Gender and Politics

  • Gender division is a form of hierarchiacal social division which can be seen everywhere.
  • Sexual division of labour means the work is divided amongst people according to their sex.
  • Social division of the Indian society is clearly indicated by casteism, gender inequality and communal divisions.
  • Earlier, only men were allowed to participate in public affairs, vote and contest for public offices. Gradually, the gender¬† issue was raised in politics.
  • Women in different parts of the world organised and agitated for equal rights.
  • These agitations demanded enhancing the polititical and legal status of women and improving their educational and career opportunities
  • A man or a woman who believes in equal rights and opportunities for men and women is called a feminist.
  • Most of the women’s movements aim at equality in personal and family life of women. These movements are called feminist movements.
  • India is still a male-dominated Patriarchal society.
  • Women face disadvantage, discrimination and oppression in various ways. Women are less literate, though work equally but are sometime paid lesser than men; mostly son is preferred by parents, etc.
  • In India, the proportion of women in legislature has been very low.
  • To solve this problem, a fair proportion of women in the elected bodies have been legally made in the Pnachayati Raj in India.
  • One-third of seats in local government bodies in Panchayats and Municipalities – are now reserved for women.
  • Gender divsion is an example that some form of social divsion needs to be expressed in politics.
  • The laws that deal with family-related matters , such as marriage, divorce, etc. are known as family laws.
  • Gender Division : It is a form of hierarchical social division based on social expectations and stereotypes.
  • Sex Ratio : It is defined as the number of females per 1000 males in a country in a given period of time.
  • Communal Politics : The use of religion for political purpose where one religion is shown as superior to the other religions is called communal politics.
  • Sexual Division of Labour : A system in which all work inside the home is either done by the women of the family or organised by them through the domestic helpers.
  • Feminist : A person who believes in equal rights and opportunities for all human beings.
  • Patriarchy : A system where father is the head of the family.
  • Stereotype : An image or idea of a particular type of person or thing that has become fixed through being widely held.
  • Feminism : It is concerned with the empowerment of women and giving women equal status in the society as men.

Religion, Communalism and Politics

  • Indian democracy faced the problem of casteism, communalism, illiteracy, unemployment and poverty.
  • Communities having a relatively small population in a society are called minorities. A system of separate electorate and representation for people belonging to different communities is known as communal representation.
  • Buddhism is the major religion of Sri Lanka and Hinduism is the major religion of Nepal.
  • The use of religion in politics is known as communal politics.
  • Ideas, ideals and values drawn from different religions can and perhaps should paly a role in politics.
  • People should be able to express in politics their needs, interests and demands as a member of a religious community.
  • Communal politics is based on the idea that religion is the principal basis of social community.
  • Communalism can take various forms in politics:

i) The most common expression of communalism is in everyday beliefs.

ii) A communal mind often leads to a quest for political dominance of one’s own religious community.

iii) Political mobilisation on religious lines is another frequent form of communalism.

iv) Sometimes communalism takes its most ugly form of communal violence, riots and massacre.

  • In a secular state like India, there is no official religion for the Indian state.
  • The Constitution provides to all individuals and communities freedom to profess, practise and propagate any religion, or not to follow any. Some of its features are:

i) The Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion.

ii) At the same time, the Constitution allows the state to intervene in the matters of religion in order to ensure equality within religious communities.

  • Communalism : It means attempts to promote religious ideas between groups of people as identified by different communities.
  • Family Laws : The laws that deal with family related matters such as marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, etc. In our country, different family laws apply to followers of different religions.
  • Literacy Rate : Literacy rate is the ratio of educated people among the whole population of a country.
  • Prejudice : An unreasonable dislike or preference for a person, group, custom, etc., especially when it is based on their race, religion, sex, etc.
  • Secular State : A state which does not have any official religion. It provides equal status to all religions.
  • Secularism : A belief that religion should not be involved in the organisation of society.

Caste and Politics

A behaviour which inspires the high caste people to hate the lower caste people is known as casteism.

  • Caste system was based on exclusion of and discrimination against the ‘outcaste’ groups. They were subjected to the inhuman practice of untouchability.
  • Gandhiji was against untouchability.
  • Jyotiba Phule, Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi and Periyar Ramaswami Naicker worked to end the caste system in India.
  • 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 hierachy are breaking down.
  • Constitution of India prohibited any caste-based discrimination and laid the foundations of policies to reverse the injustices of the caste system.
  • Caste can take various forms in politics:

i) 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 supports to win elections.

ii) Political parties and candidates in elections makes appeals to caste sentiment to muster support.

iii) Universal adult franchise and the principle of one-person-one-vote compelled political leaders to gear up to the task of moblising and securing political support.

  • No parliametary constituency in the country has a clear majority of one single caste.
  • Politics too influences the caste system and caste identities by bringing them into the political areana.
  • It is not politics that gets caste ridden; it is the caste that gets politicised. This takes several forms:

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

ii) New kinds of caste groups have come up in the political arena like ‘backward’ and ‘forward’ caste groups.

  • Several political and non-political organisations have been demanding and agitating for an end to discrimination against particular castes, for more dignity and more access to land, resources and opportunities.
  • Exlusive attention to caste can divert attention from other pressing issues like poverty, development and corruption.
  • In some cases caste division leads to tensions, conflict and even violence.
  • Urbanisation :¬†Shift of population from rural areas to urban areas.
  • Caste Hierarchy : A ladder like formation in which all the caste groups are placed from the highest to the lowest castes.
  • Electorate : All the people in a country or area who are entitled to vote in an election.
  • Universal Adult Franchise : It means that all citizens whose age is 18 years or above have the right to vote.
  • Occupational Mobility : Shift from one occupation to another, usually when a new generation takes up occupations other than those practised by their ancestors.