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Pressure Groups in India: Everything you need to Know

The term ‘pressure group’ originated from the USA. A pressure group is a group of people who are organized for actively promoting...

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The term ‘pressure group’ originated from the USA. A pressure group is a group of people who are organized for actively promoting and defending their common interests. They are a vital link between the government and the governed and they keep governments more responsive to the wishes of the community, especially in between elections.

A pressure group is common interest group that tries to secure their interests by influencing the formulation and administration of public policy. They are referred to as Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). They are a non-partisan organization that attempts to influence some phases of public life. The role of pressure group is indirect, ordinarily invisible and intermittent, yet, a very important part of the administrative system. The emergence of trusts and monopolies and the struggle over tariffs led to the formation of pressure groups. Pressure Group is a living public behind the parties. Pressure group’s role is as vital as that of a political party existing in any country

Pressure Group is the interest groups which try to secure their interests by influencing the formulation and administration of public policy. They referred to as Civil Society Organization (CSO). They are a non-partisan organization which attempts to influence some phases of public life. The role of pressure group is indirect, ordinarily, invisible and intermittent yet very important part of the administrative system. The emergence of trusts and monopolies and the struggle over tariffs led to the formation of a pressure group. And its role is as vital as that of political party existing in any country

Pressure Group in India

In India Political parties and pressure groups together play a big role in the struggle of power. In India, the pressure group arose even during the colonial period. All India trade union congress was the first countrywide pressure group of the working class. India was a developing country having a scarcity of resources and acute poverty, resulting in the significant role of the pressure group. The aim of this pressure group was to secure economic and political concessions for themselves. Providing crucial component of the structural equilibrium i.e. maintenance function.

Role of Pressure Groups in India

The capacity of pressure groups is determined by leadership, organizational abilities, mass media, economic power base, and mobilization techniques. Beside this, they use lobbying method, strike, bandh, demonstration, funding political parties, party platform, etc. Even though the role of pressure group is indirect, it facilitates many vital activities in administration. The various roles of pressure groups is as follows-

  1. Role in legislature – Pressure group tries to introduce their chosen person into the legislature. They help political parties on the eve of an election and prepares election manifesto.
  2. Role in executive – Pressure group tries to fill high executive posts with men of their own choice i.e. selection of cabinet, distribution of portfolios and P.M selection due to the prevalence of collation government. And henceforth influences policy implementation process.
  3. Role in Bureaucracy – Bureaucrats are politically neutral and hence pressure group tries to oblige them by putting good remarks that protect their interests. Bureaucrats have long tenure and so they are in contact with them to oblige.
  4. Role in judiciary – appointment of judges in political affairs and here pressure groups play important role in that high judicial offices are occupied by them.

Major Pressure Groups in India

  • Business Groups – FICCI, CII, ASSOCHAM, AIMO, FAIFDA etc. (institutional groups).
  • Trade Unions – AITUC, INTUC, HMS, CITU, BMS etc.
  • Agrarian Groups- All India Kisan Sabha, Bharatiya Kisan Union etc.
  • Student’s Organisations- ABVP, AISF, NSUI etc
  • VHP, Bajrang Dal, Jamaat-e-Islami etc.
  • Caste Groups – Harijan Sevak Sangh, Nadar Caste Association etc
  • Linguistic Groups – Tamil Sangh, Andhra Maha Sabha etc
  • Tribal Groups – NSCN, TNU, United Mizo federal org, Tribal League of Assam etc.
  • Professional Groups – IMA, BCI, IFWJ, AIFUCT etc
  • Ideology based Groups – Narmada Bachao Andolan, Chipko Movement, Women Rights Organisation, India Against Corruption etc.
  • Anomic Groups* – ULFA, Maoists, JKLF, All-India Sikh Student’s Federation etc.

Characteristics of Pressure Groups

Level of Operation: Pressure groups may operate at local, regional, national or even international level, depending upon the cause and notice.

Objective: All interest groups share a desire to affect government policy to benefit themselves or their causes.

Type of Organization: They are usually non-profit and volunteer organization

Method of Working: They seek to influence political or corporate decision makers to achieve a declared objective.

Common Grounds: Pressure groups are collections of individuals who hold a similar set of values and beliefs on the basis of ethnicity, religion, political philosophy, or a common goal.

Common Dissatisfaction: Pressure groups often represent viewpoints of people who are dissatisfied with the current conditions in society.

Formation: These are a natural outgrowth of the communities of interest that exist in all societies.

Focus: Pressure groups may be better able to focus on specialized issues, whereas political parties tend to address a wide range of issues.

Role in Democracy: Pressure groups are widely recognized as an important part of the democratic process.

Types of Pressure Groups in India

A large number of pressure group exists in India but unfortunately they are not developed as compared to the Western Countries like England, France and USA. It can be classified into following categories.

Business Groups

The Business group is one of the most important, influential and organised pressure groups in India. Examples of business groups- Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and industry (FICCI), Associated Chamber of Commerce (ASSOCHAM) – major constituents are the Bengal Chamber of Commerce Calcutta and Central commercial organisation of Delhi.

Trade Unions

Trade unions cater to the demand of workers and labours of the industries. Alternatively, they are also known as labour groups. In India, different trade unions represent different political parties. Examples- The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), All India Trade Union Congress (Communist Party of India)

Agrarian Groups

These groups represent the farmer community of India and works for their well-being. Example- Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Hind Kisan Panchayat (control of socialist).

Professional Association

Such association, raise the concern of working professional in India ranging from lawyers and doctors, journalists and teachers. Examples include Association of Engineers, Bar Council of India (BCI), and Dental Council of India.

Student Organisations

There are various organisations present to represent the causes and grievances of students in India. Examples are National Students Union of India (Congress), All Assam Students Union (Asom Gan Parishad), Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (Aam Admi Party).

Religious Organisations

The organisations based on religion have come to play an important role in Indian Politics. They represent the narrow perspective and are often termed as anti-secular. Examples of these organisations are Rashtriya Swyam Sevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Brahmo Samaj.

Caste Groups

Caste has been one of the salient features of Indian Society. However, it has always been one of the ideologies discouraging the aspiration of people and constitution of India. The caste factor is always prevalent in elections of India. Examples of caste groups are Marwari Association, Harijan Sewak Sangh.

Tribal Organisation

Tribal in India are prominent in Central India and North East India, and are also active in Central Indian Tribal belt and in north east India. These organisations include National Socialist Council of Nagaland, All-India Jharkhand, and Tribal Sangh of Assam

Linguistic Groups

There are 22 scheduled languages in India. However, there have been many groups and movements working for the welfare of languages in India. For example- Hindi Sahitya Sammelan and Tamil Sangh etc.

Ideology Based Group

Ideology based groups have been recently formed. Some examples of these groups include Environment Protection Groups like Narmada Bachao Andolan and Chipko movement, Democratic rights organisation, Gandhi Peace Foundation, Woman rights organisation, Civil liberties associations.

Anomic Groups

Anomic pressure groups refer to those spontaneous groups which are formed with a collective response through riots, demonstrations, assassinations, etc. The Indian government and bureaucratic elite overwhelmed by the problem of economic development and scarcity of resources available to them, inevitably acquires a technocratic and anti-political frame of mind, particularistic demands of whatever kinds are denied legitimacy. As a consequence, pressure groups are alienated from the political system. Some of the anomic pressure groups are- Naxalite groups, United Liberation Front of Assam, All Assam Student’s Union, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front.

Difference between Political Party and Pressure Group


Political party and pressure group both very important in decision making of the various policies and exists along with political parties in every nation but there is a vast difference between the two. The major difference between political parties and pressure group are as follows-

  • Pressure group is the public body acting behind the political party(outside political party) whereas political parties constitute government
  • Pressure group act is indirect as well as intermittent. They try to influence and pressurize the government to get their demand fulfilled. They do not intervene directly whereas Political parties act directly, they are legally entitled to frame policies and take decision concerning the country.
  • Pressure groups pressurize executive and legislature to achieve its aim whereas Political parties bring co-ordination in the working of executive and legislature.
  • Pressure group uses both conventional and non-conventional means to demonstrate their demands whereas Political parties use only constitutional means to execute its duties and functions
  • Pressure group works for self-interest, they emerge and dissolve as per the need of certain groups whereas Political party works for national interests and not merely for any certain group or objective.
  • Pressure group emerges and dissolves whereas political parties are recognized by election commission.
  • They never form government or contest election but influence the decision of Government or public policy, unlike political parties. They attempt to influence political parties whereas political parties seek to create change by being elected to public office.

Techniques Used by Pressure Groups

  1. Electioneering : Placing in public office persons who favour their interests.
  2. Lobbying : Persuading public officers to adopt and enforce policies of their interest.
  3. Propagandizing : Influencing the public opinion.

Pressure groups may sometimes make use of media for dispersing their views in public and winning support. They may publish statistics in favour of their claims. However, they may even resort to illegitimate and illegal methods like strikes, violence or even bribes.

Media as pressure group

Mass media plays a vital role in revealing the various happening of politics and life of common people all around. In countries such as India the mass media –the radio, TV, the cinema and the press are very powerful means of social change and act as a pressure group for the interest of common people and reveals all deeds of the government. Mass media in its full swing of working can openly criticize the government and have the right to place their view on a certain situation. Further mass media help to generate a common platform which tries to focus on core issues of the society and its need. So media’s role is just as important in influencing activities of the political parties, as that of other pressure group working to strive for certain specific goals. In fact, in this contemporary world media acts as an agent of change focusing on the social development of society and hence media role of pressurizing government given it nature of pressure group which is of vital importance.

Conclusion

Despite major criticism, the existence of a pressure group is now an indispensable and helpful element of a democratic setup. Pressure group promotes national and particular interests, constitute a link of communication between citizen and the government. They provide the necessary information and keep the nation politically alive. Today democratic politics has to be politics through consultation, negotiation and some amount of bargaining. These cannot happen without pressure group. The society has become highly complex and an individual cannot pursue their interest in their own, they need pressure group for this. Pressure groups are so vital that they are not confined to need of developed or developing nation or any form of government.

Written by Payal Ghosh
Payal is an FRM and an XLRI Jamshedpur alumnus interested in things as diverse as Waste Management and photography. She has over 16 years of work experience and is passionate about writing, teaching and sustainable living. Helping students and seeing them succeed makes gives her motivation to push herself further. Profile

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