Anatomy of communal violence in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Communal violence in India


Communal violence, a complex phenomenon, has been over-simplified to suit a convenient political narrative.

India’s syncretic traditions and impact of invasions

  • For aeons, India has had syncretic traditions inspired by the Vedic aphorism, “Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti” (there is only one truth and learned persons call it by many names).
  •  Because of this underpinning, Indian society has never insisted on uniformity in any facet of life.
  • This equanimity of Indian society was, however, disrupted by invading creeds.
  • The first such incursion came in 712, when Muhammad bin Qasim vanquished Sindh, and as Chach Nama, a contemporary Arab chronicle states, introduced the practice of treating local Hindus as zimmis, forcing them to pay jizya (a poll tax), as a penalty to live by their beliefs.
  • In the 11th century, Mahmud of Ghazni, while receiving the caliphate honours on his accession to the throne, took a vow to wage jihad every year against Indian idolaters.
  • The fact is, ties between the two communities were seldom cordial.
  • There were intermittent skirmishes, wars and occasional short-lived opportunistic alliances.
  • When Pakistan declared itself an Islamic Republic in 1947, it would have been natural for India to identify itself as a Hindu state.
  • It didn’t, and couldn’t have — because of its Hindu ethos of pluralism.
  • India, is, and will always be, catholic, plural, myriad and a vibrant democracy.


It’s relevant to recall what Lester Pearson (14th PM of Canada) said: “Misunderstanding arising from ignorance breeds fear, and fear remains the greatest enemy of peace.”

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments