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GENDER, RELIGION AND CASTE IN POLITICS


Posted Date: 09-Jul-2009  Last Updated:   Category: Education    
Author: Member Level: Gold    Points: 25






It was experienced that social diversity poses no threat to democracy and political expressions of social differences is possible. It is sometimes desirable in a democratic system. The three kinds of social differences – gender, religion and caste. Can take the form of social divisions and inequalities. It is important to understand the different expression based on these differences in a democratic system.

GENDER AND POLITICS

Gender division is a universal and is a form of hierarchical social division. It is rarely recognized the study of politics. It is not based on biological facts but on social expectations and age-old stereotypes.

PUBLIC/PRIVATE DIVISION

In our societies, sexual division of labour is universally prevalent and it implies that the main responsibility of woman is housework and looking after children. Works like cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, tailoring etc were meant for women and men were expected to do all the work outside the home. Men took up these jobs when they were paid for and they turned out to be world’s finest cooks, tailors etc.

On contrary, in urban areas poor women worked outside their home as domestic servants while educated middle class women worked in office, school etc. Majority of women contributed largely in paid work as well as were great attribute to domestic labour. But still these efforts remained underestimated and failed to get recognition. Women role in public life, especially in politics is minimal in most societies.

The gender issue was raised in politics as women raised their voice worldwide through agitations and demonstrations.

They were done to enhance the political and legal status of women and improving their educational and career opportunities.

Feminist movements were triggered and aimed at equality in personal and family lives of women as it demanded equal opportunities for woman and man.

It improved women’s role and status in public life. Now women are making their ways on all spheres of life as we can see them working as scientists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. In countries like Sweden, Norway and Finland, the participation of woman in public life is very high. Indian society is generally male dominated and can be termed patriachial society. It values men over women and gives them more power and women faced discrimination and oppression in many ways.

Women literacy rate us 54 per cent while men literacy rate is 76 per cent. Small amount of girl student go for higher students but still they out performs boys in many places.


Girls drop out because parents prefer to spend resources for boys education. Even the proportion of women among highly paid job is very low. It is noted that an average Indian women work one hour more than average Indian man every day but still they are underestricted and underpaid.

Equal Wages Act provides provisions for equal wages paid to both men and women for equal amount of work.

In India, parents prefers sons over daughters and find ways of aborting girl child before its birth. This type of sex-selective abortion has led to decline in child six ratio- ( number of girl children per thousand boys).

In our country, it is merely 927 and the ratio has fallen below 850 or even 800 in many places. Women were reported discriminated, brutalized and exploited and have been victimized of domestic violence in many urban and rural areas of our country.

WOMEN’s POLITICAL REPRESENTATION

It was believed to have more women as elected representatives so that adequate attention is being paid to women’s declining states in our country. The proportion of women in Indian legislation has been very low. In Lok Sabha, it has never reached even 10 per cent of its total strength and less than 5 per cent in State assemblies. India is among the bottom group of nation in the world and is behind the averages for several developing countries of Africa and Latin America. No matter India had women chief minister or prime minister but the cabinets were largely male dominated. One third of seats in local governments (panchayats and municipalities ) are reserved for women and now there are more than 10 lakh elected women representatives in rural and urban local bodies. There has been rigourous demand of similar reservation of one third seats in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies for woman. It’s pending in the parliament for more than a decade and still it has not been passed. Gender division needs to be expressed in politics and it also shows that disadvantaged groups benefit when social divisions becomes a political issue.

RELIGION, COMMUNINALISM 7 POLITICS

Religious differences may not be as universal as gender division but fairly widespread in the world. India have followers of different religions as it comprises minority communities in every states, areas and regions. Religious differences are often expressed in politics.

Gandhiji believed that politics must be guided by ethics drawn from all religions. Human rights groups have demanded that the government to take special steps to protect religious minorities as they are mostly victims of communal riots in our country.

Women’s movement has argued family laws of all religions as it deprives them of equal rights in the society. They have therefore, demanded to change these laws to make them more equitable for women of this country.

These instances show deep rooted relationships between religions and politics.


Communalism

Every nation faces problem when religion is seen as the basis of the nation. The problem becomes severe when religions is expressed in politics in exclusive and partisan terms. It creates a situation when one religion and it followers are pitted against another. It happens when belief of one religion are presented as superior to those of other religions. The situation women when the demands of one religions group are formed in opposition to another and state power is used to establish domination of one religions group over the others.

This type of using religions in politics is termed as “Communal Politics “.

In communal politics the principal basis of social community is religion. Communalism is based on ideology that the followers of a particular religion must belong to one community.

It is believed that people who follow different religions cannot belong to same social community. Communalism leads to the belief that the people belonging to different religions cannot live as equal citizens in one nation. The superior religions group is expected to rule the nation or it ends in disintegration of the nation.

There are many different forms of communalism in politics and they are as follows:

1. The common expression of communalism are experienced on everyday routinely beliefs. It can be in the form of religious prejudices, stereotypes of religions communities, superiority of one religion over the other religions. These beliefs are so common that we often fail to notice even when we believe in it.

2. It leads to a quest for political dominance of religious community over others. It takes the form of majoritarian dominance for majority community, for minority community, it can take form of a desire to form a separate political unit.

3. The most frequent form of communalism is political mobilization on the religious guidelines. It generally involves the usage of sacred symbols, religions leaders, emotional appeal and creating fear in order to accumulate followers of one religious community in the political arena. It is materialized to gain advantage in electoral politics.

4. Communalism can be ugliest if takes the shape of communal violence, riots and mascre.

SECULAR STATE

In India, communalism has always been major threat and challenge to the spirit of democracy. The model of secular state was chosen by the makers of constitution as they were aware of this challenge.

1. In India, there is no official religion as it respected all the religions equally.
2. Constitution of India provides freedom to all communities and individuals to prefers, practice and propogate any religion or not to follow any.
3. Constitution of India allows to intense the religious matters to ensure equality within the religious communist.

CASTE AND POLITICS

Like religions caste system plays vital role in Indian politics and it has both positive and negative aspects.

In India, members of some caste were supposed to form a social community that practiced same or similar occupation. It further advised marriage within the same caste group and not to socialize with other caste groups. It led to the exclusion of and discrimination against the odd caste groups

It led to the exclusion of and discrimination. It led to the exclusion of and discrimination against the odd caste groups and encourage the inhuman practice of untouchability. Social references like B.R. Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, and Periyal Ramaswami. Naicher fought against such caste inequalities.

It was their efforts and the social economic charges that India have undergone through great charges. It led to economic development, large scale urbanization, growth of literacy and education, occupational mobility and weakened the position of landlords in the village. It also helped in breaking the old notions of caste hierarchy.

CASTE IN POLITICS

Casteism is laid on the foundation in the belief that caste is the sale basis of social community.

The impact of caste in politics can be of various forms and they are as follows:

1. Political parties prefer to choose election candidate based on the caste composition of the electorate to gather necessary support to win elections. After the formation of governments, representatives of different caste and tribes are offered place and positions by the concerned political parties.
2. Political parties evoke caste sentiments through various means to attract voters.
3. The concept of universal adult franchise and one person one vote compelled political parties to gear up the task of mobilizing and securing political support. It sometimes gave an impression that elections are all about caste and castism.
4. In India, no parliamentary constituency has a clear majority of one single caste. So it becomes important for every political party to win confidence of more than one caste and community to win elections.
5. The politics of ‘Vote Bank’ played vital role as large proportion of the voters rom the same caste voted for their particular political party.
6. Political parties fielded candidates from the caste that dominated the particular community or constituency to get majority support in the elections.
7. It led to the defeat of ruling party and sitting M.P. and MLK as it could have been avoided if all caste and communities work frozen to their political preferences.

POLITICS IN CASTE

Politics influence caste system and caste identities by bringing them into the political arena. There are several forms by which caste gets politicized and they are as follows:-

1. Every caste group tries to maximize their size by incorporating neighbouring castes and sub-caste to show their might and strength.
2. Different caste group entered into coalition with other caste and communities and thus enter into a dialogue and negotiations.
3. It led to the formation of new caste group in political arena, like backward and forward caste group.

It gave disadvantaged communities like Dalits and OBC the space to demand their share of power.

It is experienced that politics based on caste identity alone is not healthy in a democracy. It can led to a situation of social conflict, tension, violence or even civil war in the country.


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