NCERT Notes Class 10 Social Science Civics Chapter 3 Democracy and Diversity

NCERT Notes Class 10 Social Science Political Science Chapter 3 Democracy and Diversity

Chapter 3 Democracy and Diversity NCERT Notes

Chapter Name

Democracy and Diversity Notes


CBSE Class 10

Textbook Name

Democratic Politics- II Class 10

Related Readings

  • Notes for Class 10
  • Notes for Class 10 Political Science
  • NCERT Solutions for Democracy and Diversity 


We studied in the last chapter the distribution of power among people of varied ethnicity and religion. This time, we move a step further. People aren’t identified only by ethnicity or religion, but various other factors such as physical appearance, class, religion, gender, etc. Keeping in mind these divisions, we will learn how democracy keeps these threads of inequalities tied together.

For this, we will start with the public’s expression on social divisions followed by the effect of social divisions on democratic parties and vice versa.

A story from Mexico Olympics

The famous incident of Civil Rights Movements in the United States

The Civil Rights Movement originated in the U.S., gained international attention by two African- American players, Tommie Smith and John Carlos. After winning positions in 200 meters in 1968, they stood on the podium with clinched fists upraised, heads bowed and wore black socks with no shoes. This was done during American National Anthem to draw attention to the world to the injustice they were receiving back at home. To show support to these athletes, Peter Norman, a white Australian athlete, wore a human rights badge.

The result of this incident

This action by all three winners raised a storm of questions. Therefore, in reaction to this, International Olympic Association took back the medals of two athletes, and Norman was struck off from the Australian Team.

Though the two U.S. athletes were criticized for their actions, they gave this movement international attention.

Differences, Similarities, Divisions:

The above example of athletes was how people respond to social divisions in society. This social division exists based not only on race but also on a linguistic basis like in Belgium and ethnic and religious lines like in Sri Lanka.

Before diving deeply into politics’ role in social divisions, let’s understand its definition and origin.

Origins of Social Differences

These are mostly based on the community we are born in. Differences occur due to different complexions, status, etc. Some of them are not based on the accident of birth, though. All these lead to the formation of social groups based on our choices. All social groups do not create a divide. Some of them also unite people. Thus we all have more than one social identity and can belong to more than one social group.

Accident of birth creates most social differences. E.g., people may be tall, strong, weak, girl or boy. Some social differences arise because individuals decide to follow certain practices or standards. For example, an individual might be an atheist or might be a feminist. Some people may convert to another religion. All social differences do not result in social divisions. Sometimes, even people belonging to different religions may have common interests.

Overlapping and cross-cutting differences

Overlapping takes place when a social difference overlaps with the other. For example, blacks and whites in the US, Dalit communities in India, Catholics, and Protestants in North Ireland. Overlapping of social differences create possibilities of deep social divisions and tensions. Cross-cutting social differences are easier to accommodate. Social divisions of one or the other kind exist in every country, irrespective of its size and population.

When one kind of social difference becomes more important than any other, and people start feeling that they belong to different communities, this can lead to the country’s disintegration. Poverty, landlessness, separation, or shamefulness are the factors that create the social difference to form social division, and pressure is considered as overlapping.

Under cross-cutting differences, people have normal interests on one issue however can keep different opinion on another issue. Cross-cutting social differences are easier to accommodate.

Politics of Social Divisions

In the previous topic, we learned about what social division actually is. In this topic, we will analyze how mixing up social division and politics can be dangerous for democracy and the integrity of the country.

Moreover, we will analyze the factors that lead to the outcome of politics based on social divisions.

Case study: How the relationship between social divisions and politics proved to be dangerous?

As we read above, in Northern Ireland, social divisions exist between Catholics and Protestants. This division became the cause of a major conflict when the Catholics, who comprise 44% of the population, became represented by Nationalistic parties. In contrast, the Protestants gained the support of the Unionist parties. Nationalists wanted Northern Ireland to become part of the Republic of Ireland, where Catholicism is prevalent. On the contrary, Unionists wanted to continue their merger with the UK, a predominantly Protestant country. This led to a massive conflict, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives. This continued until, in 1998, the UK government and Nationalists signed a peace agreement, ending the conflict.

What’s the message?

The case of Northern Ireland led us to believe that the mixing of social divisions and politics can prove to be dangerous. Therefore, social divisions and politics should exist at par with each other.

The Irony

Though the case study of Northern Ireland showed that the social divisions and politics aren’t meant to be mixed, but this scenario isn’t always true. There are many countries in the world where social division exists. This division is used as a tool by political parties to gain votes. Many people prefer those parties that appeal to their community over others. Yet, this has not led to a revolt or disintegration of a country.

Three Determinants

Now that we have read that politics and social division relationship is very complex, how do we decide what will be the possible outcome?

The answer lies in the factors that decide the outcome of democratic politics based on the social divide.

Those factors are:

  1. Perception of identities- Many conflicts arise if people start seeing themselves as members of a particular social division in the society. A great example is that of Northern Ireland. On the other hand, if people start identifying themselves as citizens of the nation and their identity based on the social divide, it will be easier to live together. The case of Belgium proves this. Apart from seeing themselves as French or Dutch, they see themselves as Belgians, which helps them stay together. Not only this, each citizen of India identifies himself as an Indian despite belonging to different areas.
  2. Political reaction to different demands- It largely depends on how different political leaders act to the demands raised by different communities. If demands are fulfilled by the book and not harming another community’s interest, then the possibility of a conflict will be negligible. But if it hurts another community’s sentiments, like in Sri Lanka, the demands of “Sinhalese” hurt the sentiments of “Tamil speakers,” it will lead to a conflict.
  3. The government’s reaction to demands- It ought to be the government’s responsibility to be fair and listen to every section of society. If the power holders agree to divide power, thereby agreeing to various communities’ demands, then the social divide will not be a major problem. But, if one section tries to be powerful, like Sri Lanka, then it becomes difficult to control the situation.
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