Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Another Communal "Us" vs. "Them" Divide in India

Since last decade or so, every time there is a bomb-blast in India (and we had quite a few), the issue of "us" and "them" becomes manifest...

Mails float on the net, blog postings (and comments on postings) are made, and broad-based insunuations are made about the Hindu India being taken for a ride by the "Muslim 'them'" - and by the government, which "appeases" minority for the "vote bank", etc.

The same pattern got repeated after the Mumbai blast on July 11th.

... In the process, over a time, India has also gained/coined a term, peculiar to its political dictionary - pseudo-secularism, which is used to describe all and sundry who disagree with the "Us/Hindus" vs. "Them/Muslims" thesis.

...there is often also the apprehension that such events will lead to communal riots/ethnic tension (In India, "communal riots/ethnic tension" is synonymous with Hindu-Muslim riots)... And there have been more than 2,500 such riots in India since its independence.

So is this "Hindu vs. Muslim" communal divide really representative of Indian society?

In 2002, Ashutosh Varshney published his research findings (Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindu and Muslims in India), based on his analysis of the communal riots during 1950-95...

His findings:

  • Communal riots are a largely urban phenomenon in India. Rural India, where almost 75% of Indians live, accounted for barely 4% of all riot-related deaths during these years.

  • 70% of Hindu-Muslim violence was concentrated in barely 30 cities across the country.

  • Communal-riots were concentrated in just 4 of India’s 28 states. On a per capita basis, the worst states are Gujarat, Bihar and Maharashtra.

  • 46% of riot-related deaths could be accounted for by just 8 cities - Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Meerut, Aligarh, Vadodara, Delhi and Kolkata.

  • Of the above 8, the first two (Mumbai and Ahmedabad) stand out above the rest in terms of numbers of deaths.

  • These "riot-prone" cities represent a mere 18% of India's urban population and only 5% of the country's total population.

    His findings point to another "Us vs. Them" divide in India:

    ...that 82% of Indian urban population and 95% of India's total population, find this "us/Hindu" vs "them/Muslim" thesis totally alien to their day-to-day experience of being an Indian...

  • 2 comments:

    Perspective Inc. said...

    This crappy regional jingoism has to end!!
    Great post by the way...well written and informative!

    gaddeswarup said...

    Through the blog' fracrured earth', I came across this sites which seems to have interesting articles on communalism;
    http://communalism.blogspot.com/