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Revisiting Communalism and Fundamentalism in India

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This comprehensive review of the literature on communalism - and its virulent offshoot, fundamentalism - in India considers the various perspectives from which the issue has sought to be understood, from precolonial and colonial times to the post-Independence period. The writings indicate that communalism is an outcome of the competitive aspirations of domination and counter-domination that began in colonial times. Cynical distortions of the democratic process and the politicisation of religion in the early decades of Independence intensified it. In recent years, economic liberalisation, the growth of opportunities and a multiplying middle class have further aggravated it. More alarmingly, since the 1980s, Hindu communalism has morphed into fundamentalism, with the Sangh parivar and its cultural politics of Hindutva playing ominous roles.

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