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By- Saurabh Singh

Gender, Religion And Caste

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Text of Gender, Religion And Caste

  1. 1. By- Saurabh Singh
  2. 2. Overview In this chapter we apply the ideas of social difference to the practice of democratic system in India. We look at three kinds of social differences that can take the form of social divisions and inequalities. These are social differences based on gender, religion and caste.
  3. 3. Gender And Politics This is a form of hierarchical social division seen everywhere, but is rarely recognized in the study of politics. The gender divisions tends to be understood as natural and unchangeable. Not based on biology but on social expectations and stereotypes.
  4. 4. What disadvantages do women face? Literacy Rate - 54% for women.76% for men showing disparity. Smaller proportion of girls go for higher studies. Preferential treatment meted out to boy`s education rather than for girls. Proportion of women among highly paid and valued job is small. Equal wages Act provides equal wages but discrimination continues in sports, cinema, factories and fields.
  5. 5. What disadvantages do women face? Preference to have sons and abortion of girl child. Sex selective abortions have led to decline in child sex ratio. Various types of harassment, exploitation and violence. Urban areas too have become unsafe for women. Proportion of women has been very low in legislature. In the government, cabinets are largely all-male even when a woman becomes the Chief Minister or the Prime minister.
  6. 6. Solutions to these problems To make it legally binding to have a fair proportion of women in elected bodies. Reservation of 1/3 seats in local bodies. 10 lakh elected representatives in rural and urban local bodies. Demand for 1/3 seats in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
  7. 7. Religion and Politics Gandhiji believed that politics must be guided by ethics drawn from religion. Human rights groups demanding the Government to take special steps to protect religious minorities. Women`s movements want Government to change family laws to make it equitable.
  8. 8. Communalism To place ones community above everything including the nation. When does it begin? When religion is seen as the basis of the nation. When does it become acute? When religion is expressed in politics in exclusive and partisan terms. When one religion and its followers are pitted against the other.
  9. 9. What factors promote communalism? Beliefs of one religion are presented as superior to those of other religions. When 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. What is Communal Politics? It is based on the idea that religion is the principal basis of social community.
  10. 10. What Do Communalists Think? Followers of one religion must belong to one community. Their fundamental interests are same. People who follow different religions cannot belong to the same social community.
  11. 11. Communalism can take different forms in politics : It involves religious prejudices, stereotypes of religious communities and belief in the superiority of one`s religion over other religions. Communal mind leads to a quest for Political dominance of ones own religious communities. If it is a Majority community Majoritarian Dominance.
  12. 12. If it is a Minority community It form a separate political unit. Political mobilisation using symbols, religious leader`s emotional appeal and plain fear in order to bring the followers of one religion together in political arena. Sometimes takes its most ugly form of communal violence, riots and massacre. India and Pakistan suffered some of the worst communal riots at the time of Partition.
  13. 13. Secular state 1) There is no official religion for India. Constitution does not offer special status to any religion. 2) Constitution provides to all freedom to profess, practice and propagate any religion. 3) Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion. 4) State will intervene in matters of religion to ensure equality within religious communities. It bans untouchability.
  14. 14. Caste And Politics Hereditary occupational division sanctioned by rituals. Members of the same caste group formed similar occupation, married within the caste and did not eat with members from other caste groups.
  15. 15. Efforts Taken to Check Casteism Political leaders and social reformers like Jotiba Phule,Gandhiji, Ambedkar and Periyar Ramaswami Naicker have done a lot to check casteism. Socio economic changes have brought in a check. Large scale urbanisation. Literacy and education. Occupational mobility. Weakening of the position of landlords. Constitution prohibited caste based discrimination.
  16. 16. Caste in Politics Why is there a disproportionately large presence of Upper Caste among Urban Middle Class ? Groups that did not have access to education were prohibited from acquiring it have lagged behind.
  17. 17. No parliamentary constituency has a clear majority of one single caste. Every candidate /party must win the confidence of more than one caste and community to win elections. No party wins the votes of all voters of a caste /community. Many political parties may put up candidates from same caste. Ruling party /sitting MP losing election could not have happened if all castes and communities were frozen in political preferences.
  18. 18. Caste can take various forms in politics: During the choice of candidates before an election , care is taken that the composition of electorate and nomination of candidates from different castes so as to muster support to win elections. During formation of Governments, political parties take care that representatives of different castes and tribes find a place in it. To make appeals to caste sentiment to muster support. Universal adult franchise - one person one vote.
  19. 19. 1) Caste group becomes big by including neighbouring castes. 2) Party enters into a coalition with other castes. 3) Rise of backward caste and forward caste group.
  20. 20. Effects of Exclusive Attention to Caste: Is negative. Politics based on caste identity alone is not healthy. Diverts attention from poverty, development and corruption. Leads to tension, conflict and even violence.