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Relationship of religion and politics in India before independence Essay


The state of India was subdivided in 1947 based on religious beliefs. This partitioning established two states namely India and Pakistan. Pakistan was predominantly occupied by Muslim faithful’s while India was occupied by a population which subscribed to the Hindu religion.

However, even though religion has been a significant central factor in the growth and progress of the Indian civilization, the fundamental ideology of the nation has been secular nationalism.

Obstacles related to modernization have been particularly strong in the state of India. This essay seeks to investigate and understand the relationships between religion, politics, and institutional beliefs.

Relationship between religious and political beliefs

According to Moore, the mogul regime that ruled over India was a parasitic system of governance. In this political organization, political leaders who were a minority in the population basically obtained their sustenance from the larger peasantry population.

It was the custom belief that the peasants had to pay taxes to the king or ruler, which was mostly paid in the form of agricultural products produced by the lower class.

However, there was particularly little or no investment of the tax revenues in economic development such as building of infrastructure within the rural communities. The Indian society was organized within a caste system.

This caste system resulted in the national government becoming superfluous. In essence, it limited any peasant revolutions; however, the mogul regime finally crumbled because of the complexities of exploitation instigated by its tax regime.

The collapse of the mogul regime paved the way for the entrance of the British and their system of governance, during the 18th century (Moore 315).

The British experienced strong obstacles to modernization within the Indian society before their conquest. Additionally, more barriers to modernizations surfaced after the conquest.

During the late 18th century and the early 19th century, the British regime introduced its own regime of taxation and land tenure laws. They also introduced the textile industry, which adversely affected the caste artisan cottage industries.

“Between taxes and textiles enough of a shock was administered to Indian rural society- and most of the society was, of course rural- to make the mutiny seem to the modern historian quite comprehensible” (Moore, 348).

Furthermore, the British brought with them their Westernized culture which was a significant threat to the benefits enjoyed by the local priests. This is what led to the attempted mutiny in 1857 (Moore 316). The institutional dynamics of the local society are structured in the caste system.

To counter the possibility of a revolution from the native Indian community, the British attempted to create conflict in the society. The British sought to create conflict between the Muslims and Hindus. This was achieved through an attempt to purchase the loyalty of one of the religious groups.

In addition, some political allies and their regions benefited from their cooperation with the British. For the British to be successful in India, they had to devise strategies that would break the social unity that was characteristic of the Indian society.

The relationship between religion and political beliefs of groups/institutions

During the mogul regime, most Muslim leaders forcefully converted the Hindu community to Islam. They destroyed and demolished Hindu temples and learning institutions. There was also a public prohibition against the worship of Indian idols.

The demolished and destroyed temples were forbidden from being reconstructed. These actions created a lot of hostility amongst the Muslim and Hindu community leadership.

Muslim leaders such as Akbar had a wide array of political strategies that encompassed religious tolerance and fairness for all citizens. Through the centuries, the close relations between the Hindu and Muslim religions have significantly transformed both religions.

For instance, Indian Muslims progressed through the influence of Hinduism. They have incorporated some form of the caste system into their operations, even though Islam is considered to be egalitarian.

On the other hand, Islamic culture has significantly influenced other aspects of Indian culture. Islam has a tremendous influence on arts, cuisine, architecture and literature among others.

During the early stages of the British rule, the Muslims and the Hindu had become accustomed to each other. The Hindu and Muslim communities lived together in different regions of the country. They equally shared in the growth of cultural and social customs of both communities (Sahu 247).

However, various factors contributed to the revival of ancient enmity. Hostilities were reignited a few decades before India attained its independence. During the independence revolution, both communities used religious symbols to rally for support.

The policy of divide and rule employed by the European colonizers had raised the hostilities. This was as a result of the introduction of communal and special structure of administration. This fact undermined the efforts of congress to represent the face of nationalism.

The benefits that the Hindu accrued form Western education also exacerbated the problem. However, the religious disputes did not result to violence or aggression between the two societies.

Instead, it created a lot of fear within the minority population since the Hindu society formed the majority in India. The Muslim League took advantage of the religious misunderstanding to rally for a political backing to advocate for the establishment of a purely Muslim state.

“The Muslim demand for the creation of a separate and independent Islamic state of Pakistan, articulated by the Muslim League in 1940, was the manifestation of that fear” (Sahu 244).

On the other hand, leaders in the congress were also not willing to tolerate the demands of the Islamic leaders. The history of the Hindu and Muslim conflict defines the development of a secularized state in India (Sahu 248).

The Indian caste system dictates all aspects of an individual’s life. Moore argues that the caste system acts as a self-regulation system. The caste system offers a structure in which labor and power are allocated to individuals.

Everything in this community is dictated by the caste system, which was founded on the basis of offering labor and services in return for food. This form of trade was carried out between the upper and lower castes.

However, “though closer to the modern system of hired labor, the Indian arrangement too was supported by custom and what we can loosely call traditional sentiments” (Moore 334).

The caste system defines which people in society can assume leadership based on the cultural norms of the Hindu community.


The path to modernization has faced a lot of challenges in India. These challenges are what have shaped the political and economic climate of India today. Religion and other cultural beliefs and systems have continued to influence the politics of India before and after the independence.

Cultural and religious beliefs have led to the mutiny in 1857 against the British rule. The lower classes of the caste system have been hugely exploited by the upper classes. However, regardless of their poor cultivation strategies, they have been able to produce a considerable economic surplus.

Works Cited

Moore, Barrington. Social origins of dictatorship and democracy: Lord and peasant in the making of the modern world, Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1967. Print.

Sahu, Sunil. Religion and politics in India: The emergence of Hindu Nationalism and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print.

This Essay on Relationship of religion and politics in India before independence was written and submitted by user Kamille Riley to help you with your own studies. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Kamille Riley studied at the University of Nevada, Reno, USA, with average GPA 3.13 out of 4.0.

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Riley, K. (2019, July 10). Relationship of religion and politics in India before independence [Blog post]. Retrieved from

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Riley, Kamille. "Relationship of religion and politics in India before independence." IvyPanda, 10 July 2019,

1. Kamille Riley. "Relationship of religion and politics in India before independence." IvyPanda (blog), July 10, 2019.


Riley, Kamille. "Relationship of religion and politics in India before independence." IvyPanda (blog), July 10, 2019.


Riley, Kamille. 2019. "Relationship of religion and politics in India before independence." IvyPanda (blog), July 10, 2019.


Riley, K. (2019) 'Relationship of religion and politics in India before independence'. IvyPanda, 10 July.

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