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BPSC-103: Political Theory – Concepts and Debates

BPSC-103: Political Theory – Concepts and Debates

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2021-22

If you are looking for BPSC-103 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject Political Theory – Concepts and Debates, you have come to the right place. BPSC-103 solution on this page applies to 2021-22 session students studying in BAPSH courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: BPSC-103/ASST/TMA/2021-22

Course Code: BPSC-103

Assignment Name: Political Theory – Concepts and Debates

Year: 2021-2022

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

There are three Sections in the Assignment. You have to answer all questions in the Sections.


Assignment – I


Answer the following in about 500 words each. Marks


1. Examine J.S. Mill’s notion of liberty. 20

Ans) J S Mill’s notion of Liberty was influential in the academic debates in the 1960s. Mill’s work is seen as an exposition of the negative concept of liberty. At the basis of Mill’s arguments for individual freedom lay a strong sense of contempt for custom, and for legal rules and norms which could not be rationally justified. It is also sometimes argued that for Mill any free action, no matter how immoral, had some element of virtue in it, by the fact that it was freely performed. While Mill considered restraint on individual’s actions evil, he did not consider restraints to be entirely unjustifiable. He felt, however, that within the society there was always a presumption in favour of liberty. Any constraints on liberty, therefore, had to be justified by those who applied them.

For Mill, the purpose of liberty was to encourage the attainment of ‘individuality’. Individuality refers to the distinctive and unique character of each human individual, and freedom means the realisation of this individuality, i.e., personal growth or self-determination. It was the property of individuality in human beings that made them active rather than passive, and critical of existing modes of social behaviour, enabling them to refuse to accept conventions unless they were found reasonable. Freedom in Mill’s framework, therefore, appears not simply as the absence of restraints but the deliberate cultivation of certain desirable attitudes. It is because of this that Mill is often seen as gravitating towards a positive conception of liberty. Mill’s conception of freedom is also rooted in the notion of choice. This is evident from his belief that a person who lets others ‘choose his plan of life for him’ does not display the faculty of ‘individuality’ or self-determination.

The only faculty he or she seemed to possess was the ‘apelike’ faculty of ‘imitation’. On the other hand, a person ‘who chooses to plan for himself, employs all his faculties’. In order to realise one’s individuality, and attain thereby the condition of freedom, it was essential that individuals resist forces or norms and customs which hindered self-determination. Mill, however, was also of the view that very few individuals possessed the capacity to resist and make free choices. The rest were content to submit to ‘apelike imitation’, existing thereby in a state of ‘unfreedom’. Mill’s conception of liberty can be seen for this reason as elitist, since individuality could be enjoyed only by a minority and not the masses at large.

Mill, as other liberals, emphasised a demarcation of the boundaries between the individual and society. While talking about reasonable or justifiable restrictions on individual liberty, Mill distinguished between self-regarding and other-regarding actions, i.e., actions, which affected the individual only, and actions which affected the society at large. Any restriction or interference with an individual could be justified only to prevent harm to others. Over actions that affected only himself, the individual was sovereign. Such an understanding of legal and societal constraints conveys the idea of a society in which the relationship between individual and society is not ‘paternal’, i.e., the individual being the best judge of his interests, law and society could not intervene to promote a person’s ‘best interests’. Similarly, the idea that an act can be constrained only if it harmed others, rules out the idea that some acts are intrinsically immoral and therefore, must be punished irrespective of whether they affect anyone else. Further, Mill’s framework rules out ‘utilitarianism’, as enunciated by Bentham, which would justify interference if it maximized the general interest.


2. Discuss the neo-liberal view of liberty. 20

Ans) Neo-Liberalism also known as neo-classical liberalism was started in 1970s to revive economic liberalism. Its main proponents were Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan who wanted to increase economic growth and reduce the Liberty fiscal deficit of the government’s budget. The aim was to cut down the role of government and enhance the role of the market.

F A Hayek in his work, Constitution of Liberty argued that a ‘man possesses liberty or freedom when he is not subjected to coercion by the arbitrary will of another’. He described that individual freedom is not political freedom, inner freedom and freedom as power. In a politically free society, people can choose their governments, can participate in legislation and have a control over administration. But this may not lead to individual freedom. A democratic government may have restrictions and a autocratic government can be relatively free. He further said that individual freedom is not inner freedom. An individual might be guided by his actions or will rather than be coerced by others. But that does not mean that the society is free to allow rational discourse of actions. Finally, individual freedom should not be confused with freedom as power. Freedom of power signifies our power to act according to our wishes and desires. An individual may have the effective power to get things done that he might not be able to do legally, but that nowhere signifies that a society is free in its actions.

According to Hayek, an individual will be able to self-determine if there exists ‘freedom from constraints of the state’. He argued to minimize the coercive actions of the state as it is not an instrument of distributive justice. Liberty and equality are an anti-thesis of each other. A state cannot coerce society that has different talents and skills to be equal, as it will create further inequality. Hayek was so passionate about freedom that he even denied equal freedom for all. He asserted that ‘it is better that some should be free than none and better that many should have full freedom than that all should have a limited freedom’. Therefore, the state should positively promote competition and ensure minimum income to all but not coerce the society to be equal in all respects. Milton Friedman in his work, Capitalism and Freedom underlined that a capitalist and competitive society can sustain conditions of freedom where an individual can self-determine his actions and thoughts. The state should only supplement the market and do work that cannot be handled by the latter or is too costly to bear the cost by the market. He too negated the concept of equality as it impinges on the liberty of individual to self-determine.

In his 1974 work titled Anarchy, State and Utopia, Robert Nozick stated that an individual can enjoy the liberty of self-determination only if the state performs limited functions, that of the protection of property rights. It is not the duty of the state to engage in redistributive transfers, as the inequalities that exist at the time of production should not be corrected at the time of distribution. An individual who has acquired goods through three sources, that is, first, application of their selves- bodies, brains etc, second, through acquiring natural world resources like land, water resources or minerals and third, by applying themselves to the natural world resulting in agricultural or industrial products.


Assignment – II


Answer the following questions in about 250 words each.


1. Write a note on the Alienation and similar concept. 10

Ans) The similar concepts of Alienation:


Fetishism refers here to the idea of human creations which have somehow escaped (inappropriately separated out from) human control, achieved the appearance of independence, and come to enslave and oppress their creators. Marx sometimes treats the phenomenon of fetishism as a distinguishing feature of modernity; where previous historical epochs were characterised by the rule of persons over persons, capitalist society is characterised by the rule of things over persons. ‘Capital’, we might say, has come to replace the feudal lord. Although Marx’s description of alienation often uses the language of fetishism, not at all times alienation and fetishism completely merge together to appear as same.


It refers to the role of productive activity in mediating the evolving relationship between humankind and the natural world. Wherein the object of work becomes more important than the worker. Here the work done is not a free and natural choice made by the worker. In such a situation, the work is not a mode of self-realisation. The work becomes a compulsion. Marx maintains that productive activity might or might not take an alienated form. For instance, productive activity in capitalist societies, which are coerced, is typically said to take an alienated form; whereas productive activity in communist societies, which are based on choice, is typically predicted to take an unalienated or meaningful form. By equating alienation and objectification, one fails to appreciate that certain forms of alienation might have nothing at all to do with productive activity based on objectification. Many a times, sibling rivalry and strained interpersonal relationships have no connection with the work they are engaged in. It may be a result of miscommunication. In short, from the above discussion neither fetishism nor objectification is identical with alienation. Rather than being synonymous, these concepts only partially overlap. Fetishism is just a subset in many cases of alienation.


2. Examine the liberal justification of inequality. 10

Ans) Liberals reject sex, race, or class as the relevant criteria for treating people differently, but they do believe that it is just and fair if inequalities are earned and deserved by virtue of their different desert or merit. Thus, liberal theory holds stubbornly that so long as inequality can be justified based on rewards or desert for special qualities and abilities or special contribution to society, it is acceptable. One cannot help noting here that what is meritorious, special or a contribution to the society are all circumscribed by the specificities of the society in question. Moreover, it is very difficult to isolate the worth of an individual’s contribution, and if one takes back after contributing, then is one really contributing anything at all? This whole position seems to contradict the basic liberal position that all individuals have equal worth and respect and reduces people to a bundle of talents and abilities. In recent times, however, modern liberals such as Rawls and Dworkin have rejected merit and desert as a criterion for justifying inequality. At the policy level, Liberals tended for the most part to support rather modest measures to encourage wider ownership, e.g., tax relief for personal saving accounts. Liberals also supported taxation of inherited wealth. Meade considered how one might structure such a tax to motivate a wider dispersion of inheritances. One might think of these policy ideas as instruments that seek to institute a right to capital indirectly, by means of supposedly helpful incentives and/or targeted assistance.


3. Write a note on equality in the Indian Constitution. 10

Ans) The Indian constitution endorses equality as one of its defining principles and a fundamental right of the citizens of the country. Under Article 14 of the Indian constitution, “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” The phrase ‘equal protection of the laws’ has been taken from 1-14th Amendment of the constitution of the United States of America. While it entails that all citizens are equal before law, it also allows for protection of laws. In other words, laws which go against the grain of the fundamental rights can be declared unconstitutional. It is further supported by other parts of the constitution such as Article 15 which prohibits discrimination based on religion, caste, sex, or place of birth, Article 16 which focuses on equal opportunity in public employment, and Article 17 which abolished untouchability.

According to the Supreme Court of India’s judgement In the case of E. P. Royappa vs. State of Tamil Nadu & Anr, “equality and arbitrariness are sworn enemies” and thus, the State cannot be arbitrary in treatment towards individuals coming from different sections of society, in such matters as public employment. Thus, equality was held to be antithetical to arbitrariness in state action. Furthermore in 1976, a seven judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the case of State of Kerala v. N.M. Thomas, 2 SCC 310 held that Articles 14, 15, and 16 were equality rights and sought to achieve real equality. It was held that section 15 (4), and 16 (4) which allowed for special provisions and reservations for the marginalized were not exceptions to 15 (1) and 16 (1), and, in fact, flow from them to bring to reality the goal of equality. This was concretized with another judgment in 1992 which upheld this principle. The constitution, therefore, aims to provide formal, as well as absolute equality.


Assignment – III


Answer the following questions in about 100 words each.


1. Dimension of justice 6

Ans) The term justice broadly refers to the fulfilment of the legitimate expectation of the individual under laws. It denotes the quality of being right, just or reasonable and is opposed to unjust, wrong unreasonable. It is a dynamic idea and an ethical concept closely related with morality. As a dynamic idea, it has changed with the changes in society from time to time. Primarily it is a problem of moral philosophy, but since it must be implemented by a political order, it also becomes a problem of political philosophy.

 The word Justice has been derived from the Latin word ‘Junger’ meaning to ‘bind or to tie together’. The word ‘Jus' means to ‘Tie or ‘Bond’. In this way, justice can be defined as a system in which men are tied or joined in a close relationship. It is considered as the most important objective of the state and society. In political theory, it is of special importance. In defending or opposing laws, policies, decisions, actions of government, appeals are all made in the name of justice.


2. Basis of Desert 6

Ans) When desert claims are made there is an inherent understanding of the treatment expected out of it. To be precise, what mode of treatment a person is expecting based on desert claim. Feinberg cites following as the deserved modes of treatment-grades, wages, prizes, respect, honours and awards, rights, love and benefits. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Immanuel Kant would include happiness among the possible deserved modes of treatment. These are positive modes of treatment based on deserts. However, there are also negative modes of treatment based on deserts like condemnation, fines, penalties and burdens. Now, there is a third mode of treatment based on deserts that are neither positive nor negative. Like a student getting the grade of C. For that student who has put in minimum efforts, grade is neither positive nor negative. Therefore, sometimes deserved mode of treatment is beyond the boxes of benefit and burden.

3. Rights and Entitlements – how different? 6

Ans) Rights for most part are natural laws. Other people can take them away, and may also defend them for you, but they cannot give them to you. Rights include the freedom to do as one pleases and the opportunity to excel, achieve, and succeed. They also consist of the freedom from being harmed by or unduly burdened or inconvenienced by the government and others, as well as the privilege to serve or give in any way that one chooses. The concept of rights first appeared in the theory of natural law which existed in the state of nature. In the state of nature people enjoyed certain rights sanctioned by natural law. The natural law, in fact, ruled the society and nobody had any power to violate the natural rights and natural law. It was also maintained that both natural law and natural rights were based on morality. In other words, both were moral order. Any human authority like the state or the government had no power to curtail the natural rights or interfere with the natural law.


4. Marxist theory of right 6

Ans) The Marxist theory of rights is understood in terms of the economic system at a particular period of history. A particular socio-economic formation would have a particular system of rights. The state, being an instrument in the hands of the economically dominant class, is itself a class institution and the law which it formulates is also a class law. So considered, the feudal state, through feudal laws, protects the system of rights favouring the feudal system. Likewise, the capitalist state, through capitalistic laws, protects the system of rights favouring the capitalist system. According to Marx, the class which controls the economic structure of society also controls political power and it uses this power to protect and promote its own interests rather than the interests of all. In the socialist society which follows the capitalist society, the socialist state, through the proletarian laws, would protect and promote the interests/rights of the working class.

5. Human trafficking 6

Ans) In modern times, functions and role of the state has changed drastically, particularly after the emergence of the concept of human rights. The role and responsibility of state is very high to deal with any kind of human rights violation. Human trafficking is a major concern in the modern era of globalization. Globalization has increased the movement of goods, services and people. It also helps in enhancing the modern era of slavery in the form of human trafficking. Slavery is an old concept. Different forms and magnitudes of slavery were present even in the ancient Greek period. Modern slavery is not defined in law; it is used as an umbrella term that focuses attention on commonalities across these legal concepts including forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, other slavery and slavery like practices, and human trafficking.

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