Gender Religion and Caste Class 10 Notes Social Science Civics Chapter 4
Gender And Politics
Gender division is a form of hierarchical social division expressed usually but studied occasionally in political science. Gender division tends to be understood as natural and unchangeable. In practice, it is not based on biology but on social expectations and stereotypes.
Children are taught to believe that Sexual division of labour is natural and organic- that women are meant to be the caregivers, housewives and do stereotypical chores like washing clothes, tailoring, cleaning etc.
Mention different aspects of life in which women are discriminated against or disadvantaged in India.
People are made to believe that men are supposed to work outside the homes- earn and provide for the family. Cleaning and cooking at their houses are just roles cut out for women- if the similar roles were paid, men should and would take these jobs too.
In villages, women fetch water, collect fuel and work in the fields. In urban areas, poor women work as domestic helpers in middle class homes, while middle class women work in offices. Most women indulge in some jobs apart from their daily chores. This work is not valued ar.d recognised.
Although women constitute half of humanity, their role in public Life, especially politics, is minimal. Only men were allowed to participate in public affairs, vote and contest for public offices until very recently.
Eventually, the gender issue was raised in politics when women in different parts of the world organised and agitated for equal rights. One of the issues was the extension of voting rights to women. Women revolutionaries demanded strengthening the political and legal status of women. They wanted to improve their educational and career opportunities.
When we speak of gender divisions, we usually refer to:
(a) Biological difference between men and women
(b) Unequal roles assigned by the society to men and women
(c) Unequal child sex ratio
(d) Absence of voting rights for women in democracies
(b) Unequal roles assigned by the society to men and women
A few radical women movements aimed at equality in the personal and family sphere. These movements have been called Feminist movements.
Political expression of gender division and political mobilisation on this issue improved the status of women. Women received their due share of opportunities to work as scientists, doctors, engineers, Lawyers, managers and college and university teachers- jobs that were strictly restricted to men before. This development however has not been uniform all around the world.
- In Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Norway and Finland, the participation of women in public life is very high.
- In India, women still lag much behind men despite some improvement since Independence. Indian Society can still be called male dominated, Patriarchal society.
Women have to face disadvantage, discrimination and oppression in various ways:
1. The literacy rate among women is only 54 per cent compared with 76 per cent among men.
2. Dropout rates in higher educational institutions among girl students is significantly higher than that of males. Despite being good students, girls have to drop out due to lack of resources, orthodox, conservative thinking and parent’s prejudice for a son as their heir.
3. The proportion of women in highly paid jobs is very less.
4. Despite working harder than men, women Labourers are paid significantly less than their male counterparts. The Equal Remuneration Act of 1976 provides that equal wages should be paid to equal work without any discrimination on basis of gender, caste or creed. Despite that women are paid less in various fields ranging from sports and cinema to factories and fields.
5. Indian parents prefer to have male children over female children. Sex-selective abortion leads to a decline in Child Sex-Ratio in the country to merely 919 for every thousand. In select states, the ratio is even lower.
6. Various kinds of harassment, exploitation and violence against women everywhere, especially in urban areas, which have become particularly unsafe for women. Domestic violence has destroyed their peace and security at their homes too.
Women’s Political Representation:
Issues like these have been ignored for centuries. This ^ has led to many feminists and women’s movements to the conclusion that to attract adequate consideration and attention, women will have to gain power. One way to empower them is through political k empowerment. In India, the proportion of women in the legislature has been very low.
The percentage of elected women members in Lok Sabha touched 14.36 per cent of its total strength for the first time in 2019 elections. Their share in the state assemblies is still less than 5 per cent. India is among the bottom group of nations in the world in women participation in the public sphere.
In this regard, India is behind the developing countries of Africa and Latin America. Cabinets are largely all-male in Central or state legislatures even when a woman becomes the Chief Minister or the Prime Minister. A step taken to introduce reforms in this matter was to reserve one-third of seats in local self-government bodies (in panchayats and municipalities) for women. Today, there are more than 10 lakh elected women representatives in rural and urban local bodies. Women’s organisations and activists have been demanding a similar reservation of at least one third of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies for women.
A bill with this proposal has been pending before the Parliament for more than a decade. The bill has not been passed owing to the lack of consensus.
Gender divisions drive home the point that some form of social division needs to be expressed in politics. It expresses that disadvantaged groups benefit when social divisions become a political issue.
Read the source given below and answer the questions that follow:
One way to solve this problem is to make it legally binding to have a fair proportion of women in the elected bodies. This is what the Panchayati Raj has done in India. One Third of seats in local government bodies – in panchayats and municipalities – are now reserved for women. Now there are more than 10 lakh elected women representatives in rural and urban local bodies. Women’s organisations and activists have been demanding a similar reservation of at least one third of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies for women.
A bill with this proposal has been pending before the Parliament for more than a decade. But there is no consensus over this among all the political parties. The bill has not been passed. Gender division is an example that some form of social division needs to be expressed in politics.
(A) Which of the following is the best performing country in terms of womens’ participation in political movements?
(c) Saudi Arabia
(B) Do you agree “Gender division is an example that some form of social division needs to be expressed in politics”?
Yes. It has helped women mobilise and speak up for themselves.
(C) One way to solve this problem is to make it legally binding to have a fair proportion of women in the elected bodies. How has this been achieved through Panchayati Raj in India?
(a) Through reservation of l/6th of seats for women in local self government bodies.
(b) Through removal of l/6th of seats from the legislatures to reduce competition.
(c) Through reservation of l/3rd of seats in local self government bodies.
(d) Through increasing the number of seats in order to accommodate more men.
(c) Through reservation of 1/3 rd of seats in local self government bodies.
Explanation: Reservation of seats has helped to accommodate more women in local self governance bodies and institutions of decision making.
(D) Assertion (A): Women do not participate enough in public and political life in India.
Reason(R): India is a matriarchal society.
(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
(c) (A) is correct but (R) is wrong.
Explanation: India is a patriarchal society. Most families still consider that women should be caregivers and homemakers. Hence their participation is less in the political sphere.
Religion, Communalism And Politics
Religious divisions are not as universal as gender, but religious diversity is fairly widespread in the world today. Many countries including India host multiple religious groups.
Like in the case of Northern Ireland, despite belonging to the same religion, people can have difficulties over the way it is practiced. Religious differences are expressed in the field of politics. Gandhiji believed that politics must be guided by ethics drawn from religion.
Human rights groups have argued that most of the victims of communal riots in our country are people from religious minorities. They have requested that the government take special steps to protect religious minorities. Women’s movements have also argued that family laws of all the religions discriminate against women. They have demanded changes in laws to bring equality between the sexes.
Ideas, ideals and values drawn from different religions play a role in politics. People should be able to express in politics their needs, interests and demands as members of religious communities. Leaders should be able to regulate the practice of religion so as to prevent discrimination and oppression. Political acts are not wrong as long as they treat all religions equally.
Problems arise when religion is expressed in politics in exclusive and partisan terms, when one religion and its followers are instigated and played against another. When beliefs of one religion are presented as superior when compared to others, when state power is used to establish domination of one reLigious group over the rest and the demands of one religious group are formed in opposition to another, Communalism begins.
Communal politics is based on the idea that religion is the principal basis of social community.
Communalism involves that the stakeholders believe:
- That the followers of a particular religion must belong to one community. Their fundamental interests are the same. Differences are trivial for community life.
- Followers of different religions cannot belong to the same social communities. Any commonalities among them are superficial and immaterial. Their interests are bound to be different and involve a conflict.
Communalism spreads the belief that people belonging to different religions cannot live as equal citizens within one nation. They can only live peacefully if one dominates the rest or else they have to form separate countries.
It is not necessary for all the people of one religion to have the same interests and aspirations in every context. There are many voices inside every community which have to be heard. Any attempt to bring up common features will destroy their individuality and uniqueness.
Consider the following statements on the meaning of communal politics. Communal politics is based on the belief that:
A. One religion is superior to that of others.
B. People belonging to different religions can live together happily as equal citizens.
C. Followers of a particular religion constitute one community.
D. State power cannot be used to establish the domination of one religious group over others. Which of the statements is /are correct?
(a) A, B, C, and D
(b) A, B, and D
(c) A and C
(d) B and D
(c) A and C
Explanation: Communal politics believes in superiority of one religion over the other and that the followers of a particular religion that constitute one community strictly cannot live together peacefully.
Forms of Communalism
Communalism can take various forms in politics:
1. Through everyday debates and conversations involving religious prejudices, stereotypes of religious communities and belief in the superiority of one’s religion over other religions. It is the most common form of expression of communalism. This takes the form of mdjoritarian dominance if corrupted. This also leads to separationist tendencies among the minorities. It can take the form of a desire to form a separate political unit.
2. Another form is political mobilisation on reLigious lines. Sacred symbols, religious leaders, and emotional appeal are used to unify people in the name of religion under one political arena. Minority or majority appeasement is one of the main measures used for this purpose.
3. Communalism takes its most ugly form of communal violence, riots and massacre. India and Pakistan suffered the same during Partition.
Secular state Communalism was and continues to be one of the major challenges to democracy in our country.
The model of Secular state was introduced in the Constitution to save India from division based on lines of religion.
Several Constitutional provisions in India reflect this idea:
- There is no official religion for the Indian state.
- The Constitution provides to all individuals and communities freedom to profess, practice and propagate any religion, or not to follow any
- The Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion. The Constitution allows the state to intervene in the matters of religion in order to ensure equality within religious communities. For example. The Constitution bans untouchability. In India, Secularism is not just an ideology of some parties or persons.
- Communalism should not be seen as a threat to some people in India. It threatens the very idea of India. Communism needs to be removed. Communal prejudices and propaganda need to be countered in everyday life and religion based mobilisation needs to be countered or kept away from politics.
Buddhism is the state religion in Sri Lanka, Islam in Pakistan and Christianity is the state religion in England.
Caste in Politics
The interaction of caste and politics has both positive and the negative aspects. Caste division is unique to Indian society. Social inequalities and forms of division of labour cause occupations to be passed on from one generation to another, which has further led to the emergence of Caste System. Hereditary occupational division has been sanctioned by rituals.
Social divisions based on ………………. are peculiar to India.
Members within a caste or community are supposed to practice similar occupations, get married within the caste group and not eat with members from other caste groups. Caste system has been based on exclusion of and discrimination against the ‘outcaste’ groups. This also caused the practice of untouchability. Political leaders and social reformers UkeJyotibaPhule, Gandhiji, B. R. Ambedkar and Periyar Ramaswamy Naicker advocated and worked to establish a society without caste inequalities.
The Census of India counts two social groups: the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. These broad groups include hundreds of castes or tribes whose names are listed in an official Schedule. Thus they are called Scheduled.
The Scheduled Castes commonly known as Dalits, include those that were previously regarded as ‘outcaste’ in the Hindu social order and were subjected to exclusion and untouchability. The Scheduled Tribes, often referred to as Adivasis, include those communities that led a secluded life usually in hills and forests and did not interact much with the rest of society. In 2011, the Scheduled Castes were 16.6 per cent and the Scheduled Tribes were 8.6 per cent of the country’s population.
Combined with their efforts, socio-economic changes, castes and caste system has changed drastically. With economic development, large scale urbanisation, growth of literacy and education, occupational mobility and the weakening of the position of landlords and Zamindars in the villages, the old rigid notions of Caste hierarchy are dying.
The Constitution of India prohibited any caste-based discrimination and laid the foundations of policies to reverse the injustices of the caste system. There have been major developments but despite the efforts, effects of centuries of these practices continue to be felt today.
Caste is an important source of economic inequality because it regulates access to resources of various kinds. For example, in the past, the so-called ‘untouchable’ castes were denied the right to own land, while only the so-called ‘twice born’ castes had the right to education.
The castes with access to older education have accepted modern education. Few groups continue to lag behind due to lack of opportunities. There is a disproportionately large presence of ‘upper caste’ among the urban middle classes in our country. Caste continues to be closely linked to economic status.
Like Communal politics with religion- Casteism is rooted in the belief that caste is the sole basis of social community. Just like religious groups, caste groups have been formed.
Caste is one aspect of our experience but it is not the only relevant or the most important aspect.
Caste can take various farms in politics
- Parties nominate candidates from different castes to muster necessary support to win elections since people in India vote their caste, not cast their vote.
- When governments are formed, political parties ensure representatives of different castes and tribes find a place in it.
- Political parties and candidates in elections appeal to casteist sentiments to muster support. Universal Adult Franchise and the principle of one-person-one-vote fbrce political parties to mobilise and muster public support.
- It brings consciousness among the people of Lower and deprived castes.
State reasons to saj that caste atone cannot determine election results in India.
Despite the huge role castes play in elections, elections and politics are not only just about Caste. This can be asserted:
1. No parliamentary constituency in the country has a clear majority of one single caste. Consequently, every candidate and party needs to win the confidence of various castes and communities to win elections.
2. No party wins the votes of all the voters of a caste or community. Many political parties may put up candidates from the same caste which may cause the votes to get divided. Some voters have more than one candidate from their caste while many voters have no candidate from their caste.
3. The ruling party and the sitting ministers or members of legislatures frequently lose elections in India. Hence caste vote bank is fluid and can turn any side.
4. The voters have strong attachment to political parties which is often stronger than their attachment to their caste or community. People belonging to different classes within the same caste vote differently.
5. People’s assessment of the performance of the government and the leaders are decisive in elections.
Politics in Caste
There is a two-way relationship between caste and politics. Politics too influences the caste system by politicising it.
It is not politics that gets caste-ridden but caste that gets politicised.
- Each caste group tries to gain membership by including states and neighbouring territories in their caste group.
- Caste groups form a coalition with other castes or communities to enter into a dialogue and negotiation and assert their significance and powers on others.
- New caste groups have come into society. These are labelled as ‘backward’ and ‘forward’ caste groups.
Caste plays different kinds of roles in politics . Where on one hand, expression of caste differences in politics helps disadvantaged communities in expring their needs and demands of their share of power. This improves their decision making process. Multiple organisations, institutions and groups have been demanding for an end to all kinds of discrimination against particular castes, for more dignity and more access to land, resources and opportunities.
Excessive attention to certain caste groups has resulted in negative consequences. Like religion, politics based on caste based identity alone is not very healthy in a democracy. Caste division leads to tensions, conflict and violence. It diverts attention from real issues like poverty, development and corruption.
Match List I with List II and select the correct answer using the codes given below the Lists:
|(1) A person who believes in equal rights and opportunities for women and men.||(A) Communalist|
|(2) A person who says that religion is the principal basis of community.||(B) Feminist|
|(3) A person who thinks that caste is the principal basis of community.||(C) Secularist|
|(4) A person who does not discriminate against others on the basis of religious beliefs.||(D) Castiest|
Which among the following statements about India’s Constitution is wrong?
(a) prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion.
(b) gives official status to one religion.
(c) provides to all individuals freedom to profess any religion.
(d) ensures equality of citizens within religious communities.
(b) gives official status to one religion.
Explanation: The Constitution of India does not recognize any specific religion at our state religion.
→ Feminist Movements: A range of social movements, political movements, and ideologies that aim to define and establish the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes.
→ Mobilization: The act of encouraging, organizing, and making ready for use or action.
→ Patriarchal Society: Of relating to the male head of the family or society.
→ Oppression: A situation where people are governed in an unfair and cruel way.
→ Partisan: A strong supporter of a political party.
→ Secular: Not associated with a particular religion.
→ Communalism: Allegiance to one’s own ethnic group rather than to the wider society.
→ Propaganda: Ideology used in a misleading way.
→ Occupational mobility: It refers to the ease at which a worker can leave one job for another in a different field.
→ Constituency: A group of voters in a specified area who elect a representative to a legislative body.
→ Apartheid: A policy of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race; prevalent in South Africa