist, August-September 1990. 'Communalism in contemporary India, as ideology and practice, is above all an aspect of the politics of the ruling classes in a society with a massive feudal-colonial inheritance, deep religious divisions, and undergoing its own, historically specific form of capitalist development' (p. 19).
7.
A. Vanaik, The Painful Transition: Bourgeois Democracy in India, London, 1990. See Chapter 4 on "'Communalism and Hindu Nationalism'".

-59-

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The Furies of Indian Communalism: Religion, Modernity, and Secularization
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Part I 1
  • 1: Introduction 3
  • 2 - Reflections on Communalism and Nationalism in India 29
  • Notes 59
  • Part II 63
  • 3: Religion, Modernity, Secularization 65
  • 4: Communalism, Hindutva, Anti-Secularists 130
  • Part III 235
  • Situating the Threat of Hindu Communalism: Problems with the Fascist Paradigm 237
  • 6: The Communalization of the Indian Polity 296
  • Index 361
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