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Key Concepts: Power-sharing | Social Studies (SST) Class 10 PDF Download

There are two ways of running a government

  • One is a tyranny – In this, the power is concentrated in the hands of a leader or a king. 
  • On the other hand, the other one is a democracy. In this, the power is delegated at different levels.

The lesson illustrates, with the examples of Belgium and Sri Lanka, how power-sharing is handled by democracies and we learn how necessary it is to share power in a democracy wisely.

Power Sharing

  • Power-sharing means the distribution of power among the organs of the government such as the legislature, executive, and judiciary. 
  • Power-sharing helps in achieving the stability of political order. In power-sharing, power might even be shared at distinct levels such as union, state and local.

Forms of Power Sharing

In a modern democracy, power-sharing arrangements can take many forms.

  • Horizontal distribution of power:


    In this, the power is shared among different organs of government such as the legislature, executive, and judiciary. This type of power-sharing is prevalent in India.
  • Federal government (vertical distribution of power): 


    In this, the power can be shared among governments at different levels. This type of power-sharing is prevalent in the USA.
  • Power-sharing among different social groups:


    Power can be shared among social groups such as linguistic and religious groups. For instance, Community government’ in Belgium.
  • Other types of power-sharing:


    Power sharing is also seen in political parties, pressure groups and movements control or influence those in power.

Question for Key Concepts: Power-sharing
Try yourself:In dealing with power sharing, which one of the following statements is NOT correct about democracy?
View Solution

Story of Belgium

(i) Geographical Position: Small country in Europe, bordered by the Netherlands, France and Germany.

Map of BelgiumMap of Belgium

(ii) Area and Population: Smaller in area than the Indian state of Haryana. The population is a little over one crore, half of the state of Haryana.
(iii) Ethnic Composition: 59% live in Flemish region - speak Dutch, 40% live in Wallonia region - speak French, and 1% -speak German
(iv) Capital: Brussels; 80% speak French, 20% Speak Dutch.
(v) Important Point: 

  • In Brussels, the Dutch-speaking people are in a minority which is the opposite of the rest of the country, where they are in a majority.

Cheering crowds greet British troops entering Brussels, 4 September 1944Cheering crowds greet British troops entering Brussels, 4 September 1944

  • The minority population of French-speaking people was richer than the Dutch-speaking people. 
  • The majority community was given benefits much later. This led to tension between the two communities in the 1950s and 1960s. Tension was more acute in the capital city of Brussels.

(vi) Accommodation in Belgium: Belgium constitution was amended four times, between 1970 and 1993, so as to assist all communities to live together within the same country, with the result that it did not suffer from a civil war, demands for autonomy or partition of the country.


Story of Sri Lanka

(i) Geographical Position: A small island in Asia, off the southern coast of Tamil Nadu.

Ethnic communities of Sri LankaEthnic communities of Sri Lanka

(ii) Population: Same as Haryana’s. About two crore people.

(iii) Ethnic Composition: 74% Sinhalese-speaking people, 18% Tamil-speaking people, 13% are natives of Sri Lanka, known as Sri Lankan Tamils.
The rest are called Tamils who are descendants of plantation workers, who came from India during the colonial period.

(iv) Religion: Most of the Sinhala-speaking people are Buddhists. Most of the Tamils are Hindus or Muslims. Christians constitute 7% of the population and they belong to both Sinhala and Tamil communities.

Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka

  • Majoritarianism: A belief that only the majority community should rule a country, make laws for everyone and with total disregard to the wishes and needs of the minority.
  • Sri Lanka became independent in 1948. It immediately adopted measures to impose Sinhala supremacy.

Example:

  • It made Sinhalese the official language of the country (by an Act in 1956), and ignored Tamil completely.
  • Made a preferential policy to favour Sinhala-speaking people in all government jobs and educational institutions.
  • It promoted and protected Buddhism.

Question for Key Concepts: Power-sharing
Try yourself:Consider the following statements about the ethnic composition of Sri Lanka:
A. Major social groups are the Sinhala- speaking (74%) and Tamil-speaking (18%)
B. Among the Tamils, there are two sub-groups, Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian Tamils.
C. There are about 7% Christians, who are both Tamil and Sinhala.
D. Most of the Sinhala-speaking are Hindus or Muslims and most of the Tamil-speaking are Buddhists.
Which of the above statements are correct?
View Solution

Result

  • The Tamils felt alienated. No respect or recognition was given to their language, culture and religion. They began to struggle for equality in jobs, entry to the university, recognition of their language and culture. Slowly the conflict changed into a demand for regional autonomy.
  • The Tamilians were grouped together in the North and East of Sri Lanka. Their demands were ignored, the conflict became more severe and by the 1980s, the Tamilian demand had changed.

    Key Concepts: Power-sharing | Social Studies (SST) Class 10Tamilians in Sri Lanka protesting for their demands
  • They wanted Tamil Eelam in the North and East. A civil war ensued, which killed thousands on both sides. The flourishing economy of Sri Lanka has disappeared and the conflict has given a blow to the social, cultural and economic life of Sri Lanka.

Accommodation in Belgium

From 1970 to 1993, the constitution of Belgian was amended four times. The idea was to work out an arrangement that would make everyone to live together. Key elements of the Belgian model are:

  • The number of Dutch and French-speaking ministers shall be equal in the central government.
  • Certain powers of the central government were given to state governments of the two regions of the country.
  • There was a separate government for Brussels in which both the communities had equal representation.
  • There was a provision of ‘community government’ that was elected by people belonging to one language.

Hence, it was a fairly better alternative than the majoritarian policy of Sri Lanka.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1: What is vertical division of power?

Ans: When power is shared among governments at different levels, i.e., the Union or the Central Government, the State Government and the Municipality and Panchayat at the lower level. This division of power involving higher and lower levels of government is called the vertical division of power.

Q.2: Define the term ‘Ethnic’.

Ans: Ethnic means a social division based on shared culture and common descent. People belonging to an ethnic group need not have the same religion or nationality.

Q.3: Define majoritarianism. (2013)
Ans:
Majoritarianism is rule by majority community by disregarding the needs and wishes of the minority community. 

The document Key Concepts: Power-sharing | Social Studies (SST) Class 10 is a part of the Class 10 Course Social Studies (SST) Class 10.
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FAQs on Key Concepts: Power-sharing - Social Studies (SST) Class 10

1. What is power sharing?
Ans. Power sharing refers to the distribution of power among different groups and communities in a democratic system. It ensures that no single group or community dominates the others and that all have equal representation and participation in decision-making processes.
2. What are the forms of power sharing?
Ans. The forms of power sharing are: a) Horizontal power sharing - Power is shared among different organs of government such as the legislature, executive and judiciary. b) Vertical power sharing - Power is shared among different levels of government such as the central government, state government and local government. c) Community government - Power is shared among different communities such as linguistic, religious or ethnic groups. d) Power sharing among political parties - Power is shared among different political parties based on their representation in the government.
3. What is the story of Belgium in terms of power sharing?
Ans. Belgium is a country with a history of linguistic and cultural diversity. It has three main communities - Dutch-speaking Flemish, French-speaking Walloons and German-speaking minority. The country has adopted a federal system of government, which ensures power sharing between the central government and regional governments. The regional governments have the power to make laws in areas such as education, culture, language and public works. The federal government has the power to make laws in areas such as defense, foreign policy and justice.
4. What is majoritarianism in Sri Lanka?
Ans. Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka refers to the dominance of the majority Sinhala community over the minority Tamil community in terms of political power and representation. This led to discrimination against the Tamil community and their marginalization from the political process. The Tamil community demanded greater autonomy and power sharing, which led to a civil war that lasted for nearly three decades.
5. How did accommodation work in Belgium?
Ans. Accommodation in Belgium refers to the process of resolving conflicts between different linguistic and cultural communities by ensuring power sharing and representation. The country adopted a federal system of government, which allowed for greater autonomy and decision-making power for the regional governments. The regional governments have the power to make laws in areas such as education, culture, language and public works. This ensured that the interests of different linguistic and cultural communities were represented and protected.
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