Difference Between Secularism and Communalism

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 16, 2022, 7:58

Communalism and Secularism are two different schools of thought. The Major Difference Between Secularism and Communalism lies in their ideologies.

While communalism means strong attachment to one's community and religion, Secularism is the exact opposite; it dictates complete separation or indifference towards religion and promotes religious exclusion from social and national politics.

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What is the Difference Between Secularism and Communalism?

Points of difference

Secularism

Communalism

Ideology

Secularism is a political idea to organise a state and its society without coercion of faith or belief, promoting freedom of religion for all its members, and imposing no discrimination based on religion.

Communalism as a political idea uses religion, committing individuals of society entirely to a set of beliefs of the community. It is used as an ideology to unify a community and promotes religious isolation from other groups.

Origin

George Jacob Holyoake was an English secularist and newspaper editor who first coined the term Secularism in 1851.

The term first came into existence during the British colonial rule in India. In the early 20th century, the 4th Earl of Minto began communal electorates and legalized communalism in India through the Morley-Minto Act in 1909.

History in India

‘Secularism’ was added to the preamble by the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act of 1976, stating, ‘India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic.’

Communalism was introduced in British India when the British struggled to resolve the riots between Hindus and Muslims. Communalism is often used as an instrument for division and exploitation by the higher and elite class of people.

Core principles

  • Secularism treats all religions equally in the sense that no single religion is favoured over the other in any form
  • It separates religious institutions from the institutions of state and does not dominate politics with religious ideas
  • It also promotes freedom of thought and freedom to change their beliefs within the rights of others
  • Lastly, it bans discrimination on the grounds of religion and promotes equal treatment for all individuals
  • Communalism as a political idea uses religious and cultural differences to win over people and make political ends meet
  • Communalism creates feelings of superiority among one’s community and intolerance towards other communities
  • Communalism promotes the isolation of a community from mainstream society

Consequences

  • Secularism creates diversity, democracy, plural society, etc
  • It promotes no disputes over religion and beliefs and creates a ban on religious symbols in schools, public places or events, etc
  • However, no country has been able to perfectly apply the ideal principles of secularism
  • Communalism often leads to discrimination against a religious group regarding employment, education, politics, commerce, etc
  • This often results in hostility, tension, and competition leading to communal riots and violence among different communities

 

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It is important to study the Difference Between Secularism and Communalism regarding their different belief systems, modes of applications, etc., to stay informed of the political happenings in the country.

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FAQs on the Difference Between Secularism and Communalism

Q1. What is the Difference Between Secularism and Communalism in terms of ideologies?

The Difference Between Secularism and Communalism in terms of ideologies is that Communalism is a political idea used to organize society based on loyalty and affiliation toward a particular community. On the other hand, secularism separates the state and the government from religious institutions and beliefs.

Q2. What is the Difference Between Secularism and Communalism in terms of application in India?

The Difference Between Secularism and Communalism in terms of application in India is as follows:

Communalism has been a common social issue in India among other countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Communal violence in Indian politics has caused conflicts between major religious Indian communities, especially Hindus, Muslims, and Christians.

'Secularism' was added to the preamble by the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act of 1976, stating, 'India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic.'

Q3. Is there a Difference Between Secularism and Communalism regarding consequences in society?

Yes, there is a Difference Between Secularism and Communalism in terms of consequences in society. While secularism creates pluralism, Communalism creates hostility and competition among communities.

Q4. What is the Difference Between Secularism and Communalism in terms of expression?

The Difference Between Secularism and Communalism in terms of expression is that Communalism is an instrument to create power in the state's economic, social, and political domains. Secularism creates neutrality in multi-cultural societies where different religious groups coexist.