Chapter 1-Power Sharing 

Story of Belgium


  • Belgium is a small country in Europe which has a population of a little over one crore.
  • The ethnic composition of this small country is very complex.
  • Out of the total population of the country, 59 percent live in the Flemish region and speak Dutch language. 
  • Another 40 percent people live in the Wallonia region and speak French. Remaining one percent of the Belgians speak German.
  • In Belgium’s capital, Brussels, 80 percent people speak French while 20 percent are Dutch speaking.


  • The minority French-speaking community was relatively rich and powerful.

→ This made Dutch-speaking community angry as they the benefit of economic development and education much later.


  • During the 1950s and 1960s, tensions between the Dutch-speaking and French-speaking communities created due to these differences.


Story of Sri Lanka


  • Sri Lanka is an island nation, south of India having a diverse population of about two crore people.


  • The major social groups are the Sinhala-speakers (74 percent) and the Tamil-speakers (18 percent).


  • Tamils are divided into two groups:

→ Sri Lankan Tamils (13 percent) – Tamil natives of the country

→ Indian Tamils (5 percent) – came from India during colonial period as plantation workers.


  • Most of the Sinhala-speaking people are Buddhists, while most of the Tamils are Hindus or Muslims.


  • There are about 7 percent Christians, who are both Tamil and Sinhala.


Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka

  • The democratically elected government adopted a series of Majoritarian policy measures to establish Sinhala supremacy. These are:
    → Sinhala as the only official language.
    → The governments followed preferential policies that favoured Sinhala applicants for university positions and government jobs.
  • These decisions gradually increased the feeling of alienation among the Sri Lankan Tamils.
  • 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.


  • By the 1980s several political organisations were formed demanding an independent Tamil Eelam (state) in northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.
  • It soon turned into a Civil War.

Accommodation in Belgium

  • Between 1970 and 1993, Belgian’s constitution was amended four times to work out an arrangement that would make everyone live together.
  • The elements of the Belgian model:

→ The Constitution prescribes that the number of Dutch and French-speaking ministers shall be equal in the central government.

→ Many powers of the central government have been given to state governments of the two regions of the country.


→ Brussels has a separate government in which both the communities have equal representation.

→ There is also provision of ‘community government’ elected by people belonging to one language community which has the power regarding cultural, educational and language-related issues.


Why is power sharing desirable?


  • Power sharing is good because it helps to reduce the possibility of conflict between social groups.


  • 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.


Forms of power-sharing


  • In modern democracies, power sharing arrangements can take many forms.


→ Horizontal distribution of power: Power is shared among different organs of government, such as the legislature, executive and judiciary. Example: India.


→ Federal Government (Vertical distribution of power): Power can be shared among governments at different levels – a general government for the entire country and governments at the provincial or regional level. Example: USA.


→ Power may also be shared among different social groups such as the religious and linguistic groups. Example: ‘Community government’ in Belgium.


→ Power sharing arrangements can also be seen in the way political parties, pressure groups and movements control or influence those in power.

Chapter 2-Federalism 


What is Federalism?


Federalism is a system of government in which the power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country.

Features of Federalism

  • There are two or more levels of government.
  • Different tiers of government govern the same citizens, but each government has power independent of the other.
  • The fundamental provisions of the constitution cannot be changed by one level of government.
  • The judiciary prevents conflict between centre and regional governments in the exercise of their powers.
  • Sources of revenue for each level of government are clearly specified to ensure its financial autonomy.

Kinds of Federations

  • ‘Coming together’ Federations: The independent States coming together on their own to form a bigger unit.
  • ‘Holding together’ Federations: A large country decides to divide its power between the constituent States and the national government.

What makes India a federal country?

  • The Constitution originally provided for a two-tier system of government – Central Government, representing the Union of India and the State governments.
  • Later, the third tier of federalism was added in the form of Panchayats and Municipalities.

The Constitution divides powers between the Union Government and the State Governments within three lists:

  • The Union List includes subjects of national importance.
  • State List contains subjects of State and local importance.
  • Concurrent List includes subjects of common interest to both the Union Government as well as the State Governments, such as education, forest, trade unions, marriage, adoption and succession.
  • Residuary subjects: Those subjects which are not mentioned in any of the three lists or any other matter that arise with passage of time.

Features of Indian Federation

  • All states of India do not have equal powers.
  • The Parliament cannot on its own change power sharing. These changes need the approval of both the Houses of Parliament with at least two-thirds majority.
  • The judiciary oversees the implementation of constitutional provisions and procedures.

How is federalism practised?

Linguistic states

In 1947, the boundaries of several old States of India were changed in order to create new States:


  • On the basis of language.
    • On the basis of culture.

Language policy

  • Our Constitution has not made any language the national language of India.
  • Hindi was identified as the official language.
  • Besides Hindi, there are 21 other languages recognised as Scheduled Languages by the Constitution.
  • States too have their own official languages.
  • English along with Hindi are used for official purposes.

Centre-State relations

  • The sharing of powers between Centre and States by the constitution has also strengthened federalism in India.
  • After 1990, many regional political parties rose in many States of the country which started an era of ‘coalition governments’ at the Centre which made it difficult for the Central Government to dismiss state governments in non-democratic manner.

Decentralisation in India

  • When power is taken away from Central and State governments and given to local governments, it is called decentralisation.
  • Before 1992, the local bodies were directly under the state governments.
    → Regular elections were not held.
    → The local bodies did not have any resources or powers of their own.
  • After 1992, the Constitution was amended to make the third-tier of democracy more powerful and effective. The steps taken are:
    → Mandatory to hold regular elections to local government bodies.
    → Seats are reserved for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
    → At least one-third of all positions are reserved for women.
    → An independent institution called the State Election Commission has been created in each State.
    → The State governments are required to share some powers and revenue with local government bodies.

Rural Local Government

  • Popularly known by the name panchayati raj.
    → Gram Panchayat: It is the decision-making body for the entire village.
    → Panchayat Samiti: A few gram panchayats are grouped together to form what is usually called a panchayat samiti or block or mandal.
    → Zilla Parishad: All the panchayat samitis or mandals in a district together form the zilla parishad.

Urban Local Government

  • In larger urban areas, there are corporations and in smaller urban areas, there are municipal corporations.

Chapter 3-Democracy and Diversity 

Civil Rights Movement in the USA


  • This is a set of events and reform movements aimed at abolishing legal racial discrimination against African-Americans.
  • The movement was led by Martin Luther King during the period of 1954-1968.

Differences, similarities, divisions


What is Social Differences


  • Social Differences are social identities based on accident of birth or on individual choices.


Origin of Social Differences


  • Most of the social differences are based on an accident of birth. 


  • Some of the differences are based on our choices.


Social Division


  • It is a situation of conflict based on social inequalities such as religion, caste etc.


  • Every social difference does not lead to social division. Social differences divide similar people from one another, but they also unite very different people.

Overlapping Differences


  • Social division takes place when some social differences overlaps with other differences.

Cross-cutting differences


  • If Social differences crosscut one another, it is difficult to pit one group of people against another.


Politics of social divisions


  • Democracy involves competition among various political parties.


  • Competition divides society and turns them into political divisions which ultimately lead to conflict, violence or even disintegration of a country.


Three factors that determine the outcome of politics of social divisions


  • The outcome depends on how people perceive their identities.

→ If people see their identities in singular and exclusive terms, it becomes very difficult to accommodate.


  • Depends on how political leaders raise the demands of any community

→ It is easier to accommodate demands that are within the constitutional framework and are not at the cost of another community.


  • Depends on how the government reacts to demands of different groups

→ If the rulers are willing to share power and accommodate the reasonable demands of the minority community, social divisions become less threatening for the country.

Chapter 4-Gender, Religion and Caste 


Gender Division


  • Sexual Division of Labour: A system in which all work inside the home is either done by the women of the family while men are expected to work outside to earn money.


  • This belief is not based on biology but on social expectations and stereotypes.


Feminist movements


  • Social movements that aim at establishing equality between men and women are called feminist movements.


Women’s Oppression in various ways


Literacy Rate: The literacy rate among women is only 65.46% compared with 82.14% among men.


Jobs: There is a very low percentage of women in the high paid and high value jobs as just a few girls are encouraged to take up higher education.


Wages: Despite the Equal Wages Act, women in all areas are paid less than men, be it sports, cinema, agriculture or construction works.


Sex Ratio: Most parents prefer boy children to girl children. Female infanticide and feticide are common in our country. This has resulted in unfavourable sex ratio.


Social Evil: Society in general and urban centres in particular, is not safe for women. Dowry harassment, physical abuse, sexual harassment are routine tales.

Women’s political representation


  • Political representation of women in India is very low. It has never crossed 5% in any of the Vidhan Sabhas and never crossed 12% in Lok Sabha.


Religion, Communalism and Politics


Religion Differences in Politics


  • Human rights activists allege that people from minority religious communities suffer a lot whenever there is communal violence.




  • Extreme and partisan attachment to one’s own religion is called Communalism. 


What is Communal Politics?


  • Problems in the society begins when one religion is pitted against the others.


  • The problem becomes serious when demands of one religious group are formed in opposition to other religions.


  • The problem becomes very acute when the Government uses its power to fulfil the demands of only one religious group.


  • This kind of use of religion in politics is called Communal Politics.


The Theory of Communal Politics


  • Religion is the main basis of the formation of society.


  • The followers of a religion must form one community.


  • Their fundamental interests are the same.

Why is the theory of Communal Politics wrong?


  • People of the same religion do not have the same interest and aspirations in every context.


  • Everyone has different identities in different contexts.


Steps taken to combat communalism


  • India is a secular state. There is no official religion or state religion in India.


  • Everyone is free to practice, profess and property any religion.


  • The constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion.


Caste and Politics


Caste Inequalities


  • Members of the same caste group formed the social community that practiced the same or similar occupation, married within the caste group, and did not eat with members from other caste groups.


Why does the caste system still persist?


  • Most people prefer to marry within their own caste or tribe.


  • Untouchability has not ended completely.


  • The caste groups that had access to education have continued to do well.

How Caste Influences Politics


  • When parties choose candidates in elections, they keep in mind the caste and the composition of the constituency.


  • Political parties and candidates appealing to the caste sentiment of the people. 


Caste alone cannot determine Indian Elections 


  • No parliamentary constituency in the country has a clear majority of one single caste. 


  • No party wins the votes of all the voters of a caste in our community.


  • If that caste group has many to choose from, the other caste groups have none, if they were to vote only on the basis of caste.


  • The voter’s attachment to his party and the party ideology can be stronger than his attachment to his caste group.


The Outcome of Political Expression of Caste


  • It has provided space and opportunity for the disadvantaged groups to demand their share in power.


  • It also has helped them to fight for social justice.


  • Caste based politics is certainly not healthy in democracy.


  • It can divert attention from other important issues like poverty, development and corruption. 


  • It can also lead to tensions, conflicts and violence.

Chapter 5-Popular Struggles and Movements 

Popular struggles in Nepal and Bolivia


Movement for democracy in Nepal


  • Nepal won democracy in 1990.


  • King Birendra, who has accepted constitutional monarchy, was killed in a mysterious massacre of the royal family in 2001.


  • King Gyanendra, the new king of Nepal, was not prepared to accept democratic rule.


  • In February 2005, the king dismissed the then Prime Minister and dissolved the elected Parliament.


  • The movement of 2006 started to regain democracy.


  • All major political parties formed a Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and called for a ‘four day strike’ in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.


  • The protest turned into indefinite strike joined by Maoist and other organisations also.


  • They demanded restoration of parliament, power to an all-party government and a new constituent assembly.


  • On 24 April 2006, the last day of the ultimatum, the king was forced to accept all the three demands.


  • Girija Prasad Koirala became the new Prime Minister of the interim government as chosen by SPA. 


  • The Maoists and SPA agreed to have a new Constituent Assembly.


  • This struggle came to be known as Nepal’s second movement for democracy.


Bolivia’s Water War


  • Bolivia is a poor country in Latin America.


  • The World Bank forced the government to give up its control of municipal water supply and sold these rights for the city of Cochabamba to a multinational company (MNC).


  • After controlling water supply, the company increased the price by four times.


  • This led to a spontaneous popular protest.


  • In January 2000, a new alliance of labour, human rights and community leaders called FEDECOR organised a successful four-day general strike in the city.


  • The government agreed to negotiate and the strike ended but nothing changed.


  • The protest started again in February and police used brutal methods to control it.


  • Another strike followed in April and the government imposed martial law. 


  • But the power of the people forced the officials of the MNC to flee the city and made the government accept all their demands.


  • The contract with the MNC was cancelled and water supply was restored to the municipality at old rates. 


  • This came to be known as Bolivia’s water war.

Mobilisation and organisations


Who joined the struggle in Nepal?


  • SPA or the Seven Party Alliance in Nepal which included some big parties that had some members in the Parliament.


  • The protest was joined by the Nepalese Communist Party (Maoist) which did not believe in parliamentary democracy.


  • Other than political parties, all the major labour unions and their federations joined this movement.


  • The organisation of the indigenous people, teachers, lawyers and human rights groups also extended support to the movement.


Who joined the struggle in Bolivia?


  • The protest against water privatisation in Bolivia was led by an organisation called FEDECOR.

→ This organisation comprised local professionals, including engineers and environmentalists which were supported by a federation of farmers, the confederation of factory workers’ unions, middle class students from the University of Cochabamba and the city’s growing population of homeless street children.


  • Later, the movement was supported by the Socialist Party. In 2006, this party came to power in Bolivia.

Differences between political parties and pressure groups


  • Pressure groups do not enjoy power directly, whereas the political parties do.


  • Pressure groups usually represent a particular section or view of the society; on the other hand, political parties represent bigger social divisions.


  • Pressure groups do not contest elections, whereas political parties contest elections and run the government.


  • At a given point of time, a person can be a member of only one political party but a member of many pressure groups.


  • Examples of pressure groups are Lawyers Association, Teachers ‘Association, Trade Unions, Students ‘Unions  and so on.


  • Examples of political parties are BJP, INC, NCP etc.


Pressure groups/Interest Groups and movements


  • Pressure groups are organisations that attempt to influence government policies.


  • These organisations are formed when people with common occupation, interest, aspirations or opinions come together in order to achieve a common objective.


  • Like an interest group, a movement also attempts to influence politics rather than directly take part in electoral competition.


  • Examples are Narmada Bachao Andolan, Movement for Right to Information, Anti-liquor Movement, Women’s Movement, Environmental Movement.


  • Unlike the interest groups, movements have a loose organisation. 


  • Their decision making is more informal and flexible. 


  • They depend much more on spontaneous mass participation.


Sectional interest groups


  • They seek to promote the interests of a particular section or group of society such as workers, employees, business-persons, industrialists etc.


  • Examples are Trade unions, business associations.

  • Their main concern is the betterment and well-being of their members, not society in general.

  • However, sometimes they represent some common or general interest that needs to be defended.


Public Interest Groups


  • Also called promotional groups as they promote collective rather than selective goods.


  • They aim to help groups other than their own members.


  • Example: A group fighting bonded labour fights for everyone who is suffering under such bondage.


  • In some cases, the members of a public interest group may undertake activity that benefits them as well as others too.


Movement Groups


  • Movement Groups are of two types: Issue specific and Generic Movements.


Issue Specific


  • Most of the movements are of these types that seek to achieve a single objective within a limited time frame.


  • Example: Nepalese movement for democracy arose with the specific objective of reversing the king’s orders that led to suspension of democracy.

  • Narmada Bachao Andolan started with the specific issue of the people displaced by the creation of Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river. 


→ Its objective was to stop the dam from being constructed.


→ Gradually it became a wider movement that questioned all such big dams and the model of development that required such dams.


  • Movements of this kind tend to have a clear leadership and some organisation.


  • These movements usually have a short life.


Generic Movements


  • These movements seek to achieve more than one issue in a very long term.


  • Example: Environmental movement and the women’s movement.


  • There is no single organisation that controls or guides such movements.


  • All of these have separate organisations, independent leadership and often different views on policy related matters.


  • Sometimes these broad movements have a loose umbrella organisation as well. For example, the National Alliance for Peoples’ Movements (NAPM).


What is NAPM?


NAPM stands for National Alliance for Peoples’ Movements. It is an association of organisations which coordinates the activities of a large number of peoples’ movements in India.


How do Pressure groups and Movements influence politics in India?


  • They try to gain public support and sympathy for their goals and their activities by carrying out information campaigns, organising meetings, filing petitions, etc. 


  • They try to influence the media into giving more attention to these issues.


  • They often organise protest activity like strikes or disrupting government programmes.


  • Business groups often employ professional lobbyists or sponsor expensive advertisements. 


  • Some persons from pressure groups or movement groups may participate in official bodies and committees that offer advice to the government.


  • Interest groups influence political parties.


  • They have political ideology and political positions on major issues.


Relationship between Pressure/Movement Groups and Political Parties


  • In some instances, the pressure groups are either formed or led by the leaders of political parties. Example: most trade unions and students’ organisations in India are either established by, or affiliated to a political party.


  • Sometimes political parties grow out of movements. Example: Asom Gana Parishad in Assam, DMK and the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu.


  • In most cases, parties and interest or movement groups are opposed to each other yet they are in dialogue and negotiation.


  • Most of the new leadership of political parties comes from interest or movement groups.


Influence of Pressure/Movement Groups on Indian Politics


Positive Influences


  • Pressure groups and movements have deepened democracy. 


  • Governments can often come under undue pressure from a small group of rich and powerful people. Public interest groups and movements perform a useful role of countering this undue influence and reminding the government of the needs and concerns of ordinary citizens. 

Negative Influences


  • Sometimes, pressure groups with small public support but lots of money can hijack public discussion in favour of their narrow agenda.


  • These groups exercise power without responsibility.


  • When one group starts dominating and dictating the government, other pressure groups have to bring counter pressure.

Chapter 6-Political Parties 


Why do we need Political Parties?


Meaning of Political Party

  • A political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government.

Functions of a Political Party


  • Parties contest elections.


  • Parties put forward different policies and programmes and the voters choose from them. A party reduces a vast number of opinions into a few basic positions which it supports.


  • Parties play a decisive role in making laws for a country.


  • Parties form and run governments.


  • Those parties that lose in the elections play the role of opposition to the parties in power.


How many Parties should we have?


  • There are three types of party system a country can have.


One Party System


  • Only one party is allowed to control and run the government.


Two Party System


  • Power usually changes between two main parties.

Multi-Party System


  • Several parties compete for power, and more than two parties have a reasonable chance of coming to power either on their own strength or in alliance with others.


Election Commission


  • Every party in India has to register with the Election Commission. 


  • The Commission treats every party as equal to the others, but it offers special facilities to large and established parties.


  • They are given a unique symbol and are called, “recognised political parties.


State Parties

  • A party that secures at least six percent of the total votes in an election to the Legislative Assembly of a State and wins at least two seats is recognised as a State party.

National Parties

  • A party that secures at least six percent of the total votes in Lok Sabha elections or Assembly elections in four States and wins at least four seats in the Lok Sabha is recognised as a national party.

Indian National Congress (INC)

  • Popularly known as the Congress Party.
  • Founded in 1885.
  • Played a dominant role in Indian politics, at the national and state level for several decades after India’s Independence.


Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

  • Founded in 1980 by reviving the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
  • Cultural nationalism (or ‘Hindutva’) is an important element in its origination of Indian nationhood and politics.
  • Wants full territorial and political integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India.

Bahujan  Samaj Party (BSP)

  • Formed in 1984 under the leadership of Kanshi Ram.
  • Seeks to represent and secure power for the bahujan samaj which includes the dalits, adivasis, OBCs and religious minorities.

Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M)

  • Founded in 1964.
  • Believes in Marxism- Leninism.
  • Supports socialism, secularism and democracy and opposes imperialism and communalism.

Communist Party of India (CPI)

  • Formed in 1925.
  • Believes in Marxism-Leninism, secularism and democracy.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)

  • Formed in 1999 following a split in the Congress party.
  • Accepted democracy, Gandhian secularism, equity, social justice and federalism.

State Parties

  • Other than these six parties, most of the major parties of the country are classified by the Election Commission as ‘State parties’.

Challenges to Political Parties

  • Lack of Internal Democracy
  • Challenge of Dynastic Succession
  • Growing Role of Money and Muscle Power
  • Meaningful choice

How can Parties be reformed?

Recent efforts and suggestions in India

  • The Constitution was amended to prevent elected MLAs and MPs from changing parties.
  • New law states that if any MLA or MP changes parties, he or she will lose the seat in the legislature.
  • The Supreme Court passed an order to reduce the influence of money and criminals.
  • The Election Commission passed an order making it necessary for political parties to hold their organisational elections and file their income tax returns.

Some suggestions to reform political parties

  • A law should be made to regulate the internal affairs of political parties.
  • To give a minimum number of tickets, about one-third, to women candidates
  • There should be state funding of elections.
  • There are two other ways in which political parties can be reformed.

Chapter 7-Outcomes of Democracy 

  • Democracy can be called a  better form of government because:
    → It promotes equality among citizens.
    → It enhances the dignity of the individual.
    → It improves the quality of decision-making.
    → It provides a method to resolve conflicts.
    → It allows room to correct mistakes.

Is the democratic government efficient?


  • Non-democratic rulers do not have to bother about deliberation in assemblies or worry about majorities and public opinion.


  • A democratic government will take more time to follow procedures before arriving at a decision.

→ Because it has followed procedures, its decisions may be both more acceptable to the people and more effective.




  • A citizen who wants to know if a decision was taken through the correct procedures can find this out. This is known as transparency.

Legitimate Government


  • In democracy, governments are elected through regular, free and fair elections. 


  • Laws are made following proper procedures, after much discussion with the representatives of the people.


  • If people feel that the government has done something which goes against the Constitution, people can challenge it in the Judiciary.


Economic growth and development


  • Between 1950 and 2000, dictatorships had slightly higher rate of economic growth. 


  • Economic growth depends on various factors:

→ Size of the population of a country

→ Global situation

→ Cooperation from other countries

→ Economic policies adopted by the country


  • However, the difference in the rates of economic development between less developed countries with dictatorships and democracies is negligible.


Reduction of inequality and poverty


  • Democracies are based on political equality, but we find growing economic inequalities.


Accommodation of social diversity


  • Democracy helps its citizens to lead a peaceful and harmonious life by accommodating various social divisions.


Dignity and freedom of the citizens


  • Democracy promotes dignity and freedom of the individual.


Democracy – its examination never gets over


  • A democracy is always striving towards a better goal. 


  • People constantly demand more benefits in a democracy.

Chapter 8-Challenges to Democracy


Broad challenges to democracy


Foundational challenges 


  • Some countries had to face the challenge of transition to the democratic style of government.


Challenge of expansion


  • Countries which are already democratic face the challenge of expanding it to all social groups and regions.


Deepening of democracy


  • It means strengthening those institutions that have people’s participation and control.


Devising ways and means for political reforms in India.




  • One way is legal reform, making new laws to ban undesirable things.=


Legal changes


  • Legal changes sometimes have a counter-productive result.

Democratic reforms


  • Democratic reforms are spread or brought about through political practice. 


Political funding




  • Most of the political parties are dependent on money given by big business houses. 


  • The worry is that the role of money in politics will reduce whatever little voice the poor have in our democracy.


Reform proposals


  • The financial accounts of every political party should be made public.


  • There should be state funding of elections. Parties should be given some money by the government to meet their election expenditure.


  • Citizens should be encouraged to give more donations to parties and to political workers.