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Page 1

Chapter 1 POWER SHARING

1. Describe the ethnic composition of the people in Belgium.
i. The ethnic composition of Belgium is very complex. Of the country’s total

population, 59 per cent lives in the Flemish region and speaks Dutch language.
ii. Another 40 per cent people live in the Wallonia region and speak French..

iii. Remaining 1 per cent of the Belgians speak German.
iv. In the capital city Brussels, 80 per cent people speak French while 20 per cent are

Dutch-speaking.
v. 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 tension between the Dutch-
speaking and French-speaking communities during the 1950s and 1960s

State the basic reason for the tension between the French speaking and Dutch speaking
communities in Belgium. ( Answer point v above)

2. Describe the ethnic diversity of the people in Sri Lanka.
i. The major social groups in Sri Lanka are the Sinhala-speakers (74 per cent) and the

Tamil-speakers (18 per cent). Among Tamils, there are two subgroups. Tamil natives
of the country are called ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’ (13 per cent). The rest, whose fore fathers
came from India as plantation workers during colonial period, are called ‘Indian
Tamils’.

ii. Most of the Sinhala-speaking people are Buddhist, while most of the Tamils are Hindus
or Muslims. There are about 7 per cent Christians, who are both Tamil and Sinhala.
(Name the conflicting group of people in Srilanka: Sinhala-speakers and the Tamil-
speakers )

3. State the basic reasons for the tension ( Civil War ) between Sinhala and Tamil speaking
people in Sri Lanka. Or Why do the Sri Lankan Tamils feel alienated in their country?

i. In Sri Lanka, the Sinhala community enjoyed a bigger majority and could impose its
will on the entire country. As a result, the democratically elected government adopted
a series of majoritarian measures to establish Sinhala supremacy.

ii. In 1956, an Act was passed to recognize Sinhala as the only official language,
disregarding Tamil.

iii. The governments followed preferential policies that favoured Sinhala applicants for
university positions and government jobs.

iv. A new constitution stipulated that the state should protect and foster Buddhism. All
these government measures, coming one after the other, gradually increased the feeling
of alienation among the Sri Lankan Tamils.

v. They felt that none of the major political parties led by the Buddhist Sinhala leaders was
sensitive to their language and culture. They felt that the Constitution and government
policies denied them equal political rights, discriminated against them in getting jobs
and other opportunities and ignored their interests.

vi. The Sri Lankan Tamils launched parties and struggles for- the recognition of Tamil as
an official language,- for regional autonomy and- equality of opportunity in securing
education and jobs. But their demand for more autonomy to provinces populated by the
Tamils was repeatedly denied.

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vii. By 1980s, several political organizations were formed demanding an independent Tamil
Eelam (state) in northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka. The distrust between the two
communities turned into widespread conflict. It soon turned into a civil war. (any four)

What were the majoritarian measures adopted by the Sri Lankan Government?
(Write points ii to iv above)

4. Define the term ‘majoritarianism’.
A belief that the majority community should be able to rule the country in whichever ways it
want, by disregarding the wishes and needs of the minority is majoritarianism’.
5. How did the Belgian Government resolve the ethnic diversities and tension between
them? Or How was power shared between the people in Belgium?

i. The Belgian Government recognized the existence of regional differences and cultural
diversities.

ii. Between 1970 and 1993 they amended their constitution four times to work out an
arrangement that would enable everyone to live together within the same country. The
arrangement they worked out is different from any other country and is very
innovative.

iii. Constitution prescribes that the number of Dutch and French-speaking ministers shall
be equal in the central government. Some special laws require the support of majority
of members from each linguistic group. Thus, no single community can make
decisions unilaterally.

iv. Many powers of the central government have been given to state governments of the
two regions of the country. The state governments are not subordinate to the Central
Government.

v. 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.

vi. Apart from the Central and the State Government, there is a third kind of government.
This ‘community government’ is elected by people belonging to one language
community – Dutch, French and German-speaking – no matter where they live. This
government has the power regarding cultural, educational and language-related issues.

vii. They helped to avoid- civic strife between the two major communities and- a possible
division of the country on linguistic lines.

6. State the two sets of reasons in favour of power sharing. Or What are the
prudential and moral reasons for power sharing?

i. Prudential Reasons: Power sharing is good because it helps to reduce the possibility
of conflict between social groups. Since social conflict often leads to violence and
political instability, power sharing is a good way to ensure the stability of political
order.

ii. Moral Reasons: Power sharing is the very spirit of democracy. A democratic rule
involves sharing power with those affected by its exercise, and who have to live with
its effects. People have a right to be consulted on how they are to be governed. A
legitimate government is one where citizens, through participation, acquire a chance in
the system.

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15. Why is caste an important source of economic inequality in India?
( Problems faced by Dalits)

i. Caste is an important source of economic inequality because it regulates access to
resources of various kinds. For example, in the past, the Dalits were treated as
‘untouchables’ and were denied the right to own land and get education, while only the
‘twice born’ castes or Brahmins had the right to education.

ii. Caste system prevents occupational mobility. People are not allowed to take up any
profession other than their family profession even though they are talented in other fields
because of the rigidity of the caste system.

16. State two reasons to say that caste alone cannot determine election results in India. Or
Prove by giving examples that it is not the caste, but other factors matter in electoral
politics.


i. No parliamentary constituency in the country has a clear majority of one single caste.
So, every candidate and party needs to win the confidence of more than one caste and
community to win elections.

ii. No party wins the votes of all the voters of a caste or community. When people say that
a caste is a ‘vote bank’ of one party, it usually means that a large proportion of the voters
from that caste vote for that party.

iii. Many political parties may put up candidates from the same caste (if that caste is
believed to dominate the electorate in a particular constituency). Some voters have more
than one candidate from their caste while many voters have no candidate from their
caste.

iv. The ruling party and the sitting MP or MLA frequently lose elections in our country.
That could not have happened if all castes and communities were frozen in their political
preferences.

v. The voters have strong attachment to political parties, which is often stronger than their
attachment to their caste or community.

vi. People within the same caste or community have different interests depending on their
economic condition. Rich and poor or men and women from the same caste often vote
very differently.

vii. People’s assessment of the performance of the government and the popularity rating of
the leaders matter and are often decisive in elections. (ANY TWO)

17. Prove by giving examples that it is not politics that gets caste ridden, but it is the caste
that gets politicized.

i. Each caste group tries to become bigger by incorporating within it neighbouring castes
or sub-castes, which were earlier excluded from it.

ii. Various caste groups are required to enter into a coalition with other castes or
communities and thus enter into a dialogue and negotiation.

iii. New kinds of caste groups have come up in the political arena like ‘backward’ and
‘forward’ caste groups.

18. What role does caste play in democracy?
i. In some situations, expression of caste differences in politics gives many disadvantaged

communities the space to demand their share of power. In this sense-caste politics has
helped people from Dalits and OBC castes to gain better access to decision making.

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