Q. 1. Read the passage and answer questions below: …………, nearly all ‘new social movements’ have emerged as corrective to new maladies – environmental degradation, violation of the status of women, destruction of tribal cultures and the undermining of human rights – none of which are in and by themselves transformative of the social order. They are in that way quite different from revolutionary ideologies of the past.
But their weakness lies in their being so heavily fragmented………… a large part of the space occupied by the new social movements seem to be suffering from ……various characteristics which have prevented them from being relevant to the truly oppressed and the poor in the form of a solid unified movement of the people.
They are too fragmented, reactive, adhocism, providing no comprehensive framework of basic social change. Their being anti-this or that (anti-West, anti-capitalist, antidevelopment, etc.) does not make them any more coherent, any more relevant to oppressed and peripheralised communities. —Rajni Kothari
(i) What is the difference between new social movements and revolutionary ideologies?
(ii) What according to the author are the limitations of the social movements?
(iii) If social movements address specific issues, would you say that they are ‘fragmented’ or that they are more focused? Give reasons for your answer by giving examples.
Ans. (i) The difference is that like revolutionary ideologies, none of the new social movements are in and by themselves transformative of the social order but they emerged as corrective of new maladies.
(ii) According to the author, these movements are not any more coherent, relevant to oppressed and peripheralised communities. To some extent, these are affected by party politics.
(iii) If social movements address specific issues, we would say that these are fragmented which provide no comprehensive framework of social change.
Q. 2. Examine the emergence, demands and success of BKU as one of the leading popular movement of India.
Ans. Emergence of BKU:
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) is an organisation of farmers from western UP and Haryana regions. It is one the leading farmers’ movements to protest against the policies of liberalisation of Indian economy. The Meerut agitation of farmers was a great show of rural farmers and cultivators.
Demands of BKU:
(i) Higher government floor prices for sugarcane and wheat.
(ii) Guaranteed supply of electricity at reasonable rates.
(iii) To wave off repayments of loans due on farmers.
(iv) To provide government pension to farmers.
(v) Abolition of restrictions on the inter-state movement of farm produce.
(i) BKU became the most successful social movement. It sustained for a long time due to clan networks among its members. These networks mobilised funds, resources and activities of BKU.
(ii) Since this farmers movement was directed against state policies no political party could afford to displease them. The government was forced to reduce water and electricity rates for farmers. There were announcements about waiving loans advanced by nationalised banks to the poor peasants.
Q. 3. Describe any three advantages and three disadvantages of popular movements.
Ans. Some advantages of popular movements are:
(i) Help in understanding the nature of politics in democracy.
(ii) Help in rectifying the functioning of party politics.
(iii) Help in bringing to front some groups/ issues which have not yet been completely addressed or neglected.
(iv) Help in reducing social conflicts.
(v) Help in broadening the participation of the masses in the democratic setup of the country.
(vi) Help in understanding the shortcomings of the present democratic setup which does not have a proper channel for voicing concerns.
(vii) Help in understanding the fact that, although successful, yet these protests, sitins, demonstrations and rallies effect the routine functioning of the democracy as well as cause discomfort to many thereby reducing the support for the movement.
Some disadvantages of popular movements are:
(i) The real life impact of these movements on the nature of public policies seems to be very limited.
(ii) These focus on a single issue and represent the interest of one section of society. Thus it becomes possible to ignore their reasonable demands.
(iii) Political parties do not seem to be taking up issues of marginal social groups.
(iv) The movements that take up these issues operate in a very restrictive manner. The relationship between popular movements and political parties has grown weaker over the years.
(v) This has become a major problem in Indian politics.
Q. 4. Describe any six factors which made the farmers’ movement run by Bharatiya Kisan Union as the most successful popular movement.
Ans. (i) Kisan Andolan led by BKU was one of the most disciplined agitation.
(ii) BKU used traditional caste panchayats to bring them together on economic issues.
(iii) BKU used clan networks for generating funds and resources.
(iv) The demands raised by BKU were very dear to farmers and were readily accepted by the farmers.
(v) BKU kept itself away from being a political party and worked as a pressure group.
(vi) BKU used the pressure tactics and showed the strength and power of the farmers.
(vii) Any other valid point/factor.
Q. 5. What is Sardar Sarovar Project? Which benefits are expected to be if the project becomes successful? Also state the issues of relocation and rehabilitation associated with it.
Ans. (i) Sardar Sarovar Project is an ambitious developmental project launched in the Narmada valley. It’s a mega dam project consisting of 30 big dams, 135 medium dams and around 3000 small dams to be constructed in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
(a) Water for irrigation
(b) Generation of electricity
(c) Help to control flood and drought
(iii) About 245 villages have been affected and people belonging to these villages had to be relocated and rehabilitated.
Q. 6. Who were Dalit Panthers? Describe their main activities.
Ans. Dalit Panthers was an organisation of the Dalit youth based in Maharashtra, formed against the cause of social inequality and social injustice but got involved in militant activities.
Activities of Dalit Panthers mostly centred around fighting increasing atrocities on Dalits in various parts of the state. As a result of sustained agitations on the part of Dalit Panthers along with other like minded organisations over the issue of atrocities against Dalits, the government passed a comprehensive law in 1989 that provided for rigorous punishment for such acts. The larger ideological agenda of the Panthers was to destroy the caste system and to build an organisation of all oppressed sections like the landless poor peasants and urban industrial workers along with Dalits. The movement provided a platform for Dalit educated youth to use their creativity as a protest activity. Dalit writers protested against the brutalities of the caste system in their numerous autobiographies and other literary works published during this period. These works portraying the life experiences of the most downtrodden social sections of Indian society sent shock waves in Marathi literary world, made literature more broad based and representative of different social sections and initiated contestations in the cultural realm.
Q. 7. Examine the growth and characteristics of Bharatiya Kisan Union.
Ans. In January 1988, around twenty thousand farmers had gathered in the city of Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. They were protesting against the government decision to increase electricity rates. The farmers camped for about three weeks outside the district collector’s office, until their demands were fulfilled.
It was a very disciplined agitation of the farmers and all those days they received regular food supply from the nearby villages. The Meerut agitation was seen as a great show of rural power – power of farmer cultivators. These agitating farmers were members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), an organisation of farmers from western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana regions. The BKU was one of the leading organisations in the farmers’ movement of the eighties.
Activities conducted by the BKU to pressurise the state for accepting its demands included rallies, demonstrations, sit-ins, and jail bharo (courting imprisonment) agitations. These protests involved tens of thousands of farmers – sometimes over a lakh – from various villages in western Uttar Pradesh and adjoining regions.
Throughout the decade of eighties, the BKU organised massive rallies of these farmers in many district headquarters of the state and also at the national capital. Another novel aspect of these mobilisations was the use of caste linkages of farmers. Most of the BKU members belonged to a single community.
The organisation used traditional caste panchayats of these communities in bringing them together over economic issues. In spite of lack of any formal organisation, the BKU could sustain itself for a long time because it was based on clan networks among its members. Funds, resources and activities of BKU were mobilised through these networks. Until the early nineties, the BKU distanced itself from all political parties. It operated as a pressure group in politics with its strength of sheer numbers. The organisation, along with the other farmers’ organisations across states, did manage to get some of their economic demands accepted.
The farmers’ movement became one of the most successful social movements of the ’eighties in this respect. The success of the movement was an outcome of political bargaining powers that its members possessed. The movement was active mainly in the prosperous states of the country. Unlike most of the Indian farmers who engage in agriculture for subsistence, members of the organisations like the BKU grew cash crops for the market.
Q. 8. Describe the issues associated with the AntiArrack Movement in Andhra Pradesh which drew the attention of the entire country.
The Anti-Arrack Movement in Andhra Pradesh drew the attention of the country to some serious issues. What were these issues?
Ans. (i) Anti-Arrack Movement was started against the consumption of alcohol (arrack) by men in Nellore (AP). This habit was affecting the physical and mental health of men.
(ii) Women in Nellore rose together to protest against arrack and agitated for closure of wine shops.
(iii) It was a movement that emerged due to domestic violence caused by consumption of arrack.
(iv) It was against the habit of drinking which affected the rural economy.
(v) This movement emerged through the women who had enrolled in the adult literacy drive.
(vi) This movement highlighted the issues of injustice and of gender inequalities.
(vii) This movement demanded equal representation of women in politics. (viii) Any other relevant point.
Q. 9. Describe the journey of the movement for Right to Information which ultimately culminated into an Act, i.e. RTI Act.
Ans. The Right to Information movement was a major democratic success.
The foundation of the movement was laid down by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan in Rajasthan in 1990. MKSS demanded for records pertaining to famine relief work as well as the account records of the labour to seek an understanding the direction of flow of relief subsidy.
The demand was also raised for bill and vouchers in Bhim Tehsil, where payments were made in records to labour working on development projects and showing those projects as completed whereas, in reality the development projects were still unfinished and laid abandoned with gross misappropriation of funds.
There was an amendment in Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act in 1994 and another in 1996, allowing public to get certified copies from government departments on such matters.
In 1996 it self, a national council was set up in Delhi to seek people’s Right to Information.
In 2002, a democratically weak Right to Information Act was proposed but not implemented.
In 2004, a stronger Right to Information Act was passed in the Parliament and accorded assent by the President of India in 2005.
The Right to Information Act was enforced in October, 2005.
Q. 10. How have popular movements contributed to the expansion of democracy rather than causing disruption?
Ans. Popular movements were mostly non-party based. They were neither sporadic in nature nor a problem. They represented new social groups whose economic and social grievances were not redressed in electoral politics. They provided effective representation of diverse groups and their demands. They reduced the possibility of a social conflict and disaffection. They provided new forms of active participation. They mobilised the poor, socially and economically disadvantaged and marginal social groups. They organised mass action and mobilisation outside electoral arena. They created an awareness among people about their rights and hence expanded democracy.
Q. 11. What was Narmada Bachao Andolan? What were its main issues? What democratic strategy did it use to put forward its demands?
Ans. (i) Narmada Bachao Andolan, was a movement to save river Narmada, to oppose the construction of the dams and to question the nature of ongoing developmental projects in the country.
(ii) Its main issues were:
(a) Rehabilitation of all those who were directly or indirectly affected by the project.
(b) Local people must have a say in decision making about the project.
(c) Local people should have effective control over natural resources like water, land and forests.
(iii) Democratic strategies used by it:
(a) Appeals to judiciary
(b) Mobilisation of support at the international level
(c) Public rallies to support the movement
(d) Satyagraha to convince people
Q. 12. Describe how the Anti-Arrack Campaigns contributed a great deal in increasing overall social awareness about women’s questions.
Ans. Anti-Arrack Campaigns:
(i) Women’s groups working on issues of domestic violence, the custom of dowry, sexual abuse at work and public places were active mainly among urban middle class women in different parts of the country.
(ii) Focus of the women’s movement gradually shifted from legal reforms to open social confrontations.
(iii) As a result the movement made demands of equal representation to women in politics during the nineties.
(iv) We know that 73rd and 74th amendments have granted reservations to women in local level political offices.
(v) Demands for extending similar reservations in State and Central legislatures have also been made.
(vi) A Constitution Amendment Bill to this effect has been proposed but has not received enough support from the Parliament yet. Main opposition to the bill has come from groups, including some women’s groups, who are insisting on a separate quota for Dalit and OBC women within the proposed women’s quota in higher political offices
Q. 13. Would you consider the Anti-Arrack Movement as a women’s movement? Why?
Ans. There is no doubt to the fact that the AntiArrack Movement was a women’s movement. It addressed various issues pertaining to women. It was participated by huge number of women. It laid the framework for the government on drafting policies and laws on various feminine matters of the society. Some highlighting features of the movement are:
(i) The movement demanded for law on dowry.
(ii) The movement demanded for law on equality of gender in case of property rights.
(iii) The movement addressed the issue of sexual violence.
(iv) The movement demanded equal representation for women in politics.
(v) The movement created social awareness among the women about their social and democratic rights.