Social Scientist. v 18, no. 207-08 (Aug-Sept 1990) p. 22.


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C.P. BHAMBHRI*

State and Communalism in India

Every state has to be situated in the context of its historical specificity and at the same time historical comparisons have to be made to draw important explanations. The modern capitalist, democratic, welfare and secular states of the West are a product of more than four centuries of historical development and this development reveals that shifts of ideological legitimation were the products of serious struggles based on bloodshed, religious and civil wars and bloody or so-called glorious revolutions. The transition from god as the legitimiser of emperors to the modem ideologies of legitimacy in the West is a product of contests in history.

Conflicts between the church and the state, conflicts within the church and within the state, and the emergence of modern classes and modern ideologies were products of contests for a new basis of legitimacy for state power in which Lutherism and Calvinism were as important as the renaissance, enlightenment, nationalism, liberalism and socialist proletarianism. The Emperor as a representative of God, and the modern monarchy which created the modern European states and the modem Republican states reveal that scriptural or secular legitimisation of state power was a product of a long history of struggles in the West. Material transformation, class formations and ideological contests in favour of secular authority of the state in the West reveal that the secular state had to win space for itself through struggles because modernity as an enterprise had structural oppositions and new structures of support had to be created.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF MODERN INDIAN STATE (i) British colonial rule oppressed and exploited the whole Indian society by evolving complex arrangements of governance, e.g. the British provinces and paramountcy relationship with princely states. The colonial rulers formed a very complex and heterogenous society with very firm belief systems based on religion and caste. The British evolved two strategies to rule over India. First, the British rule made every effort to promote religious divisions by following the strategies

* Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal N^ehru University, New Delhi.

Social Scientist, Vol. 18, Nos. 8-9, August-September 1990



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