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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: October 2011

CHAPTER 4 - In the Voice of Cassandra: Tagore on Hindus and Muslims in India and their Relations


Even when the first decade of the twenty-first century is more than half way through, India is groping towards congenial inter-community relations, which are forever worsening. Writing in 1997, Sudipta Kaviraj very perceptively noted that the preceding decade had witnessed “a sudden and unexpected revival of Hindu communal politics” that seemed surprising “after forty years of modified success of capitalism and democracy”, since communalism had traditionally been “associated with the power of tradition, the alleged unwillingness of religious people to accept modern notions of democratic politics”. During the last nine years conditions have deteriorated much more even as India is poised to emerge as a technological and knowledge super-power. Communalism has even acquired strong international overtones and linkages, as not only the one time militancy in Punjab and the continuing militancy in the Kashmir valley, but also the terrorist attacks inside India engineered by ‘international’ terrorist outfits, in tandem with disgruntled local elements, provide ample testimony to. There is no lull since 1990 in the continually burgeoning theoretically inclined literature on the rise and growth of communalism in both pre-and-post colonial India, and no signs of scholarly exhaustion about it, though in the popular psyche communalism is no more the dominant and single category. This is because in the backdrop of the recent spurt in and global preoccupation with terror, disruptive and subversive acts that have communalist springs or overtones have taken on new meanings of international conspiracy and terrorism.