This volume gives an account of the rise of Hindu communalism in Bihar in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and its relationship with the nationalist ideology, through the activities of the intelligentsia. It shows how a Hindi-speaking intelligentsia emerged, carrying with it notions of history, identity and visions of a new social order where caste, national and religious loyalties co-existed. While Hindu communal forces were unable to match the dominance of the Congress with its view of a composite nationalism, the presence of the former in the political spectrum was significant. Hitendra Patel narrates the Bihari intelligentsia’s efforts to mobilise people and disseminate Hindu symbols and stereotypes, while trying to give legitimacy to a ‘communal’ view of their nationalism. He discusses two movements that aroused widespread passions: one for the use of Hindi, replacing Urdu, in education and the law courts from the 1860s, and the other for ‘cow protection’. The growth of the Hindi press and anti-Bengali sentiments are outlined. Patel also analyses intra-community discourses on lower-caste inclusion, revealing divisions within the Hindu fold.
Hitendra Patel teaches at the Department of History at Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata
Nationalism and Communalism in Modern Bihar