1. Question from UPSC Mains GS1
  2. Self-Study First
  3. Introduction: Define both terms
  4. Conclusion (Futuristic Note)
  5. Pitfalls/Afterthoughts

Question from UPSC Mains GS1

So far I’ve solved the first 18 questions of the UPSC Mains Paper-1, now time for 19th:

Q19. Distinguish between religiousness/religiosity and communalism giving one example of how the former has got transformed into the latter in independent India. (250 words, 15 marks, Asked in GSM1-2017)

स्वतंत्र भारत में धार्मिकता किस प्रकार से सांप्रदायिकता में रूपांतरित हो गयी, इसका एक उदाहरण प्रस्तुत करते हुए धार्मिकता एवं साम्प्रदायिकता के मध्य विभेदन कीजिए.

Self-Study First

UPSC Answer religiosity and communalism in India

Introduction: Define both terms

We can begin the introduction by defining both religiosity and communalism. Then in body#1, we can make a table to show their differences. Body#2, we can write about how religiosity transformed into communalism with a specific example.

Introduction: (Definition)

  • Religiosity is the totality of religious beliefs, values, practices and rituals.
  • Whereas communalism is an aggressive political ideology linked to religion.
  • The key differences between them are as following:

Body#1: Differences between Religiosity vs. Communalism

Religiosity Communalism
  • Religiosity is as old as the religion and civilization itself.
  • Communalism is a newer phenomenon compared to religiosity. It was born during the colonial times, when the British used religious contrasts among different communities to rule over them.
  • It can be found throughout the world.
  • Communalism is a phenomenon mainly confined to Indian subcontinent, and South Asia.
  • Religiosity is concerned with the worship of God.
  • Religiosity is often accompanied by  1)  prayers i.e. petition direct at a supernatural power and 2) rituals i.e. symbolic series of actions to appear the aid supernatural power.
  • Communalism is a belief system and a social phenomenon wherein, history is interpreted for mobilization of people.
  • It involves the use of sacred symbols, religious leaders, emotional appeal and plain fear in order to bring the followers of one religion together in the political arena.
  • Secularism and egalitarianism are portrayed as abnormal. People belonging to other faith and religion are portrayed as antagonists.
  • A person usually engage in religiosity to seek help of a supernatural power to solve his problems.
  • Religiosity is the human response to those elements in the life and environment which are beyond his ordinary comprehension.
  • A person engages in communalism to fulfill social, economic of his community and or his personal political ambitions.
Religiosity by default is not associated with violence, unless the religious tenants themselves require human or animal sacrifice.
  • In Communalism the religious identity overrides everything else. Anyone who doesn’t share this identity can be attacked verbally or physically.
  • When communalism escalates into communal riots, people become faceless members of their respective communities. They are willing to kill, rape, and loot members of other communities in order to redeem their pride, to protect their home turf or avenge the death of dishonour suffered by their co-religionists elsewhere or even in the distant past.

Body#2: How religiousness transformed into communalism in Free-India?

  • The communalism before independence was rooted in the ‘divide and rule’ policy of the British. They had fostered communalism to weaken the nationalist movement by forcing religious rather than national allegiance.
  • After partition, the class divisions of our society and the backwardness of our economy resulted in uneven development.
  • As a result, some sections and individuals developed a sense of rivalry vis-à-vis their counterparts in other communities.
  • Such leaders began encouraging communal feelings to strengthen their political support.
  • When ordinary Indians feel insecure because of some adverse circumstances, they often tend to rely on religion, which make them vulnerable to political manipulation to inflame communal passions.
  • With economic problems becoming important, leaders began to convert economic insecurities like poverty unemployment, price rise etc. into caste and communal ones. One such example is:

Body#3: Example of Bhindaranwale & the communalization of Sikhs

  • After independence, the Sikhs were no longer receiving preferential treatment in the recruitment of Indian army, unlike during the British raj.
  • 1955: Akali Dal launched agitation to achieve Punjabi suba, but failed.
  • Green Revolution proved very beneficial to the land-owning Hindu-Jat families, but frustrated the landless among the Sikhs.
  • Radical Sikh leaders like Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale used this frustration of Sikh peasants and unemployed youth, and funnelled their hatred towards the national ‘Hindu’ government, and the ‘Hindu’ Congress party with the demands for a separate state for the Sikh, called Khalistan.
  • Keeping of kesh (long hair and a beard), kangha (comb), kada (a metallic bangle), kirpan (a sword) and kaccha (an underwear extending to a little above the knees), paying obeisance to the holy book of Guru Granth Sahib- these are the components of the Sikh religiosity.
  • But, Bhindranwale even threatened to kill the school principals who did not enforce the aforementioned symbols of Sikh religiosity upon the students. Thus, he transformed religiosity into communalism for his petty agenda.

Body#3:  (ALTERNATE Example) Demolition of Babri Masjid

  • Lord Ram occupies a unique place in the hearts of Hindu as an embodiment of righteousness. Celebrating his birthday as ‘Ramnavami’, and his victory over demon Ravana as ‘Dusserah’- are part of Hindu religiosity.
  • In early 16th century, Mir Baqui, a general of Mughal king Babur built a mosque in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh- which is the birthplace of Lord Ram.
  • Some Hindus believe that it was built after demolishing a temple for Lord Rama. After independence, a campaign was started to ‘liberate’ the birthplace of Lord Ram.
  • Hindus were asked to provide ‘Karseva’, meaning voluntary service for building the Ram temple. This ultimately culminated into thousands of ‘Karsevaks’ gathering and demolishing the said mosque on 6 December 1992, followed by communal riots across India.

Conclusion (Futuristic Note)

Religiosity keeps a person peaceful and content, whereas communalism makes him agitated and dissatisfied. For human development and spiritual regeneration in the modern India, we should promote the former and discourage the latter.


Transformation of religiosity into communalism creates serious obstacles to good governance, economic development and social harmony of our country. Therefore, both the state and the society must prevent any individual, organization or event that encourages such process.


  • Conclusion should not be a long list of SUGGESTIONS on how to combat Communalism.
  • Question has asked you to give example after independence. So, giving example of Muslim league’s ‘two-nations-theory’, ‘direct-action-day’, Hindu revivalism during the British India etc. are incorrect.
  • You’re asked to differentiate the (features) of Religiosity vs. Communalism- for civil services exam. You’re NOT asked to differentiate between a religious person vs. communal person for a primary school exam. So, pedestrian differentiation like “A religious person is peace loving but a communal person is violence loving“…. This type of chilidish-writings just to fillup the 250 words should be avoided.
  • You’re NOT ASKED to identify and LIST the factors responsible for Communalism and Communal violence. So, ‘lack of education among poor people, political ambition of individuals, viral videos on social media, “…such list is not asked.
  • There is a distinct taste of loaded pro-Modi questions in recent UPSC Mains exams. Observe:
    • GSM2-2017: Does the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 ensure effective mechanism for empowerment and inclusion of the intended beneficiaries in the society? Discuss. Will you write “there is no mechanism. Only an eyewash!
    • GSM3-2016: Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) is necessary for bringing unbanked to the institutional finance fold. Do you agree…? So, will you answer, “No, I don’t agree because UPA’s basic saving account scheme was much better!
  • Anyways, whether UPSC’s examine and evaluator panels have been replaced with pro-BJP type professors, is a matter of speculation and debate. But irrespectively, it’s not OFFICER-LIKE-QUALITY to write in an emotionally-outraged tone. Example, “VHP, RSS and BJP are communal organizations. L.K.Advani was personally present during the demolition of… ” You should narrate such events in a toned down curated manner.
  • Bhindranwale is a textbook villain killed during the action of Indian army. So, no harm in naming and shaming him. Still even here, you should avoid venomous tone as if you’ve a personal vendetta against Bhindranwale as an individual.

Visit Mrunal.org/Mains for more on the Art of Answer-Writing.