Gender and Politics
Sexual Division of labour
It is a form of hierarchical social division. It can be seen at two levels :
- Public Division
- Private Division
Boys and girls are brought up to believe that the main responsibility of women is housework and bringing up children. This is reflected in sexual division of labour in most families.
Women do all work inside the home such as cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, tailoring, looking after children etc.
Men do all the work out side the home. It is not that men cannot do house work, they simply think that it is for women to attend to these things. And when these jobs are paid men are ready to take up these works.
Similarly it is not that women do not work outside their home. In villages, women fetch water, collect fuel and work in fields. In urban areas, poor women work as domestic helpers in middle class homes and in offices.
In fact majority of women do some sort of paid work in addition to domestic labour. But their work is not valued and does not get recognition.
Role of women, especially in politics, in minimal is most societies. Earlier, only men were allowed to vote and contest for public offices. Women in different parts of the world organised and agitated for equal rights. These agitations demanded enhancing the political and legal status of women and improving their educational and carrier opportunities more radical women’s movement aimed at equality in personal and family life as well. These movements are called FEMINIST movements. Political mobilisation has helped to improve women’s role in public life. In our country, women still lay much behind men. Ours is still a male dominated, PATRIARCHAL society.
Women face disadvantage, in various ways
- The literacy rate among women is only 54 % compared with 76 % among men.
- Smaller proportion of girl students go for higher studies.
- Parents prefer to spend their resources for their boys education. rather than spending equally on their sons and daughter.
- On an average an Indian woman works one hour more than an average man every day, yet much of her work is not paid and therefore often not valued.
- In spite of the Equal Wages Act in almost all area of work, women are paid less than men.
- In many parts of India parents prefer to have sons and find ways to have the girl child aborted before she is born.
Domestic violence : There are reports of various kinds of harassment, exploitation and violence against women. Both urban as well as rural areas have become unsafe for women. They are not safe even within their own home from beating and other forms of domestic violence.
Women Political Representation
In India, the proportion of women in legislature has been very low. In the government cabinets are largely all-male even when a woman become the Chief Minister or the Prime Minister. One way to solve this problem is to make it legally binding to have a fair proportion of women in the elected bodies. One-third of seats in PanchayaCots and municipalities – are now reserved for women. Women’s organisations and activities have been demanding a reservation of at least one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies for women. Gender division is an example that some form of social division needs to be expressed in politics.
Religion Communalism and Politics
Many countries including India have in their population, followers of different religions. Unlike gender differences, the religious differences are often expressed in the field of politics.
Different considerations about religion and politics
- Gandhiji used to say that religion can never be separated from politics. He believed politics must be guided by ethics drawn from religion.
- Human rights groups in our country have argued that most of the victims of communal riots in our country are people from religious minorities. They have demanded that the government take special steps to protect religious minorities.
- FAMILY LAW of all religions discriminate against women, so government should change these laws to make them more equitable.
Ideas, ideals and values drawn from different religions can and perhaps should play a role in politics. People should be able to express in politics their needs, interests and demands as a member of a religious community. These political acts are not wrong as long as they treat every religion equally.
Communalism is a situation when a particular community tries to promote its own interest at the cost of other communities.
The communalism problem becomes acute when :
- Religion is seen as the basis of the nation.
- When one religion and its followers are discriminated against by another.
- When people start believing that beliefs of one religion are superior to those of other religion.
- When the demands of one religious group are formed in opposition to another.
- When state power is used to establish domination of one religious group over the rest.
Religion is used in politics in exclusive and partisan terms. This manner of using religion in politics is communal politics.
Communal politics is based on the idea that religion is the principal basis of social community. communalism involves thinking along the following lines :
- The followers of a particular religion must belong to one community.
- Their fundamental interests should be the same. Any difference that they may have is irrelevant or trivial for community life.
- Communalism also follows that people who follow different religions can not belong to the same social Community. If the followers of different religions have some commonalities, these are superficial and immaterial. Their interests are bound to be different and involve a conflict.
- Sometime communalism leads to the belief that people belonging to different religions cannot live as equal citizens within one nation. Either one of them has to dominate the rest or they have to form different nations.
Communalism can take various forms in politics
- Communalism involve religious prejudices, stereotypes of religious communities and belief in the superiority of one’s religion over other religions.
- A communal mind often leads to quest for political dominance of one’s own religious community. For those belonging to the minority community, it can take the form of desire to form a separate political unit.
- Political mobilisation on religious lines is another form of communalism. This involves the use of sacred symbols, religious leaders, emotional appeals and plain fear in order to bring the followers of one religion together in the political arena.
- Sometimes communalism leads to communal violence, riots and massacre.
Communalism is a major challenge to democracy. The makers of our constitution chose the model of a secular state.
- There is no official religion, for our constitution does not give a special status to any religion.
- The constitution provides to all individual and communities freedom to profess, practice and propagate any religion or not to follow any.
- The constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion.
- Constitution allows the state to intervene in the matters of religion in order to ensure equality.
Secularism is not just an ideology. This idea constitutes one of the foundations of our country. Communalism is seen as a threat. That is why communalism needs to be combated.
Caste and Politics
Caste and politics, have both positive and the negative aspects.
Caste division is special to India. In most societies. Occupations are passed on from one generation to another. Caste system is an extreme form of this.
The hereditary occupational division was sanctioned by rituals. Members of the same caste group practiced the same occupation, married within the caste group and did not eat with members from other caste groups.
Caste system was based on discrimination against the ‘outcaste’ groups. They were subjected to the inhuman practice of untouchability political leaders and social reformers like Jotiba Phule, Gandhiji, B.R. Ambedkar and Periyar Ramaswami Naicker advocated and worked to establish a society in which caste inequalities are absent.
Caste system in modern India have undergone great changes due to –
- Economic development and large scale URBANISATION.
- Growth of literacy and education.
- OCCUPATIONAL MOBILITY
- The weakening of the position of landlords in the villages. Due to the old notions of CASTE HIERARCHY are breaking down factors.
The Constitution of India prohibited any caste-based discrimination and laid the foundation of policies to reverse the injustices of the caste system.
Caste system has not disappeared from India
- Some of the older aspects of caste have persisted.
- Even now most people marry within their own caste or tribe.
- Untouchability has not ended completely.
- Effects of centuries of advantages and disadvantages continue to be felt today.
Caste in Politics
Casteism is rooted in the belief that caste is the sole basis of social community. According to this way of thinking, people belonging to the same caste belong to a natural social community and have the same interests which they do not share with any one from another caste.
Caste can take various forms in politics
- When parties choose candidates in election, they keep in mind the caste composition of the electorate and nominate candidates from different castes so as to get necessary support to win elections.
- Political parties make appeals to caste sentiment to muster supports. Some political parties favour some castes.
- Universal adult franchise brought new consciousness among the people of caste that were earlier treated as inferior and low.
- 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.
- No party wins the votes of all the voters of caste or community. When people say that a caste is ‘vote bank’ of one part, it usually means that a large proportion of the voters from that caste vote for that party.
- Many political parties 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.
- 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.
- Voters have strong attachment to political parties which is often stronger than their attachment to their castes or community.
- Rich and poor or men and women from the same caste often vote very differently.
- People’s assessment of the performance of the government and the popularity rating of the leaders also matter.
Politics in Caste
Politics too influences the caste system and caste identities by brining them into the political arena.
Thus, it is not politics that gets casteridden, it is the caste that gets politicised. This takes several forms :
- Each caste group tries to become bigger by incorporating within it neighbouring castes or subcastes which were earlier excluded from it.
- Various caste groups are required to enter into a coalition with other castes or communities and thus enter into a dialogue and negotiation.
- New kinds of caste groups have come up in the political arena like ‘backward’ and ‘forward’ caste groups.
- In some situations, expression of caste differences in politics gives many disadvantage communities the space to demand their share of power. e.g. Dalits and OBC have gained better access to decision making.
- Several political and non-political organisations have been demanding for an end to discrimination against particular caste, for more dignity and more access to land resources and opportunities.
Religion, politics based on caste identity are not very healthy in a democracy. It can divert attention from other pressing issues like poverty, development and corruption.
Caste system a great threat to Indian democracy
Most of the politicians and scholars accepts that the caste system has become very complicated Presently it has become a great threat to Indian democracy. Caste system implies denial of equality and freedom, and hence is contrary to the principles of equality. As such it is posing a big threat to our democratic policy.
(i) the politics of caste at its worst is being practiced now-a-days.
(ii) This type of politics is responsible for creating social tension, violence and fear psychosis.
(iii) It has given rise to instability in the political system of our country.
Step taken by the government to do away with casteism
- Untouchability has been abolished by Indian Constitution and it has been made a criminal offence.
- The fundamental rights guaranteed in our constitution provide equality and freedom to all citizens.
- Reservation has been provided to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and people of the other backward castes in educational institutions, jobs and legislatures.
- As per Directive principles, state is duty bound to promote and protect the interest of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
- Education is provided to more and more people. Inter-caste marriages are being welcomed by most of the state governments, progressive parties and leaders.
- Gender Division : It is a form of hicrarchical social division based on biology, social expectations and stereotypes.
- Sexual Division of Labour : A system in which all work inside the home is either done by women of the family, or organised by them through the domestic helpers.
- Feminist : A woman or a man who believes in equal rights and opportunities for men & women.
- Patriarchy : It is a concept which is used to refer to a system that values men more and gives them power over women. The society based on this ideology is known as the patriarchial society.
- Child Sex Ratio : It is referred to as the number of girl children per thousand boys in a given period.
- Family Laws : Those laws that deal with family related matters such as marriages, divorce, adoption, inheritance, etc. In our country every community has its own family law.
- Urbanisation : The process of shifting of population from rural areas to urban areas for better facility and job opportunities.
- Majoritarian Dominance : The community belonging to a majority category takes the status of majoritarian dominance.
- Occupational Mobility : Process of shift from one occupation to another. Usually when a new generation takes up occupations other than those practiced by their ancestors.
- Caste Hierarchy : It is a ladder like formation in which all the caste groups are placed from the highest to the lowest castes.
- Secular state : A state which has no official religion of its own is known as the secular state. It provides religious equality and equal status to all religions.
- Secularism : It is an ideology which deals with the equal status to all religions and prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion. It implies religious freedom, people enjoy the right to preach, practise or profess a religion of their choice.
- Untouchability : A state of affairs in which some backward and lower caste people are treated as outcaste people, treated as untouchables and are not allowed to mingle with so called upper caste.
- Universal adult Franchise : It refers to in which Right to vote is given to every adult citizen of the country. It is one of the political rights of the people. In this –
Universal – signifies – to all
Adult – signifies – above 18 yrs and
Franchise – signifies – right to vote
- Minorities : The word signifies those groups of people or communities who are lesser in number in a given area.
- Communal Representation : A system of separate electorate for the adequate representation of the people belonging to different communities.
- Social change : It signifies the modification which takes place in the life style of people, i.e., mode of living, the social status and cultural changes.
Very Short Answer Type Question
- What do you mean by gender division ?
- What does the term sexual division of labour signify ?
- What does the term feminist movement mean?
- What is patriarchal society ?
- List out the provisions of the Equal Wages Act.
- What led to the feminist and women’s movement ?
- Give the measures to remove the inequality of women.
- In what ways unequal treatment of women was raised in the political domain ?
- What is the term ‘religious differences’ ?
- What was Gandhiji’s view on religion and politics ?
- Examine the term communalism.
- What do you mean by communal politics ?
- What is the term “Political Mobilisation” on religious lines ?
- Give the two steps taken by Indian Government to check the communalism.
- What do you mean by secular state ?
- What is the term secularism ?
- Why did our constitution framers choose the model of a secular state ?
- Give the concept of caste inequality.
- What do you mean by caste system ?
- How is caste the role of basis of social community ?
- Examine briefly communalism as an ideology and as a social phenomena.
- What is casteism ?
- Give two effects of Casteism ?
- What are feminist movements ?
- Define sex ratio.
- What is a secular state ?
- What are family laws ?
- Name any four social reformers who advocated and worked to establish a society in which caste inequalities are absent.
- Give an appropriate term for a person, who says that religion is the principal basis of community.
- Give an appropriate term for a person, who believes in equal rights and opportunities for women and men.
- Give an appropriate term for a person who does not discriminate others on the basis of religious beliefs.
- Why did women organise themselves in the world and start agitations ?
- Mention any one demand of the women organisations in India.
- Match List-I with List-II, and select the correct answer using the codes given below the lists :
|List 1||List 2|
|1||A person, who believes in equal rights and opportunities for women and men||A||Communal|
|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
|4||A person who does not discriminate others on the
basis of religious beliefs
Short Answer Type Question
- What is social equality ?
- How did women achieve gender equality ?
- In what ways women’s role was improved in public life ?
- Give a comparative analysis of the political participation of Indian women to that of the world.
- How has women participation been increased in the Indian politics ? Give a comparative analysis of early and modern period ?
- What is the term ‘inequality of women’ ? How is it a hindrance in the way of democracy ?
- List out the three laws enacted by the parliament since independence for the welfare of women.
- Write a note on the National Commission for women.
- List out the steps that need to be taken to improve the social status of women in Indian society.
- How do ideas, ideals and values play a role in politics ?
- What are the basis of communalism ?
- Explain public and private division of men and women ?
- Examine the present nature of caste system.
- How is casteism harmful to the democratic ideals ?
- What are the reasons for the great change in the caste system ?
- ‘Political mobilisation on religious lines is a frequent form of communalism.’ Explain.
- Mention any four steps which can be undertaken to improve the women’s representation in politics.
- What are feminist Movements ? What were their major demands ?
Long Answer Type Question
- What does the term inequality of women mean ? In what ways is it being practised in India ?
- Examine the factors responsible for the deteriorating status of women in society.
- Examine the impact of caste system on Indian democratic system. List out some measures to eradicate effects of casteism.
- Examine the relationship between religion & politics.
- What are the various forms of caste in politics ?
- Examine the measures to combat the problems of communalism.
- “Caste system and politics in India cannot be separated”. Justify.
- Name the movements which agitate for women’s rights. How have these movements helped in improving women’s conditions?
- Discuss the sexual division of labour.
- How can religion influence politics? Explain.
- What is communal politics? Explain.
- What is communalism? What are the major beliefs of communal people ?
- State any four provisions of the Indian Constitution which makes it a secular state.
- In what ways does politics influence caste system ?
- Explain the different aspects of life in which women are discriminated or disadvantaged in India.
- The rigid caste system is disappearing in India. Explain the major factors responsible for this.
- “The focus on caste in politics can sometimes give an impression that elections are all about caste and nothing else. That is far from true.” Explain by given examples.
Multiple Choice Question
1. Social divisions based on ………….. are peculiar in India.
(A) Caste (B) Religion
(C) Political party (D) Gender
2. Special marriage Act of 1954 was later amended in …………..
3. ……………… seats in local government bodies are reserved for women.
(B) One third
(D) One fifth
(D) One sixth
4. There are more than ………….. elected women representatives in rural and urban local bodies.
(A) Two lakhs (B) Three lakhs
(C) Seven lakh (D) Ten lakhs
5. Women are not treated equally in terms of ……..
(A) Economic status (B) Social status
(C) Political status (D) All the above
6. Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 was later amended in-
(A) 1982 (B) 1984 (C) 1986 (D) 1988
7. National Commission for Women was set up in …………., towards the empowerment of women.
(A) 1990 (B) 1991 (C) 1992 (D) 1993
8. Identify the states where most district have child sex ratio below 850 –
(A) Kerala .
(C) West Bengal
9. What is the percentage of Hindu religion population in India in 2001 –
(A) 80.5 % (B) 60.2 %
(C) 65.7 % (D) 90 %
10. Caste hierachy means
(A) Shift from one occupation to another
(B) Religious equality.
(C) Communal harmony and peace on the basis of case
(D) A ladder like formation in which all the caste groups are placed form the ‘highest’ to the ‘lowest castes.
11. A man or a woman who believes in equal rights and opportunities for woman and man –
12. A society that values man more and give them power over woman …………….
(A) Feminist society
(B) Hetrogenous Society
(C) Partiachal Society
(D) Communist society
13. The literacy rate among women in India is about ………….., whereas it is ………….for men-
(A) 54%, 76%
(B) 50%, 80%
(C) 76%, 54%
(D) 100%, 80%
14. ………………. provides that equal wages should be paid to equal work –
(A) The Equal Wages Act
(B) Right to Equality
(C) Rights to Wages
(D) Right to Information
15. Which one of the following statements regarding the representation of women in the Parliament is not correct ?
(A) In India, the proportion of woman in legislature has been very low
(B) In Nordic countries the proportion of woman in legislature has been high
(C) The percentage of elected women members in Lok Sabha has never reached even 10%
(D) The share of women in the state assemblies is high
16. “Religion can never be separated from politics.” Who said these words?
(A) Jawaharlal Nehru
(B) W.C. Bannerji
(C) Mahatma Gandhi
(D) Indira Gnadhi
17. Which of the following is not a feature of communalism ?
(A) Communal politics is based on the idea that religion is the principal basis of social community
(B) Religion is seen as the basis of nation
(C) Beliefs of one religion are presented as superior to those of other religious
(D) The followers of a particular religion can belong to different communities
18. ……………….. is official religion for the Indian state –
(A) There is not official religion
19. In which of the following are one third of the seats reserved for women in India ?
(A) Lok Sabha (B) State Assemblies
(C) Government jobs (D) Panchayats