Chapter 4 Gender, Religion and Caste in Politics

By | April 12, 2019

Question 1. Mention different aspects of life in which women are discriminated or disadvantaged in India.

Answer 1 In our country, women still lag much behind men despite some improvement since independence. It is because Indian society is a male dominated, patriarchal society. It values men over women and gives them more power and women face discrimination and oppression in many ways:

(i) Education: The literacy rate of women is still lower than men. Only 54% of the women are literate against 76% literacy among men. This is because a boy’s education is still preferred over sending a girl child to school.

(ii) Proportion of women in paid jobs: Women still have a small share in the highly paid jobs. Even though on an average an Indian woman works one hour more than an average man every day, her work is not given importance. This results in low paid jobs for women. The Equal Wages Act provides that equal wages should be paid to equal work. However, in almost all areas of work, from sports and cinema to factories and fields, women are paid less than men, even when both do exactly the same work.

(iii) Preference for a male child: In India, parents prefer sons over daughters and find ways of aborting girl child before she is born. This type of sex-selective abortion has led to decline in child sex ratio (number of girl children per thousand boys).

(iv) Crime against Women: There are various instances of crime against women. Women are exploited and harassed at the work place and at home. There are cases of domestic violence against women which make her unsafe even within her family.

Question 2. State different forms of communal politics with one example each.

Answer 2 Different forms of communal politics:

(i) The most common expression of communalism is in everyday beliefs. Stereo-types of religious communities and belief in the superiority of one’s religion over other religions are so common that we often fail to notice them even when we believe in them. Militant religious groups are a good example of this.

(ii) A communal mind often leads to a quest for political dominance of religious community. For those belonging to majority community this takes the form of majoritarian dominance. For those belonging to minority community it can take the form of a desire to form a separate political unit. Separatist leaders and political parties in Jammu and Kashmir and Central India are examples of this.

(iii) The most frequent form of communalism is political mobilisation on the religious guidelines. It generally involves the usage of sacred symbols, religious leaders, emotional appeal and creating fear in order to accumulate followers of one religious community in the political arena. It attempts to bring the people of one religion together. The political leaders pay special attention to the demands of their own religion at the cost of the other religions. This technique is applied by many politicians to influence voters from the two largest religious communities in the country.

(iv) Communal violence, riots and massacre. Communalism can be ugliest if it takes the shape of communal violence, riots and massacre. India and Pakistan suffered some of the worst communal riots at the time of the partition.

Question 3. State how caste inequalities are still continuing in India.

Answer 3 Caste inequalities have not completely disappeared from India. Even today, most people marry within their own caste or tribe. Despite constitutional prohibition, untouchability has not ended completely. Education is not easily available to the so called ‘low castes’. Economic status is closely linked to the caste system. In modern India, like in pre-independence India, the poor are mostly the ‘low castes’ while the rich are the ’high castes’, thereby showing that caste inequalities are still continuing in India.

Question 4. State two reasons to say that caste alone cannot determine election results in India.

Answer 4 (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 simply means that a large proportion of the voters from that caste vote for that party.

Question 5. What is the status of women’s representation in India’s legislative bodies?

Answer 5 In India, the proportion of women in legislature is very low. The women strength in the Lok Sabha is not even 10%. Their share in state assemblies is less than 5%.

Question 6. Mention any two constitutional provisions that make India a secular state.

Answer 6 In India, communalism has always been a major threat and challenge to the spirit of democracy. Therefore, the model of secular state was chosen by the makers of our Constitution as they were aware of this challenge.

Two constitutional provisions that make India a secular state are:

(i) There is no official religion for the Indian state.

(ii) Our Constitution does not give a special status to any religion.

Question 7. When we speak of gender divisions, we usually refer to:

(i) Biological difference between men and women

(ii) Unequal roles assigned by the society to men and women

(iii) Unequal child sex ratio

(iv) Absence of voting rights for women in democracies

Answer 7 (ii) Unequal roles assigned by the society to men and women

Question 8. In India seats are reserved for women in

(i) Lok Sabha

(ii) State legislative assemblies

(iii) Cabinets

(iv) Panchayati Raj bodies

Answer 8 (iv) Panchayati Raj bodies

Question 9. 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

Answer 9 (c) A and C

Question 10. Which among the following statements about India’s Constitution is wrong? It

(i) prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion.

(ii) gives official status to one religion.

(iii) provides to all individuals freedom to profess any religion.

(iv) ensures equality of citizens within religious communities.

Answer 10 (ii) gives official status to one religion

Question 11. Social divisions based on ……… are peculiar to India.

Answer 11 caste.

Question 12. Match List I with List II and select the correct answer using the codes given below the Lists:

Table 1

Table 2

Answer 12. (b) B      A        D          C

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