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Communalism, is referred in the western world as a “theory or system of

government in which virtually autonomous local communities are loosely in

federation”. Communalism is a political philosophy, which proposes that
market and money be abolished and that land and enterprises to be placed
in the custody of community. But in the Indian sub-continent context,
communalism has come to be associated with tensions and clashes
between different religious communities in various regions.

What is Communalism?

It is basically an ideology which consists of three elements:-

 A belief that people who follow the same religion have common secular
interests i.e. they have same political, economic and social interests. So,
here socio- political communalities arises.

 A notion that, in a multi-religious society like India, these common

secular interests of one religion are dissimilar and divergent from the
interests of the follower of another religion.

 The interests of the follower of the different religion or of different

‘communities’ are seen to be completely incompatible, antagonist and

Communalism is political trade in religion. It is an ideology on which

communal politics is based. And communal violence are conjectural
consequences of communal ideology.
Evolution of communalism in Indian society

If we discuss about Indian society, we will find that, ancient India was
united and no such communal feelings were there. People lived peacefully
together, there was acceptance for each other’s culture and tradition. For
example, Ashoka followed religious tolerance and focussed mainly on

In Medieval period, we have examples such as- Akbar, who was epitome of
secular practises and believed in propagating such values by abolishing
Jajhiya tax and starting of Din-I- ilahi and Ibadat Khana. Same acceptance
for different cultures and tradition was practised in several kingdoms
throughout India, because of which there was peace and harmony, barring
few sectarian rulers like Aurangzeb, who was least tolerant for other
religious practises. But, such motives were guided purely for their personal
greed of power and wealth.

Such rulers and actions by them like- imposing taxes on religious practises
of other community, destructing temples, forced conversions, killing of Sikh
guru, etc. were instrumental in deepening and establishing the feeling of
communal differences in India. But, these incidents were not common as,
huge majority of Indians were rural and were aloof from such influences
and so people coexisted peacefully. Though, they were very rigid in
practising their own rituals and practise, but it never became barrier in the
peaceful coexistence. Overall, the Hindus and Muslims in those days, had
common economic and political interests.

Communalism in India is result of the emergence of modern politics, which

has its roots in partition of Bengal in 1905 and feature of separate electorate
under Government of India Act, 1909.Later, British government also
appeased various communities through Communal award in 1932, which
faced strong resistance from Gandhi ji and others. All these acts were done
by the British government to appease Muslims and other communities, for
their own political needs. This feeling of communalism has deepened since
then, fragmenting the Indian society and being a cause of unrest.
(by Communal award colonial government mandated that consensus over
any issue among different communities (i.e. Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs and
others) is precondition for any further political development)

Communal consciousness arose as a result of the transformation of Indian

society under the impact of colonialism and the need to struggle against it.


Documentary about the effects of Britain's withdrawal from India in 1947 which
triggered one of the biggest migrations in history. 15 million were displaced and more
than a million lost their lives. The story is told through the testimony of people who
lived together for centuries, but were forced out of their homes as one of the largest
and most ethnically diverse nations in the world was divided. Dramatized
reconstructions evoke some of the mistrust, violence and upheaval that ensued.

Partition of India and provides a good overview of the fateful events leading to that
cataclysmic decision by the British and the catastrophic suffering of ordinary people
caught in the crossfire of communal hatred.
It describes in detail: British motivation for leaving India after World War 2 in a quick
and face-saving manner; the underlying distrust of Hindus and Muslims of each other
despite centuries of living together; Muslim educational and economic backwardness
relative to Hindus and their fear of Hindu domination in a united India; the failure of
the March 1946 Cabinet Mission in Simla on account of Nehru's refusal to a agree to
a decentralized Subcontinent.

The beginning of the Hindu-Muslim communal riots with Jinnah's call for Direct
Action in Calcutta in August 1946; the desperate attempts made by Gandhi to effect
Hindu-Muslim unity via appeal to their humanity; and the pressure exerted on most
Princely States to agree to ascension to India.

It also describes: the manipulation of people by political leaders in the name of

religion; the slaughter, looting, raping, and mayhem among different communities at
the village level; the deep reluctance of people to abandon their generational homes;
the brave attempts of certain individuals to save their neighbors of other communities
from forcible ethnic and religious cleansing; the horrific price paid by women
for defending their honor;
The utter lack of governmental preparation for a mass migration of people;
the needless human carnage caused by Mountbatten's decision to expedite the
planned Partition; and the decline of hitherto culturally rich and cosmopolitan cities
like Lahore by loss of other communities.

INDIA was once the jewel in the British Empire's crown. But when it came to
pulling out of the country in August 1947, things turned into a shambles.

India would be split in two, giving one country (Pakistan) to the Muslims and
the other (India) to the Hindus and Sikhs. But Bengal and the Punjab, where
the three religions had lived side by side, would be divided.

Mass violence ensued, with one-time friends and neighbours killing each other
because they were the 'wrong' religion. Matters were made worse by the
viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, not revealing the new boundary until after Britain
had pulled out, so it couldn't be blamed for any ensuing violence.

This harrowing documentary recalls the lead up to the Partition of India 60

years ago and the unimaginable violence and murder inflicted upon the 15
million trying to flee to their new country. Entire trains of people were
slaughtered, schoolgirls raped and women had their breasts cut off.

One Sikh recalls how his father beheaded all the village women - including his
own daughter - to prevent them falling into the hands of Muslims.

Among this horror is the bizarre revelation that the viceroy's palatial home had
25 indoor gardeners, to tend to the vases of flowers, and a man employed
solely to stamp a seal into butter pats.


Beginning on a straight forward note, one must have seen numerous ventures written or
visualized on the subject of Indian partition of 1947 in all these past decades. Yet this
truthful BBC documentary is still capable of giving you the same terrifying fears back
through some more shocking secrets revealed by many scary real life accounts and
interviews. Admitting it honestly, post the two most well researched and brilliantly
conceived projects on Indian Partition, namely FREEDOM AT MIDNIGHT (The Book)
and TAMAS (The TV Movie/Serial), the present BBC documentary remains the third not
to missed attempt on the subject, which fearlessly discloses the hidden political drama
behind one of the most tragic and biggest migrations in the world history.
The film tell the story of those bloody months of 1947 through various testimonies of
people who were forced to leave their ancestral homes after living together for centuries,
despite all the religious disparities. The documentary also has some dramatised
reconstructions which actually reveal many undisclosed facts, which are sure going to
surprise the youth (in particular) who might not be knowing or have read much on the
most unfortunate happening in the history of India.

To give you an idea, it tells you how the British officials hurriedly took many major
decisions disregarding the possible dangerous outcome in various regions of the country,
especially Punjab. The well directed film clearly showcases that how it was earlier decided
that the split will be there in the summer of 1948 after long negotiations between Lord
Mountbatten, Mohammed Ali Jinha and Jawaharlal Nehru. But then it was suddenly
announced that the British Empire would actually be granting the freedom a year ahead
than planned in August 1947. It further reveals how the border line of this partition was
drawn by a person, who had never been to India and knew nothing about the religious
and cultural diversification existing in the country. Moreover it also tells the fact that how
numerous Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims were being slaughtered all over, since the British
army was too small in numbers in front of the huge mobs and therefore couldn’t stop it
well in time.

Through many noteworthy accounts of real eyewitnesses of that mad massacre, it makes
you aware how all the political leaders of that time manipulated the people in the name of
religion resulting in merciless bloodbath, loots, rapes and killing of innocent children too
just because of the disastrous partition. How everybody started behaving like lunatics in
only few weeks, how friends turned into enemies overnight and how several brave
individuals saved their neighbors too from the communal attacks. Trying to combine all
the individually managed states into one country, the government was actually not
prepared enough to handle such a vast outbreak of riots due to the mass migration, which
probably affected the women, children and the old in the most horrifying manner beyond

But most importantly the enlightening interviews also reveal an ugly truth that even before
this ill-timed partition, there still used to be such disgusting traditions which clearly divided
the people according to their followed religion. Like the two major sects were not willing
to drink from the same tap, a person from another religion was not allowed to enter the
kitchen in other’s house, jobs were being offered on religious preferences and thus there
did exist an undercurrent of hatred for the other religion even before the frightening

These rare facts in fact make this documentary even a more important, must watch at the
earliest, since it does tell you a shocking truth that at times,
“Religion can also become one of the most dangerous threats to life, if not
understood or followed in the right manner.”
So if you do wish to see a better future for all the future generations to come, then do
watch this documentary as a must and learn the much desired lesson of PEACE………., as
soon as possible.


The partition of India ‫ ہند تقسیم‬was the partition of British India on the basis of religious demographics. This

led to the creation of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan (that later split into the Islamic
Republic of Pakistan and the People's Republic of Bangladesh) and the Union of India (later Republic of

India). The Indian Independence Act 1947 had decided 15 August 1947 as the appointed date for the

partition. However, Pakistan came into existence a day earlier, on 14 August.

The partition of India was set forth in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of

the British Indian Empire and the end of the British Raj. It resulted in a struggle between the newly

constituted states of India and Pakistan and displaced up to 12.5 million people with estimates of loss of life

varying from several hundred thousand to a million (most estimates of the numbers of people who crossed

the boundaries between India and Pakistan in 1947 range between 10 and 12 million). The violent nature of

the partition created an atmosphere of mutual hostility and suspicion between India and Pakistan that

plagues their relationship to this day.

The partition included the geographical division of the Bengal province into East Bengal, which became

part of the Dominion of Pakistan (from 1956, East Pakistan). West Bengal became part of India, and a

similar partition of the Punjab province became West Punjab (later the Pakistani Punjab and Islamabad

Capital Territory) and East Punjab (later the Indian Punjab, as well as Haryana and Himachal Pradesh).

The partition agreement also included the division of Indian government assets, including the Indian Civil

Service, the Indian Army, the Royal Indian Navy, the Indian railways and the central treasury, and other

administrative services.

The two self-governing countries of India and Pakistan legally came into existence at the stroke of midnight

on 14--15 August 1947. The ceremonies for the transfer of power were held a day earlier in Karachi, at the

time the capital of the new state of Pakistan, so that the last British Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten of Burma,

could attend both the ceremony in Karachi and the ceremony in Delhi. Thus, Pakistan's Independence Day

is celebrated on 14 August and India's on 15 August.


64 years ago on August 14th, 1947 a new country was born: Pakistan. It was
made by cutting the old imperial India into three sections, with West and East
Pakistan (now Bangladesh) hived off from the rest of the country.

The following day India itself was declared independent, and the British who
had ruled in one way or another for the past couple of hundred years lowered
the flag, and effectively went home.
The partition of India created one of the greatest humanitarian disasters in
modern times, as peoples were divided along communal and religious lines,
and turned against each other in a fury of violence.

This BBC documentary, made for the 60th anniversary of that event in 2007
by Ricardo Pollack, gives an overview of the political events that led up to that
disaster, intermixed with eye-witness accounts, historical footage and
dramatized reconstructions of some of the events, in which over a million
people died, and 15 million were displaced.

The title is something of a misnomer, as India didn’t burn for a day – the
period of time involved was around a year, as the various communities tried
to shift from their ancestral homes to areas with similar communities; and the
burning of homes and villages was only a small part of the violence.

The tensions which dominate the region today, which still explode every now
and then, and have led to one of the longest separatist wars in modern history
(Kashmir), all stem from the fateful decisions that were made at this time, and
if you don’t understand why they are happening, this documentary will at least
fill in part of the background.

But it is the human tragedy that is brought across so well by the film, with its
emphasis on eye-witness accounts of the suffering, the bravery, the hatred
and the helplessness felt during those days by people who were directly
involved in the events.

Satish Gujral, one of India’s most prominent artists, was a young student at
the time. He was witness to the systematic raping of Muslim schoolgirls in
Amritsar, and his words bring home the despair of the times: “I looked at the
faces of those who were attending in search of compassion: I found none.”