Navigating Indian Socio-Religious-Political Tensions: A Reflection on Hindu-Muslim Relations and Governance

Slider उत्तराखंड देश सम्पादकीय लेख संस्कृति

India, with its rich cultural and religious diversity, has been grappling with socio-religious-political tensions, particularly among Hindus and Muslims. These tensions have manifested in various forms, including political discourse, social interactions, and, at times, even violence. The historical context of Hindu-Muslim relations in India is complex and multifaceted. Centuries of coexistence, cultural exchange, and shared history have been marred by periods of conflict and division.

The Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, the Gujarat riots in 2002, and other incidents have left lasting scars on the social fabric. In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in socio-religious-political tensions, with instances of communal violence, hate speech, and polarization. These tensions often find expression in electoral politics, exacerbating divisions within society. The question that arises is whether the Central Government could have taken measures to prevent or alleviate these tensions.

One key aspect that needs to be addressed is the perception of inclusivity in governance. India needs a government that actively promotes inclusivity and ensures representation of diverse communities, and this can contribute to a sense of belonging among all citizens. This involves not only appointing more leaders from various backgrounds but also actively involving them in decision-making processes. Another critical factor is the delivery of swift and fair justice. Timely resolution of long-standing disputes, such as the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case, can contribute to a sense of justice and closure, preventing prolonged animosity.

However, the pomp with which both state and central government have taken the initiative in building the temple along with the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, leaves us with the question of whether both the government would be equally enthusiastic and involved in the construction of a Mosque for which Supreme Court of India, as per the 2019 landmark verdict, had directed the government to allot a separate piece of land to the Sunni Waqf Board, representing the Muslim community. On this front, India surely needs a government that prioritizes legal processes that are transparent, unbiased, and adhere to the principles of justice.

The role of political leaders in shaping public discourse is pivotal. Responsible communication that discourages hate speech and fosters a culture of respect can significantly impact societal attitudes. We need leaders who refrain from making statements that could be construed as divisive, comparative, or inflammatory and instead work towards promoting understanding and cooperation. Encouraging community engagement and empowerment is essential for social harmony.

Government initiatives that actively involve communities in development projects and policy-making can foster a sense of ownership and pride among citizens. This approach helps build trust and reduces the likelihood of communities feeling marginalized. Addressing the root causes of communal tensions requires a focus on education. Educational reforms that promote a pluralistic and inclusive curriculum can contribute to a more tolerant society. Emphasizing that the history of the Indian subcontinent has given us Indians, a shared heritage of diverse communities and fostering critical thinking and acceptance can counteract divisive ideologies, rather calling out the religious communities other than Hindus, as foreigners or outsiders over news media and social media platforms repeatedly to increase hatred.

The role of Indian news media, often referred to as “godi media” (a term used to describe media perceived as being close to the government), in contributing to or exacerbating religious unrest in the country has been a subject of debate and criticism. While media can play a crucial role in informing the public and shaping opinions, it’s essential to consider various perspectives and acknowledge the diversity within the media landscape. Though the Indian media landscape is diverse, with outlets representing a wide range of perspectives, and not all media organizations can be categorized as “godi media”, because there are instances of responsible journalism, however, major news channels with most TRP are succumbing to news that is divisive religiously.

Some critics argue that certain media outlets exhibit biased reporting, favoring a particular political or religious narrative. This bias can contribute to the polarization of communities and may inadvertently fuel religious tensions. Sensationalism in news reporting, where stories are presented in a dramatic or exaggerated manner to attract attention, has contributed to the escalation of tensions. Hyperbolic headlines and provocative coverage do not accurately reflect the nuances of complex issues.

The use of hate speech and divisive language in media is a significant factor in promoting religious unrest. Irresponsible rhetoric has inflamed passions and contributed to an environment where animosity between different religious communities is heightened. Instances of selective coverage, where certain events or perspectives are highlighted while others are downplayed or ignored, have created a distorted view of reality and contributed to a lack of understanding among the public. Inaccurate reporting and a lack of fact-checking have contributed to the spread of misinformation and the perpetuation of stereotypes, potentially leading to increased mistrust between communities.

Media outlets perceived as having close ties to the government are now criticized for not providing objective coverage and for being more aligned with the political narratives than serving as independent watchdogs. This perception has eroded the public trust in the media. While there have been efforts by the Central government to address some of these issues, challenges persist. Political considerations, deeply entrenched historical narratives, and the influence of extremist elements have complicated the path to communal harmony.

Striking the right balance requires a comprehensive and sustained approach. Actions speak louder than words. The government, through its policies and initiatives, has the opportunity to build trust among communities- again. Transparent governance, inclusive policies, and equitable distribution of resources can demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of all citizens, regardless of their religious affiliations.

The Indian democratic secular nation has far more grave issues to deal with such as education for all, poverty eradication, health (both physical and mental) for all, urbanization, protecting the flora & fauna, and increasing employment for the thriving young manpower, rather than trying head over heels to establish the nation as a Hindu Rashtra when in fact, it is and will remain – a proud Secular nation. In sensitive matters that impact religious sentiments, a consultative and inclusive approach can go a long way. Engaging with religious leaders, scholars, and representatives from affected communities before making policy decisions can help ensure that diverse perspectives are considered.

Strengthening institutions that uphold the principles of justice, equality, and secularism is crucial. This involves ensuring the independence of the judiciary, empowering law enforcement agencies to act without bias, and promoting a culture of accountability within government bodies. In an interconnected world, seeking inspiration from successful models of interfaith harmony in other countries will provide us with valuable insights. The government can explore opportunities for international cooperation, exchange programs, and initiatives that promote understanding among diverse communities.

The socio-religious-political tensions among Hindus and Muslims in India are deeply rooted and multifaceted and while the central government has taken some steps to address these issues, there is a big room for improvement. A holistic approach that combines inclusive governance, responsible communication, dependable journalism, community engagement, educational reforms, and swift justice can contribute to fostering a more harmonious society. Leaders and citizens alike need to prioritize unity, understanding, and cooperation to build a stronger and more inclusive India.


 Ms. Annu Biswas
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
School of Health and Medical Sciences
Adamas University, Barasat, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Ms. Biswas is hailing from West Bengal. Professionally, she is a psychologist, and academically she is involved in teaching graduate and undergraduate courses along-with research on various socio-cultural-political aspects prevalent in Indian social reality at Department of Psychology, Adamas University, Kolkata, West Bengal, India. She is also the Director of a nationally recognized Publication house, Brilliant Waves Publication and is involved in publication of books, literary  work, articles and research papers. Personally, she has an upbringing in an atmosphere with the Ideology of Patriotism and Secularism. This is so because she has been an Indian Army Kid. She is the daughter of an ex-army serviceman and like any other army kid; her schooling was from Army Schools. Therefore, she has witnessed and was exposed to  how  people from different ethnicities, cultural background, religious communities, castes, and languages can co-exist together, happily, without any differences   in mind for each other and serving the nation together. Within the prevalent socio-political structure of the nation, as she witnesses the gradually increasing divide between religious communities, the current article focuses on asking questions and at the same time, giving probable solutions that can again strengthen the country’s secular bond.

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