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POLITICAL THEORY:

AN INTRODUCTION

1 mark

Name the political ideals that the following thinkers were

concerned with.

 Karl Marx - Equality

 Rousseau – Freedom

Name the authors of the following books:

 Hind Swaraj – Mahatma Gandhi

 Republic – Plato

Read the following headline and identify the democratic ideal

involved:

“The latest religious edict forbidding women from working in

proximity to men creates a fur ore and highlights growing

intolerance”.
The political ideal involved in the above headline is equality of

sexes.

Read the following headline and identify the political ideal

involved:

“Naxalite violence must be viewed in the context of the battle

between tribal’s and corporate houses to gain access over natural

resources like minerals, water and forests”.

The political ideal involved in the above headline is equality –

equal access to resources.

Read the following headline and identify the political ideal

involved:

“Google winded up its operations in main land China and

moved to Hong Kong complaining of intrusive censorship of its

content”.

The political ideal involved in the above headline is freedom of

speech and expression.

According to Socrates, how can one arrive at truth?

According to Socrates, truth can be arrived at through debate and

dialogue. Dialogue helps reveal inconsistencies in the views

expressed by others.
For a democracy to function effectively, what values should be

encouraged and nurtured?

The two important values in democracy are: reason and tolerance.

Give examples of any two non-state actors in politics.

Non-State actors act independent and autonomous of recognised

government. These include non-governmental organisations,

MNC’s, rebel groups, insurgents, dissident armed forces,

guerrillas like Naxalites.

Name any two institutions that you are part of.

Family is the first institution that an individual is part of and the

second is school. Apart from these, there are religious institutions

and also tribe in case of forest dwellers.

What does Right to Information entails?

Right to Information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen

requests for government information, in order to promote

transparency and accountability in the working of every public

authority.
2 Marks

Mention Lenin's view on class.

Lenin has defined class as a group of people who differ from each

other on the basis of

 The place they occupy in a historically determined system of

social production.

 Their relation to the means of production.

 The mode of acquiring the share of social wealth.

State the main feature of class struggle.

The economic factors lead to the class struggle. The conflict among

the individuals and groups is not natural. It is the result of

dominance of the capitalist class. Marxists are of the opinion that

the origin of private ownerships of the means of production has

resulted in the class struggle. The society is divided between

haves, i.e. capitalists and the have nots, i.e. proletariats or labour

class.

What do we study in political theory?

The study of political theory undertakes the study of ideas and

principles that shape constitution, governments and social


structure in a systematic manner. It clarifies the meaning of

concepts such as freedom, equality, justice, democracy, secularism

etc. It probes the significance of rule of law, separation of powers,

judicial review etc.

What does politics deal with?

Politics deals with the formation and functioning of the

government. It provides the rules and regulations for government

to run the country. It undertakes the welfare and reforms, which

are basic yardsticks to measure the development of a state. One

cannot deny the fact that the state cannot to be referred as

developed unless it provides education, employment and other

basic necessities to the suppressed classes.

'' The study of Politics is only related to the government'',

comment.

To begin with, it is important to understand the difference

between the government and the politics. While the government

deals only with the formal institutions, i.e. executive, legislature

and judiciary, the politics takes account of formal and informal

institutions as well. Subsequently, the study of Politics is not just

confined to the government, but also undertakes the issues like

environment, political parties, pressure groups etc.


What is politics?

Politics is an activity through which people make, preserve and

amend general rules under which they live. Aristotle in his book,

‘Politics’ asserted that man is, by nature, a political animal.

 Ethics and politics are closely linked.

 A truly ethical life can only be lived by someone who

participates in politics.

What does ideology mean to you? Name any two dominant

ideologies of contemporary era.

Ideology refers to a set of ideas, beliefs and values held by the

members of a social or political group. It explains the rationale of

the group's existence and guides its design for action. Two

dominant ideologies of present times are:

 Liberalism

 Capitalism

What are the two crucial qualities that a citizen must have in

present day information society?

It is crucial that a citizen is reasonable and informed, so that he/she

can participate in political decision making at various levels. A


thoughtful and aware citizen can use the media to discuss and

express common interests more effectively.

A responsible citizen with civic virtues can keep a check on the

misuse of power by the government and ensure accountability for

effective governance. He must exercise his rights and fulfill

responsibilities.

An active citizen must exercise his right to vote judiciously and

volunteer for public service.

Mention any four modern day threats to freedom.

The two modern day threats to freedom are:

 Terrorism

 Global information technology (threat to ones privacy over

the internet).

 Global warming

 Poverty and deprivation

“Politics envelops us like the coils of a snake and there is no way

out but to wrestle with it”.

a) Who gave the above quote?

Mahatma Gandhi

b) Do you agree with the quote? Give reason for your answer.
Yes, I agree with the quote as no society can exist without some

form of political organisation and collective decision making.

Politics as the struggle for power and resources involves

competition, multiple negotiations and bargaining between

different interest groups. A number of institutions such as family,

tribe and economic institutions fulfill our interests and aspirations.

Thus, each one of us is directly or indirectly involves in politics.

Define two political ideas that form the basis of political

institutions.

Two important ideas that form the basis of political institutions

are:

 Equality: Equality is the most important moral and political

ideal that has inspired and guided human society. It invokes the

idea that all human beings have an equal worth regardless of their

colour, gender, race or nationality.

 Justice: Justice means the quality of being fair and just. A just

society is one that gives each individual his due.

What are the four dimensions of power?

Power is the ability to influence the attainment of goals of an

individual or a group. Power is not a characteristic of any one


individual rather it is defined in terms of relationships. The four

dimensions of power are:

 Economic power

 Social power

 Political power

 Ideological power.

David Easton argues politics as an ‘input’ and ‘output’ process.

What are the inputs and what are the outputs? Give examples of

each.

David Easton propounded the System’s theory which describes

politics as an input/ output process. Input refers to the

various demands, requests and needs of the citizens while output

refers to the government policies, laws and decisions that emerge

out of demands raised by the people.

Name any two marginalised groups from India that are still

struggling for their dignity?

Marginalised groups are those social groups who are neglected

and do not benefit from various socio-economic development

policies.

 Tribal’s – economic and cultural marginalisation

 Dalits – Social discrimination.


Differentiate between the state and non-state actors. Give two

points.

 State actors refer to people and organisations acting on

behalf of the government. Examples: Police, security forces,

judiciary. Their powers are based on the law of the State; derived

from the Constitution.

 Non- state actors act independent and autonomous of

recognised government. Examples: civil society organisations,

MNCs, Naxalites, terror groups. They often rebuke at the laws of

the state and pressurise the government (through non-violent and

violent means) to generate policies in their favour or the group

they represent.

Why do you think people prefer to live in democratic countries

over non-democracies?

People prefer to live in democratic countries over non-democratic

due to the following reasons:

 Fundamental rights - Freedom of speech and expression

 People gain a sense of participation in the process of

choosing their own government. They get the opportunity to voice

their opinions by means of electoral votes.


How has the meaning of Right to Life expanded through court

judgements?

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution provides for Right to Life,

which is guaranteed to all citizens and foreigners. No person shall

be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to

procedure established by law. Right to life is not just freedom from

physical threat, the meaning of right to life has been expanded to

include right to fresh air, safe and clean drinking water, good

health and sanitation.

What is an institution? Why do we need institutions?

Institutions are organisation and mechanisms of social order and

assistance of governing the behaviour of a set

of individuals within a given human society.

Institutions are important for the following reasons.

a) Institutions are needed for social cooperation based on

common purpose.

b) In politics, institutions provide the rules for governing a

society in an effective manner.


4 marks

State Marx's view on the origin of classes.

According to Marx, private ownership of the means of production

resulted in the origin of classes. Due to the gradual development

of productive forces, people began to identify the means of

production, to produce more than the required needs, which

resulted in the accumulation of material wealth. This was the

beginning of private ownership of property i.e., the owing classes

exploited those who did not own property. This is how the

different classes originated. He divided the history of mankind in

three periods respectively; as age of barbarian (early communism),

age of civilization (beginning of slavery) and age of

industrialization (division of society into haves and have nots). He

further added dictatorship of labour class would lead to the

establishment of communism.

Why politics is referred as ''common good''?

Politics is referred as ''common good'' because the main task of the

democratic government is the welfare of the society. It performs

several functions such as; providing employment opportunities,

education facilities, old age pension etc. to the masses. So the


primary objective of the government is not to work for a section of

the society, but for ''all''.

Why it is necessary to undertake the study of Political Theory?

 Political theory is one of the core areas of political science.

 Political theory enables an individual to understand and

experience the present political reality.

 Helps to develop a mechanism in order to transform the

present imperfect society into a perfect one and thereby

establishing just order

 Sets the guidelines for the constitutions.

 As the democratic governments are formed for the welfare of

the citizens, it becomes necessary for every citizen to know the set

of guidelines that are provided to the government to run the

country.

Is it possible to attain equality?

Equality denotes that every citizen should get an equal

opportunity and treatment in every field. In a democracy, different

laws are formulated by the government to attain equality. In

practice, however, it is an uphill task to achieve. If one compares

the state of political, economic and social equality, then one finds

that political equality is attainable, but economic and social


equality are difficult to attain. There are lots of hurdles involved in

the implementation of the policies, which are formulated for the

economically weaker sections of the society.

How much freedom should be given to the people for using the

net?

In the globalized era, technology communication has added a new

dimension to the study of politics. As the global communications

technology is establishing networks across the world, questions

have been raised on the freedom to be given to the people to use

net, since the same network can be used by the terrorists and

criminals for their own vested interests.

 Number of netizens (citizens of internet) is increasing day by

day

 Internet commerce has raised many questions regarding the

governmental control. Although people are not in favour of

imposing restraints, but some kind of regulation is necessary to

safeguard individual security and privacy.

Discuss the scope of political theory with reference to the study

of new rights.

Political theory deals with ideas and principles that shape

constitutions, governments and social life in a systematic manner.


It examines the meaning of concepts such as freedom, equality,

justice, democracy and so on. Similarly, fundamental rights

guaranteed by our Constitution are continually being

reinterpreted in response to new circumstances. For instance, the

right to life has been interpreted by the Courts to include the right

to a livelihood. The right to information has been granted to

ensure transparency and accountability in the working of all

public authorities. Thus, through an understanding of political

theory the scope of rights has expanded and new definitions have

emerged based on the present context.

"Men are never so likely to settle a question rightly as when they

discuss it freely”. Discuss.

The most crucial aspect of any democracy is guarantee of freedom

to all. In ancient Athens, citizens gathered in forums to discuss and

debate the most pressing issues of the day before casting their

votes. Such debates were an integral part of the new form of

government: democracy. Since there are numerous demands from

different sections, they must be reconciled in a peaceful manner

through debate and discussion. Free expression based on reason is

the most democratic way of arriving at solutions and such

solutions are likely to bring long lasting peace.


Politicians and entrepreneurs have a close nexus. Where do you

think politics and business intersect? What do the two have in

common?

A close relationship exist between political connections and

economic benefits. It has been found that political connections help

firms to secure favourable regulatory and tax conditions. Political

leaders are keen to open their economies to entrepreneurs in the

hope to earn taxes and generate employment.

Example: Inviting foreign companies to set up mining and steel

plants.

Political parties need financial support from business houses to

fund their activities and campaigns, the same parties after coming

to power act on the behest of this economic class. However, in

their nexus, it is the common people whose interests are

compromised. Construction of dams, Special economic Zones have

led to displacement of vast rural population. The common

between politics and business is the common man, for the former

it is the vote bank and for the latter is the customer.

Who are minorities? Do you think they should be given special

privileges in education?

Minority refers to a group that is in a relatively lesser in number

compared to the majority population, or to larger national groups.


Minorities may be religious minorities, ethnic minorities or

linguistic minorities.

In my view, in a secular, democratic country like India, where the

Constitution gives equal rights and freedom to all, special

protection should not be given on the basis of religion, ethnicity or

race. Special privileges should only be given to the economically

underprivileged. Only for the economically weaker sections, the

government should have a quota in educational institutions.

“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Discuss.

The above quote is given by Lord Acton. It means that people with

authority might start using their powers for the good of others. But

eventually, they end up misusing their power as there is no one to

question them. Absolute power holders, such as Hitler or Kim

Jong-II, have led to making political decisions based on their

personal opinions and that is when you have tyrants and dictators.

It argues that people’s moral sense declines as their powers

increase. Therefore, to check the misuse of power, it must be

restricted.
We encounter many different definitions of the same concept.

Why does meaning of concepts change over time? Explain by

giving suitable examples.

As society progresses and new trends emerge, the meaning of

concepts change. There could be different definitions of the same

concept. For example, we may discover new dimensions of

freedom as well as new threats to freedom like terrorism and

global warming. Similarly, we all know that equality is an

important ideal in any democracy and everyone must get equal

opportunity to get goods and services for which they are paying.

We resent when we notice people jumping in the queue in shops

or government offices. At the same time, if there are separate

counters for the old and disabled, we understand that such special

treatment is justified. So we arrive at another definition of

equality, i.e., treating equals equally and un-equals unequally.

Thus, our understanding of concepts and their definitions undergo

changes because of the context.

Imagine yourself as head of a private educational institution, a

new government policy on higher education, affects your

interest adversely. How would you voice your opinion?

Being head of a private educational institution, my first and

foremost motive is profit. Though private institutions accept their


social responsibility of providing education, yet profit remains an

important motivating factor. If a government policy on education

affects my interest, I will take the following steps:

1. Write a letter to the HR Minister.

2. Form an association which would provide a forum to all

private institutions to join together and voice our concerns.

3. Mobilise support of other affected bodies in the education

industry to strike negotiations with the government and revise the

existing policy.

4. Media is another agent that can be used to build public

opinion.

What is the role of ideology in politics?

In politics, political parties are distinguished on the basis of their

ideology. Political organisations that strive for power try to

influence the ideology of a society to gain support. Political

organisations (government included) and other organisations

(lobbyists) try to influence people by broadcasting their ideology.

A political ideologyis considered with allocation of power and its

use. Each ideology contains a certain set of ideas, based on which

it seeks to establish the best form of government (democracy,

monarchy etc.) or an economic system (capitalism, socialism etc.)


6 marks

''Politics is a worthwhile activity'' Comment.

Politics is an important and integral part of the society. No society

can exist without the political organizations and collective

decision-making. A society that wants to sustain itself needs to

take into accounts the multiple needs and aspirations of its

citizens. An institution is required, which is known as the

government. Formation and functions of the government are an

important focus of politics. So it can be said that politics is a worth

while activity. The government policies affect the lives of the

people in different ways. The government determines economic,

foreign an educational policy, which enhances the standard of

living of the people. It is unfortunate that politics is referred as a

desirable activity and is being associated with the pursuit of self-

interest only.
You have read that the concept of rights and freedom is central to

the study of political theory. Keeping this in mind, do you think

public’s right to know is more important than the privacy of

celebrities?

Many journalists believe that the public’s right to know and the

need to shine a light on vice and corruption supersedes all other

considerations. But often the light they shine does not focus on

vice or corruption but on private people whose lives have been

changed by a ‘newsworthy’ event and who find themselves put in

a public spotlight by the news media or on people in public life

whose private lives are deemed to have a (negative) effect on their

ability to do their jobs.

Two major developments in the 20th century have created the

conditions for individual privacy to become a burgeoning concern:

the growth in mass media and the ‘Information Revolution.’

Privacy is one of the fundamental freedoms, essential to liberty

and human dignity. The public’s right to know is one of the

guiding principles of journalists. They believe strongly that if

officials are allowed to act in secrecy, miscarriages of justice and

corruption may result. However, the name of freedom of press,

media many a times encroaches on privacy of celebrities and civil


liberties are ruined. Media should not venture into the private

lives of film stars, sportspersons and politicians and jeopardize

with their careers.

Imagine you are contesting the elections for Student Council in

your school, how would you gain support of your fellow

students? What initiatives would you take to promote the

interests of the students?

Students participation in politics would train them in the art of

managing their own school affairs. Since, politics involves

negotiations and bargaining for control over resources; students

would learn to balance the interests of diverse groups within the

school environment.

To gain support of my fellow students, I would first identify their

needs and aspirations through meetings of the Student council.

Then I would prepare a manifesto which would resolve to fulfill

the various demands raised within a certain time frame. I would

also organise an assembly, where I can discuss my manifesto and

future initiatives that I wish to take.

After joining the office of the Student Council,

 I would voice their concerns to the school administration.


 I would make sure that the rules and regulations are

followed by all and there is discipline on the behalf of the students.

 I would make sure that the school property is respected and

there are no cases of bullying and discrimination in school.

 I would also encourage students to active part in sports and

co-curricular activities.

How is political science different from natural sciences?

Political science is a science, is the most controversial question. We

may examine as to what extent scientific methods could be applied

in studying political processes.

In natural sciences, the relation between cause and effect is fixed in

precise terms; political science on the other hand deals with

complex social phenomena. It is not always possible to find out

with certainty the causes behind human actions. Human reactions

are not always same and there are too many factors involved. This

is why cause and effect relationship cannot be established with

regard to human behaviour. Just as, a scientist by mixing

chemicals A and B get the fixed result C; in political science, events

cannot be predicted.
It is true that political science is not and never will be an exact

science in the sense that physics or chemistry is. Yet, in political

science also scientific methods are used such as interviews, census

data and questionnaires; such systematic collection of data helps to

arrive at theories. It is through research and empirical observation

that a very large number of theories have been developed in the

field of politics. But these theories are subject to change with the

changes in society.

Critically reflect on your understanding of political theory.

Discuss how study of political theory has helped you revise

your views on the various ideals that govern our political life.

Political theory systematically examines the values that inform

political life – values such as freedom, equality and justice. These

are not abstract issues in our lives. We daily encounter

discrimination of various sorts in family, school, college, shopping

malls, work place etc. We ourselves have prejudices against people

who are different from us, be they of a different caste or religion or

gender or class. If we feel oppressed, we want redress and if that is

delayed, we feel there is no justice.

What political theory encourages us to do is to examine our ideas

and feelings about political events and issues. It helps us reflect


upon our current political experiences, revise existing definitions

of political ideals and develop values like tolerance and respect for

diversity.

Political theory exposes students of humanities to reasoning,

debates and helps to analyse concepts like justice and equality so

that we can polish our opinions and argue in an informed manner.

Pratap and his younger brother Aditya have an age difference of

four years. While Pratap works in an MNC as a software

professional, Aditya is a final year engineering student. Aditya

has always been active in university politics and wants to join

politics after finishing his engineering. Pratap and his parents

did not approve Aditya’s decisions. Why do you think young

people are discouraged from joining politics? Why are common

people despair of politics?

People have different ideas about what politics is. Some like

Aditya, who passionately participated in university politics and

promoted the interest of his fellow students, may argue that

politics is a kind of public service.

While some others, like his parents and Pratap associate politics

with manipulation and intrigue undertaken to pursue ambitions


and satisfy personal wants. They see politicians defecting parties,

making false promises and plotting scams. Disillusioned by such

pursuits of selfishness they despair politics and don’t see a

lucrative future for Aditya in politics.

Also in the present scenario of dynastic competition, Aditya may

not be able to leave a mark or earn a descent livelihood, despite his

moral commitment to a job. A professional career is more

appropriate for a boy from middle class society. Aditya’s brother

and many other young professionals do not look at politics as a

profession. There is a need to introduce professionalism and

standards in politics, for which we need educated, informed and

committed youths like Aditya in politics.


Look at the cartoon below and answer the question.

a) Which fundamental right is restricted in the above

cartoon? State its importance in a democracy?

The Fundamental right that is restricted in the cartoon is Freedom

of Press. Freedom of press is crucial for the functioning for any

democracy as it keeps a check on the functioning of the

government and checks any misuse of power. It helps the citizen’s

voice, their opinions and grievances and mobilise support on any

issue.

b) Imagine how politics would be if freedom of Press is

suppressed?
If there was no Freedom of Press, democracy would degenerate

into a totalitarian regime (example strict press censorship

implemented during 1971 emergency declared by Indira Gandhi)

as there would be no checks and criticism of government actions

and policies.

If there is censorship of media, government might pursue arbitrary

policies, ignoring the common good of the people. Media

highlights cases of efficiency, corruption and mal-administration

and generates sound public opinion. An independent media is the

most important pillar of any democracy.

c) Highlight the role of opposition in a democracy.

Role of opposition in a democracy

 Enlighten the masses by objectively analysing the

government’s drawback.

 Opposition’s main role is to question the government of the

day and hold them accountable to the public.

Is it possible to attain equality?

Equality denotes that every citizen should get an equal

opportunity and treatment in every field. In a democracy, different

laws are formulated by the government to attain equality. In


practice, however, it is an uphill task to achieve. If one compares

the state of political, economic and social equality, then one finds

that political equality is attainable, but economic and social

equality are difficult to attain. There are lots of hurdles involved in

the implementation of the policies, which are formulated for the

economically weaker sections of the society. It is not possible to

ensure equality of outcome because that depends on each person's

ability and merit. However, equality of opportunity can be

ensured. The government initiatives such as mid-day meal

scheme, free and compulsory education seeks to provide equality

of opportunity to all children. Laws prohibiting discrimination on

the basis of gender, caste, etc aim at achieving equality of

opportunity for all.