Power Sharing Class 10 Notes Social Science Civics Chapter 1

Belgium and Its Peculiar Ethnic Composition

Belgium, situated in Europe, covers less area than the state of Haryana. It shares its geographical borders with the Netherlands, France and Germany. Its population is half of that of Haryana. Belgium is an ethnically diverse country. A major portion of its population- 59 percent, lives in the Flemish region and speaks Dutch while about 40 percent people live in the Wallonia region and speak French. Only 1% of the Belgians speak German.

The capital Brussels is dominated by French-speaking communities (about 80 %) while 20 percent are Dutch-speaking. In Brussels, the minority French-speaking community was relatively rich and powerful. Despite that, the Dutch-speaking community could experience the benefit of economic development and education way later than the French-speaking minority community. This fuelled tensions between Dutch-speaking and French-speaking communities during the 1950s-60s.


  • The Dutch-speaking people constituted a majority in the country, but a minority in the capital, Brussels.
  • In Belgium, the Dutch community could take advantage of its numeric majority and impose its will on the French and German-speaking population for selfish benefits leading to greater conflict among communities. In that case, Brussels could come in the middle of this communal conflicts-disrupting the administration of the country.

NCERT Class 10 Civics Chapter 1 Notes Power Sharing

Example 1.
Source Based:
Read the source given below and answer the questions that follow:
The minority French-speaking community was relatively rich and powerful. This was resented by the Dutch-speaking community who got the benefit of economic development and education much later. This led to tensions between the Dutch-speaking and French-speaking communities during the 1950s and 1960s. The tension between the two communities was more acute in Brussels. Brussels presented a special problem: the Dutch-speaking people constituted a majority in the country, but a minority in the capital. Let us compare this to the situation in another country. Sri Lanka is an island nation, just a few kilometres off the southern coast of Tamil Nadu. The leaders of the Sinhala community sought to secure dominance over government by virtue of their majority. The democratically elected government adopted a series of majoritarian measures to establish Sinhala supremacy.
(A) Why did the Dutch-speaking community resent the French-speaking community?
(a) They were the minority and they were rich.
(b) There were the minority community and enjoyed all the benefits for their welfare despite being rich.
(c) They were the majority community.
(d) French community was different in terms of religious practices.
(b) There were the minority community and enjoyed all the benefits for their welfare despite being rich.

Explanation: The Dutch-speaking community were insecure of the favours received by the minority French community, despite the latter being affluent and powerful.

(B) Which of the following reasons best describes why Brussels presented a separate problem in Belgium?
(a) Brussels was located on the outskirts of mainland Belgium which made it difficult to administer.
(b) Brussels was dominated by a French-speaking community which formed a minority in the rest of Belgium.
(c) Brussels was divided into two territories- One was dominated by a French-speaking community and the other by Dutch speaking community.
(d) People of Brussels wanted to be a separate region.
(b) Brussels was dominated by a French-speaking community which formed a minority in the rest of Belgium.

Explanation: The problem would have been severe because if the majoritarian government were to assert their power throughout the country, Brussels would suffer even worse and result into disruption in administration.

(C) Mention one similarity between the countries of Sri Lanka and Belgium with respect to their ethnic composition.
Both Sri Lanka and Belgium house ethnically diverse communities.

NCERT Class 10 Civics Chapter 1 Notes Power Sharing

(D) Assertion (A): Belgium managed to accommodate its diversities.
Reason(R): It took care of the interests of both French and Dutch-speaking communities.
(a) Both (A) and (R) are true and (R) is the correct explanation of (A).
(b) Both (A) and (R) are true but (R) is not the correct explanation of (A).
(c) (A) is correct but (R) is wrong.
(d) (A) is wrong but (R) is correct.
(a) Both (A) and (R) are true and (R) is the correct explanation of (A).

Explanation: Belgium accommodated the diversities by taking care of the communities by amending the constitution four times.

Sri Lanka And The Ethnic Tensions

Sri Lanka is an island nation, situated close to the southern coast of Tamil Nadu. Its population is almost equal to that of Haryana. Sri Lanka has an ethnically diverse population. Sinhala-speakers (74 percent) and Tamil-speakers (18 percent) are the two major ethnic groups.

The Tamil citizens are further divided into two sub-groups. Native Tamils are called ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’ (13 per cent) and those Tamils who migrated to Sri Lanka from India as plantation workers during the colonial period, are called ‘Indian Tamils’ (almost 3-4 %). Sri Lankan Tamils are concentrated in the north and east of the country.

Frequently Asked:
Most Sinhala-speaking people are Buddhist, while most of the Tamils are Hindus or Muslims. About 7 per cent of Christians, who are both Tamil and Sinhala. The Sinhala community could impose its will on the entire country since it enjoys a drastic majority over the Tamils.

Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka Sri Lanka gained Independence in 1948.
To secure dominance over the government by virtue of their majority, Sinhalas, who were the democratically elected government, adopted a series of majoritarian measures. This established supremacy of Sinhalas.

  1. In 1956, an Act was passed to recognize Sinhala as the only official language. Tamil was disregarded.
  2. The governments followed preferential policies that favored Sinhala applicants for university positions and government jobs.
  3. The constitution declared that Sri Lanka officially recognized Buddhism as its state religion. It promised to promote and foster that.These measures made the Tamils feel alienated and isolated in their own nation. They believed that none of the major political parties led by the Buddhist Sinhala leaders were sensitive to their language and culture and that the constitution and government policies deprived them of equal political rights and opportunities of employment and development.

The Sinhala- Tamil camaraderie only worsened with time.

NCERT Class 10 Civics Chapter 1 Notes Power Sharing

Frequently Asked:

  • Despite the multiple parties and struggles for the recognition of Tamil as an official language, for regional autonomy and equality of opportunity in securing education and jobs launched by Sri Lankan Tamils, their demand for more autonomy to provinces populated by the Tamils was repeatedly denied.
  • Consequently, several political organizations were established to demand an independent Tamil Eelam (state) in northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.

The rising conflict between the communities fuelled by the feeling of mistrust soon turned into a Civil War.
The Civil war killed thousands of people belonging to both communities. Livelihoods were lost Various families fled the country to save their lives. There was an influx of refugees from Sri Lanka in India due to this war. Sri Lanka’s excellent record of economic development, education and health encountered a terrible setback as a result of this war and ethnic tensions.

Accommodation in Belgium:

  • The Belgian Leaders recognised the existence of regional differences and cultural diversities. To adopt the idea of inclusive growth, they amended their constitution four times between 1970 and 1993 to enable everyone to live together within the same country peacefully.
  • The arrangement is innovative and efficient.

Following are some of its features:

  1. The Belgian Constitution prescribes that the number of Dutch and French-speaking ministers shall be equal in the central government.
  2. Some special laws require the support of the majority of members from each linguistic group. Thus, no community can make decisions unilaterally.
  3. The state governments are not subordinate to the Central Government. State governments of the two regions have been given powers of the Central government for better governance.
  4. Brussels has a separate government in which both the communities have equal representation. The French speaking people accepted equal representation in Brussels because the Dutch-speaking community has accepted equal representation in the Central Government.
  5. A third kind of government has been established by the constitution. This is the ‘community government’ – which is elected by all the people belonging to the individual language communities-Dutch, French and German-speaking, irrespective of their places of residence.
  6. This government has the power regarding cultural, educational, and language-related issues.
  7. The Belgian model, though complicated, has proven to be very effective. They helped to avoid civic strife between the two major communities and even partition of the country on linguistic lines.
    Brussels was chosen as the headquarters of European Union. This shows that the country has been successful in establishing peace and camaraderie among its people.

NCERT Class 10 Civics Chapter 1 Notes Power Sharing

The European Union is an international organization comprising 26 European countries (Post the exit of Britain). It governs the common economic, social, and security policies of the region. The EU was created by the Maastricht Treaty, which entered into force on November 1, 1993. The EU’s common currency is the Euro.

Though democratic, both Belgium and Sri Lanka deal with the question of power-sharing differently.
Belgian leaders realised that the unity of the country is possible only by respecting the feelings and interests of different communities and regions. They created mutually acceptable arrangements for sharing power.

The example of Sri Lanka shows that if a majority community wants to force its dominance over others
and refuses to share power, it can undermine the unity of the country.

Example 2.
Consider the following statements about power sharing arrangements in Belgium and Sri Lanka.
(A) In Belgium, the Dutch-speaking majority people tried to impose their domination on the minority French-speaking community.
(B) In Sri Lanka, the policies of the government sought to ensure the dominance of the Sinhala-speaking majority.
(C) The Tamils in Sri Lanka demanded a federal arrangement of power sharing to protect their culture, language and equality of opportunity in education and jobs.
(D) The transformation of Belgium from unitary government to a federal one prevented a possible division of the country on linguistic lines.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
(a) (A), (B), (C) and (D)
(b) (A), (B) and (D)
(c) (C) and (D)
(d) (B), (C) and (D)
(d) (B), (C) and (D)

Explanation: The Dutch-speaking majority community were displeased because they could enjoy the benefit of economic development and education later than the French-speaking minority community could. This made them resent the minority community.

NCERT Class 10 Civics Chapter 1 Notes Power Sharing

Example 3.
Annette studies in a Dutch medium school in the northern region of Belgium. Many French-speaking students in her school want the medium of instruction to be French. Selvi studies in a school in the northern region of Sri Lanka. All the students in her school are Tamil-speaking and they want the medium of instruction to be Tamil. If the parents of Annette and Selvi were to approach respective governments to realise the desire of the child who is more likely to succeed? And why?
If both of their parents were supposed to request their respective governments, the Belgian government was more likely to solve the problems of medium of instruction through appropriate deliberation. Since the Belgian government is more inclined towards recognition and democratic solutions to ethnic tensions. The Sri Lankan government does not believe in this and asserts its authority over Tamils, declaring their language to be a foreign language.

Power Sharing

Power-sharing is desirable because it helps to reduce the possibility of conflict between social groups.
Social conflict often leads to violence and political instability. Power sharing ensures the stability of political order. Imposing the will of the majority community over others undermines the unity of the nation.
Tyranny of the majority is both oppressive for the minority and brings ruin to itself as well.

NCERT Class 10 Civics Chapter 1 Notes Power Sharing

Frequently Asked:
A democratic rule implies sharing power with those affected by the exercise of these powers, and with those who have to live with its effects. Democracy means that the people have a right to be consulted on how they are to be governed.

A legitimate government is one where citizens participate enthusiastically and organically in the system.
The first reason is the prudential reason while the second can be considered moral. The prudential reasons stress that power-sharing will bring out better outcomes. The moral reasons emphasise that the very act of power-sharing as valuable.

Power-sharing is the spirit of democracy.

Forms of Power Sharing

The concept of power sharing emerged in opposition to the notion of undivided political power.
Before the introduction of the concept of power sharing, power was accumulated in one person. It was preferred that the Government reside in one person or group of persons located at one place. This was done to ensure quicker and stable decisions.

The situation was drastically altered by the emergence of democracy. The concept of democracy states that people are the source of all political power and they rule themselves through institutions of self-governance.
Due respect and recognition is given to diverse groups and views that exist in a society. Every citizen has a voice in the shaping of public policies. It follows the principle that democratic political power should be divided among all.

Example 4.
What are the different forms of power-sharing in modern democracies? Give an example of each of these.
Power-sharing arrangements take many forms in modern democracies. Following are some of these forms:
1. Power is shared among the three principal organs of government, such as the legislature, executive and judiciary.

  • This places different organs of government placed at the same level to exercise different powers and hence can be called Horizontal level of Power-sharing.
  • This prevents accumulation of power and arbitrary use of unlimited power.
  • This results in a balance of power and establishes a system of checks and balances among various institutions.
  • Ministers and government officials are responsible to the Parliament or State Assemblies. Even though Judges are appointed by the executive, they can check the functioning of executive or laws made by the legislatures.

2. Power is also shared among governments at different levels- union government for the entire country and governments at the provincial or regional level. This is the Federal form of Government.

  • The central/national government is called the federal or Union government. The governments at the provincial or regional level are called by different names in different countries.
  • In India, we call them State Governments. Not all countries have state or provincial governments- the system with a single government is called the Unitary system of government.
  • In Federal countries, the constitution recognizes and clarifies powers of different levels of government. Belgian government did the same by amending their constitution. This is called federal division of power.
  • The same principle is also extended to levels of government lower than the State government- Local Self government brHies in its and villages. This is called the vertical division of power.

3. Power may also be shared among different social groups, such as the religious and linguistic groups. For example- ‘Community government’ in Belgium is one such form of sharing.

4. The constitutional and legal arrangements whereby vulnerable sections and women are represented in the legislatures and administration is also a form of power-sharing.

NCERT Class 10 Civics Chapter 1 Notes Power Sharing

5. The system of ‘reserved constituencies’ in assemblies and the parliament of our country share power and this can also be a form of power-sharing. This arrangement enables the representation of diverse social groups in government and institutional bodies and prevents rise of feelings of isolation and vulnerability. This method is used to give minority communities a fair share in power.

6. Political parties, pressure groups and movements control or influence those in power- this is also a form of power-sharing arrangements.

7. Power is also shared among different political parties that represent different ideologies and social groups since political parties are always competing for an opportunity to form governments. Political parties also share powers directly, where two or more parties form an alliance to contest elections. On winning, they form a coalition government.

8. Interest groups of traders, businessmen, industrialists, farmers and industrial workers also share governmental power, either through participation in government-instituted committees or by asserting influence on the decision-making process.

UK, France, Italy and Japan are unitary states. India, US are Federal states.

Example 5.
Here are some examples of power-sharing. Which of the four types of power-sharing do these represent? Who is sharing power with whom?
1. The Bombay High Court ordered the Maharashtra state government to immediately take action and improve living conditions for the 2,000-odd children at seven children’s homes in Mumbai.
This showcases power-sharing on a horizontal level- between different organs of the government placed at the same level- Judiciary and the State Legislative assembly in this case.

2. The government of Ontario state in Canada has agreed to a land claim settlement with the aboriginal community. The Minister responsible for Native Affairs announced that the government will work with aboriginal people in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation.
The power-sharing arrangement followed here is the form with different social and ethnic groups.

3. Russia’s two influential political parties, the Union of Right Forces and the Liberal Yabtoko Movement, agreed to unite their organizations into a strong right-wing coalition. They propose to have a common list of candidates in the next parliamentary elections.
This power-sharing arrangement is between 2 political parties. A Coalition government is formed after alliance formation.

NCERT Class 10 Civics Chapter 1 Notes Power Sharing

4. The finance ministers of various states in Nigeria got together and demanded that the federal government declares its sources of income. They also wanted to know the formula by which the revenue is distributed to various state governments.
This is the vertical form of government. Power is shared between the union government and the state.

Example 6.
After reading this chapter, three students drew different conclusions. Which of these do you agree with and why? Give your reasons in about 50 words.
Thomman: Power sharing is necessary only in societies that have religious, linguistic or ethnic divisions.
Mathayi: Power sharing is suitable only for big countries that have regional divisions.
Ouseph: Every society needs some form of power-sharing even if it is small or does not have social divisions.
We can agree with Ouseph’s conclusion when he says that every society needs power sharing irrespective of social divisions because power-sharing prevents accumulation of powers in the hands of a person or in a group and reduces chances of possible tensions in future.

→ Ethnic: Of relating to a common and distinctive culture, religion, language etc. People belong to distinct ethnic groups and communities.

→ Majority: A community which dominates the other owing to its large size. In a country, the majority community is the one which has the largest number of people identifying or belonging to it.

→ Minority: A community which is dominated by other communities due to its small size or distinct culture.

→ Majoritarian: When a majority community gathers powers and begins to assert the same through political actions and orders, it is said to have asserted majoritarianism.

NCERT Class 10 Civics Chapter 1 Notes Power Sharing

→ Civil War: War between communal groups within a country.

→ Eelam: Tamil word for state.

→ Community government: Government elected by community groups for regulation of ethnic and linguistic affairs

→ Tyranny: Despotic rule

→ Coalition government: Dovernment formed by alliance of two or more parties.

→ 1948: Sri Lanka gained Independence

→ 1956: Sri Lanka passed the Official Language Act recognising Sinhala as the only offcial language

Class 10 Social Science Notes