Revision Notes for Class 10 Political Science – Chapter 1 Power Sharing

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In a democracy all power does not rest with any one organ of the government. An intelligent sharing of power among legislature, executive and judiciary is very important.

Case Study of Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka:

  • Sri Lanka is an island nation, just a few kilometers off the southern coast of Tamil Nadu.
  • Diverse population: The major social groups are:
    • Sinhala-speakers (74 per cent)
    • Tamil-speakers (18 per cent): Among Tamils there are two sub-groups.
      • Tamil natives of the country are called ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’ (13 per cent).
        • They are concentrated in the north and east part of the country.
      • The rest, whose forefathers came from India as plantation workers during colonial period, are called ‘Indian Tamils’.
  • Religion: Most of the Sinhala speaking people are Buddhists, while most of the Tamils are Hindus or Muslims.
  • Feeling of Alienation among Sri Lankan Tamils:
    • Sri Lanka emerged as an independent country in 1948 and adopted a series of Majoritarian measures to establish Sinhala supremacy.
    • 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 but their demand for more autonomy to provinces populated by the Tamils was repeatedly denied.
    • By 1980s, several political organisations were formed demanding an independent Tamil Eelam (state) in northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.
    • The distrust between the two communities turned into widespread conflict. It soon turned into a Civil war which ended in 2009.

Case Study of Accommodation of various Ethnic communities in Belgium:

  • Belgium is a small country in Europe. It has borders with France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Luxembourg.
  • Complex Ethnic Composition:
    • 59 per cent people: live in the Flemish region and speaks Dutch language.
    • 40 per cent people: live in the Wallonia region and speak French.
    • In the Capital city Brussels:
      • 80 per cent: French speakers
      • 20 per cent: Dutch speakers
  • Tensions between the Dutch-speaking and French Speaking:
    • The minority French-speaking community was relatively rich and powerful which was resented by the Dutch-speaking community who got the benefit of economic development and education much later.
  • Accommodative path used by Belgium: They recognised the existence of regional differences and cultural diversities. Some of the elements of the Belgian model are:
    • No decisions by one community unilaterally: Some special laws require the support of majority of members from each linguistic group.
    • The state governments are not subordinate to the Central Government.
    • There is a third kind of government called ‘community government’ which is elected by people belonging to one language community – Dutch, French and German-speaking – no matter where they live. This government has the power regarding cultural, educational, and languagerelated issues.

The arrangement in Belgian model have worked well and helped to avoid civic strife between the two major communities and a possible division of the country on linguistic lines.

Need of Power Sharing:

  • Reduce the possibility of Conflict between Social Groups:
    • It helps in ensuring Political order as social conflict often leads to violence and political instability.
    • Imposing the will of majority community undermines the unity of the nation.
  • Uphold the spirit of Democracy:
    • A democratic rule involves sharing power with those affected by its exercise and who have to live with its effects.
    • A legitimate government is one where citizens, through participation, acquire a stake in the system.

Forms of Power-Sharing:

  • Among different Organs of the Government: Such as the legislature, executive and judiciary.
    • Horizontal Distribution of Power: It allows different organs of government placed at the same level to exercise different powers.
    • Checks and Balances of power: None of the organs can exercise unlimited power.
    • For example: Although, judges are appointed by the executive, they can check the functioning of executive or laws made by the legislatures.
  • Among the Governments at different levels:
    • Vertical Division of power: It involves higher and lower levels of Government.
    • Federal government: A general Government for the entire country. In India, they are known as the Central or Union Government.
    • Government at Provincial or Regional level: In India, they are known as State Governments.
    • No specific model: There are many countries where there are no provincial or state governments.
      But in countries like India, the Constitution clearly lays down the powers of different levels of government.
  • Among different Social Groups: Such as the religious and linguistic groups.
    • In some countries, there are constitutional and legal arrangements whereby socially weaker sections and women are represented in the legislatures and administration.
    • This method is used to give minority communities a fair share in power.
  • By way of Political Parties, Pressure Groups and Movements: These control or influence those in power.
    • Power is shared among different political parties that represent different ideologies and social groups in a democracy. Sometimes this kind of sharing can be direct, when two or more parties form an alliance to contest elections and forms government.
    • In a democracy, Interest groups such as those of traders, businessmen, industrialists, farmers and industrial workers also have a share in governmental power, either through participation in governmental committees or bringing influence on the decision-making process.

Interesting points

  • Brussels is the Headquarter of European Union.
  • Beirut is the capital of Lebanon.
  • Lebanon arrangement of Power:
    • The President must belong to the Maronite sect of Catholic Christians.
    • The Prime Minister must be from the Sunni Muslim community.
    • The post of Deputy Prime Minister is fixed for Orthodox Christian sect.
    • The post of Speaker is fixed for Shi’a Muslims.

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