The Social Science Curriculum: Study Hacks

The Social Science curriculum up until the high school level of education draws its content mainly from the core subjects of  History, Geography, Political Science and Economics. It also tends to touch upon Sociology and Commerce on the surface level along with the other core divisions in disciplines. The 9th-grade NCERT textbooks for political science, Democratic Politics -1 is almost like an exclusive tour through the idea of Democracy as we understand it now. 

After getting to know a sense of what democracy is like and categorizing some countries as democratic and non-democratic, an obvious question of what a democracy is becoming a concerning doubt in the minds of the learners. Chapter 2 of the NCERT textbook addresses this question and attempts to form a definition to it in a way that can be best understood by students. The aim here is to make the students understand clearly the basic features of a democratic form of government. The chapter concerns itself with moving beyond this bare objective of defining democracy and goes on to introduce a broader idea of democracy. The chapter initially gives a simple definition of democracy as the form of government in which the rulers are elected by the people. But the textbook does not tend to restrict the scope of its definition to these simple words but instead gets back to the definition once again after discussing the key features of democracy. These key features can also be categorised as the conditions for a country to be democratic or the prerequisites for democracy. The first and one of the most striking features of democracy is that major decisions are made by elected leaders which means the final decision making power should rest within those representatives that are elected by the people. The second key feature of democracy is that it should promise the citizens free and fairness. The text highlights through various examples of China and Mexico that mere conduction of elections for the sake of it does not result in democracy but instead, a fair choice should be given to the people and the method of the election also must not include any malpractice and dirty tricks. In addition to this, democracy should not have an unequal value of votes for different citizens on the basis of caste, gender, social background or any such potential grounds for discrimination. Each adult citizen must have only one vote and it must have one value alone which brings the students to the third feature of democracy, which is, one person, one vote and one value. The fourth and final feature of democracy mentioned in the chapter is Rule of law and respect for rights. In any democracy, there is a terrific need for the acknowledgement of the basic rights of the citizens and the freedom to conduct normal political activity along with being seen as equal in the eyes of law. Therefore a democratic government should rule only within the limits set by constitutional law and the rights of the citizens. Once the important features of democracy are discussed, the chapter moves on to assist students in pondering over the question of why democracy is the first choice for many countries. The chapter next goes on to address the age-old question of whether democracy is a better form of government. It debates over the merits and demerits although the arguments for democracy are given exceeding importance. The agreements mentioned in favour of democracy include the fact that it is a more accountable form of government, it improves the quality of decision making, provides a method to deal with differences and conflicts, enhances the dignity of citizens and finally it allows a correction of its own mistakes all of which are seldom seen in any other forms of government. The final section of the chapter deals with how democracy had a much broader sense. It is not just a form of government in countries but the word democratic can be used to describe any decision making that involves consultation with and consent of all those that are affected by it. It is a principle that can be applied in all spheres of life and field of work. The chapter concluded by stating how democracy is one of the most common forms of democracy in today’s world and how democracy has greater ideals and conditions other than the ones mentioned in the text. The chapter also introduces several new political terms to the students that helps them conceptualise the ideas discussed in the chapter in an easier manner. Developing conceptual skills of defining democracy, being aware of how different historical processes and forces have promoted democracy, building a sophisticated defence of democracy and developing a historical sense amongst the students of the choice and nature of democracy in India are a few objectives the chapter aims to achieve.

From the exam point of view, questions are usually framed to test the basic understanding and remembering of concepts by the students by recalling facts, terms, basic concepts, and specific answers. The capability of students to demonstrate an understanding of facts and ideas by comparing and interpreting the already learnt topics are evaluated. The ability of learners to cater to use their problem-solving skills in new situations by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques are further tested. Examining and breaking information into parts, making inferences and finding evidence to support generalizations etc are certain areas where the curriculum looks to evaluate the students. Presenting and defending opinions by coming up with sensible facts to substantiate them based on quality research and proposing perspective and alternative solutions to pressing questions on democratic politics are a few ways to score excellently in exams. Apart from these, it is elemental that the students know how to formulate answers in a convincing manner to the evaluator. This is where writing practice questions papers before the exams can help students. Many CBSE Sample Papers for Class 9 PDF are available online as pdfs which can be downloaded and solved. The answers can be cross-checked with the solutions and answer keys to evaluate oneself to improve in terms of answering questions in the right format.