This article deals with the use of the word communalism in South Asia, as a name for a force 'separating different communities based on some form of social or sectarian discrimination. See the article communalism for the use of the word to denote a force uniting people into a community as well as a libertarian socialist political ideology, as it is used in other parts of the world where English is a major language.
Communalism is used in South Asia to denote attempts to promote primarily religious stereotypes between groups of people identified as different communities and to stimulate violence between those groups. It derives not from community but from "tensions between the (religious) communities. The sense given to this word in South Asia is represented by the word sectarianism outside South Asia.
In South Asia, "communalism" is seen as existing primarily between Hindus, Muslim, Sikhs, and Christians. In contemporary India, "communalism" designates not only the conflicts between extremist religious communities, but also those between people of the same religion but from different regions and states.
Political parties are generally considered to play an important role in stimulating, supporting and/or suppressing communalism.