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State PCS

Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. How far is it justified to say that the problem of communalism in modern India is a product of colonial legacy? (150 words)

    27 Jun, 2022 GS Paper 1 History


    • Begin by defining communalism and impact of colonialism on Indian society
    • Analyze the colonial policies intended to promote communal division
    • Conclude with reference to constitutional ideals and our assimilative culture


    Communalism is a term used to denote attempts to construct religious/ethnic identity or incite strife between people identified as different communities. In modern Indian society communalism often translates into violence, animosity and prevents social cohesion amongst different religious communities. India since its ancient times remained a multi religious, plural society free from religious pogroms and violence but the advent of colonialism unsettled this social harmony.


    • In many ways, the roots of present-day communalism could be traced back to the colonial days. The diversity of India offered British and other colonial powers an opportunity to divide and rule. The major plank of this policy was to create a rift between the two largest religious groups i.e. Hindus and Muslims. For this purpose they resorted to different techniques like the misinterpretation of history, communal appeasement, language policies, etc.
    • The English presented a distorted version of Indian History, where ancient India was Hindu dominated negating Buddhism and Jainism and medieval history was marked by the rule of tyrannical Muslim rulers. The British also created ‘Hindi-Urdu’ controversy which led to the establishment of Hindi as the language of Hindus and Urdu as Muslim tounge.
    • Through partition of Bengal and the introduction of the separate electorate on the basis of religion, British rule tried to break the political unity of the two major religious communities. Finally, all this culminated in their acceptance of the “two-nation theory” and subsequent partition of India in 1947.


    Despite having a secular, democratic nation the seeds of communalism sown by the British in the Indian psyche continues to manifest in social conflicts today. Thus, the eradication of communalism from Indian society requires the strengthening of our constitutional ideals. Indian masses also need to be made aware of their syncretic culture and assimilative past which led to flourishing dialogues in the society and borrowing from each other’s traditions.

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