THE ONGOING PROCESS of sociopolitical change in India and the increased competition for scarce resources are placing enormous pressure on the political system. Moreover, increased mass expectations as well as enhanced sectarian and caste/class consciousness are creating stresses and strains on the society that hitherto have not been experienced. In the following sections the main areas of concern are discussed.
Muslim religious doctrine is based on the belief that the Quran contains the ultimate truth and the revelation of the Divine Will. Muslims believe in the establishment of a divinely ordained social order. In institutional structures and value systems, Hinduism and Islam seem incompatible. Many Muslims sought the creation of Pakistan as a Muslim nation in order to escape from the tyranny of the Hindu majority. Even after the partition of British India on a religious basis, the Muslim population of India constitutes the single most important minority of the country. Political elites in power in India after independence sought to lessen the anxiety of the Muslim minority by creating a secular state. The separation between religion and state was expected to reduce Hindu-Muslim antagonism and lead to the development of greater political integration.
In post-independence India, Muslims have freely participated in the political process of the country. They have used their votes as leverage for political bargaining in seeking accommodation from the majority community. Sectarian hostility between Hindus and Muslims persists, however; the electoral and institutional mechanisms created to reduce group conflict have had only limited success. There is an overwhelming domination of the political institutions by the majority community. Recent years have also witnessed greater polarization between the members of