Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bangladesh, Communalism (contd-1)

Although economic impoverishment of the Muslim peasantryprovided a material base for agrarian tensions in Bengal, the ideological form in which the consciousness of the Muslim peasantry increasingly came to be defined was that of a community united by religion and separated from its enemies by religion . The growth of solidarity in bengali muslim society was caused by a successful mobilisation of rural Muslims by the ulamas. The islamic reform movements in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which sought to restore the purity of the faith by purging it of idoltrous practices served to achieve a consensus between the diverse Muslim social groups. The Bengali Muslims gained a new islamic identity which, in turn, led to a social alienation of the Muslim villager from his/her immediate Hindu neighbour with whom he/she had generally shared a common pattern of rural life. A heightened consciousness of a separate cultural identity made the Bengali Muslims feel that as Muslims they were required to be distinct from Hindus and to orient their manners, customs, personal and family names in accordance with Pan-islamic norms.
The strengthening of a religious identity among the Muslims was matched by a rapid rise of Hindu revivalism. In rural areas especially such districts as Pabna, Dhaka, the local Hari Sabhas, and Arya Dharma Pracharini Sabhas organised public worship and kirtans to generate solidarity amongst the Hindus. The marwaris in Calcutta formed defence parties to forestall attacks on Hindu property ; Newspapers such as Amrita Bazar Patrika (30 july 1926) wote of establishing Hindu organisations in every part of Bengal. Such organisations as the Hindu Sabha in Pabna, which since since its establishment in 1921/22 had not been particularly anti-Muslim, now became active in educating its followers on important communal rights such as playing music in religious processions without any obstruction. By the turn of the twentieth century Hindu Muslim cotradictions were noticeable both at the elite and popular levels of bengali society . Certain long and short term developments in the world of organised politics contributed to a link between the two . The constitutional acts of 1909 and 1919 expanded the franchise but introduced the system of separate electorates that encouraged politicians to work along communal and sectarian lines. These tendencies were strengthened by another contemporaneous development --the spread of education without a corresponding rise in employment opportunities, which produced a scramble of for scare jobs along communal lines. Communal solidarities was thus strengthened in the realm of organised politics.