Gender, Religion and Caste Class 10 Notes NCERT and MCQs

23-08-2023 17:14 PM IST Priyanka Chaudhary

In the previous chapter, you would have studied regarding the existence of social diversity. This chapter discusses social diversity in terms of gender, religion and caste and their relationship with democracy.

Important Terms

  • Sexual division of labour: A system in which all work inside the home is either done by the women of the family, or organised by them through the domestic helpers.
  • Feminist: A woman or a man who believes in equal rights and opportunities for women and men.
  • Patriarchy: Literally, rule by father, this concept is used to refer to a system that values men more and gives them power over women.
  • Family laws: Those laws that deal with family related matters such as marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, etc. In our country, different family laws apply to followers of different religions.
  • Urbanisation: Shift of population from rural areas to urban areas.
  • Occupational mobility: Shift from one occupation to another, usually when a new generation takes up occupations other than those practiced by their ancestors.
  • Caste hierarchy: A ladder like formation in which all the caste groups are placed from the ‘highest’ to the ‘lowest’ castes.

Division on basis of gender

  • Majority of women do some sort of paid work in addition to domestic labour. But their work is not valued and does not get recognition.
  • Although women constitute half of the humanity, their role in public life, especially politics, is minimal in most societies.
  • The literacy rate among women is only 54 percent compared with 76 percent among men.
  • A smaller proportion of girl students go for higher studies. Even though girls perform as well as boys, if not better in some places, they drop out because parents prefer to spend their resources for their boys’ education rather than spending equally on their sons and daughters.
  • On an average, an Indian woman works one hour more than an average man every day. Yet much of her work is not paid and therefore often not valued.
  • The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 provides that equal wages should be paid for equal work. However, in almost all areas of work, from sports and cinema to factories and fields, women are paid less than men, even when both do exactly the same work.
  • In many parts of India, parents prefer to have sons and find ways to have the girl child aborted before she is born. Such sex-selective abortion led to a decline in child sex ratio (number of girl children per thousand boys) in the country to merely 919.

Women’s political representation

  • In India, the proportion of women in the legislature has been very low.
  • The percentage of elected women members in Lok Sabha has touched 14.36 percent of its total strength for the first time in 2019. Their share in the state assemblies is less than 5 percent.
  • In this respect, India is among the bottom group of nations in the world.
  • However, one-third of seats in local government bodies – in panchayats and municipalities – are now reserved for women after the introduction of 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts. Now there are more than 10 lakh elected women representatives in rural and urban local bodies.
  • A similar reservation of at least one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies is being demanded for women. A bill with this proposal has been pending before the Parliament for more than a decade.

Division on basis of religion and communalism

Mahatma Gandhi believed that politics must be guided by ethics drawn from religion.

Human rights groups in our country have argued that most of the victims of communal riots in our country are people from religious minorities.

Women’s movement has argued that of all religions family laws discriminate against women. So, they have demanded that government should change these laws to make them more equitable.


  • Communal politics is based on the idea that religion is the principal basis of social community.
  • The followers of a particular religion must belong to one community as their fundamental interests are the same.
  • People who follow different religions cannot belong to the same social community or else their interests are bound to be different and involve a conflict.
  • In its extreme form, communalism leads to the belief that people belonging to different religions cannot live as equal citizens within one nation. Either one of them has to dominate the rest or they have to form different nations.
  • Communalism can take various forms in politics:
    • The most common expression of communalism is in everyday beliefs. These routinely involve religious prejudices, stereotypes of religious communities and belief in the superiority of one’s religion over other religions.
    • A communal mind often leads to a quest for political dominance of one’s own religious community. It may be in the form of majoritarian dominance or the desire to form a separate political unit.
    • Political mobilisation on religious lines is another frequent form of communalism.
    • Sometimes communalism takes its most ugly form of communal violence, riots and massacre.

Secularism in India

The Constitution defines India as a secular state and lays down the following provisions for ensuring it:

  • There is no official religion in the Indian state.
  • The Constitution provides to all individuals and communities freedom to profess, practice and propagate any religion, or not to follow any.
  • The Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion.
  • The Constitution allows the state to intervene in matters of religion in order to ensure equality within religious communities. For example, it banned untouchability (Article 17).

Division on the basis of caste

  • Caste system was based on exclusion of and discrimination against the ‘outcaste’ groups. They were subjected to the inhuman practice of untouchability.
  • Many political leaders and social reformers like Jotiba Phule, Gandhiji, B.R. Ambedkar and Periyar Ramaswami Naicker advocated and worked to establish a society in which caste inequalities are absent.
  • With economic development, large scale urbanisation, growth of literacy and education, occupational mobility and the weakening of the position of landlords in the villages, the old notions of caste hierarchy are breaking down.
  • The Constitution of India prohibited any caste-based discrimination and laid the foundations of policies to reverse the injustices of the caste system.
  • Yet caste has not disappeared from contemporary India.
  • Untouchability has not ended completely, despite constitutional prohibition. Effects of centuries of advantages and disadvantages continue to be felt today.
  • There is a disproportionately large presence of ‘upper caste’ among the urban middle classes in our country.

Caste in politics

Caste can take various forms in politics:

  • When parties choose candidates in elections, they keep in mind the caste composition of the electorate and nominate candidates from different castes so as to muster necessary support to win elections.
  • Political parties and candidates in elections make appeals to caste sentiment to gather support. Some political parties are known to favour some castes and are seen as their representatives.
  • Universal adult franchise and the principle of one-person-one-vote compelled political leaders to gear up to the task of mobilising and securing political support. It also brought new consciousness among the people of castes that were hitherto treated as inferior and low.

Politics in caste

Politics too influence the caste system and caste identities by bringing them into the political arena.

  • Each caste group tries to become bigger by incorporating within it neighbouring castes or sub-castes which were earlier excluded from it.
  • Various caste groups are required to enter into a coalition with other castes or communities and thus enter into a dialogue and negotiation.
  • New kinds of caste groups have come up in the political arena like ‘backward’ and ‘forward’ caste groups.
  • In some situations, expression of caste differences in politics gives many disadvantaged communities the space to demand their share of power.
  • At the same time exclusive attention to caste can produce negative results as well by diverting attention from other pressing issues like poverty, development and corruption.

MCQs based on NCERT Class 10 Political Science Chapter 4: Gender, Religion and Caste

1. Gender Divisions refer to -

a. Biological difference between men and women

b. Unequal roles assigned by the society to men and women

c. Unequal Child Sex ratio

d. Absence of voting rights for women in democracies

Ans. b


Gender Division refers to unequal roles assigned by the society to men and women. As a consequence of unfair gender division, one can observe unequal child sex ratio, absence of voting rights for women in a country.

2. In India seats are reserved for women in  

a. Lok Sabha

b. State legislative assemblies

c. Cabinets

d. Panchayati Raj bodies

Ans. d


With the introduction of 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, the one-third of the total seats were reserved for women in Panchayats and Municipalities.

3. Communalism is based on the belief that:

A. One religion is superior to that of others.

B. People belonging to different religions can live together happily as equal citizens.

C. Followers of a particular religion constitute one community.

D. State power cannot be used to establish the domination of one religious group over others.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a. A, B, C and D

b. A, B and D

c. A and C

d. B and D

Ans. c


Communalism refers to the belief that one religion is superior to that of others and the followers of a particular religion constitute one community. The people belonging to same religious group can live together happily.

4. Which among the following statements about India’s Constitution is wrong? It

a. Prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion

b. Gives official status to one religion

c. Provides to all individual freedom to profess any religion

d. Ensures equality of citizens within religious communities

Ans. b


Indian Constitution follows Secularism and hence, has not given official status to one religion. The Indian Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, provides to all individuals freedom to profess any religion and ensures equality of citizens within religious communities.

5. Social divisions based on _____ are peculiar to India.

a. Religion

b. Gender

c. Place of Birth

d. Caste

Ans. d


Social divisions based on caste are peculiar to India.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gender, Religion and Caste

What is communalism?

Communalism is an ideology to unify a particular community. It is based on the belief that one religion is superior to another.

Who is a feminist?

A feminist is a person who believes in equal rights and opportunities for women and men.

Who is a castiest?

A Castiest is a person who thinks that caste is the principal basis of community.

What is Apartheid?

It was a system of institutional racial segregation that existed in South Africa and South West Africa from 1948 to 1990s.


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