Class X - Political Science

Chapter - 4 Gender, Religion and Caste

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FEMINIST MOVEMENTS - Women movements aiming at equality in personal and family life.

We still have a male dominated, PATRIARCHAL society.


Women face disadvantage, discrimination and oppression in various ways:

  • The literacy rate among women is only 54 per cent compared with 76 per cent among men. Similarly, a smaller proportion of girl students go for higher studies. When we look at school results, girls perform as well as boys, if not better in some places. But they drop out because parents prefer to spend their resources for their boys’ education rather than spending equally on their sons and daughters.
  • 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.
  • The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 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.
  • In many parts of India parents prefer to have sons and find ways to have the girl child aborted before she is born. Such sex-selective abortion led to a decline in child sex ratio (number of girl children per thousand boys) in the country to merely 914.
  • There are reports of various kinds of harassment, exploitation and violence against women. Urban areas have become particularly unsafe for women.They are not safe even within their own home from beating, harassment and other forms of domestic violence



When beliefs of one religion are presented as superior to those of other religions, when the demands of one religious group are formed in opposition to another and when state power is used to establish domination of one religious group over the rest. 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 can take various forms in politics: �

  • The most common expression of communalism is in everyday beliefs. These routinely 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 a quest for political dominance of one’s own religious community.
  • Political mobilisation on religious lines is another frequent form of This involves the use of sacred symbols, religious leaders, emotional appeal and plain fear in order to bring the followers of one religion together in the political arena.
  • Sometimes communalism takes its most ugly form of communal violence, riots and massacre.


Secular state

  • There is no official religion for the Indian state. Our Constitution does not give a special status to any religion.
  • The Constitution provides to all individuals and communities freedom to profess, practice and propagate any religion, or not to follow any.
  • The Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion.
  • At the same time, the Constitution allows the state to intervene in the matters of religion in order to ensure equality within religious communities. For example, it bans untouchability.


Caste inequalities

  • Caste system was based on exclusion of and discrimination against the ‘outcaste’ groups. They were subjected to the inhuman practice of untouchability.
  • With economic development, large scale Urbanisation, growth of literacy and education, Occupational Mobility and the weakening of the position of landlords in the villages, the old notions of Caste Hierarchy are breaking down.


Caste in politics

  • When parties choose candidates in elections, they keep in mind the caste composition of the electorate and nominate candidates from different castes so as to muster necessary support to win elections.
  • Political parties and candidates in elections make appeals to caste sentiment to muster support.
  • Universal adult franchise and the principle of one-person-one-vote compelled political leaders to gear up to the task of mobilising and securing political support. It also brought new consciousness among the people of castes that were hitherto treated as inferior and low.


Politics in caste

  • Each caste group tries to become bigger by incorporating within it neighbouring castes or sub-castes 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.

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