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Ecosystem: It is a system formed by the interaction of all living organisms with each other and with the physical and chemical factors of the environment in which they live, all linked by transfer of energy and material.

Barter System: It is a trade in which goods are exchanged without the use of money.

Fossils: The remains of the dead plants and animals trapped in the layers of rocks are called fossils.

Lithospheric plates: The earth’s crust consists of several large and some small, rigid, irregularlyshaped plates (slabs) which carry continents and the ocean floor.

Terrarium: It is an artificial enclosure for keeping small house plants.

Transhumance: It is a seasonal movement of people. People who rear animals move in search of new pastures according to changes in seasons.

Tributaries: These are small rivers that join the main river. The main river along with all its tributaries that drain an area form a river basin or the catchment area. The Amazon Basin is the largest river basin in the world.

Population density: It means the number of persons that live in one sq. km. of area e.g. the population density of Uttaranchal is 159 while the density of West Bengal is 904 and that of Bihar is 880.

Combine: A machine which can sow, plough and work as thresher all by itself.

Desert: It is an arid region characteriesed by extremely high or low temperatures and has scarce vegetation.

Universal adult franchise: This is a very important aspect of democratic societies. It means that all adult those who are 18 and above) citizens have the right to vote irrespective of their social or economic backgrounds.

Dignity: This refers to thinking of oneself and other persons as worthy of respect.

Constitution: This is a document that lays down the basic rules and regulations for people and the government in the country to follow.

Civil Rights Movement: A movement that began in USA in 1950s in which African–American people demanded equal rights and an end to racial discrimination.

Public: An activity or service that is meant for all people in the country and is mainly organised by the government. This includes schools, hospitals, telephone services, etc. People can demand these services and also raise questions about their non-functioning.

Private: An activity or service that is organised by an individual or company for their own profit.

Medical tourists: This refers to foreigners who come to this country specifically for medical treatment at hospitals that offer world–class facilities at a lower cost than what they would have to pay in their own countries.

Communicable diseases: These are diseases that are spread from one person to another in many ways such as through water, food , air, etc.

OPD: This is the short form for ‘Out Patient Department’. This is where people are first brought in and treated in a hospital without being admitted to any special ward.

Constituency: A particular area from which all the voters living there choose their representatives. This could be, for example, a panchayat ward or an area that chooses an MLA.

Majority: This is a situation when more than half the number in a group supports a decision or an idea. This is also called a simple majority.

Opposition: This refers to elected representatives who are not members of the ruling party and who play the role of questioning government decisions and actions as well as raise new issues for consideration in the Assembly.

Press Conference: A gathering of journalists from the media who are invited to hear about and ask questions on a particular issue and are then expected to report on this to the larger public.

Identity: Identity is a sense of self-awareness of who one is. Typically, a person can have several identities. For example, a person can be a girl, a sister and a musician.


Double-burden: Literally means a double load. This term is commonly used to describe the women’s work situation. It has emerged from a recognition that women typically labour both inside the home (housework) and outside.

Care-giving: Care-giving refers to a range of tasks related to looking after and nurturing. Besides physical tasks, they also involve a strong emotional aspect.

De-valued: When someone is not given due recognition for a task or job they have done, they can feel de- valued. For example, if a boy has put in a lot of effort into making a special birthday gift for his friend and this friend does not say anything about this, then the boy may feel de-valued.

Stereotype: When we believe that people belonging to particular groups based on religion, wealth, language are bound to have certain fixed characteristics or can only do a certain type of work, we create a stereotype. For example, in this chapter, we saw how boys and girls are made to take certain subjects not because he or she has an aptitude for it, but because they are either boys or girls. Stereotypes prevent us from looking at people as unique individuals.

Discrimination: When we do not treat people equally or with respect we are indulging in discrimination. It happens when people or organisations act on their prejudices. Discrimination usually takes place when we treat some one differently or make a distinction.

Violation: When someone forcefully breaks the law or a rule or openly shows disrespect, we can say that he or she has committed a violation.

Sexual harassment: This refers to physical or verbal behaviour that is of a sexual nature and against the wishes of a woman.

Publish: This refers to newsreports, articles, interviews, stories, etc., that are printed in newspapers, magazines and books for a wide audience to read.

Censorship: This refers to the powers that government has to disallow media from publishing or showing certain stories.

Broadcast: In this chapter this word is used to refer to a TV or radio programme that is widely transmitted.

Public protest: When a large number of people come together and openly state their opposition to some issue. Organising a rally, starting a signature campaign, blocking roads etc. are some of the ways in which this is done.

Product: This refers to a thing or service that has been made for being sold in the market.

Consumer: This refers to the person for whom the goods or products have been made and who pays money to buy and use them.

Brand: This refers to a special identification or name that is associated with a product. Such identification is created through the process of advertising.

To influence: This refers to the power to change what someone believes or does.

Lifestyle: In this chapter, this word refers to people’s lives being identified by the products they own, the clothes they wear, the places they eat in, etc.

Weekly market: These markets are not daily markets but are to be found at a particular place on one or maybe two days of the week. These markets most often sell everything that a household needs ranging from vegetables to clothes to utensils.

Mall: This is an enclosed shopping space. This is usually a large building with many floors that has shops, restaurants and, at times, even a cinema theatre. These shops most often sell branded products.

Wholesale: This refers to buying and selling in large quantities. Most products, including vegetables, fruits and flowers have special wholesale markets.

Chain of markets: A series of markets that are connected like links in a chain because products pass from one market to another.

Ginning mill: A factory where seeds are removed from cotton bolls. The cotton is pressed into bales to be sent for spinning into thread.

Exporter: A person who sells goods abroad.

Profit: The amount that is left or gained from earnings after deducting all the costs. If the costs are more than the earnings, it would lead to a loss.

Patent: It means the exclusive right over any idea or invention.

Technology: It is the application of latest knowledge and skill in doing or making things.


Stock of Resource: It is the amount of resources available for use.

Sustainable Development Carefully utilizing resources so that besides meeting the requirements of the present, also takes care of future generations.

Weathering The breaking up and decay of exposed rocks, by temperature changes, frost action, plants, animals and man.

National Park A natural area designated to protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for present and future generations

Biosphere reserves Series of protected areas linked through a global network, intended to demonstrate the relationship between conservation and development.

Smelting It is the process in which metals are extracted from their ores by heating beyond the melting point

Life expectancy It is the number of years that an average person can expect to live.

Immigration When a person enters a new country.

Emigration When a person leaves a country.

Arbitrary: When nothing is fixed and is instead left to one’s judgment or choice. Thiscan be used to refer to rules that are not fixed, or decisions that have no basis etc.

Ideal: A goal or a principle in its most excellent or perfect form.

Indian national movement: The Indian national movement emerged in nineteenth century India and saw thousands of men and women coming together to fight British rule. This culminated in India’s independence in 1947. You will learn about this in greater detail in your history textbook this year.

Polity: A society that has an organised political structure. India is a democratic polity.

Sovereign: In the context of this chapter it refers to an independent people.

Trafficking: The practice of the illegal buying and selling of different commodities across national borders. In the context of Fundamental Rights discussed in this chapter, it refers to illegal trade in human beings, particularly women and children.

Tyranny: The cruel and unjust use of power or authority.

Coercion: To force someone to do something. In the context of this chapter, it refers to the force used by a legal authority like the State.

Freedom to interpret: The independence that all persons shall have to understand things in their own way. In the context of this chapter, it refers to a person’s liberty to develop their own understanding and meaning of the religion they practice.

Intervene: In the context of this chapter, it refers to the State’s efforts to influence a particular matter in accordance with the principles of the Constitution.

Approval: To give one’s consent to and be favourable towards something. In the context of this chapter, it refers both to the formal consent (through elected representatives) that Parliament has as well as the fact that it needs to continue to enjoy the people’s trust.

Coalition: A temporary alliance of groups or parties. In this chapter, it refers to the alliance formed by political parties after elections when no party has been able to get adequate seats to form a clear majority.

Unresolved: Situations in which there are no easy solutions to problems.

Criticise: To find fault with or disapprove of a person or thing. In the context of this chapter, it refers to citizens finding fault with the functioning of government.

Evolution: Process of development from a simple to a complex form and is often used to discuss the development of a species of plants or animals. In the context of this chapter it refers to the way in which protecting women against domestic violence developed from an urgently-felt need to a new law that can be enforced throughout the country.

Sedition: This applies to anything that the government might consider as stirring up resistance or rebellion against it. In such cases, the government does not need absolute evidence in order to arrest persons. Under the Sedition Act of 1870, the British had a very broad interpretation of what constituted sedition, and what this meant was that they could arrest and detain any person they wanted under this Act. The nationalists considered this law arbitrary because persons were arrested for a variety of reasons that were seldom clarified beforehand as well as because those arrested were often kept in jail without a trial.


Repressive: To control severely in order to prevent free and natural development or xpression. In the context of this chapter it refers to laws that brutally control persons and often prevent them from exercising their Fundamental Rights including Right to Speech and Assembly.

Acquit: This refers to the court declaring that a person is not guilty of the crime which he/she was tried for by the court.

To Appeal: In the context of this chapter this refers to a petition filed before a higher court to hear a case that has already been decided by a lower court.

Compensation: In the context of this chapter this refers to money given to make amends for an injury or a loss.

Eviction: In the context of this chapter this refers to the removal of persons from land/ homes that they are currently living in.

Violation: In the context of this chapter it refers both to the act of breaking a law as well as to the breach or infringement of Fundamental Rights.

Accused: In the context of this chapter this refers to the person who is tried by a court for a crime.

Cognizable: In the context of this chapter this refers to an offence for which the police may arrest a person without the permission of the court.

Cross-examine: In the context of this chapter this refers to the questioning of a witness who has already been examined by the opposing side in order to determine the veracity of his/her testimony.

Detention: In the context of this chapter this refers to the act of being kept in illegal custody by the police.

Impartial: The act of being fair or just and not favouring one side over another.

Offence: Any act that the law defines as a crime.

To be charged of a crime: This refers to the trial judge informing the accused, in writing, of the offence for which he/she will face trial.

Witness: In the context of this chapter this refers to the person who is called upon in court to provide a first-hand account of what he/she has seen, heard or knows.

Hierarchy: A graded system or arrangement of persons or things. Usually persons at the bottom of the hierarchy are those who have the least power. The caste system is a hierarchical system and Dalits are considered to be at the lowest end.

Ghettoisation: A ghetto is an area or locality that is populated largely by members of a particular community. Ghettoisation refers to the process that leads to such a situation. This may occur due to various social, cultural and economic reasons. Fear or hostility may also compel a community to group together as they feel more secure living amongst their own. Often a ‘ghettoised’ community has few options of moving out, which may lead to them becoming alienated from the rest of the society.

Mainstream: Literally this refers to the main current of a river or stream. In this chapter it is used to refer to a cultural context in which the customs and practices that are followed are those of the dominant community. In connection with this, mainstream is also used to refer to those people or communities that are considered to be at the centre of a society, i.e. often the powerful or dominant group.

Displaced: In the context of this chapter this refers to people who are forced or compelled to move from their homes for big development projects including dams, mining etc.

Militarised: An area where the presence of the armed forces is considerable.

Malnourished: A person who does not get adequate nutrition or food.

Assertive: An assertive person or group is one that can express themselves and their views strongly.

Confront: To come face to face or to challenge someone or something. In the context of this chapter, this refers to groups challenging their marginalisation.

Dispossessed: To possess is to own something and to be dispossessed is to have to give up ownership or to give up authority.

Ostracise: This means to exclude or banish an individual or a group. In the context of this chapter, it refers to a social boycott of an individual and his family.

Morally reprehensible: This refers to an act that violates all norms of decency and dignity that a society believes in. It usually refers to a hideous and repugnant act that goes against all the values that a society has accepted.


Policy: A stated course of action that provides direction for the future, sets goals to be achieved or lays out principles or guidelines to be followed and acted upon. In this chapter, we have referred to government policies. But other institutions like schools, companies, etc. also have policies.

Sanitation: Provision of facilities for the safe disposal of human urine and faeces. This is done by construction of toilets and pipes to carry the sewerage and treatment of waste water. This is necessary so as to avoid contamination.

Company: A company is a form of business set up by people or by the government. Those that are promoted and owned by individuals or groups are called private companies. For example, Tata Steel is a private company whereas Indian Oil is a company run by the government.

Universal access: Universal access is achieved when everyone has physical access to a good and can also afford it. For instance, a tap connection at home will allow physical access to water, and if the price of water is low or is provided free, everyone will be able to afford it.

Basic needs: Primary requirements of food, water, shelter, sanitation, healthcare and education necessary for survival.

Consumer: An individual who buys goods for personal use and not for resale.

Producer: A person or organisation that produces goods for sale in the market. At times, the producer keeps a part of the produce for his own use, like a farmer.

Investment: Money spent to purchase new machinery or buildings or training so as to be able to increase/ modernise production in the future.

Workers’ unions: An association of workers. Workers’ unions are common in factories and offices, but might be also found among other types of workers, say domestic workers’ unions. The leaders of the union bargain and negotiate with the employer on behalf of its members. The issues include wages, work rules, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits and workplace safety.

Mercantile – A business enterprise that makes profit primarily through trade, buying goods cheap and selling them at higher prices

Mahal – In British revenue records mahal is a revenue estate which may be a village or a group of villages.

Plantation – A large farm operated by a planter employing various forms of forced labour. Plantations are associated with the production of coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, tea and cotton.

Slave – A person who is owned by someone else – the slave owner. A slave has no freedom and is compelled to work for the master.

Bigha – A unit of measurement of land. Before British rule, the size of this area varied. In Bengal the British standardised it to about one-third of an acre.

Fallow – A field left uncultivated for a while so that the soil recovers fertility

Mutiny – When soldiers as a group disobey their officers in the army

Firangis – Foreigners The term reflects an attitude of contempt.

Presidency – For administrative purposes, colonial India was divided into three “Presidencies” (Bombay, Madras and Bengal), which developed from the East India Company’s “factories” (trading posts) at Surat, Madras and Calcutta.

Urbanisation – The process by which more and more people begin to reside in towns and cities

Dargah – The tomb of a Sufi saint

Khanqah – A sufi lodge, often used as a rest house for travellers and place where people come to discuss spiritual matters, get the blessings of saints, and hear sufi music

Idgah – An open prayer place of Muslims primarily meant for id prayers

Cul-de-sac – Street with a dead end

Gulfaroshan – A festival of flowers

Renaissance – Literally, rebirth of art and learning. It is a term often used to describe a time when there is great creative activity.

Spinning Jenny – A machine by which a single worker could operate several spindles on to which thread was spun. When the wheel was turned all the spindles rotated.

Aurang – A Persian term for a warehouse – a place where goods are collected before being sold; also refers to a workshop


Smelting – The process of obtaining a metal from rock (or soil) by heating it to a very high temperature, or of melting objects made from metal in order to use the metal to make something new

Bellows – A device or equipment that can pump air

Slag heaps – The waste left when smelting metal

Linguist – Someone who knows and studies several languages

Madrasa – An Arabic word for a place of learning; any type of school or college

Orientalists – Those with a scholarly knowledge of the language and culture of Asia

Munshi – A person who can read, write and teach Persian

Vernacular – A term generally used to refer to a local language or dialect as distinct from what is seen as the standard language. In colonial countries like India, the British used the term to mark the difference between the local languages of everyday use and English – the language of the imperial masters.

Convention – An accepted norm or style

Engraving – A picture printed onto paper from a piece of wood or metal into which the design or drawing has been cut

Portrait – A picture of a person in which the face and its expression is prominent

Portraiture – The art of making portraits

Commission – To formally choose someone to do a special piece of work usually against payment

Sovereign – The capacityto act independently without outside interference

by circulating information, writing reports, speaking at

Publicist – Someonewho publicises an idea


Repeal – To undo law; to officially end the validity of something such as a law

Revolutionary violence The use of violence to make a radical change within society

Council – An appointed or elected body of people with an administrative, advisory or representative function

Knighthood – An honour granted by the British Crown for exceptional

personal achievement or public


Picket – People protesting outside a building or shop to prevent others from entering

Mahants – Religious functionaries of Sikh gurdwaras

Illegal eviction – Forcible and unlawful throwing out of tenants from the land they rent

Provincial autonomy Capacity of the provinces to make relatively independent decisions while remaining within a federation

General”constituencies Election districts with no reservations for any religious or other community

Franchise – The right to Vote

Linguistic – Relating to Language

State – Concerned with he government. (Note that used in this sense, the word does not refer to the different states which are found in a country.)

Gondwanaland: It is the southern part of the ancient super continent Pangea with Angara Land in the northern part.

Adolescence : Adolescence is a period in which a person is no longer a child and not yet an adult. Such persons are grouped in the age group of 10 to 19 years.

Alluvial plain : A level tract of land made up of alluvium or fine rock material brought down by a river.

Base population : The total population of an area at the beginning of a given time period.

Biome : Plant communities occuring in distinct groups in areas having similar climatic conditions.

Birth rate : The number of live births for every 1000 persons in a year.

Climate : The average weathr conditions of a sizeable area of the Earth’s surface over a period of time.

Depression : In meteorology; it denotes an area of relatively low atmospheric pressure, which is found mainly in temperate regions. In geology, it refers to a hollow sunken area of the earth’s surface.

Death rate : The number of deaths per 1000 persons in year.

Density of population : The average number of persons per unit area, such as a square kilometre.

Dependency ratio : The ratio of people of dependent age (below 15 and above 60 years) to people of economically active ages (15-59 years).


Ecosystem : A system which comprises the physical environment and the organisms living therein.

Environment : Surroundings or the conditions under which a person or thing exists and develops his or its character. It covers both physical and cultural elements.

Fault : A linear break in rocks of the earth’s crust along which there has been displacement in a horizontal, vertical or oblique direction.

Fauna : The animal life of a given area.

Flora : The total vegetatin or plant cover of a region.

Fold : A bend in the rock strata resulting from compression of an area of the earth’s crust.

Geosyncline : A narrow, shallow, elongated basin with a sinking bottom in which a considerable thickness of sediments was deposited by the rivers coming from Angara and Gondwanaland.

Glacier : A mass of snow and ice that moves slowly under the influence of gravity along a confined course away from its place of accumulation.

Growth rate of population : The growth rate of population indicates the rate at which the population is grwing. In estimating the growth rate the increase in population is compared with the base population. It can be measured annually or over a decade.

Indian Mainland : It refers to the contiguous stretch of landmass from Jammu and Kashmir to Kanniyakumari and from Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh.

Indian Standard Time : The local time along the Standard Meridian of India (82°30'E).

Inland drainage : A drainage system in which the waters of the rivers do not reach the oceans but fall into an inland sea or lake.

Igneous rocks : Rocks formed as a result of solidification of magma either below the earth’s surface or above it.

Lagoon : A salt-water lake separated from the sea by the sandbars and spits.

Lake : A body of water that lies in a hollow in the earht’s surface and is entirely surrounded by land.

Lithospheric Plates : Large segments of the earth’s crust composed of continental and oceanic lithospheric parts, floating above the asthenosphere.

Life expectancy : The average number of years one is expected to live.

Local Time : The time of a place determined by the midday sun is called the local time.

Metamorphic rocks : Deformation and alteration of pre-existing igneous and sedimentary rocks as a result of changes in physical and chemical conditions due to intense heat or pressure.

Migration : Movement of people from one place to another. Internal migration means movement of people within a country and external migration means movement of people between countries. When people come to a country from another country, it is called immigration and when they leave that contry, it is called emigration.

Million Plus cities : Cities with a population of more than one million or 10 lakh.

Monsson : A complete reversal of winds over a large area leading to a change of seasons.

Mountain : An upward projected features of the earth’s surface that rises to high altitude and usually possesses steep slopes.

National park : A reserved area for preserving its natural vegetaion, wild life and the natural environment.

Plain : An extensive area of flat or gently undulating land.

Plateau : An extensive elevated area of relatively flat land.

Plate Tectonics : The scientific concept that explains the movements of the crustal plates.

Relief : The differences in elevation or the physical outline of the land surface or ocean floor.

Subsidence : In meteorology, it is the downward movement of the air. In geology, it refers to the sinking of a portion of the earth’s surface.

Sedimentary rocks : Rocks composed of sediments and generally having a layered structure.

Sex-ratio : Sex-ratio is defined as the number of females per thousands males.

Sub-Continent : A big landmass, which stands out as a distinct geographicl unit from the rest of the continent.

Tectonic : Forces originating within the earth and responsible for bringing widespread changes in the landform features.


Young mountains : The fold mountains formed during the most recent major phase of folding in the earth’s curst.

Anticline: A fold in sedimentary strata that resembles an arch.

Gross Domestic Product: It is a monetary measure of the value of goods and services produced within a natural economy at a given period of time. Normally it is one year.

Geologist: A scientist who studies the composition, structure and history of the earth.

Geothermal Gradient: The gradual increase in temperature with depth in the crust. The average is 30°C per kilometer in the upper crust.

Humus: Dead and decayed organic matter adds to the fertility of the top soil.

Igneous Rocks: Rocks which have solidified from molten magma.

Manganese Nodules: A type of sediment scattered on the ocean floor, consisting mainly of manganese and iron, and usually containing small amounts of copper, nickel and cobalt.

Metamorphic Rocks: Rocks which were originally igneous or sedimentary, but have changed in character and appearance.

Oil Trap: A geological structure that allows for significant amounts of oil and gas to accumulate.

Rock: A consolidated mixture of minerals

Sedimentary Rocks: Rocks which have been deposited as beds and layers of sediments.

Censorship: A condition under which the freedom of expression is taken away. Citizens have to take prior permission from the censor authorities of the government for making a speech or publishing news and views. Anything that the government finds objectionable cannot be published.

Coalition: An alliance of people, associations, parties or nations. This alliance may be temporary or a matter of convenience.

Colony: Territory under the immediate political control of another state.

Communist state: A state governed by a communist party without allowing other parties to compete for power. The state controls all the big property and industry.

Coup: A coup d’état (pronounced ku de’ta), or simply a coup, is the sudden overthrow of a government illegally. It may or may not be violent in nature. The term is French for ‘a sudden blow or strike to a state’.

Martial law: A system of rules that takes effect when a military authority takes control of the normal administration of justice.

Political prisoners: Persons held in prison or otherwise detained, perhaps under house arrest, because a government considers their ideas, image or activities as a threat to the authority of the state. Often exaggerated or false cases are foisted on them and they are kept in detention without following normal law.

Referendum: A direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may be adoption of a new constitution, a law or a specific governmental policy.

Strike: Mass refusal by workers or employees to perform work due to certain grievances or because of demands not met. In most democratic countries the right to strike is legal.

Trade Union: An association of workers for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment.

Veto: The right of a person, party or nation to stop a certain decision or law. The word comes from Latin, which means ‘I forbid’. A veto gives unlimited power to stop a decision, but not to adopt one.

Apartheid: The official policy of racial separation and ill treatment of blacks followed by the government of South Africa between 1948 and 1989.

Clause: A distinct section of a document.

Constituent Assembly: An assembly of people’s representatives that writes a constitution for a country.

Constitution: Supreme law of a country, containing fundamental rules governing the politics and society in a country.

Constitutional amendment: A change in the constitution made by the supreme legislative body in a country.

Draft: A preliminary version of a legal document.

Philosophy: The most fundamental principles underlying one’s thought and actions.


Preamble: An introductory statement in a constitution which states the reasons and guiding values of the constitution.

Treason: The offence of attempting to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance.

Tryst: A meeting or meeting place that has been agreed upon.

Booth capturing: Supporters or hired musclemen of party or a candidate gain physical control of a polling booth and cast false votes by threatening everyone or by preventing genuine voters from reaching the polling booth.

Code of Conduct: A set of norms and guidelines to be followed by political parties and contesting candidates during election time.

Constituency: Voters in a geographical area who elect a representative to the legislative bodies.

Incumbent: The current holder of a political office. Usually the choice for the voters in elections is between the incumbent party or candidate and those who oppose them.

Level playing field: Condition in which all parties and candidates contesting in an election have equal opportunities to appeal for votes and to carry out election campaign.

Rigging: Fraud and malpractices indulged by a party or candidate to increase its votes. It includes stuffing ballot boxes by a few persons using the votes of others; recording multiple votes by the same person; and bribing or coercing polling officers to favour a candidate.

Turnout: The percentage of eligible voters who cast their votes in an election.

Coalition government: A government formed by an alliance of two or more political parties, usually when no single party enjoys majority support of the members in a legislature.

Executive: A body of persons having authority to initiate major policies, make decisions and implement them on the basis of the Constitution and laws of the country.

Government: A set of institutions that have the power to make, implement and interpret laws so as to ensure an orderly life. In its broad sense, government administers and supervises over citicens and resources of a country.

Judiciary: An institution empowered to administer justice and provide a mechanism for the resolution of legal disputes. All the courts in the country are collectively referred to as judiciary.

Legislature: An assembly of people’s representatives with the power to enact laws for a country. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures have authority to raise taxes and adopt the budget and other money bills.

Office Memorandum: A communication issued by an appropriate authority stating the policy or decision of the government. Political Institution: A set of procedures for regulating the conduct of government and political life in the country.

Reservations: A policy that declares some positions in government employment and educational institutions ‘reserved’ for people and communities who have been discriminated against, are disadvantaged and backward.

State: Political association occupying a definite territory, having an organised government and possessing power to make domestic and foreign

Policies. Governments may change, but the state continues. In common speech, the terms country, nation and state are used as synonyms.

Amnesty International: An international organisation of volunteers who campaign for human rights. This organisation brings out independent reports on the violation of human rights all over the world.

Claim: Demand for legal or moral entitlements a person makes on fellow citizens, society or the government.

Covenant: Promise made by individuals, groups or countries to uphold a rule or principle. It is legally binding on the signatories to the agreement or statement.

Dalit: A person who belongs to the castes which were considered low and not touchable by others. Dalits are also known by other names such as the Scheduled Castes, Depressed Classes etc.

Ethnic group: An ethnic group is a human population whose members usually identify with each other on the basis of a common ancestry. People of an ethnic group are united by cultural practices, religious beliefs and historical memories.


Traffic: Selling and buying of men, women or children for immoral purposes.

Summon: An order issued by a court asking a person to appear before it.

Writ: A formal document containing an order of the court to the government issued only by High Court or the Supreme Court.

Ethnic: A social division based on shared culture. People belonging to the same ethnic group believe in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of culture or both. They need not always have the same religion or nationality.

Majoritarianism: A belief that the majority community should be able to rule a country in whichever way it wants, by disregarding the wishes and needs of the minority.

Civil war: A violent conflict between opposing groups within a country that becomes so intense that it appears like a war.

Prudential: Based on prudence, or on careful calculation of gains and losses. Prudential decisions are usually contrasted with those decisions based purely on moral considerations.

Jurisdiction: The area over which someone has legal authority. The area may be defined in terms of geographical boundaries or in terms of certain kinds of subjects

Coalition government: A government formed by the coming together of at least two political parties. Usually partners in a coalition form a political alliance and adopt a common programme.

Civil Rights Movement in the USA (1954-1968) refers to a set of events and reform movements aimed at abolishing legal racial discrimination against African-Americans. Led by Martin Luther King Jr., this movement practiced non-violent methods of civil disobedience against racially discriminatory laws and practices.

African-American, Afro-American, Black American, or Black are the terms used to refer mainly to the descendants of Africans who were brought into America as slaves between the 17 th century and early 19 th century.

The Black Power movement emerged in 1966 and lasted till 1975, which was a more militant anti-racist movement, advocating even violence if necessary to end racism in the US.

Homeogenous society: A society that has similar kinds of people, especially where there are no significant ethnic differences.

Migrant: Anybody who shifts from one region or country to another region within a country or to another country, usually for work or other economic opportunities.

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.

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.

Maoists: Those communists who believe in the ideology of Mao, the leader of the Chinese revolution. They seek to overthrow the government through an armed revolution so as to establish the rule of the peasants and workers.

Partisan: A person who is strongly committed to a party, group or faction. Partisanship is marked by a tendency to take a side and inability to take a balanced view on an issue.

Defection: Changing party allegiance from the party on which a person got elected (to a legislative body) to a different party.

Affidavit: A signed document submitted to an officer, where a person makes a sworn statement regarding her personal information.