India from time immemorial, people belonging to various religious faiths lived in harmony and peace. There are fundamental values and traditions in our culture that promote integration among different communities. This was helpful for the growth of a great civilization in the Indian sub-continent. It will be our endeavour as the citizens of this country to preserve the rich tradition of Social Harmony among diverse religious and ethnic groups and pass it over to the future generations.
Even though communal tensions in India are well under control, there is no place for omplacency as many internal and external forces are waiting with their ulterior motives sowing the seeds of ill-will. Human needs can be found as the same everywhere in the world if we look at it from biological and psychological perspectives. Irrespective of the geographic, linguistic or religious differences humans everywhere have common biological needs like hunger, thirst, sex etc; the satisfaction of which is essential for their survival.
Similarly man has psychological needs like, need for recognition, need for companionship, need for security, need for prestige etc. he fulfillment of which is inevitable for maintaining sound mental health. Man cannot satisfy most of such needs through his own individual efforts. He requires the assistance of his fellow members of the group in this regard. That is why human beings are considered as social animals. A cooperative integrated society is most congenial for leading a healthy social life. Religion is one of the social institutions found in all human societies.
It assists man to establish and maintain harmonious relationships with the supernatural forces that are believed to have direct influence in the fortunes of man. Moreover religion is one of the agents contributing to the integration of society. Religion provides We feeling among its members. Performance of religious rites, participation in festivals, leadership provided by priests and religious functionaries, following many common beliefs and values, etc reinforces the unity among the members of a religion.
Even though holy books and teachings of each religion claim that they help man reach God, none of them propagate hatred against other faiths. All religions in their essence assist people to live in harmony with members of the society. According to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India ” the communal problem is not a religious problem, it has nothing to do with religion. ” Nobody can blame the presence of diverse religions for the emergence of communal problems in the world. Even though all religions proclaim the universal brotherhood of man, history is full of bloody, violent conflicts between members of different religions.
Many battles were fought between Muslims and Christians, Jews and Muslims, Hindus and Muslims and so on in the past. Many such struggles are going on even now like the conflict etween Muslims and Jews in Palestine. A deeper analysis of the causative factors of these conflicts shows that in all these situations non-religious, often political and economic interests were instrumental to these problems. Religious identity was used root cause of communalism is not the presence of many religions in the country. When religious sentiments are exploited with an economic or political motive the resultant effect gives rise to the genesis of communalism.
According to Madan (2001) communalism is the political expression of religion. He defined communalism as an deology, which envisages the religious community as a political group committed to the protection and promotion of its social and economic interests and cultural values. While communalism is a feeling or state of mind existing at a psychological level, communal conflict or riot is its overt expression. Once generated, communalism remains in the minds of people always, and communal conflicts emerge only occasionally when there is a total breakdown in the good relations between two communities.
From a sociological perspective social conflict by its very nature cannot ontinue indefinitely. During communal violence each community used it as an occasion to harm the interests of the rival community who may be socially or economically sound. The feelings of relative deprivation felt by one community is often converted into violent attacks against a well placed community. This is what happened in 1984 when there were violent attacks against the Sikhs in different parts of the country after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi by her body guards who happened to be from the Sikh community.
Investigations onducted later by sociologists and many other social scientists proved that Sikhs who were economically well placed were attacked and members of other communities who were Jealous of their prosperity looted their shops. People with vested interests to attain their ulterior goals exploited this particular context by exploiting the religious sentiments. One must not confuse communalism with communal violence, rioting etc. Poorly conceived Communal ideology leads to communal violence. Communal violence is a consequence of the spread of misunderstood and ill-conceived communal ideology.
But it is not the crux of the communal situation at all. Communal ideology cannot only exist, but can grow for decades before it takes the form of violence. This book contains some of the selected papers presented in the National Conference on Social Integration and Communal Harmony organized by the Kerala Sociological Society from 1st to 3rd December 2006 at Sree Narayana College, Thiruvananthapuram. Prof. N. R. Madhava Menon in his paper Constitutionalism and Management of Diversity in Multi-cultural Societies deals with the significance of Indian Constitution o manage various problems in a multi-cultural society.
He points out that secularism is a basic feature of the constitution which cannot be changed even by parliament. There is no state religion and the state is prohibited against discrimination on the basis of religion. He believes that for multi-culturalism can survive and communal harmony can prevail only when we ensure equality of status among people and second part of the paper, the author focuses his attention on the concept of social integration. He notices that the constitutional strategy to promote fraternity is helpful to attain social integration.
In this context the author recommends a Uniform Civil Code for the entire nation. However, political parties do not support this view because no political party is ready to talk about it, because of the vested interests involved especially because of the vote bank politics. In her paper, Social Integration and Communal Harmony, Prof. M. Indukumari presents the multiple factors and contexts that influence social integration and communal harmony. First of all she explains the significance of this theme in the present Indian context.
According to her view, the prime concern of any nation iming at development should be the attainment of social / national integration. Moreover, she argues that despite some differences at ritual, social and cultural levels among different religions, there is conspicuous commonality at the level of values that promotes communal harmony. The author lists many examples of inter religious co-operation that exist in Kerala for a long period. However, she also points out that this rosy picture of Kerala is changing gradually and this society has started showing symptoms of religious intolerance and communal violence.
This paper gives due consideration towards the debate on the need for a Uniform Civil Code for India. Another concern of this paper is to show how communal violence affects the interests of the vulnerable sections like women, religious minorities, tribals, dalits etc. The author expresses confidence that NGOs can play a crucial role in maintaining communal harmony. In the concluding part of the paper she identifies certain strategies to promote communal harmony. On the whole this paper provides a comprehensive picture of social integration and communal harmony in India. M. K.
George in his article on “Tolerance is various faiths” attempted to highlight how various faiths and religions can contribute to the building of tolerance in the world. He stresses that every religion contains components of belief, rituals, information and knowledge, behavioural consequences and the expectations that guide the whole system. The author briefly looks at Bhuddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Hinuduism and observes that in discussing religion as an instrument of peace and harmony one needs to make this distinction between religiosity, which only can ivide, and spirituality which can unite all believers.
Religiosity focuses on differences, where as spirituality emphasizes what is common. Spirituality provides meaning to life and reality. Spritiuality connects, with the self, others, god and native. He stresses that the social scenario in India and the world over demands an active Youth population striving for peace and tolerance and hence the Youth needs to take this agenda. The paper Secular Legacy and Communal Paradox – The case of Kerala contributed by Dr. Antony Palackal presents some unconventional interpretations of the communal ituation in Kerala.
The author observes that secularism, the characteristic facet of nowadays there seems to be an alarming spread of communal and fascist forces in the State. This article marks an enquiry into the characteristics and dynamics of the emergent communalism in Kerala and tries to trace its secular legacy and the communal paradox. The first part of the paper seeks to unfold the secular legacy and the opposite reality of communalism that has engulfed it. The second part is a discussion on the unique forms of communal manifestations in Kerala. The third part s an exploration into the evolution of the growing communalism in Kerala.
The concluding section briefly sketches the relation between communalism and spirituality vis-¤-vis religion and the possible manner in which the growing menace of communalism may be addressed. The paper reveals that communalism gives rise to a heightened sense of identity and belongingness as it operates on the basis of the theory of ‘polarization’. Polarization results in emotional, mental or physical mobilization of individuals and groups to cause cohesion within a group . However it divides people as members of larges communities.
The author feels that religious and/or caste sectarianism and communal interests dominate most of our political life today. The paper conclude with an optimistic note that a viable alternative to the prevailing communal paradox appears to be the resurgence of societal consciousness born out of neo-renaissance movements capable of regaining the lost secular legacy of Kerala. The paper Hindu Response to Conversion Threat: Questions on Conversion and Social Equality written by ShaJi. A is undertaking a historical analysis of the communal situation in 20th Century Kerala.
The major focus of this paper is on The Temple Entry Proclamation of Travancore, 1936 that was a turning point in the history of modern Kerala. This proclamation put an end to the inhuman practice of untouchability and it opened a new future to the oppressed classes in Travancore. The author notices that before 1936 several low caste people of Travancore including Ezhavas converted themselves into other religions especially Christianity since they found it as the easiest way to escape from the caste tyranny. However, Sree Narayana Guru, leader of SNDP movement was successful in reventing this tide of conversion to Christianity or to Buddhism.
The Ezhavas were also interested in Islam and Sikhism. When the low caste Hindus including Ezhavas started large-scale conversion to Christianity, it became an eye-opener for progressive Hindu reformers. Efforts were made to bring back the converted Hindus to Hinduism under the initiative of the Hindu Mission. By permitting entry to all Hindus to the temples, low caste Hindus including Ezhavas were retained in their religion. This paper clearly explains how Temple Entry Proclamation assisted the Hindu leaders to meet the challenges of conversion.