Communalism refers to an ideology that emphasizes social and political identities based on religious affiliations. It has been a significant challenge in various societies, leading to communal violence and conflicts.


Power Struggle:

  • Communalism often emerges from power struggles between religious groups, exacerbated by historical events and policies.
  • Example: In India, during the British colonial period, the divide-and-rule policy was employed by the British to maintain control. This policy fostered communal identities and gave rise to religious-based political parties like the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League.
  • The struggle for power between these parties and communities led to communal violence and conflicts as they vied for dominance.

Relative Deprivation:

  • Communalism can also be fuelled by feelings of relative deprivation, where one group perceives itself as marginalized compared to another.
  • Example: In India, in the 1980s and 1990s, communal tensions escalated due to the perceived marginalization of the Hindu community by the Muslim community.
  • The demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992 was a stark example of communal violence driven by the perceived deprivation of Hindus’ rights to a sacred site.

Economic Factors:

  • Economic factors can play a role in fomenting communalism when one group fears their economic interests are under threat from another group.
  • Example: In India, areas where there are religious differences in the ownership of land or businesses often experience communal tensions and conflicts due to economic competition between communities.
  • These economic disparities create a perceived threat to one community’s economic interests, leading to communal divisions.


  • Communalism, driven by power struggles and relative deprivation, has been a prominent issue in India’s history, resulting in communal violence and conflicts.
  • To address communalism, it is crucial to promote equality and justice for all religious communities, thereby mitigating power imbalances and reducing feelings of deprivation.
  • By fostering an inclusive society that respects diverse religious identities and ensures equal opportunities for all, the potential for communalism can be diminished.
Legacy Editor Changed status to publish February 26, 2024