Political Science Class 12 Notes Chapter 16 Rise of Popular Movements

Nature of Popular Movements

  • The nature of popular movements can be simple as well as complex. Popular movements depict a very unusual form of collective action. From time to time many popular movements took place for protest. Here some novel tactics for protest are used.
  • Party Based Movements keep close association with political parties and follow their objectives and ideologies. Non-Party Movements do not keep association with any political parties and independent from specific ideologies.

Some Popular Movements
Some of the popular movements are discussed below

Chipko Movement

  • Chipko movement was an environmental movement to prevent cutting down of trees. It demanded that local communities should have control over their natural resources.
  • The movement began in some villages of Uttarakhand in early 1973 when the forest department refused permission to the villagers to fell ash trees for making agricultural tools.
  • Issues of ecological and economic exploitation of the region were raised. Women’s active participation was the most novel aspect of the movement.

Movements of Dalit Panthers

  • Dalit Panthers was a militant organisation of the Dalit youth which was formed in Maharashtra in 1972.
  • Their activities were mostly centred around fighting against increased atrocities on Dalits in various parts of the state. The larger ideological agenda of the panthers was to destroy the caste system and to build an organisation of all oppressed sections.
  • In the post-emergency period, Dalit Panthers got involved in electoral compromises, it also underwent many splits, which led to its decline.

Growth of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU]

  • BKU was an organisation of farmers from Western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana regions.
  • The BKU demanded higher government floor prices for sugarcane and wheat, abolition of restrictions on the inter-state movement of farm produce, guaranteed supply of electricity at reasonable rates.
  • Their activities to pressurise the government to accept their demands include-rallies, demonstrations, and jail bharo.
  • Until the early nineties, the BKU distanced itself from all political parties.
  • Unlike most of the Indian farmers who engage in agriculture for subsistence, members of the BKU grew cash crops for the market.
  • Like BKU other organisation of farmers were Shetkari Sanghatana of Maharashtra and Rayata Sangha of Karnataka.

Anti-Arrack Movement

  • This movement in Andhra Pradesh was a spontaneous mobilisation of women demanding a ban on the sale of alcohol in their neighbourhoods.
  • In the early 1990s, the women of Dubagunta in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh had enrolled in the Adult Literacy Drive on a large scale.
  • It is during the discussion in the class that women complained of increased consumption of a locally brewed alcohol-arrack-by men in their families. Origin of Anti-arrack movement can be traced here.
  • The simple demand to ban arrack touched upon larger social, economic and political issues of the region that affected women’s life. This movement inspired other women’s movement in later periods.

Narmada Bachao Andolan

  • This movement was against displacement caused by huge development projects.
  • Sardar Sarovar Project It was an ambitious developmental project, launched in the Narmada valley of Central India in early eighties.
  • Numerous big and small dams was to be constructed on the Narmada and its tributaries
    which were concerned with three states-Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.
  • Narmada Bachao Andolan was a movement to save Narmada. It was around 1988-89 that the issues crystallised under the banner of the NBA-a loose collective of all voluntary organisations.
  • The movement demanded that there should be a cost-benefit analysis of major developmental projects including social costs.
  • The social costs included forced resettlement of the project-affected people, a serious loss of their means of livelihood and culture and depletion of ecological resources.
  • Many considerations led the NBA to shift from its initial demand for rehabilitation to its position of total opposition to the dam.
  • Narmada Bachao Aandolan continued a sustained agitation for more than twenty years.
  • It use every available democratic strategy to put forward its demands.

Lessons From Popular Movements

  • Popular movements helps us to understand better the nature of democratic politics.
  • Popular movements ensured effective representation of diverse groups and their demands.
  • Popular movements suggested new forms of active participation and thus broadened the idea of participation in India democracy.

Movement For Right to Information

  • The movement started in 1990, when a mass based organisation called the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in Rajasthan took the initiative in demanding records of famine relief work and accounts of labourers.
  • In 1994 and 1996, the MKSS organised Jan Sunwais or Public Hearings, where the administration was asked to explain its stand in public.
  • In 1996 MKSS formed National Council for People’s Right to Information in Delhi to raise RTI to the status of a national campaign.
  • In 2002, a weak Freedom of Information Act was legislated but never came into force. In 2004 RTI Bill was tabled and received presidential assent in June 2005.


1. A protest against commercial logging to be permitted by the government, began a world famous environmental movement i.e. Chipko Movement by both men and women on refusal of permission to villagers to fell ash trees for agricultural tools and allotted the same land to sports manufacturer. It included a novel aspect in the form of active participation of women with the agenda of social issues.

2. On dissatisfaction with the attitude of the government, people come together and raise voice to fulfil their demands. These movements are either party based and non-party based movements. Party based movements are supported by political parties (Trade Union Movement in Kolkata, Kanpur, Bombay etc.) and non-party based movements are based on the loss of faith in existing democratic institutions or electoral politics (Students and Youth from different sections merge themselves).

3. Non-party movements emerged due to disillusions among many sections of society, failure of Janata experiment, a Gulf between Urban industrial sector, political instability, existence of social inequality and sense of injustice.

4. Dalit Panthers was a militant organisation of Dalit Youth to be formed in 1972 in Maharashtra. Dalit Panthers addressed the issues to fight against caste-based inequalities, demanded effective implementation of reservations and social justice by restoring a mass action in various states.

5. Bharatiya Kisan Union was one of leading farmers movement in the form of agrarian struggle of farmers against process of liberalisation of Indian Economy. The BKU demanded higher government floor prices, abolition of restrictions, guaranteed supply of electricity and the provision of a government pension to farmers.

6. The Anti-Arrack Movement was started by rural women in the state of Andhra Pradesh against alcoholism, mafias by a mobilisation of women to ban on the sale of alcohol. This movement openly discussed the issues of domestic violence like dowry, sexual violence etc.

7. Narmada Bachao Andolan was a loose collective local organisation’s movement to save river Narmada. It opposed the construction of multipurpose dam known as Narmada Sagar project questioned ongoing developmental projects also. NBA was shifted from its initial demand for rehabilitation to total opposition to the Dam. It achieved comprehensive National Rehabilitation Policy 2003 by government.

8. The movements are not only about rallies or protests but these involve a gradual process of coming together by making people aware of their rights and expectations to contribute in the expansion of democracy rather than causing disruptions.

9. The movement for right to information started in 1990 on demand of records of famine relief work and accounts of labourers by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghthan (MKSS). Finally, it was legislated and became a law in 2005.


  1. Party-based Movements: These movements are supported by political parties but activists do not participate in elections formally.
  2. Non-party Based Movements: These movements involve a mass-mobilisation which remain outside party politics.
  3. MKSS: It was Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan which demanded records of famine, relief work and accounts of labourers.
  4. Dalit Panthers: A militant organisation of Dalit Youth formed in 1972 in Maharashtra against caste based inequalities and social injustice.

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