By Vivek Pattanayak in Bhubaneswar, April 24, 2022: India is a diverse nation with a pluralistic society. It harbours people of different faiths and religion. The modern, independent and nascent India became a secular state and does not have an official religion.

State treating all the religions equally without adopting any religion is called secular state. The Indian nationalism grew against a foreign imperial power although sub-continent of India had many religions, sects, castes, linguistic groups, and ethnicities. In the course of independence struggle the Hindu Muslim divide brought partition of the sub-continent between India and Pakistan.

Considering this fractious structure of the newly independent country, the Constitution of India is replete with safeguards which do not need any elucidation for creating a lasting ambience of sustainable pluralistic society as they emanated from practical wisdom of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Azad, Ambedkar and Rajagopalachari and historical experience.

They understood that India was not a territorial entity which could be called a nation in the sense as understood in Europe. In absence of a single binding factor which could make European States, India was a class by itself. They understood the importance of sustaining national spirit which had gathered momentum during freedom struggle against foreign subjugation. Promotion of vibrant nationalism encompassing the entire territory of free India based on the concept of unity in diversity was the elan of time.

It encapsulated the principal objective to subordinate communalism, casteism, sectarianism, ethnicism and linguist jingoism in the larger of interest of national territorial integrity. Unfortunately, the Indian politics was influenced by factors such as caste, religion, and region as the years passed. The parties were created on this basis. Many political leaders of these parties encouraged fissures and divisions, incited violence for their personal and political gains. It is used as a weapon to divide people in the name of religion or language or caste to achieve political ends.

While Pakistan was avowedly created exclusively on religious basis, India adopted the philosophy of diversity of religion, language, sect, caste, ethnic origin. India’s nationalism was inclusive as opposed to the philosophy of Pakistan. Even demand for separate statehood for Sikhs and Harijans was brewing up at the time of independence.

During the imperial British regime, underlying basis of governance was “divide et impera” or divide and rule. Communal division in the sub-continent suited the foreign imperial power to rule the population. Now it has reappeared in a virulent form because of politics of vote catching. The country has seen number of clashes, riots, and communal conflicts.

The emergence of extreme communalism is marked by the influence of politics in religion. Undoubtedly it impinges on the national unity which is the basis of nationalism.

Active encouragement of the British in the sub-continent the notion of community spawned partition as against greater idea of the Indian nationalism.

The nations were formed in Europe after the end of struggles between monarchy and papal authority. Concept of nationalism grew since then. It was based on linguistic group, English speaking Britain, French speaking France, German speaking Germany, Spanish speaking Spain and Italian speaking Italy and so on. Although Europe was divided on the grounds of religion, Catholics and Protestants, nation State was founded on the principle that render unto God that is God’s and render unto Cesar that is Caesar’s.

Even within the state, community of majority religious groups co-existed among minority of other religious communities. The Jews were there at different nation States of Europe. Not that there were no anti-Semitics trends. In fact, it manifested in virulent form with extermination of Jews in Germany under Hitler and Nazi occupied Europe. Holocaust was the direct outcome of this extreme form of communalism.

The secular form of the political nation makes the coexistence of different religions. Communalism means when people or community of one religion or followers of one religion go against the people or community of another religion which causes tension, riots, clashed and destruction to prove the superiority of one over other.

In two centuries, current trends of sub-nationalism have engulfed Europe and elsewhere in the world. The Yugoslavian nationalism yielded place to sub-nationalism among Serbians, Croatians, Bosnians, Slovenians, Kosovars, Macedonians etc. It is now raising its head in Scotland in Britain and also Catalonia in Spain, Quebec in Canada. It has already fragmented Indonesia, Ethiopia and Sudan.

The leaders, thinkers, and opinion-makers in politics, civil society, academia, government in all its arms whether executive, legislature, judiciary, constitutional and statutory entities in India should take note of this trend to avoid a catastrophic rise of sub-nationalism. Communalism, linguistic jingoism, and ethnicism have this devastating potent. Recent media reporting on communal violence causes concern among all those who sincerely believe in the Indian nationalism.

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