Class X Democratic Politics | Chapter 1 Notes And Answers | Power Sharing

Q1) Which are the major social groups that exist in Sri Lanka?

A1) The major social groups that exist in Sri Lanka are the Sinhala speakers (74 percent) and the Tamil speakers(18 percent). Among the Tamils there are two sub divisions. Tamil natives of the country are called ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’(13 percent) and the rest of 5 percent of Tamils constitute of the people whose forefathers came from India as plantation workers during the colonial period. Those Tamils are called ‘Indian Tamils’.

Q2) What is meant by Majoritaranism?

A2) Majoritarianism is a belief that the majority community should be able to rule a country in whichever way it wants, by disregarding the wishes and demands of the people. Since the Sinhala speakers were the dominant group in Sri Lanka in terms of population, the democratically elected government adopted a series of majoritarian measures to establish Sinhala supremacy after its independence in 1948.

Q3) What was the peculiarity of the act passed in 1956 in Sri Lanka? How did this act increase the feeling of alienation among the Sri Lankan Tamils?

A3) In 1956, an act was passed to recognise Sinhala as the official language, thus disregarding Tamil. The government followed preferential policies that favoured Sinhala applicants for university positions and government jobs. A new constitution stipulated that the state shall protect and foster Buddhism. All these government measures coming one after the other increased the feeling of alienation among the Sri Lankan Tamils. They felt that none of the major political parties led by the Buddhist Sinhala leaders were 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. As a result, the relations between the Sinhala and Tamil communities strained over time.

Q4) Mention the demands of Sri Lankan Tamils?   

A4) 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 demands for more autonomy to the provinces populated by the Tamils were repeatedly denied. By 1980s several political organizations were formed demanding an independent Tamil Eelam (state) in northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.

Q5) What was the result of distrust among the 2 social groups of Sri Lanka?

A5) The distrust between the 2 communities soon turned into civil war. As a result thousands of people of both the communities were killed. Many families were forced to leave the country as refugees and many more lost their livelihoods. The civil war caused a terrible setback to the social, cultural and economic condition of the country.

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Q6. How did the Belgium government resolve the ethnic diversity and tensions between different linguistic groups?
OR
Highlight the measures adopted by the Belgian government to accommodate regional and cultural diversities?

A6. The Belgium leaders took a different path. They recognized the existence of regional differences and cultural diversity. Between 1970 and 1993 they amended their constitution 4 times so as to work out an arrangement that would enable everyone to live together within the same country.

Here are some of the elements of the Belgian model:-

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.

Many powers of the central government have been given to state governments of the 2 regions of the country. The state governments are not subordinate to the central government.

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.

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

Q7. Name the headquarters of the European Union.

A7. The headquarters of the European Union is Brussels.

Q8. Why is power sharing desirable?
OR
Give two sets of reasons in favor of power sharing?

A8. Two different sets of reasons can be given in favour of power sharing.
First 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.

Imposing the will of the majority community over other may look as an attractive option in the short run but in the long run it undermines the unity of the nation.

Tyranny of majority is not just oppressive for the majority; it often brings ruin to the majority as well.

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There is a second, deeper reason why power sharing is good for democracies.

Power sharing is the very spirit of democracy. A democratic rule involves sharing power with those who are affected by its exercise, and those 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 stake in this system.

Q9. Give a prudential reason for why power sharing is essential?

A9. First 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.

Imposing the will of the majority community over other may look as an attractive option in the short run but in the long run it undermines the unity of the nation.

Tyranny of majority is not just oppressive for the majority; it often brings ruin to the majority as well.

Q10. Give a moral reason for why power sharing is desirable?
OR
‘Power sharing is the very spirit of democracy.’ Justify the statement with three suitable points.

A10. Power sharing is the very spirit of democracy. A democratic rule involves sharing power with those who are affected by its exercise, and those 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 stake in this system.

Power Sharing

Q. Explain any four forms of power sharing arrangement?
OR
Mention any three forms of power sharing.
OR
What are the different forms of power sharing arrangements?

A.1) Power is shared among different organs of government such as the legislature, executive and the judiciary. This is called horizontal distribution of power because power is shared among different organs of the government placed at the same level to exercise different powers. Such a separation ensures that none of the organs can exercise unlimited powers. Each organ checks the others. This results in a balance of power among different organs. In a democracy, even though the ministers and government officials exercise power, they are responsible to the parliament or state assemblies. Similarly, although judges are appointed by the executive they can the functioning of the executive or laws made by the legislatures. This arrangement is called a system of checks and balances.

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2) Power can be shared among organs at different levels-a general government for the entire country and governments at the regional or provincial levels. Such a general government for the entire nation is usually called a federal government. In India they are referred to as the Central or Union government. In India the governments at the provincial or regional level are called state governments. This system is however not followed in many countries. There are many countries where there is no provincial or regional government. The constitution clearly lays down the powers of different levels of government. This is called federal division of power. The same principle can be extended to levels of government lower than the state government such as the municipality and panchayat. This system of division of powers involving higher and lower levels of government is called vertical division of power.

3) Power may also be shared among different social groups such as the religious and linguistic groups. ‘Community government’ in Belgium is a good example of this arrangement. In some countries there are constitutional and legal arrangements whereby socially weaker sections and women are represented in the legislatures and administrations. There are reserved constituencies in the assemblies and the parliament of our country. This type of arrangement is meant to give space in the government and administration to diverse social who otherwise would feel alienated from the government. This method is used to give minority communities a fair share in power.

4) Power sharing arrangements can also be seen in the way political parties, pressure groups and movements control or influence those in power. In a democracy, the citizens must have freedom to choose among various contenders for power. In contemporary democracies, this takes the form of competition among different parties. Such competition ensures that power does not remain in one hand. In the long run, power is shared among different political parties that represent different ideologies and social groups. Sometimes this kind of sharing can be direct, when two or more parties form an alliance to contest elections. If their alliance is elected, they form a coalition government and thus share power. In a democracy, we find interest groups such as those of traders, businessmen, industrialists, farmers and industrial workers. They also will have a share in governmental power either through participation in governmental committees or bringing influence in the decision making process.

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