Q.1. Discuss the various factors that determine the outcomes of politics of social division.
(i) All the outcomes depend on how people perceive their identities. If people see their identities in singular and exclusive terms, it becomes very difficult to accommodate. It is much better if the people see that their indentities are multiple and are complementary with the national identity. For example, in our country people think of themselves as Indians as well as belonging to a state or a language group or a social or religious community.
(ii) It depends on how political leaders raise the demands of any community. It is easier to accommodate demand that are within the constitutional framework and are not at the cost of another community. The demand for ‘only Sinhala’ was at the cost of the interest and indentity of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka.
(iii) It depends on how the government reacts to the demands of different groups. If the government is willing to share power and accommodate the reasonable demands of the minority community, social divisions become less threatening for the country, as it happened in the case of Belgium.
Q.2. Discuss the ethnic problem in Northern Ireland, its outcome and settlement.
Ans. The population of Nothern Ireland is divided into two major sects of Christianity : 53 per cent are Protestants, while 44 per cent are Roman Catholics. For years, this region of United Kingdom has been the site of a violent ethno-political conflict. The Catholics were represented by Nationalist parties, who demanded that Northern Ireland be unified with the Republic of Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country. The Protestants were represented by Unionists, who wanted to remain with the UK which is predominantly Protestant. Hundreds of civilians, militants and security forces were killed in the fight between the Unionists and Nationalists and between the security forces of the UK and the Nationalists. It was only in 1998, that the UK government and the Nationalists reached a peace treaty, after which the latter suspended their armed struggle.
Q.3. Why is it said that a positive attitude towards diversity and a willingness to accommodate it do not come about easily?
Ans. This is so because people who feel marginalised, deprived and discriminated have to fight against the injustices. But when such a fight takes the democratic path, demands are made in a peaceful manner based on constitutional methods. But sometimes social differences can take the form of unacceptable level of social inequality and injustice. The struggle against such inequalities sometimes takes the path of violence and defiance of state power. However, it is proved by history that democracy is the best way to fight for recognition and to accommodate diversity.
Q.4. How did the Olympic Committee react to the protests of the African-American athletes? Do you think they were justified? What would you have done?
Ans. The Olympic Committee took back the medals from the two athletes. They declared that it was against the spirit of the Olympics to make a political protest. I do not think the protest made by Carlos and Smith was political. They had done it to make the international community take cognisance of Civil Rights Movement in America. It needed a lot of courage to do so and they had to sacrifice their medals. But the action of the Olympic Committee was also justified. Sports are meant to unite people as a world community and\ cannot become a platform for airing differences, whether political or social. It would have spoilt the atmosphere of the games. The world realised later that it was not a political gesture, is seen in San Jose State University installing 92 foot high sculpture representing the protest of Smith and Carlos in 2005.
Q.5. Write a brief note on two kinds of social differences.
(i) Generally, social differences are based on accident of birth. We do not choose our religion, we are born to it. It depends on the religion followed by our family. Our looks, our physical attributes, our complexions, our gender, or even our abilities and disabilities are not based on our choice. The friends, neighbours, all depend on the family we are born into.
(ii) The second difference is based on our choices.
(i) We may not believe in any God or religion and become an atheist by choice.
(ii) We may even change our religion when we grow up.
(iii) We have the choice to choose our own area of study, different from that of our parents, we may choose a different occupation, different cultural activities.
These differences lead to formation of different social groups based on our choices.
Q.6. Refer to ‘I have a Dream’ speech of Martin Luther King. Describe his dream. Has all of his dream been fulfilled? [HOTS]
Ans. His dream was to end the social division created by the discrimination of blacks by the whites. He dreamt of America which would be free of all prejudices of colour and race, religion, gender and class, and where everyone would be equal. His aspirations were that his children and the citizens of America should live in a country where they should not be judged by their colour but by their character.
Through the Civil Rights Movement in USA and various incidents like the one at Mexico Olympics, efforts have been made to attract international attention to it. The legal – racial discrimination has been abolished against the African-Americans and Blacks are also provided with the same opportunities, the mindset of people may take some more time to change. However, the waves of change are already evident in the election of Barack Obama, a Black, for the post of President of America.
Q.7. Describe the episode of the Mexico Olympics which took place is 1968. Do you think the athletes were justified in raising the issue? [HOTS]
Ans. In 1968 Olympics at Mexico City, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the US athletes won gold and bronze medals respectively. During the medal ceremony, they stood with clenched fists upraised and head bowed when the national anthem was being played. They wore black socks and no shoes to represent Black poverty.
Yes, I think they were justified in raising the issue to the International event because the poverty and discrimination being faced by the Black community was not being attended by the government, there was – legal racial discrimination against the African-Americans. Their action succeeded in gaining international attention for the Civil Rights Movement in the US.
Q.8. What is the difference between overlapping social differences and cross-cutting social differences?
Ans. Overlapping social difference refers to the situation when one kind of social difference becomes more important than the other and people start feeling that they belong to different communities. For example, the difference between the Blacks and Whites in the US is overlapping because the Blacks tend to be poor, homeless and discriminated against. These overlapping differences create possibilities of deep social divisions and tensions. On the other\ hand, cross-cutting social differences are easier to accommodate. For example, in Netherlands, class and religion tend to cut across each other. Catholics and Protestants are about equally likely to be rich or poor. So there are no conflicts between the two communities there.