Class 10 Civics Chapter 1 Notes PDF Download
If you are looking for the notes of Class 10 Civics Chapter 1, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we will provide you with the summary, important points and questions of this chapter. You can also download the notes in PDF format from the link given at the end of this article.
In Class 9, you have studied that in a democracy, all power does not rest with any one organ of the government. An intelligent sharing of power among the legislature, executive and judiciary is very important for the design of democracy. In this chapter, you will learn about the concept of power-sharing and why it is desirable in a democracy. You will also learn about the different forms of power-sharing and how they are practised in different countries, especially Belgium and Sri Lanka.
What is Power-sharing?
Power-sharing is a system of governance in which all major segments of society are provided a permanent share of power. This system ensures that no one group dominates or oppresses another group. Power-sharing can be done in various ways, such as:
- By dividing power among different organs of government, such as the legislature, executive and judiciary.
- By dividing power among governments at different levels, such as the central, state and local governments.
- By dividing power among different social groups, such as religious and linguistic groups.
- By dividing power among different political parties, pressure groups and movements.
Why is Power-sharing Desirable?
Power-sharing is desirable for two reasons: prudential and moral.
Prudential reasons stress that power-sharing will bring out better outcomes. It will:
- Reduce the possibility of conflict between social groups.
- Ensure the stability of political order.
- Enhance the legitimacy of the government.
- Improve the quality of decision-making.
Moral reasons emphasise the very act of power-sharing as valuable. It will:
- Respect the diversity of the society.
- Uphold the principle of democracy.
- Foster a sense of belonging among the citizens.
- Promote human dignity and freedom.
Power-sharing in Belgium and Sri Lanka
In this section, we will compare and contrast how power-sharing is done in two countries: Belgium and Sri Lanka. These two countries have a diverse population and face different challenges in accommodating their ethnic groups.
Story of Belgium
Belgium is a small country in Europe with a population of about 1 crore, about half the population of Haryana. Of the country’s total population, 59% speak Dutch language, 40% speak French language, and 1% speak German language. The Dutch-speaking people live in the Flemish region, the French-speaking people live in the Wallonia region, and the German-speaking people live in a small area near the German border. The capital city Brussels has a mixed population of both Dutch-speaking and French-speaking people.
Accommodation in Belgium
In Belgium, the government handled the community difference very well. Between 1970 and 1993, Belgian leaders amended their constitution four times and came up with a new model to run the government. Here are some of the elements of the Belgian model:
- The constitution prescribes that the number of Dutch-speaking and French-speaking ministers shall be equal in the central government. This means that no single community can make decisions unilaterally.
- Many powers of the central government have been given to the state governments of the two regions. The state governments are not subordinate to the central government.
- Brussels has a separate government in which both the communities have equal representation. The French-speaking people accepted equal representation in Brussels because the Dutch-speaking people accepted equal representation in the central government.
- There is a third kind of government called the community government. This government is elected by people belonging to one language community, regardless of where they live. This government has the power to make decisions on cultural, educational and language-related issues.
The Belgian model of power-sharing is a good example of how a country can accommodate its diverse population and avoid conflict.
Story of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is an island nation in South Asia with a population of about 2 crores, about twice the population of Haryana. Of the country’s total population, 74% are Sinhala speakers, 18% are Tamil speakers, and 8% are others. The Sinhala speakers are mostly Buddhists, while the Tamil speakers are mostly Hindus or Muslims. The Tamils are further divided into two sub-groups: the Sri Lankan Tamils, who are native to the country, and the Indian Tamils, who were brought by the British as plantation workers. The Sri Lankan Tamils live in the north and east of the country, while the Indian Tamils live in the central highlands.
Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, the government adopted a different approach to deal with its ethnic diversity. Instead of sharing power with the minority communities, it tried to impose the dominance of the majority community. Here are some of the steps taken by the Sri Lankan government:
- In 1956, an Act was passed to recognise Sinhala as the only official language of the country. This disregarded Tamil as an official language and made many Tamil-speaking people unhappy.
- The governments followed preferential policies that favoured Sinhala applicants for university positions and government jobs. This created a sense of resentment among the Tamils who felt that they were being discriminated against.
- The governments also encouraged the settlement of Sinhala Buddhists in the areas where Tamils lived. This altered the demographic pattern and reduced the political influence of Tamils in those areas.
- The governments also curtailed the autonomy of the provinces and made them more dependent on the central government. This reduced the scope for power-sharing at different levels.
The majoritarian policies of Sri Lanka led to a civil war that lasted for several decades and caused a huge loss of life and property. The war ended in 2009 with the defeat of the Tamil rebels, but the conflict is not yet resolved.
Forms of Power-sharing
In this section, we will discuss some of the common forms of power-sharing that are practised in different countries. These forms are not mutually exclusive and can be combined in various ways.
Horizontal Distribution of Power
This form of power-sharing involves sharing power among different organs of government, such as the legislature, executive and judiciary. This ensures that no one organ can exercise unlimited power and that each organ checks and balances the other. This form of power-sharing is also known as the system of checks and balances or the separation of powers. For example, in India, the legislature makes laws, the executive implements laws, and the judiciary interprets and applies laws. The three organs are independent of each other and can restrain the misuse of power by any organ.
Vertical Distribution of Power
This form of power-sharing involves sharing power among governments at different levels, such as the central, state and local governments. This ensures that the people have access to government at different levels and that the central government does not have all the power. This form of power-sharing is also known as federalism or decentralisation. For example, in India, the constitution divides the powers and functions of the central and state governments into three lists: union list, state list and concurrent list. The local governments also have some powers and functions under the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments.
This form of power-sharing involves sharing power among different social groups, such as religious and linguistic groups. This ensures that the diverse identities and cultures of the people are respected and protected. This form of power-sharing is also known as consociationalism or cultural autonomy. For example, in Belgium, as we have seen, there is a community government for each language group that can make decisions on cultural, educational and language-related issues.
Power-sharing among Political Parties, Pressure Groups and Movements
This form of power-sharing involves sharing power among different political parties, pressure groups and movements that represent different interests and opinions of the people. This ensures that the people have a voice in the government and that the government is responsive to their demands and grievances. This form of power-sharing is also known as pluralism or interest-group democracy. For example, in India, there are many political parties that contest elections and form governments at different levels. There are also many pressure groups and movements that influence public policies and mobilise public opinion on various issues.
In this article, we have learnt about the concept of power-sharing and why it is desirable in a democracy. We have also learnt about the different forms of power-sharing and how they are practised in different countries, especially Belgium and Sri Lanka. We have seen that power-sharing is a way of respecting the diversity of the society and ensuring the participation of all segments of society in governance. Power-sharing is also a way of preventing conflict and violence and promoting peace and harmony. Power-sharing is not only a normative principle but also a pragmatic necessity for any democracy.
- What are the two reasons for power-sharing?
- What are the four elements of the Belgian model of power-sharing?
- What are the four steps taken by the Sri Lankan government to impose majoritarianism?
- What are the four forms of power-sharing discussed in this article?
- What are some examples of pressure groups and movements in India?