Q Consider the following statements about power sharing arrangements in Belgium and Sri Lanka.

  • (i) In Belgium, the Dutch-speaking majority people tried to impose their domination on the minority French-speaking community.
  • (ii) In Sri Lanka, the policies of the government sought to ensure the dominance of the Sinhala-speaking majority.
  • (iii) The Tamils in Sri Lanka demanded a federal arrangement of power sharing to protect their culture, language and equality of opportunity in education and jobs.
  • (iv) The transformation of Belgium from unitary government to a federal one prevented a possible division of the country on linguistic lines.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

Ans (ii), (iii) and (iv)

Q Consider the following two statements on power sharing and select the answer using the codes given below:

  • (A) Power sharing is good for democracy.
  • (B) It helps to reduce the possibility of conflict between social groups.
  • Which of these statements are true and false?
  • (i) A is true but B is false.
  • (ii) Both A and B are true.
  • (iii) Both A and B are false.
  • (iv) A is false but B is true.

Ans (ii) Both A and B are true.

Q Match List-I (forms of power sharing) with List-II (forms of government) and select the correct answer using the codes given below in the lists:

List-I List-II
(i) Power shared among different organs of government (A) Community government
(ii) Power shared among government at different levels (B) Separation of powers
(iii) Power shared by different social groups (C) Coalition government
(iv) Power shared by two or more political parties (D) Federal government

Codes:

(i) (ii) (iii) (iv)
(a) D A B C
(b) B C D A
(c) B D A C
(d) C D A B

Ans (c)

Q What are the different forms of power sharing in modern democracies? Give an example of each of these.

Ans In modern democracies, some of the important power sharing arrangements are as follows:

  • 1. Power sharing among the different organs of the Government (i.e., horizontal distribution of power): In this form of power sharing, power is assigned by the Constitution among different organs of government such as the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. This type of distribution ensures separation of powers among the organs at the same level, so that none of the organs can exercise unlimited power. Each organ puts a check on the others in order to maintain balance of power under the system of checks and balances.
  • 2. Power sharing among governments at different levels (vertical distribution of power sharing): In this form of power sharing, power is shared at the different levels of government. The overall governing body for the country is known as ‘Union Government’ or ‘Federal Government’ and the government at the constituent units is known as State Government. The third or lowest level is local government, e.g., Municipalities and Panchayati Raj in India.
  • 3. Power sharing among political parties, pressure groups and movements: In a democracy, power is also shared among different political parties, pressure groups and movements. Democracy provides the citizens the freedom to choose their rulers. This freedom is provided by various political parties which contest elections to win them. Such competition ensures that power is not always in the hand of a single person. In the long run, power is shared among different political parties that represent different ideologies and social groups. Sometimes this kind of sharing can be direct, when two or more parties form an alliance to contest elections. If their alliance is elected, they form a coalition government and thus, share power. In a democracy, various pressure groups and movements also remain active. They also have an indirect share in government power, either through participation in government committees or bringing influence on the decision making process. An example is the currently running UPA government in India, which is a coalition government.
  • 4. Power sharing among different social groups: In a democracy, especially, in multi-ethnic society, power is also shared among social groups such as religious and linguistic groups. ‘Community government’ in Belgium is a good example of this arrangement. There are constitutional and legal arrangements in India whereby socially weaker sections and women are represented in the Legislatures and the administration. We have a system of ‘reserved constituencies’ in State Assemblies and the Parliament. This type of arrangement is meant to give proper share in the government and administration to diverse social groups who otherwise would feel alienated from the government.

Q State one prudential reason and one moral reason for power sharing with an example from the Indian context.

Ans Power sharing is the very spirit of democracy. The prudential reason for power sharing is that it helps to maintain harmony among all social groups and thus, ensure political stability of the country. In India, seats have been reserved in Legislature for the socially weaker sections keeping in mind this prudential reason for power sharing.

The moral reason emphasises the very act of power sharing as valuable. In a truly democratic setup, the citizens too have a stake in governance. In India the citizens can come together to debate and criticise the policies and decisions of the government. This in turn, puts pressure on the government to rethink its policies and reconsider its decisions. This active political participation is in keeping with the moral reason for power sharing.

Q Read the subsequent passage and detect one among the prudent reasons for power sharing offered in this.

“We need to give more power to the panchayats to realise the dream of Mahatma Gandhi and the hopes of the makers of our Constitution.

Panchayati Raj establishes true democracy. It restores power to the only place where power belongs in a democracy—in the hands of the people. Giving power to Panchayats is also a way to reduce corruption and increase administrative efficiency. When people participate in the planning and implementation of development schemes, they would naturally exercise greater control over these schemes. This would eliminate the corrupt middlemen. Thus, Panchayati Raj will strengthen the foundations of our democracy.”

Ans The following prudent reasons are cited into the passage for power sharing :

  • 1. Reducing corruption by giving power into the hands of the people and therefore, making them answerable for their own choices.
  • 2. Increasing the effectiveness of administration by allocating the decision-making function to the people who are impacted by it.
  • 3. Increasing the effectiveness of the system by reducing the quantity of Middlemen, and transferring the planning and implementation of the growth and development schemes to the people involved in the Panchayat.

Q Look at the maps of Belgium and Sri Lanka. In which region, do you find concentration of different communities?

Ans Belgium : Belgium is a federal state comprising three communities, three regions, and four language areas. The three communities are:
  • 1. The Dutch speaking Flemish Community (Vlaamse Gemeenschap).
  • 2. The French speaking French Community (Communauté française).
  • 3. The German speaking German speaking Community (Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft, DG).

The three regions are:

The Brussels-Capital Region (Brussels, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale in French, Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest in Dutch), the Flemish Region (Flanders, Vlaams Gewest) the Walloon Region (Wallonia, Région wallonne), the four language areas (as taalgebieden in Dutch and Sprachgebiete in German), occasionally referred to as linguistic regions (from French régions linguistiques), are: the Dutch language area, the French language area, the German language area (which has specific language facilities for French speakers) and the Bilingual Brussels-Capital area.

Sri Lanka : Sri Lanka’s population is comprised of 75 per cent Sinhalese and 24 per cent Tamil speakers (11% Sri Lankan Tamils, 9% Moors, and 4% Indian Tamils), with smaller communities of Malays, Burghers and others. The Sri Lankan civil war, which ended in 2009, was triggered in part by the introduction of language policies that created divisions along ethnic and linguistic lines. In 1956, the Official Language Act No. 33 declared Sinhala as the only official language, replacing English which had been imposed under British colonial rule. In 1958, in response to the grievances of the Tamil speaking people, the government passed the Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act, in which Tamil was declared an official language in the Tamil-majority North and East. The 13th Amendment in 1987 to Article 18 of the 1978 Constitution stated that “the official language of Sri Lanka is Sinhala” while “Tamil shall also be an official language,” with English as a “link language.” While this recognised both Sinhala and Tamil as official languages, the wording was still contentious, as some perceived it as referring to Tamil in a secondary sense. In response, in 1988, the 16th Amendment to the constitution corrected the position by stating, “Sinhala and Tamil shall be the languages of administration throughout Sri Lanka.”

Q What’s wrong if the majority community rules? If Sinhalas don’t rule in Sri Lanka, where else will they rule?

Ans If a majority community rules then there will be conflicts in that society or country, and there will be a feeling of loneliness that will be developed among the minority community. There should be power sharing between Sinhalas and Tamils. There should not be rule of anyone, there should be power sharing between the different communities.

Q I have a simple equation in mind. Sharing power = dividing power = weakening the country. Why don’t we start by talking of this?

Ans Sharing of power does not always mean weakening the country. Sometimes, it may create a problem by delaying decisions which are for the welfare of the people but many times it creates the possibilities of better decision-making.

  • 1. It ensures that people coming from different spheres have a ‘say’ in the government.
  • 2. It also ensures that maximum people can participate in the government making decisions that are more democratic.
  • 3. It also helps in reducing conflicts between different social groups hence, making the country more powerful.