JAC Board Class 10 Social Science Notes Civics Chapter 1 Power Sharing
→ Through the case studies of Belgium and Sri Lanka, the chapter explains the importance of power sharing in a democracy.
→ Belgium and Sri Lanka
- Belgium is a small country in Europe, smaller in area than the state of Haryana in India. It shares its borders with France, the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg. It has a population over one crore.
- Ethnic composition of this country is very complex. The minority French speaking people was relatively rich and powerful. This was resented by the Dutch-speaking community who got the benefit of economic development much later. Tensions between the two communities arose between the 1950s and 1960s. Tensions were more acute in Brussels as the Dutch-speaking were a majority in the country but a minority in the capital.
- Sri Lanka has a diverse population. The major social groups are Sinhala speakers (74%) and Tamil speakers (18%). There are LVo sub-groups of Tamils—Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian Tamils. Most of the Sinhala-speaking people are Buddhists, while most of the Tamils are either Hindus or Muslims. There are about 7 per cent Christians, who are both Tamil and Sinhala.
→ Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka emerged as an independent country in 1948. The democratically elected government adopted a series of majoritarian measures to establish Sinhala supremacy.
- An Act was passed in 1956 to recognise Sinhala as the only official language, disregarding Tamil. The government followed preferential policies that favoured Sinhala applicants for university positions and government jobs. A new constitution stipulated that the State shall protect and foster Buddhism.
- There was an increased feeling of alienation among the Tamils as they were discriminated and denied every opportunity. Also, their demands and interests were ignored and refused.
- The Sri Lankan Tamils launched parties and struggles. They demanded an independent Tamil Eelam (state) in northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.
- The distrust between the two communities turned into widespread conflict and then into a civil war. It caused a terrible setback to the social, cultural and economic life of the country. It ended in 2009.
→ Accommodation in Belgium:
The Belgian leaders recognised the existence of regional differences and cultural diversities. Between 1970 and 1993, they amended their constitution four times so as to work out an arrangement that would enable everyone to live together within the same country.
→ The Belgian model has following elements:
Constitution prescribes that the number of Dutch and French-speaking ministers shall be equal in the central government; the state governments are not subordinate to the Central Government; Brussels has a separate government in which both the communities have equal representation. It has a third kind of government called the ‘community government’, which has the power regarding cultural, educational and language-related issues.
→ Why power sharing is desirable?
There are two reasons why power sharing is desirable:
- Prudential reason: Power sharing reduces the possibility of conflict between social groups. It ensures the stability of political order.
- Moral reason: Power sharing is the very spirit of democracy. A legitimate government is one where citizens, through participation, acquire a stake in the system.
→ Forms of power-sharing:
- In modem democracies, power sharing arrangements can take many forms’.
- Power is shared among different organs of the government, such as the legislature, executive and the judiciary. This is known as horizontal distribution of power. Each organ exercises a different power. This ensures that none of the organs exercises unlimited power. Each organ checks the other. This arrangement is called a system of checks and balances.
- Power can be shared among governments at different levels. A general government for the entire country and governments at the provincial or regional level. This is known as vertical distribution of power. In India, the general government is the Central or Union
government and the regional government refers to the State governments. Lower than State government is the municipality and panchayat.
- Power can be shared among different social groups, such as the religious and linguistic groups. For example, the ‘community government’ in Belgium. India has ‘reserved constituencies’ in assemblies and the parliament.
- Power is also shared among various political parties, pressure and interest groups, etc. For example, when two or more parties come together to form a coalition government, power is shared. Similarly, industrialists, farmers, traders and businessmen form interest groups and play an active role in the functioning of the government.