Wednesday, September 10, 2008


In 1968, Olympics held at Mexico city, in the medal ceremony of 200m race, where gold and bronze medals were won by the AFRICAN –AMERICANS & the silver was bagged by the white.
In the ceremony Tommie Smith & John Carlos (African- Americans)stood on the dice with clenched fists upraised & heads bowed while the American anthem was played. They received their medals wearing black socks & no shoes to represent ‘BLACK POVERTY.’ The silver medalist, white Australian athelete, Peter Norman, wore human rights badge on his shirt to show his support to the two Americans.
Q. Why did Tommie & Smith wear black socks & no shoes?
--To represent Black poverty.
Q. What did their clenched fists &black gloves represent?
--They meant to symbolize the Black Power.
Q. What did the two players intend to do with this kind of gesture?
They wanted to draw the international attention to racial discrimination in the United states.
Q. What was the result of their action?
a) The International Olympics Association held Carlos & Smith guilty of violating the Olympic spirit by making a political statement.
b)their medals were taken back.
c) back home they were subjected to lot of criticism.
d) Norman too suffered for his action & was not included in the Australian team in the next Olympics.
e) but their action did succeed in getting international attention for the Civil Rights Movement in the US.
Social diversity can take different forms in different societies.Social differences can be both accidental or by choice.
1. Some of the social differences are based on accident of birth.
We do not choose to belong to our community, we belong to it simply because we are born to it.
We all experience social difference based on accident of birth in our everyday lives, it can be in the form of male-female, being tall-short, different complexions, or have different physical abilities.

2. Some of the differences are based on our choices. For example, some people are atheists—they do not believe in God or any religion, some choose to follow religion other than in which they were born;Some choose what to study and what occupation to takeup and which game to play or which cultural activities to take part in.All these lead to formation of groups of our choices.
Every social difference does not lead to social division.
-- Social differences divide similar people from one another but, they also unite people very different people.
--People belonging to different social groups share differences and similarities cutting across the boundaries of their groups. Eg. Carlos & Smith joined hands because as they both were similar but Peter supported them as they were athletes.
--It is common for people belonging to the same religion feel that they donot belong to the same community because their caste or sect is different. It is also possible for the people from different religions to have same caste and feel close to each other.
--Rich & poor persons from the same family often donot have close relations with each other for they feel they are very different.
--Thus we all have more than one identity and can belong to more than one group.

1. When some social difference overlaps with other difference.

2. Situations of this kind produce social divisions, when one kind of social difference becomes more important than the other and people start feeling that they belong to different communities.
3. Example—a)difference between Black & White in the US becomes a social division because they tend to be poor & landless, and often face injustice & discrimination.
b) In our country Dalits tend to be poor & landless and often face injustice & discrimination.
4. Overlapping differences create possibilities of deep social divisions and tensions.
1.If social differences cross-cut one another, it is difficult to pit group of people against the other.
2. It means that group that share a common interest on the issue are likely to be on different sides on a different issue.
3. Example -Northern Ireland & Netherlands both are predominantly Christians but divided between Catholics & Protestants. In Northern Ireland class & religion overlap each other, if catholic one tend to be poor & have suffered discrimination where as in Netherland, class & religion tend to cross-cut each other and both are equally likely to be rich or poor. It means they have conflict in Northern Ireland and it is not so in Netherlands.
4. Cross-cut social differences are easier to accommodate.

Q. Most countries of the world are multi-cultural? Why? Give examples.
Countries that were once highly Homogeneous are now becoming Hetrogneous and are undergoing a rapid change
a) with the influx of people from other parts of the world.
b) Migrants bring with them their own culture and to form a different social community.
Q. How do social divisions affect politics?
The combination of politics & social divisions is very explosive and dangerous.
a) democracy involves competition among various political parties. Their competitions tend to divide society.
b) if they start competing in terms of some existing social divisions , they can make social divisions into political divisions and lead to conflict , violence or even disintegration of a country.
c)social divisions affect voting in most countries, people from one community tend to prefer one party more than others.
d)in many countries there are parties which focus only on one community.
--yet all this does not always lead to disintegration.

This has happened in many countries ---Examples(negative results)
1. As in the case of Northern Ireland, this region of UK has been for many years a sight of violence& bitter ethno- political conflict.
--Its population is divided into into two major sects of christianity: 53%--Protestants & 44%--Catholics.
--Catholics are represented by the Nationalist parties, who wanted Northern Ireland to be united with the Republic of Ireland, predominantly catholic.
--Protestants are represented by the Unionist who wanted to remain with UK.
--hundreds of civilians and militants were killed in the fight of political parties till 1998, the UK govt. & the Nationalists reached a peace treaty after which the latter suspended the armed struggle.
2. In Yugoslavia the political competition along religious and ethnic lines led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia into six independent countries.
--such examples lead some people to think that politics & social divisions should not be allowed to mix; if social divisions exists in a country they must never be expressed in politics.
Every expression of social division in politics does not lead to disasters. Social divisions of some or the other kind do exist in every society of the world and are reflected in politics.
--in a democracy it is only natural that political parties talk of these divisions, make different promises to different communities, look after their representation and policies to redress the grievances of disadvantaged communities.
There are three factors which are crucial in deciding the outcome of politics of social divisions.
1. Outcome depends upon how people perceive their identities. If they see their identities in singular and exclusive terms it becomes very difficult to accommodate. As in India we think of ourselves as Indians as well as belonging to a state or a language group or a social or religious community.
2. It depends on how political leaders raise the demands of a ny community. It is easier to accommodate demands that are within the constitutional framework and are not at the cost of another community.
Example –the demand for only Sinhala was at the cost of the interest and identity of Tamil community in Srilanka; in Yugoslavia also the ethnic communities presented their demands in such a way that these could not be accommodated with in a single country.
3. It depends on how the govt. reacts to the demands of different groups. Example—In Belgium and Srilanka if the rulers are willing to share power & accommodate the reasonable demands of minority community, social divisions become less threatening for the country. But if they suppress such a demand in the name of national unity, the end result can be quite opposite & such a forced integration can sow the seeds of disintegration.
In a democracy political expression of the social divisions is very normal and can be healthy as….
--It allows various disadvantaged and marginal social groups to express their grievances and get govt. to attend to these.
--The expression of various kinds of social divisions in politics often result in cancelling one another out and thus reducing their intensity. This leads to strengthening of a democracy.
--People who feel marginalized, deprived and discriminated have to fight against the injustices and such fights often takes the democratic path, voicing their demands in a peaceful & constitutional manner and seeking a fair position through the elections.
--sometimes these social differences can take a form of the unacceptable level of social inequality and injustice. The struggle against such inequalities sometimes take the path of violence and defiance of state power.

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