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Webinar on “Religious Nationalism and Communal Violence in India”

The B.A. Department organised this Webinar on 11th April 2022 from 11:00 am-12:00 pm
The session began with Dr. Ravi Shankar Mishra, HOD of Arts Department of St. John College of Humanities and Sciences welcoming the participants and introducing the resource person. The resource person, Dr. Basil Philip Kunnath, working as a Research Fellow at Centre for Social Research and Advanced Studies, Calicut, conducted the webinar using the online platform Google Meet.

Dr. Basil Philip Kunnath started by explaining the concept of religious nationalism and its consequence in the terms of communal violence. He then quickly moved to his comparative historical method to trace the deep roots of religious nationalism and communal violence. He firstly began with deconstruction of the misconception that religions have nothing to do with regard to communal violence. As in common sensical understanding religion is always associated with its primordial aspiration to unite with almighty and spread the message of peace, it is not so often interrogated as a root cause of the communal violence. The petty-political interests of political leaders are definitely found as reasons for inciting of such violence, but religion is mostly spared. Thus, in this regard he traces a number of instances where religious clerics and preachers have in the past given many irresponsible and inflammatory speeches that have incited communal violence. Yet, the onus of communal violence is never placed on religion.

He further gave examples of surging of religious nationalism in the context of neo liberal context where people who face an identity crisis while migrating to a different country become more latched to one’s own primordial identity. So, while they adopt the modern lifestyles and consumerism, they develop a neo-traditionalism, where they take recourse to their pristine past an assert their religious identity through reviving the traditional practices or symbols that become essential consumption material of their life and further mobilize a religious nationalist thinking. While upwardly mobile people who can move from one country to another in search of better livelihood and lifestyle, manufacture and develop rigid religious nationalist thought, the lower class are also swept by it. In this regard, he cited the Hindutva and Khalistan movements approach and their surge

In the conclusion, the speaker emphasized on the importance of comparative historical method that has the potential to clarify many misconceptions and bring the fact to the light. Religious nationalism is one of the extant topics in sociology that is needed to be approached from new frameworks so as to understand its historical moorings in proper perspective

After the lecture session, Dr. Ravi Shankar Mishra, requested students to ask questions from the resource person with regard to his lecture. The speaker answered their questions with an intent to register in their mind the importance of a scientific approach in sociologically studying such a sensitive subject and the need of dislodging the preconceptions in their mind. The event was attended by 27 participants. The event received positive feedback from the participants.

After the question-answer session, the webinar concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Ravi Shankar Mishra to the resource person, principal sir, technical team and the participants.

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