By Grace Mubashir, New Age Islam
30 May 2022
The Equation of Majority Communalism Equals Minority Communalism Is Only a Discourse Formed In the Particular Political Context of Kerala
1. A teenage boy, perched on the shoulders on his parents, was seen punching his hands in air while hauling unsavoury communal slogans.
2. Kerala has witnessed recent spike in communal politics.
3. Majority and minority communalisms, lying on backburner for many years, have recently picked up brisk space due to multiple social and political reasons.
A teenage boy, perched on the shoulders on his parents, was seen punching his hands in air while hauling unsavoury communal slogans. This happened in Alappuzha, Kerala, in a march conducted by Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), affiliated to Popular Front of India (PFI). The crowd was seen enthusiastically chanting the communal slogans shouted by the boy. In the video, a boy is seen raising the vicious and murderous slogan that “Hindus should keep rice for their last rites and Christians should keep incense for their last rites. If you live decently you can live in our land and if you don’t live properly, we know Azadi (freedom). Live decently, decently, decently.”
The video was shared widely in social media, causing huge backlash from political parties and civil societies in the state. The state police is groping in the dark to nab the miscreants and have failed to identify the boy’s parents. District level authorities of SDPI have been arrested. Through lackadaisical approach, state police is stoking flames of distrust among peace loving people of the state.
Kerala has witnessed recent spike in communal politics. Back to back political murders in Palakkad district have flung open the lurking scars of communal violence in the state. Before that two political murders within a short span of 24 hours at Alappuzha had shocked the state. Majority and minority communalisms, lying on backburner for many years, have recently picked up brisk space due to multiple social and political reasons. The growing tentacles of radical elements in respective societies have virtually caused communal polarization, leading to communal tensions in the state.
The boy in the case, shows the extent of communal flares have made into the public fabric of the society. A teenage boy bellowing stinging communal refrains amounting to veiled death threats is dangerous enough to send chill down the spines of all concerned authorities of the state. Even young minds are radicalized with communal venom, barring them from their intellectual discretion to dissect the falsehood. Any lenient compromise from the part of government and police machinery will add stinking manure to the proliferation of hate ideas. The failure of mainstream political parties to present an alternative to communal politics give credence to communal narrative, easy to poach the gullible minds unaware of the mutilation of truths. It is irrational to argue that there are good and bad communalisms. Every exclusivist hate idea propagating violence is to be condemned vigorously.
There have been many studies on communalism in India. One of the most important of these is Gyanendra Pandey's book, ‘Construction of Communalism in Colonial North India’ (1997). He argues that communalism flourished in India during the colonial period. During the pre-colonial period, there were more Sunni-Shia conflicts than Hindu-Muslim communal conflicts. This attitude of Hindu-Muslim conflict today was, of course, part of the British strategy. Partha Chatterjee, a renowned sociologist in India, argues in ‘Agrarian Relations and Communalism’ (1982) that the problem of religious communalism in India is a product of secularism and rationalism.
Will Kerala Continue To Be A Haven?
Kerala has undergone many social changes. Although there are still no major gaps in social security, we cannot avoid seeing some imminent crises. Social security in Kerala is due to the fact that Malayalees have largely remained a secular society. It is now beginning to lose those secular convictions and identities. That is the first problem.
Mutual trust between different religious communities is paramount for social security. That faith is also a matter of self. The situation of losing faith is extremely serious. And the next degeneration is mutual suspicion. Then people begin to believe in various hearsays spewing communal venom. Without anyone trying to find out the truth, we rely on hatred and emotional reactions. It's a great tragedy to befall.
In his book ‘Communism, Subaltern Studies and Postcolonial Theory: The Left in South India’ (2021), Professor Nisim Mannathukaran, a Malayalee professor at the University of Dalhousie in Canada, attributes the emergence of such a secular society in Kerala to the secular view of communal parties in Kerala and the presence of the Communist Party in Kerala. Of course, the presence of the Communist Party in Kerala has been a strong reason for maintaining secularism here. Secularism is not a political ideology that is the sole responsibility of a section. For that, the majority and the minority must be bound by secularism.
Secular Discourses of Kerala Muslims
Kerala is gradually falling into communal tinderbox. This is because of some political issues. The Indian Union Muslim League has played a significant role in keeping Muslims plural in secular affairs in Kerala. The existence of the Muslim League in Kerala is a surprise to all political parties in other states. Historian M Gangadharan has written that the Muslim League stands apart from the rest of Kerala due to its communal politics but its tolerant and secular attitude. The controversy over the fifth minister after the 2011 assembly elections brought about a fundamental change in the Muslim political movement in Kerala.
PFI like communal organizations are eating into community vote bank held by Muslim League. Organizations promoting political Islam are increasing their toehold in Kerala. 22 youths joining the ISIS and the ‘promised Caliphate’ could be explained only through these circumstances created by PFI's suicidal politics. The failure of secular traditional parties to address Muslim issues gives these organization ideological mileage to tarnish the plural beliefs of Islam.
Strong secularism is studied from its grassroots. Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, founder of Jamat e Islami denied secularism. It leads to the ingraining of perfect socio-communal, religious and political discourses within them. Those dry philosophies are justified by a misreading of the arguments of the eminent anthropologist Talal Assad. The misinterpretation of political contexts of Islamic holy books leads to such ideological groping.
Majority Racism Equals Minority Racism?
The equation of majority communalism equals minority communalism is only a discourse formed in the particular political context of Kerala. Therefore, majority communalism must be eliminated. Minority communalism is also a social security threat here. Communalism is present in every community in various forms. To deny this is a political fraud. In any case, the elimination of minority communalism, or the conversion of all sections of the population into secular modern societies, will not eliminate the majority communalism that threatens the very existence of the nation. Indian sociologist TN Madan makes a similar point in his book ‘Modern Myths, Locked Minds: Secularism & Fundamentalism in India’ (2009). For that is the nation, We must move forward with strong rule of law. But minority communalism can quickly turn majority communalism into an explosive form. Especially when it comes to the sheer volume of social media available today.
Secularism Is the Only Solution
India hopes for only secularism. Other than that, the rhetoric that just creates smokescreens is closing in on the darkness. In the context of Kerala, Muslim religious organizations need to conduct introspection into the study of religious subjects by children. That is, an inquiry needs to be made into the role of secular politics in the particular political context of India. At the same time, discussions on religion-modernity and social evolution must be included in the syllabus.
Grace Mubashir is a journalism student at IIMC, Delhi
New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism