NCERT Textbook - Freedom Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Political Science Class 11

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Freedom Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Chapter 2
Freedom
Human history provides many examples of people and communities which have been
dominated, or enslaved, or exploited, by more powerful groups. But it also provides us
with inspiring examples of heroic struggles against such domination. What is this freedom
for which people have been willing to sacrifice and die? In its essence, the struggle for
freedom represents the desire of people to be in control of their own lives and destinies
and to have the opportunity to express themselves freely through their choices and
activities. Not just individuals but societies also value their independence and wish to
protect their culture and future.
However, given the diverse interests and ambitions of people any form of social
living requires some rules and regulation. These rules may require some constraints
to be imposed on the freedom of individuals but it is recognised that such constraints
may also free us from insecurity and provide us with the conditions in which we can
develop ourselves. In political theory much of the discussion regarding freedom has
therefore focused on trying to evolve principles by which we can distinguish between
socially necessary constraints and other restrictions. There has also been debate about
possible limitations on freedom which may result from the social and economic
structures of a society. In this chapter we will look at some of these debates.
After studying this chapter you should be able to:
o Understand the importance of freedom for individuals and societies.
o Explain the difference between the negative and positive dimensions of freedom.
o Explain what is meant by the term ‘harm principle’.
Overview
2020-21
Page 2


Chapter 2
Freedom
Human history provides many examples of people and communities which have been
dominated, or enslaved, or exploited, by more powerful groups. But it also provides us
with inspiring examples of heroic struggles against such domination. What is this freedom
for which people have been willing to sacrifice and die? In its essence, the struggle for
freedom represents the desire of people to be in control of their own lives and destinies
and to have the opportunity to express themselves freely through their choices and
activities. Not just individuals but societies also value their independence and wish to
protect their culture and future.
However, given the diverse interests and ambitions of people any form of social
living requires some rules and regulation. These rules may require some constraints
to be imposed on the freedom of individuals but it is recognised that such constraints
may also free us from insecurity and provide us with the conditions in which we can
develop ourselves. In political theory much of the discussion regarding freedom has
therefore focused on trying to evolve principles by which we can distinguish between
socially necessary constraints and other restrictions. There has also been debate about
possible limitations on freedom which may result from the social and economic
structures of a society. In this chapter we will look at some of these debates.
After studying this chapter you should be able to:
o Understand the importance of freedom for individuals and societies.
o Explain the difference between the negative and positive dimensions of freedom.
o Explain what is meant by the term ‘harm principle’.
Overview
2020-21
Freedom
Freedom
Political Theory
18
2.1 THE IDEAL OF FREEDOM
Before we set out to answer these questions, let us stop for a moment
and consider this. The autobiography of one of the greatest persons
of the twentieth century, Nelson Mandela, is titled Long Walk to
Freedom. In this book he talks about his personal struggle against
the apartheid regime in South Africa, about the resistance of his
people to the segregationist policies of the white regime, about the
humiliations, hardships and police brutalities suffered by the black
people of South Africa. These ranged from being bundled into
townships and being denied easy movement about the country, to
being denied a free choice of whom to marry. Collectively, such
measures constituted a body of constraints imposed by the apartheid
regime that discriminated between citizens based on their race. For
Mandela and his colleagues it was the struggle against such unjust
constraints, the struggle to remove the obstacles to the freedom of
all the people of South Africa (not just the black or the coloured
but also the white people), that was the Long Walk to Freedom.
For this freedom, Mandela spent twenty-eight
years of his life in jail, often in solitary
confinement. Imagine what it meant to give up
one’s youth for an ideal,
to voluntarily give up
the pleasure of talking
with one’s friends, of
playing one’s favourite
game (Mandela loved
boxing), of wearing one’s
favourite clothes, of listening to one’s
favourite music, of enjoying the many
festivals that are part of one’s life. Imagine
giving all these up and choosing instead
to be locked up alone in a room, not
knowing when one would be released, only
because one campaigned for the freedom
of one’s people.  For freedom Mandela paid
a very high personal price.
Do only great men
and women fight
for great principles
like freedom? What
does this principle
mean to me?
2020-21
Page 3


Chapter 2
Freedom
Human history provides many examples of people and communities which have been
dominated, or enslaved, or exploited, by more powerful groups. But it also provides us
with inspiring examples of heroic struggles against such domination. What is this freedom
for which people have been willing to sacrifice and die? In its essence, the struggle for
freedom represents the desire of people to be in control of their own lives and destinies
and to have the opportunity to express themselves freely through their choices and
activities. Not just individuals but societies also value their independence and wish to
protect their culture and future.
However, given the diverse interests and ambitions of people any form of social
living requires some rules and regulation. These rules may require some constraints
to be imposed on the freedom of individuals but it is recognised that such constraints
may also free us from insecurity and provide us with the conditions in which we can
develop ourselves. In political theory much of the discussion regarding freedom has
therefore focused on trying to evolve principles by which we can distinguish between
socially necessary constraints and other restrictions. There has also been debate about
possible limitations on freedom which may result from the social and economic
structures of a society. In this chapter we will look at some of these debates.
After studying this chapter you should be able to:
o Understand the importance of freedom for individuals and societies.
o Explain the difference between the negative and positive dimensions of freedom.
o Explain what is meant by the term ‘harm principle’.
Overview
2020-21
Freedom
Freedom
Political Theory
18
2.1 THE IDEAL OF FREEDOM
Before we set out to answer these questions, let us stop for a moment
and consider this. The autobiography of one of the greatest persons
of the twentieth century, Nelson Mandela, is titled Long Walk to
Freedom. In this book he talks about his personal struggle against
the apartheid regime in South Africa, about the resistance of his
people to the segregationist policies of the white regime, about the
humiliations, hardships and police brutalities suffered by the black
people of South Africa. These ranged from being bundled into
townships and being denied easy movement about the country, to
being denied a free choice of whom to marry. Collectively, such
measures constituted a body of constraints imposed by the apartheid
regime that discriminated between citizens based on their race. For
Mandela and his colleagues it was the struggle against such unjust
constraints, the struggle to remove the obstacles to the freedom of
all the people of South Africa (not just the black or the coloured
but also the white people), that was the Long Walk to Freedom.
For this freedom, Mandela spent twenty-eight
years of his life in jail, often in solitary
confinement. Imagine what it meant to give up
one’s youth for an ideal,
to voluntarily give up
the pleasure of talking
with one’s friends, of
playing one’s favourite
game (Mandela loved
boxing), of wearing one’s
favourite clothes, of listening to one’s
favourite music, of enjoying the many
festivals that are part of one’s life. Imagine
giving all these up and choosing instead
to be locked up alone in a room, not
knowing when one would be released, only
because one campaigned for the freedom
of one’s people.  For freedom Mandela paid
a very high personal price.
Do only great men
and women fight
for great principles
like freedom? What
does this principle
mean to me?
2020-21
Freedom
Freedom
Political Theory
19
Now, take another case. Gandhiji’s thoughts
on non-violence have been a source of inspiration
for Aung San Suu Kyi as she remained under house
arrest in Myanmar, separated from her children,
unable to visit her husband when he was dying of
cancer, because she feared that if she left Myanmar
to visit him in England she would not be able to
return. Aung San Suu Kyi saw her freedom as
connected to the freedom of her people. Her book
of essays bears the title Freedom from Fear. She says, “for me real
freedom is freedom from fear and unless you can live free from fear
you cannot live a dignified human life”. These are deep thoughts
that lead us to pause and consider their implications. We must not,
her words suggest, be afraid of the opinions of other people, or of the
attitude of authority, or of the reactions of the members of our
community to the things we want to do, of the ridicule of our peers,
or of speaking our mind. Yet we find that we often exhibit such fear.
For Aung San Suu Kyi living a ‘dignified human life’ requires us to
be able to overcome such fear.
From these two books of Nelson Mandela and Aung
San Suu Kyi, we can see the power of the ideal of
freedom, an ideal that was at the centre of our national
struggle and the struggles of the peoples of Asia and
Africa against British, French and Portuguese
colonialism.
2.2 WHAT IS FREEDOM?
A simple answer to the question ‘what is freedom’ is
absence of constraints. Freedom is said to exist when
external constraints on the individual are absent. In
terms of this definition an individual could be
considered free if he/she is not subject to external
controls or coercion and is able to make independent
decisions and act in an autonomous way. However,
absence of constraints is only one dimension of
freedom. Freedom is also about expanding the ability
Can you think of
someone in your village,
town or district who has
struggled for his/her
own freedom or the
freedom of others? Write
a short note about
that person and the
particular aspect of
freedom which he/she
struggled to protect.
LET’S DO IT
Do
2020-21
Page 4


Chapter 2
Freedom
Human history provides many examples of people and communities which have been
dominated, or enslaved, or exploited, by more powerful groups. But it also provides us
with inspiring examples of heroic struggles against such domination. What is this freedom
for which people have been willing to sacrifice and die? In its essence, the struggle for
freedom represents the desire of people to be in control of their own lives and destinies
and to have the opportunity to express themselves freely through their choices and
activities. Not just individuals but societies also value their independence and wish to
protect their culture and future.
However, given the diverse interests and ambitions of people any form of social
living requires some rules and regulation. These rules may require some constraints
to be imposed on the freedom of individuals but it is recognised that such constraints
may also free us from insecurity and provide us with the conditions in which we can
develop ourselves. In political theory much of the discussion regarding freedom has
therefore focused on trying to evolve principles by which we can distinguish between
socially necessary constraints and other restrictions. There has also been debate about
possible limitations on freedom which may result from the social and economic
structures of a society. In this chapter we will look at some of these debates.
After studying this chapter you should be able to:
o Understand the importance of freedom for individuals and societies.
o Explain the difference between the negative and positive dimensions of freedom.
o Explain what is meant by the term ‘harm principle’.
Overview
2020-21
Freedom
Freedom
Political Theory
18
2.1 THE IDEAL OF FREEDOM
Before we set out to answer these questions, let us stop for a moment
and consider this. The autobiography of one of the greatest persons
of the twentieth century, Nelson Mandela, is titled Long Walk to
Freedom. In this book he talks about his personal struggle against
the apartheid regime in South Africa, about the resistance of his
people to the segregationist policies of the white regime, about the
humiliations, hardships and police brutalities suffered by the black
people of South Africa. These ranged from being bundled into
townships and being denied easy movement about the country, to
being denied a free choice of whom to marry. Collectively, such
measures constituted a body of constraints imposed by the apartheid
regime that discriminated between citizens based on their race. For
Mandela and his colleagues it was the struggle against such unjust
constraints, the struggle to remove the obstacles to the freedom of
all the people of South Africa (not just the black or the coloured
but also the white people), that was the Long Walk to Freedom.
For this freedom, Mandela spent twenty-eight
years of his life in jail, often in solitary
confinement. Imagine what it meant to give up
one’s youth for an ideal,
to voluntarily give up
the pleasure of talking
with one’s friends, of
playing one’s favourite
game (Mandela loved
boxing), of wearing one’s
favourite clothes, of listening to one’s
favourite music, of enjoying the many
festivals that are part of one’s life. Imagine
giving all these up and choosing instead
to be locked up alone in a room, not
knowing when one would be released, only
because one campaigned for the freedom
of one’s people.  For freedom Mandela paid
a very high personal price.
Do only great men
and women fight
for great principles
like freedom? What
does this principle
mean to me?
2020-21
Freedom
Freedom
Political Theory
19
Now, take another case. Gandhiji’s thoughts
on non-violence have been a source of inspiration
for Aung San Suu Kyi as she remained under house
arrest in Myanmar, separated from her children,
unable to visit her husband when he was dying of
cancer, because she feared that if she left Myanmar
to visit him in England she would not be able to
return. Aung San Suu Kyi saw her freedom as
connected to the freedom of her people. Her book
of essays bears the title Freedom from Fear. She says, “for me real
freedom is freedom from fear and unless you can live free from fear
you cannot live a dignified human life”. These are deep thoughts
that lead us to pause and consider their implications. We must not,
her words suggest, be afraid of the opinions of other people, or of the
attitude of authority, or of the reactions of the members of our
community to the things we want to do, of the ridicule of our peers,
or of speaking our mind. Yet we find that we often exhibit such fear.
For Aung San Suu Kyi living a ‘dignified human life’ requires us to
be able to overcome such fear.
From these two books of Nelson Mandela and Aung
San Suu Kyi, we can see the power of the ideal of
freedom, an ideal that was at the centre of our national
struggle and the struggles of the peoples of Asia and
Africa against British, French and Portuguese
colonialism.
2.2 WHAT IS FREEDOM?
A simple answer to the question ‘what is freedom’ is
absence of constraints. Freedom is said to exist when
external constraints on the individual are absent. In
terms of this definition an individual could be
considered free if he/she is not subject to external
controls or coercion and is able to make independent
decisions and act in an autonomous way. However,
absence of constraints is only one dimension of
freedom. Freedom is also about expanding the ability
Can you think of
someone in your village,
town or district who has
struggled for his/her
own freedom or the
freedom of others? Write
a short note about
that person and the
particular aspect of
freedom which he/she
struggled to protect.
LET’S DO IT
Do
2020-21
Freedom
Freedom
Political Theory
20
of people to freely express themselves
and develop their potential. Freedom
in this sense is the condition in which
people can develop their creativity
and capabilities.
Both these aspects of freedom — the
absence of external constraints as well
as the existence of conditions in which
people can develop their talents — are
important. A free society would be one
which enables all its members to
develop their potential with the
minimum of social constraints.
No individual living in society can
hope to enjoy total absence of any
kind of constraints or restrictions. It
becomes necessary then to determine
which social constraints are justified
and which are not, which are
acceptable and which should be
removed. To understand which social
constraints are necessary,
discussions on freedom need to look
at the core relationship between the
individual and the society (or group,
community, or state) within which
she/he is placed. That is, we need to
examine the relationship between
individual and society. We would
need to see which features of the
society allow the individual the
freedom to choose, decide or act, and
which do not. We would need to
determine which features are
desirable and which are not, which
should be removed and which should
not. Further we need to see if the
    SWARAJ
A concept analogous to Freedom in
Indian political thought is ‘Swaraj’.
The term Swaraj incorporates within
it two words — Swa (Self) and Raj
(Rule). It can be understood to mean
both the rule of the self and rule over
self. Swaraj, in the context of the
freedom struggle in India referred to
freedom as a constitutional and
political demand, and as a value at
the social-collective level. That is why
Swaraj was such an important
rallying cry in the freedom movement
inspiring Tilak’s famous statement —
“Swaraj is my birth right and I shall
have it.”
It is the understanding of Swaraj
as Rule over the Self that was
highlighted by Mahatma Gandhi in
his work Hind Swaraj where he
states, “It is Swaraj when we learn
to rule ourselves”. Swaraj is not just
freedom but liberation in redeeming
one’s self-respect, self-responsibility,
and capacities for self-realisation
from institutions of dehumanisation.
Understanding the real ‘Self ’, and its
relation to communities and society,
is critical to the project of attaining
Swaraj.
Gandhiji believed the development
that follows would liberate both
individual and collective potentialities
guided by the principle of justice.
Needless to say, such an under-
standing is as relevant to the twenty
first century as it was when Gandhiji
wrote the Hind Swaraj in 1909.
20
2020-21
Page 5


Chapter 2
Freedom
Human history provides many examples of people and communities which have been
dominated, or enslaved, or exploited, by more powerful groups. But it also provides us
with inspiring examples of heroic struggles against such domination. What is this freedom
for which people have been willing to sacrifice and die? In its essence, the struggle for
freedom represents the desire of people to be in control of their own lives and destinies
and to have the opportunity to express themselves freely through their choices and
activities. Not just individuals but societies also value their independence and wish to
protect their culture and future.
However, given the diverse interests and ambitions of people any form of social
living requires some rules and regulation. These rules may require some constraints
to be imposed on the freedom of individuals but it is recognised that such constraints
may also free us from insecurity and provide us with the conditions in which we can
develop ourselves. In political theory much of the discussion regarding freedom has
therefore focused on trying to evolve principles by which we can distinguish between
socially necessary constraints and other restrictions. There has also been debate about
possible limitations on freedom which may result from the social and economic
structures of a society. In this chapter we will look at some of these debates.
After studying this chapter you should be able to:
o Understand the importance of freedom for individuals and societies.
o Explain the difference between the negative and positive dimensions of freedom.
o Explain what is meant by the term ‘harm principle’.
Overview
2020-21
Freedom
Freedom
Political Theory
18
2.1 THE IDEAL OF FREEDOM
Before we set out to answer these questions, let us stop for a moment
and consider this. The autobiography of one of the greatest persons
of the twentieth century, Nelson Mandela, is titled Long Walk to
Freedom. In this book he talks about his personal struggle against
the apartheid regime in South Africa, about the resistance of his
people to the segregationist policies of the white regime, about the
humiliations, hardships and police brutalities suffered by the black
people of South Africa. These ranged from being bundled into
townships and being denied easy movement about the country, to
being denied a free choice of whom to marry. Collectively, such
measures constituted a body of constraints imposed by the apartheid
regime that discriminated between citizens based on their race. For
Mandela and his colleagues it was the struggle against such unjust
constraints, the struggle to remove the obstacles to the freedom of
all the people of South Africa (not just the black or the coloured
but also the white people), that was the Long Walk to Freedom.
For this freedom, Mandela spent twenty-eight
years of his life in jail, often in solitary
confinement. Imagine what it meant to give up
one’s youth for an ideal,
to voluntarily give up
the pleasure of talking
with one’s friends, of
playing one’s favourite
game (Mandela loved
boxing), of wearing one’s
favourite clothes, of listening to one’s
favourite music, of enjoying the many
festivals that are part of one’s life. Imagine
giving all these up and choosing instead
to be locked up alone in a room, not
knowing when one would be released, only
because one campaigned for the freedom
of one’s people.  For freedom Mandela paid
a very high personal price.
Do only great men
and women fight
for great principles
like freedom? What
does this principle
mean to me?
2020-21
Freedom
Freedom
Political Theory
19
Now, take another case. Gandhiji’s thoughts
on non-violence have been a source of inspiration
for Aung San Suu Kyi as she remained under house
arrest in Myanmar, separated from her children,
unable to visit her husband when he was dying of
cancer, because she feared that if she left Myanmar
to visit him in England she would not be able to
return. Aung San Suu Kyi saw her freedom as
connected to the freedom of her people. Her book
of essays bears the title Freedom from Fear. She says, “for me real
freedom is freedom from fear and unless you can live free from fear
you cannot live a dignified human life”. These are deep thoughts
that lead us to pause and consider their implications. We must not,
her words suggest, be afraid of the opinions of other people, or of the
attitude of authority, or of the reactions of the members of our
community to the things we want to do, of the ridicule of our peers,
or of speaking our mind. Yet we find that we often exhibit such fear.
For Aung San Suu Kyi living a ‘dignified human life’ requires us to
be able to overcome such fear.
From these two books of Nelson Mandela and Aung
San Suu Kyi, we can see the power of the ideal of
freedom, an ideal that was at the centre of our national
struggle and the struggles of the peoples of Asia and
Africa against British, French and Portuguese
colonialism.
2.2 WHAT IS FREEDOM?
A simple answer to the question ‘what is freedom’ is
absence of constraints. Freedom is said to exist when
external constraints on the individual are absent. In
terms of this definition an individual could be
considered free if he/she is not subject to external
controls or coercion and is able to make independent
decisions and act in an autonomous way. However,
absence of constraints is only one dimension of
freedom. Freedom is also about expanding the ability
Can you think of
someone in your village,
town or district who has
struggled for his/her
own freedom or the
freedom of others? Write
a short note about
that person and the
particular aspect of
freedom which he/she
struggled to protect.
LET’S DO IT
Do
2020-21
Freedom
Freedom
Political Theory
20
of people to freely express themselves
and develop their potential. Freedom
in this sense is the condition in which
people can develop their creativity
and capabilities.
Both these aspects of freedom — the
absence of external constraints as well
as the existence of conditions in which
people can develop their talents — are
important. A free society would be one
which enables all its members to
develop their potential with the
minimum of social constraints.
No individual living in society can
hope to enjoy total absence of any
kind of constraints or restrictions. It
becomes necessary then to determine
which social constraints are justified
and which are not, which are
acceptable and which should be
removed. To understand which social
constraints are necessary,
discussions on freedom need to look
at the core relationship between the
individual and the society (or group,
community, or state) within which
she/he is placed. That is, we need to
examine the relationship between
individual and society. We would
need to see which features of the
society allow the individual the
freedom to choose, decide or act, and
which do not. We would need to
determine which features are
desirable and which are not, which
should be removed and which should
not. Further we need to see if the
    SWARAJ
A concept analogous to Freedom in
Indian political thought is ‘Swaraj’.
The term Swaraj incorporates within
it two words — Swa (Self) and Raj
(Rule). It can be understood to mean
both the rule of the self and rule over
self. Swaraj, in the context of the
freedom struggle in India referred to
freedom as a constitutional and
political demand, and as a value at
the social-collective level. That is why
Swaraj was such an important
rallying cry in the freedom movement
inspiring Tilak’s famous statement —
“Swaraj is my birth right and I shall
have it.”
It is the understanding of Swaraj
as Rule over the Self that was
highlighted by Mahatma Gandhi in
his work Hind Swaraj where he
states, “It is Swaraj when we learn
to rule ourselves”. Swaraj is not just
freedom but liberation in redeeming
one’s self-respect, self-responsibility,
and capacities for self-realisation
from institutions of dehumanisation.
Understanding the real ‘Self ’, and its
relation to communities and society,
is critical to the project of attaining
Swaraj.
Gandhiji believed the development
that follows would liberate both
individual and collective potentialities
guided by the principle of justice.
Needless to say, such an under-
standing is as relevant to the twenty
first century as it was when Gandhiji
wrote the Hind Swaraj in 1909.
20
2020-21
Freedom
Freedom
Political Theory
21
principles which we use to differentiate necessary from
unnecessary constraints also apply to the relationships between
individuals and groups and nations.
Thus far we have defined freedom as the absence of constraint.
To be free means to reduce or minimise social constraints that
limit our ability to make choices freely. However, this is only one
aspect of freedom. To put it in another way, freedom also has a
positive dimension. To be free a society must widen the area in
which individuals, groups, communities or nations,
will be able to charter their own destiny and be what
they wish to be. Freedom, in this sense, allows the full
development of the individual’s creativity, sensibilities
and capabilities: be it in sports, science, art, music or
exploration. A free society is one that enables one to
pursue one’s interests with a minimum of constraints.
Freedom is considered valuable because it allows us
to make choices and to exercise our judgement. It
permits the exercise of the individual’s powers of
reason and judgement.
The Sources of Constraints
Restrictions on the freedom of individuals may come from
domination and external controls. Such restrictions may be imposed
by force or they may be imposed by a government through laws
which embody the power of the rulers over the people and which
may have the backing of force. This was the form of constraint
represented by colonial rulers over their subjects, or by the system
of apartheid in South Africa.  Some form of government may be
inevitable but if the government is a democratic one, the members
of a state could retain some control over their rulers. That is why
democratic government is considered to be an important means of
protecting the freedom of people.
 But constraints on freedom can also result from social inequality
of the kind implicit in the caste system, or which result from extreme
economic inequality in a society. The quotation from Subhas
Chandra Bose on freedom draws attention to the need for the
country to work to remove such constraints.
Girls and boys should
be free to decide whom
they wish to marry.
Parents should have no
say in this matter.”
LET’S DEBATE
“ ”
2020-21
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