- November 5, 2020
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: MMN
Pressure groups are forms of organisations, which exert pressure on the political or administrative system of a country to extract benefits out of it and to advance their own interests. In the present contest these forms of organisations are broadly referred to as Civil Society Organisations (CSO).
Pressure groups have become a very important part of an administrative system. These groups use a number of methods to achieve their aims including lobbying, research campaigns, media campaigns, policy briefs and polls.
In developing countries like India where there is a scarcity of various resources on the one hand and acute poverty and deprivation on the other, the pressure on administrative system is bound to be very heavy. The pressure groups arise in different forms in different walks of life. They provide a stabilising mechanism and form a crucial component of the structural equilibrium which means that they perform the system maintenance function.
Discussing the pressure groups, David Truman describes them as, “Pressure groups are attitude groups that make certain claims upon other groups in the society.”
Almond & Powell say that, “The process by which individuals and groups make demands upon the political decision-makers we call interest articulation.”
Techniques Used by Pressure Groups
Pressure groups resort to three different techniques in securing their purposes.
- Electioneering: Placing in public office persons who are favourably disposed towards the interests the concerned pressure group seeks to promote.
- Lobbying: Persuading public officers, whether they are initially favourably disposed toward them or not, to adopt and enforce the policies that they think will prove most beneficial to their interests.
- Propagandizing: Influencing public opinion and thereby gaining an indirect influence over government, since the government in a democracy is substantially affected by public opinion.
Characteristics of Pressure Groups
- Based on Certain Interests: Each pressure group organises itself keeping in view certain interests and thus tries to adopt the structure of power in the political systems.
- Use of Modern as well as Traditional Means: They adopt techniques like financing of political parties, sponsoring their close candidates at the time of elections and keeping the bureaucracy also satisfied. Their traditional means include exploitation of caste, creed and religious feelings to promote their interests.
- Resulting Out of Increasing Pressure and Demands on Resources: Scarcity of resources, claims and counterclaims on the resources from different and competing sections of the society leads to the rise of pressure groups.
- Inadequacies of Political Parties: Pressure groups are primarily a consequence of inadequacies of the political parties.
- Represent Changing Consciousness: For instance the increase in the food production or industrial goods does bring a change in the way individuals and groups look at the world. The stagnation in production leads to fatalism but increase in production leads to demands, protests and formation of new pressure groups.
- They seek to exert influence from outside, rather than to win or exercise government power.
Role/Functions of Pressure Groups
Pressure groups carry out a range of functions. These include:
- Political participation – agents of political socialisation
- Policy formulation
- Policy implementation – improves the accountability of decision makers to electorates.
- Interest articulation
- Role in judicial administration
- Formulation of public opinion
- Improving the quality of government
- Facilitating social progress and preventing social stagnation.
Types of Pressure Groups
- Institutional Interest Groups: These groups are formally organised which consist of professionally employed persons. They are a part of government machinery and try to exert their influence. These groups include political parties, legislatures, armies, bureaucracies, etc. Whenever such an association raises protest it does so by constitutional means and in accordance with the rules and regulations.
- Example: IAS Association, IPS Association, State civil services association, etc.
- Associational Interest Groups: These are organised specialised groups formed for interest articulation, but to pursue limited goals. These include trade unions, organisations of businessmen and industrialists and civic groups.
- Some examples of Associational Interest Groups in India are Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Indian Chamber of Commerce, Trade Unions such as AITUC (All India Trade Union Congress), Teachers Associations, Students Associations such as National Students Union of India (NSUI)
- Anomic Interest Groups: By anomic pressure groups we mean more or less a spontaneous breakthrough into the political system from the society such as riots, demonstrations, assassinations and the like.
- Non-Associational Interest Groups: These are the kinship and lineage groups and ethnic, regional, status and class groups that articulate interests on the basis of individuals, family and religious heads. These groups have informal structure. These include caste groups, language groups, etc.
Difference between Pressure groups and Interest Groups
Generally, interest groups and pressure groups are considered synonyms, but they are actually not. Interest groups are organized groups of people who seek to promote their specific interests. Their characteristics are:
- they are well-organized,
- they have certain common interests,
- the interest that unites the members is specific and particular,
- the members of such organized groups seek to attain, protect and promote their interests for which they are united.
A pressure group, on the other hand, is an interest group that exerts pressure on the government or the decision-makers for the fulfillment of their interests.
|Interest Group||Pressure Group|
|Formally organised||Strictly structured|
|Interest oriented||Pressure focussed|
|May or may not influence the policies of the government||Must influence the policies of the government|
|Softer in outlook||Harsher in attitude|
|More or less protective||Protective and promotive|
Pressure groups and Political parties
Pressure groups and political parties greatly resemble each other. Both of them are channels through which public can communicate with the government. Prima facie, both of them carryout representation, facilitate political participation and contribute to the policy process.
However, in reality, groups and parties are very different from each other.
|Political Party||Pressure Group|
|Main aim is to attain political power in government||Main aim is to influence decision of those in political power.|
|Directly the control and conduct of the government.||Indirect control over the conduct of the government|
|It can combine heterogeneous interest to secure majority in the election.||It has people with homogenous interest.|
Shortcomings of Pressure Groups
- Narrow selfish interests: Unlike the pressure groups in the developed countries of the West, where these are invariably organised to safeguard economic, social, cultural interests, etc. in India these groups are organised around religious, regional and ethnic issues. Many a time factors of caste and religion eclipse the socioeconomic interests. The result is that instead of serving a useful purpose in the political administrative process, they are reduced to work for narrow selfish interests.
- Misuse of power: Instead of the pressure groups exerting influence on political process, they become tools and implements to subserve political interests.
- Instability: Most pressure groups do not have autonomous existence; they are unstable and lack commitment, their loyalties shift with political situations which threatens general welfare. They many a times resort to unconstitutional means like violence. Naxalite movement started in 1967 in West Bengal is one such example.
- Propagating extremism: Pressure groups can allow too much influence over the government from unelected extremist minority groups, which in turn could lead to unpopular consequences.
- Mushroom growth of pressure groups: Moreover, many of the groups have a very short life because of the lack of resources. This explains the reason for the mushroom growth of pressure groups.
- Pressure groups are now considered as an indispensable and helpful element of the democratic process. The society has become highly complex and individuals cannot pursue their interests on their own. They need the support of other fellow beings in order to gain greater bargaining power; this gives rise to pressure groups based on common interests.
- Democratic politics has to be politics through consultation, through negotiation and some amount of bargaining is also involved. Thus, it is very essential for the government to consult these organised groups at the time of policy formulation and implementation.