V. KRISHNA ANANTW
The Political Economy of Communalism:
Some Observations on the Contemporary Political Discourse in India
The increasing resort to the religious idiom and the use of other denominational identities such as caste and the mobilisation thereof on the basis of such idioms in the past two decades continues to rattle the political discourse in India. It is also significant that this development, where such issues as hunger, poverty and other manifestations of an unequal economic order are being pushed under the carpet in the national political discourse during the same period. This development, it is important to note, stares at our face particularly in the two decades since 1980.
The conspicuous absense of such basic issues in the political discourse particularly at a time when such aspects of the welfare state — food subsidy, health care and other social security measures — are sought to be abolished clearly points to a pattern.
The political class is no longer circumvent about advocating an end to the subsidy regime. The sole note of dissent in this regard comes from the various Left groups including the mainstream Left parties as the CPI(M) and the CPI. The only area where they (the political masters) want the subsidy regime to continue is with agriculture. All these cannot be mere coincidence. Instead, it points towards a dangerous development.
The civil society in India is at crossroads. A nation, born out of a long drawn anti-imperialist struggle and hence could give shape to a secular and democratic governing structure is now witnessing the rise of fascist tendencies threatening to dismantle its institutions of Democracy.
The Republican Constitution that drew its strength primarily from
* Assistant Editor, The Hm^M,Chennai
Social Scientist, Vol. 29, Nos. 7 - 8, July - August 2001