NCERT Class 9 Political Science Constitutional Design
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3.1 DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUTION IN SOUTH AFRICA
“I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
This was Nelson Mandela, being tried for treason by the white South African government. He and seven other leaders were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 for daring to oppose the apartheid regime in his country. He spent the next 28 years in South Africa’s most dreaded prison, Robben Island. Struggle against apartheid Apartheid was the name of a system of racial discrimination unique to South Africa. The white Europeans imposed this system on South Africa. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the trading companies from Europe occupied it with arms and force, in the way they occupied India. But unlike India, a large number of ‘whites’ had settled in South Africa and became the local rulers. The system of apartheid divided the people and labelled them on the basis of their skin colour. The native people of South Africa are black in colour. They made up about three-fourth of the population and were called ‘blacks’. Besides these two groups, there were people of mixed races who were called ‘coloured’ and people who migrated from India. The white rulers treated all nonwhites as inferiors. The non-whites did not have voting rights.
The apartheid system was particularly oppressive for the blacks. They were forbidden from living in white areas. They could work in white areas only if they had a permit. Trains, buses, taxis, hotels, hospitals, schools and colleges, libraries, cinema halls, theatres, beaches, swimming pools public toilets, were all separate for the whites and blacks. This was called segregation. They could not even visit the churches where the whites worshipped. Blacks could not form associations or protest against the terrible treatment. Since 1950, the blacks, coloured and Indians fought against the apartheid system. They launched protest marches and strikes. The African National Congress (ANC) was the umbrella organisation that led the struggle against the policies of segregation. This included many workers’ unions and the Communist Party. Many sensitive whites also joined the ANC to oppose apartheid and played a leading role in this struggle. Several countries denounced apartheid as unjust and racist. But the white racist government continued to rule by detaining, torturing and killing thousands of black and coloured people.
1 Here are some false statements. Identify the mistake in each case and rewrite these correctly based on what you have read in this chapter.
a. Leaders of the freedom movement had an open mind about whether the country should be democratic or not after independence.
b. Members of the Constituent Assembly of India held the same views on all provisions of the Constitution.
c. A country that has a constitution must be a democracy.
d .Constitution cannot be amended because it is the supreme law of a country.
2 Which of these was the most salient underlying conflict in the making of a democratic constitution in South Africa:
a Between South Africa and its neighbours
b Between men and women
c Between the white majority and the black minority
d Between the coloured minority and the black majority
3 Which of these is a provision that a democratic constitution does not have?
a Powers of the head of the state
b Name of the head of the state
c Powers of the legislature
d Name of the country
4 Match the following leaders with their roles in the making of the Constitution:
a Motilal Nehru i President of the Constituent Assembly
b B.R. Ambedkar ii Member of the Constituent Assembly
c Rajendra Prasad iii Chairman of the Drafting Committee
d Sarojini Naidu iv Prepared a Constitution for India in 1928
5 Read again the extracts from Nehru’s speech ‘Tryst with Destiny’ and answer the following:
a Why did Nehru use the expression “not wholly or in full measure” in the first sentence?
b What pledge did he want the makers of the Indian Constitution to take?
c “The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye”. Who was he referring to?
6 Here are some of the guiding values of the Constitution and their meaning. Rewrite them by matching them correctly.
a Sovereign i Government will not favour any religion
b Republic ii People have the supreme right to make decisions.
b Fraternity iii Head of the state is an elected person
c Secular iv People should live like brothers and sisters
7 A friend from Nepal has written you a letter describing the political exercises situation there. Many political parties are opposing the rule of the king. Some of them say that the existing constitution given by the monarch can be amended to allow more powers to elected representatives. Others are demanding a new Constituent Assembly to write a republican constitution. Reply to your friend giving your opinions on the subject.
8 Here are different opinions about what made India a democracy. How much importance would you give to each of these factors?
a Democracy in India is a gift of the British rulers. We received training to work with representative legislative institutions under the British rule.
b Freedom Struggle challenged the colonial exploitation and denial of different freedoms to Indians. Free India could not be anything but democratic.
c We were lucky to have leaders who had democratic convictions. The denial of democracy in several other newly independent countries shows the important role of these leaders.
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