Sailaja N. Joshi

The engine of social change

In India, Marxist Ideology, Social Change, Women in Society on March 10, 2010 at 9:22 am

Karl Marx believed that conflict is the engine that drives social change and that societies are shaped by a struggle between classes.  As I read this morning’s New York Times I found a wonderful article that helps to demonstrate Marx’s ideology.

On Tuesday, the upper house of India’s Parliament passed a bill that would amend the Constitution to reserve one-third of the seats in India’s national and state legislatures for women. The vote itself is still in the early processes of being approved, however the motion has nonetheless created conflict within the Government and supporting parties.

Aside from the legal ramification of this motion, which is outlined in the New York Times article, there are several social consequences as well.  First the initial passing of this motion calls attention to the lack of minority representation within the Indian Government. This conflict, as Marx would call it, singles out the fact that those in minority have become class conscious, and thus demanding of equal rights.

In becoming class conscious, a group of people (in this case women) recognize themselves as a class unified ‘against’ a particular party. Marx theorized that by unifying themselves, they would eventually be able to overthrow the bourgeoisie.

While the Indian Parliament is not suggesting a take over by any single class, it does find it necessary to ensure that there is ‘equal’ representation in the government. The fact that the Government sees a need for this ‘equal’ representation demonstrates that they are aware of an existing inequality.  Because of this awareness of inequality, they are already steps ahead of other societies in ensuring there is some sense of ‘equal’ representation in government.

Though this motion is not revolutionary, it certainly is a way in which to mediate some class issues. As Marx said, conflict is the engine that drives social change and this motion has certainly created the necessary conflict to drive that social change. Perhaps through this motion, other struggling classes in India will have an opportunity to seek representation within the  government, thus furthering social change.

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