Indian State^ Social Classes and Secularism
The demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya on December 6, 1990 has again revealed the serious weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the Indian state to protect and promote its own values and commitments to democracy and secularism. A deeper analysis is required to understand and explain the emergence of militant and violent communalism of the Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs during the 1980s in India. A secular state in a multi-religious society is confronted by militant religious assertions and identities by all the major religious communities in the country. A secular state becomes very vulnerable if the major religious communities assert their separate religious identities and social order faces militant religious confrontations. The events of the 1980s have clearly established that India has a weak secular state and the state is involved in a basic struggle to defend secularism in the face of emerging militant religious assertions in society. Further, the developments of the 1980s clearly establish a need for an examination of the relationships between the Indian state and complex and contradictory social forces and processes which have generated social conflicts on the basis of competing identities. Indian society and the state are a product of a long historical process and it is imperative to focus attention on the historical forces which are at work in India. Marx had observed about the mid-nineteenth century that:
We, like all the rest of Continental Europe, suffer not only from the development of capitalist production, but also from the incompleteness of that development. Alongside of modern evils, a whole series of inherited evils oppress us, arising from the passive survival of antiquated modes of production, with their inevitable train of social and political anachronism. We suffer not only from the living, but from the dead.1
Every significant social explanation about Indian society and state emerges from the above mentioned observation of Karl Marx. First, India has a long history and the settled-society witnessed many state
Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharial Nehru University, New Delhi.
Social Scientist, Vol. 22, Nos. 5-6, May-June 1994