NCERT Textbook - Key Elements of a Democratic Government Class 6 Notes | EduRev

Indian Polity for UPSC (Civil Services) Prelims

Created by: Rohini Seth

UPSC : NCERT Textbook - Key Elements of a Democratic Government Class 6 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Chapter 4
In this chapter you will read about some of
the key elements that influence the working
of a democratic government.  These include
people's participation, the resolution of
conflict and equality and justice.
outh Africa is a country that has
people of several races. There are
black people who belong to South
Africa, whites who came there to settle,
and Indians who came as labourers
and traders.  
Maya Naidoo, an eleven-year old
South African girl living in the town of
Johannesburg, was helping her mother
clear up her old boxes. She found a
scrapbook full of pictures and
newspaper articles. There were many
pictures of a young schoolboy of around
fifteen years of age.  When she asked
her mother who the boy was, she was
told that he was called, Hector Pieterson.
He had been shot by the police.  Maya
was shocked. "Why?" she asked. 
Her mother explained that South
Africa was earlier governed by
apartheid laws. Apartheid means
separation on the basis of race.  South
African people were divided into white,
black, Indian and coloured races.
According to the law, these races were
not allowed to mingle with each other , to
live near each other or even to use
common facilities.
Maya could not believe her ears.
Maya's mother sounded angry when
she spoke about life under apartheid.
She told Maya that in those days
South Africa
India
S
Key Elements of
a Democratic
Government
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


Chapter 4
In this chapter you will read about some of
the key elements that influence the working
of a democratic government.  These include
people's participation, the resolution of
conflict and equality and justice.
outh Africa is a country that has
people of several races. There are
black people who belong to South
Africa, whites who came there to settle,
and Indians who came as labourers
and traders.  
Maya Naidoo, an eleven-year old
South African girl living in the town of
Johannesburg, was helping her mother
clear up her old boxes. She found a
scrapbook full of pictures and
newspaper articles. There were many
pictures of a young schoolboy of around
fifteen years of age.  When she asked
her mother who the boy was, she was
told that he was called, Hector Pieterson.
He had been shot by the police.  Maya
was shocked. "Why?" she asked. 
Her mother explained that South
Africa was earlier governed by
apartheid laws. Apartheid means
separation on the basis of race.  South
African people were divided into white,
black, Indian and coloured races.
According to the law, these races were
not allowed to mingle with each other , to
live near each other or even to use
common facilities.
Maya could not believe her ears.
Maya's mother sounded angry when
she spoke about life under apartheid.
She told Maya that in those days
South Africa
India
S
Key Elements of
a Democratic
Government
© NCERT
not to be republished
36 / Social and Political Life
hospitals were separate and so were
ambulances. An ambulance meant for
white people would always be well
equipped while one meant for black
people was not.  There were separate
trains and buses. Even the busstops
were different for black and white
people. 
Non-whites were not allowed to
vote. The best land in the country was
reserved for the white people, and non-
whites had to live on the worst
available land. Thus blacks and
coloured people were not considered to
be equal to whites. 
One black township was the South
Western Township (Soweto).  Hector
Piete      rson lived here and he and his
classmates joined the protest against
learning the Afrikaans language in
school.  This was the language that the
whites spoke. Hector and other school
students were being forced to learn
this language but they wanted to learn
their own language, Zulu.  The South
African police beat up the protestors
mercilessly and shot at the crowd.
One of their bullets killed Hector. This
was on 16 June 1976.
The African National Congress, a
group of people who led the struggle
against apartheid, and their most well
known leader, Nelson Mandela fought
the apartheid system for several
years.  Finally, they succeeded and in
1994 South Africa became a
democratic country in which people of
all races were considered equal.
Let us now try to understand what
a democratic government means to all
of us.
PARTICIPATION
Why do we have regular elections?
You've already read in the previous
chapter that people make the
decisions in a democracy. Through
voting in elections people elect leaders
to represent them. These representa-
tives take decisions on behalf of the
What were Hector and his classmates
protesting about?
List five ways in which the non-whites
were discriminated against:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Do you think it is important for all
persons to be treated equally? Why?
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


Chapter 4
In this chapter you will read about some of
the key elements that influence the working
of a democratic government.  These include
people's participation, the resolution of
conflict and equality and justice.
outh Africa is a country that has
people of several races. There are
black people who belong to South
Africa, whites who came there to settle,
and Indians who came as labourers
and traders.  
Maya Naidoo, an eleven-year old
South African girl living in the town of
Johannesburg, was helping her mother
clear up her old boxes. She found a
scrapbook full of pictures and
newspaper articles. There were many
pictures of a young schoolboy of around
fifteen years of age.  When she asked
her mother who the boy was, she was
told that he was called, Hector Pieterson.
He had been shot by the police.  Maya
was shocked. "Why?" she asked. 
Her mother explained that South
Africa was earlier governed by
apartheid laws. Apartheid means
separation on the basis of race.  South
African people were divided into white,
black, Indian and coloured races.
According to the law, these races were
not allowed to mingle with each other , to
live near each other or even to use
common facilities.
Maya could not believe her ears.
Maya's mother sounded angry when
she spoke about life under apartheid.
She told Maya that in those days
South Africa
India
S
Key Elements of
a Democratic
Government
© NCERT
not to be republished
36 / Social and Political Life
hospitals were separate and so were
ambulances. An ambulance meant for
white people would always be well
equipped while one meant for black
people was not.  There were separate
trains and buses. Even the busstops
were different for black and white
people. 
Non-whites were not allowed to
vote. The best land in the country was
reserved for the white people, and non-
whites had to live on the worst
available land. Thus blacks and
coloured people were not considered to
be equal to whites. 
One black township was the South
Western Township (Soweto).  Hector
Piete      rson lived here and he and his
classmates joined the protest against
learning the Afrikaans language in
school.  This was the language that the
whites spoke. Hector and other school
students were being forced to learn
this language but they wanted to learn
their own language, Zulu.  The South
African police beat up the protestors
mercilessly and shot at the crowd.
One of their bullets killed Hector. This
was on 16 June 1976.
The African National Congress, a
group of people who led the struggle
against apartheid, and their most well
known leader, Nelson Mandela fought
the apartheid system for several
years.  Finally, they succeeded and in
1994 South Africa became a
democratic country in which people of
all races were considered equal.
Let us now try to understand what
a democratic government means to all
of us.
PARTICIPATION
Why do we have regular elections?
You've already read in the previous
chapter that people make the
decisions in a democracy. Through
voting in elections people elect leaders
to represent them. These representa-
tives take decisions on behalf of the
What were Hector and his classmates
protesting about?
List five ways in which the non-whites
were discriminated against:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Do you think it is important for all
persons to be treated equally? Why?
© NCERT
not to be republished
people.  In doing so it is assumed that
they will keep in mind the voices and
interests of the people.
All governments are elected for fixed
periods. In India this period is five years.
Once elected, governments can stay in
power only for that period. If they want
to continue to be in power then they
have to be re-elected by the people. This
is a moment when people can sense
their power in a democracy. In this way
the power of the government gets
limited by regular elections.
Other ways of participating
Elections are usually held once in five
years. Besides voting there are other
ways of participating in the process of
government. People participate by
taking an interest in the working of
the government and by criticising it
when required. In August 2005, when
a particular government increased the
money people had to pay for
electricity, people expressed their
disapproval very sharply. They took
out rallies and also organised a
signature campaign. The government
tried to explain and defend its
decision but finally listened to the
people's opinion and withdrew the
increase. The government had to
change its decision because it is
responsible to the people.  
Key Elements of a Democratic Government / 37
What approval or disapproval is
being expressed here?
Discuss
Look at some newspapers and
discuss some elections that you
may have read about.  Why do
you think elections are required
after a fixed period?  
Not bad! One of the taps in the nearby
village must be getting water!
Take Action
It is worrying to know that
the tiger population in India is
falling. Tigers are being
hunted and killed by poachers
for their skins. The
government has not taken the
issue of poaching seriously
enough. It must take action
immediately, arrest the
poachers and implement the
laws protecting the tiger. If
this does not happen the tiger
will become an extinct animal
in the next ten years.
Sohan Pal
Guwahati, Assam
'Government must
give compensation
to flood victims'
Letters to the editor
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


Chapter 4
In this chapter you will read about some of
the key elements that influence the working
of a democratic government.  These include
people's participation, the resolution of
conflict and equality and justice.
outh Africa is a country that has
people of several races. There are
black people who belong to South
Africa, whites who came there to settle,
and Indians who came as labourers
and traders.  
Maya Naidoo, an eleven-year old
South African girl living in the town of
Johannesburg, was helping her mother
clear up her old boxes. She found a
scrapbook full of pictures and
newspaper articles. There were many
pictures of a young schoolboy of around
fifteen years of age.  When she asked
her mother who the boy was, she was
told that he was called, Hector Pieterson.
He had been shot by the police.  Maya
was shocked. "Why?" she asked. 
Her mother explained that South
Africa was earlier governed by
apartheid laws. Apartheid means
separation on the basis of race.  South
African people were divided into white,
black, Indian and coloured races.
According to the law, these races were
not allowed to mingle with each other , to
live near each other or even to use
common facilities.
Maya could not believe her ears.
Maya's mother sounded angry when
she spoke about life under apartheid.
She told Maya that in those days
South Africa
India
S
Key Elements of
a Democratic
Government
© NCERT
not to be republished
36 / Social and Political Life
hospitals were separate and so were
ambulances. An ambulance meant for
white people would always be well
equipped while one meant for black
people was not.  There were separate
trains and buses. Even the busstops
were different for black and white
people. 
Non-whites were not allowed to
vote. The best land in the country was
reserved for the white people, and non-
whites had to live on the worst
available land. Thus blacks and
coloured people were not considered to
be equal to whites. 
One black township was the South
Western Township (Soweto).  Hector
Piete      rson lived here and he and his
classmates joined the protest against
learning the Afrikaans language in
school.  This was the language that the
whites spoke. Hector and other school
students were being forced to learn
this language but they wanted to learn
their own language, Zulu.  The South
African police beat up the protestors
mercilessly and shot at the crowd.
One of their bullets killed Hector. This
was on 16 June 1976.
The African National Congress, a
group of people who led the struggle
against apartheid, and their most well
known leader, Nelson Mandela fought
the apartheid system for several
years.  Finally, they succeeded and in
1994 South Africa became a
democratic country in which people of
all races were considered equal.
Let us now try to understand what
a democratic government means to all
of us.
PARTICIPATION
Why do we have regular elections?
You've already read in the previous
chapter that people make the
decisions in a democracy. Through
voting in elections people elect leaders
to represent them. These representa-
tives take decisions on behalf of the
What were Hector and his classmates
protesting about?
List five ways in which the non-whites
were discriminated against:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Do you think it is important for all
persons to be treated equally? Why?
© NCERT
not to be republished
people.  In doing so it is assumed that
they will keep in mind the voices and
interests of the people.
All governments are elected for fixed
periods. In India this period is five years.
Once elected, governments can stay in
power only for that period. If they want
to continue to be in power then they
have to be re-elected by the people. This
is a moment when people can sense
their power in a democracy. In this way
the power of the government gets
limited by regular elections.
Other ways of participating
Elections are usually held once in five
years. Besides voting there are other
ways of participating in the process of
government. People participate by
taking an interest in the working of
the government and by criticising it
when required. In August 2005, when
a particular government increased the
money people had to pay for
electricity, people expressed their
disapproval very sharply. They took
out rallies and also organised a
signature campaign. The government
tried to explain and defend its
decision but finally listened to the
people's opinion and withdrew the
increase. The government had to
change its decision because it is
responsible to the people.  
Key Elements of a Democratic Government / 37
What approval or disapproval is
being expressed here?
Discuss
Look at some newspapers and
discuss some elections that you
may have read about.  Why do
you think elections are required
after a fixed period?  
Not bad! One of the taps in the nearby
village must be getting water!
Take Action
It is worrying to know that
the tiger population in India is
falling. Tigers are being
hunted and killed by poachers
for their skins. The
government has not taken the
issue of poaching seriously
enough. It must take action
immediately, arrest the
poachers and implement the
laws protecting the tiger. If
this does not happen the tiger
will become an extinct animal
in the next ten years.
Sohan Pal
Guwahati, Assam
'Government must
give compensation
to flood victims'
Letters to the editor
© NCERT
not to be republished
38 / Social and Political Life
There are many ways in which
people express their views and make
governments understand what
actions they should take. These
include dharnas, rallies, strikes,
signature campaigns etc. Things that
are unfair and unjust are also
brought forward. Newspapers,
magazines and TV also play a role in
discussing government issues and
responsibilities.
While it is true that a democracy
allows people to participate, it is also
true that not all sections of people are
actually able to do so. Another way for
people to participate is by organising
themselves into social movements
that seek to challenge the government
and its functioning. Members of the
minority community, dalits, adivasis,
women and others are often able to
participate in this manner.
If a country's people are alert and
interested in how the country is run,
the democratic character of the
government of that country will be
stronger.
So the next time we see a rally
winding through the streets of our
cities and towns or villages we should
pause to find out what the rally is
about, who is participating in it, and
what they are protesting about. This
will help to give us a sense of how our
government works.
NEED TO RESOLVE CONFLICT
In Maya's story you read about how
conflicts can often lead to violence
and death because one group decides
that it is all right to use force to
prevent the other group from
protesting.
Conflicts occur when people of
different cultures, religions, regions or
economic backgrounds do not get
along with each other, or when some
among them feel they are being
discriminated against. People may use
violent means to settle their
differences. This leads to fear and
tension among others living in an
area. The government is responsible
for helping to resolve conflicts.
Let's read about some of the
conflicts in our society and the role of
the government in resolving them. 
Read the story again: Do you
think the police shooting of
Hector could have been
avoided?  How?
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


Chapter 4
In this chapter you will read about some of
the key elements that influence the working
of a democratic government.  These include
people's participation, the resolution of
conflict and equality and justice.
outh Africa is a country that has
people of several races. There are
black people who belong to South
Africa, whites who came there to settle,
and Indians who came as labourers
and traders.  
Maya Naidoo, an eleven-year old
South African girl living in the town of
Johannesburg, was helping her mother
clear up her old boxes. She found a
scrapbook full of pictures and
newspaper articles. There were many
pictures of a young schoolboy of around
fifteen years of age.  When she asked
her mother who the boy was, she was
told that he was called, Hector Pieterson.
He had been shot by the police.  Maya
was shocked. "Why?" she asked. 
Her mother explained that South
Africa was earlier governed by
apartheid laws. Apartheid means
separation on the basis of race.  South
African people were divided into white,
black, Indian and coloured races.
According to the law, these races were
not allowed to mingle with each other , to
live near each other or even to use
common facilities.
Maya could not believe her ears.
Maya's mother sounded angry when
she spoke about life under apartheid.
She told Maya that in those days
South Africa
India
S
Key Elements of
a Democratic
Government
© NCERT
not to be republished
36 / Social and Political Life
hospitals were separate and so were
ambulances. An ambulance meant for
white people would always be well
equipped while one meant for black
people was not.  There were separate
trains and buses. Even the busstops
were different for black and white
people. 
Non-whites were not allowed to
vote. The best land in the country was
reserved for the white people, and non-
whites had to live on the worst
available land. Thus blacks and
coloured people were not considered to
be equal to whites. 
One black township was the South
Western Township (Soweto).  Hector
Piete      rson lived here and he and his
classmates joined the protest against
learning the Afrikaans language in
school.  This was the language that the
whites spoke. Hector and other school
students were being forced to learn
this language but they wanted to learn
their own language, Zulu.  The South
African police beat up the protestors
mercilessly and shot at the crowd.
One of their bullets killed Hector. This
was on 16 June 1976.
The African National Congress, a
group of people who led the struggle
against apartheid, and their most well
known leader, Nelson Mandela fought
the apartheid system for several
years.  Finally, they succeeded and in
1994 South Africa became a
democratic country in which people of
all races were considered equal.
Let us now try to understand what
a democratic government means to all
of us.
PARTICIPATION
Why do we have regular elections?
You've already read in the previous
chapter that people make the
decisions in a democracy. Through
voting in elections people elect leaders
to represent them. These representa-
tives take decisions on behalf of the
What were Hector and his classmates
protesting about?
List five ways in which the non-whites
were discriminated against:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Do you think it is important for all
persons to be treated equally? Why?
© NCERT
not to be republished
people.  In doing so it is assumed that
they will keep in mind the voices and
interests of the people.
All governments are elected for fixed
periods. In India this period is five years.
Once elected, governments can stay in
power only for that period. If they want
to continue to be in power then they
have to be re-elected by the people. This
is a moment when people can sense
their power in a democracy. In this way
the power of the government gets
limited by regular elections.
Other ways of participating
Elections are usually held once in five
years. Besides voting there are other
ways of participating in the process of
government. People participate by
taking an interest in the working of
the government and by criticising it
when required. In August 2005, when
a particular government increased the
money people had to pay for
electricity, people expressed their
disapproval very sharply. They took
out rallies and also organised a
signature campaign. The government
tried to explain and defend its
decision but finally listened to the
people's opinion and withdrew the
increase. The government had to
change its decision because it is
responsible to the people.  
Key Elements of a Democratic Government / 37
What approval or disapproval is
being expressed here?
Discuss
Look at some newspapers and
discuss some elections that you
may have read about.  Why do
you think elections are required
after a fixed period?  
Not bad! One of the taps in the nearby
village must be getting water!
Take Action
It is worrying to know that
the tiger population in India is
falling. Tigers are being
hunted and killed by poachers
for their skins. The
government has not taken the
issue of poaching seriously
enough. It must take action
immediately, arrest the
poachers and implement the
laws protecting the tiger. If
this does not happen the tiger
will become an extinct animal
in the next ten years.
Sohan Pal
Guwahati, Assam
'Government must
give compensation
to flood victims'
Letters to the editor
© NCERT
not to be republished
38 / Social and Political Life
There are many ways in which
people express their views and make
governments understand what
actions they should take. These
include dharnas, rallies, strikes,
signature campaigns etc. Things that
are unfair and unjust are also
brought forward. Newspapers,
magazines and TV also play a role in
discussing government issues and
responsibilities.
While it is true that a democracy
allows people to participate, it is also
true that not all sections of people are
actually able to do so. Another way for
people to participate is by organising
themselves into social movements
that seek to challenge the government
and its functioning. Members of the
minority community, dalits, adivasis,
women and others are often able to
participate in this manner.
If a country's people are alert and
interested in how the country is run,
the democratic character of the
government of that country will be
stronger.
So the next time we see a rally
winding through the streets of our
cities and towns or villages we should
pause to find out what the rally is
about, who is participating in it, and
what they are protesting about. This
will help to give us a sense of how our
government works.
NEED TO RESOLVE CONFLICT
In Maya's story you read about how
conflicts can often lead to violence
and death because one group decides
that it is all right to use force to
prevent the other group from
protesting.
Conflicts occur when people of
different cultures, religions, regions or
economic backgrounds do not get
along with each other, or when some
among them feel they are being
discriminated against. People may use
violent means to settle their
differences. This leads to fear and
tension among others living in an
area. The government is responsible
for helping to resolve conflicts.
Let's read about some of the
conflicts in our society and the role of
the government in resolving them. 
Read the story again: Do you
think the police shooting of
Hector could have been
avoided?  How?
© NCERT
not to be republished
Religious processions and
celebrations can sometimes lead to
conflicts. For example, the route a
procession takes may lead to a conflict.
The government, particularly the 
police, play an important role in 
getting representatives of concerned
communities to meet and try and
arrive at a solution. At times there is
fear that violence may erupt, with
people throwing stones or trying to
disrupt the procession. The police is
responsible for ensuring that violence
does not take place.
Rivers too can become a source of
conflict between states. A river may
begin in one state, flow through
another and end in a third. The
sharing of river water between
different states that the river goes
through is becoming an issue of
conflict. For example, you may have
heard about the Cauvery water
dispute between Karnataka and 
Tamil Nadu. The water stored in
Krishnasagar dam in Karnataka is
used for irrigating a number of
districts and for meeting the needs of
the city of Bangalore. The water stored
in Mettur dam in Tamil Nadu is used
for crops grown in the delta region of
that state.
A conflict arises because both dams
are on the same river. The downstream
dam in Tamil Nadu can only be filled
up if water is released from the
upstream one located in Karnataka.
Therefore, both states can't get as
much water as they need for people in
their states. This leads to conflict. The
central government has to step in and
see that a fair distribution is worked
out for both states.
Key Elements of a Democratic Government / 39
The Indian Constitution lays
down the basic rules or laws that
have to be followed by everyone.
These laws are for both the
government and the people.
Conflicts and differences have to
be resolved according to these
laws. We will read more about
this in later classes.
Quiet flows the Cauvery despite being at the centre of
heated conflict between two states for the last 30 years. © NCERT
not to be republished
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