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Journal of Religion and Violence

Volume 5, Issue 1, 2017

James Ponniah
Pages 79-101
DOI: 10.5840/jrv20175239

Communal Violence in India
Exploring Strategies of its Nurture and Negation in Contemporary Times

This article, based on the fieldwork done at two places in India, namely Kandhamal in Odisha and Mangalore in Karnataka, not only investigates different forms of anti-Christian narratives produced by the Hindu extremists to legitimize and perpetuate communal violence but also draws one’s attention to the Christian response that delegitimizes such narratives and arrests its reception by the common public. The anti-Christian and anti-minority narrative of the Hindutva camp is founded upon a single meta-narrative that India is a Hindu nation. This narrative—which is constructed by the right-wing Hindu groups for the last three decades in Independent India—not only denies, by default, equal citizenship to Christians, but also portrays them as anti-national, and thus legitimizes violence against them. To this challenge, Christians in India respond by reinventing their national citizenship through political activism and socio-economic engagements to build a more mature secular Indian state, which would become less and less vulnerable to religious violence in India. The essay is divided into two parts. While the first part deals with multiple ways through which communal violence is provoked in these two states, the second part focuses on how Christians of India respond to this new reality of polarization and repression.

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