Role of Pressure Groups in Polity

Mains Marks Booster     29th July 2023        
Samadhaan

Introduction

Influential organizations or associations that seek to promote specific interests and exert pressure on the government or other institutions to achieve their goals are called Pressure groups. Many organizations have vested interests in national governance, hence they could be called "Interest Groups."

The pressure group serves as a point of contact for the government's citizens.

Techniques used by Pressure groups:

  • Lobbying, Advocacy campaigns, Public demonstrations, Petitions and letter-writing campaigns, Media campaigns, Political donations, Grassroots mobilization, Direct action and civil disobedience, Coalition building, Litigation and legal challenges, Research and policy analysis, Public relations and communication strategies, Expert testimony and lobbying decision-makers, Corporate and consumer boycotts, Online activism and social media campaigns

Types of Pressure Groups: 

Type of Pressure Group

Example in India

Institutional Interest Groups

Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)

Associational Interest Groups

All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations (AICSO)

Anomic Interest Groups

Local communities protesting against industrial pollution

Non-Associational Interest Groups

Anonymous online activist groups advocating for social causes


Pressure Groups and Political Parties:

A political party is an organized group of people who share common principles and goals. Its objectives revolve around gaining political power through collective effort.

Differences:

Pressure Group

  • They are not part of the government and operate independently.
  • Groups work together and cooperate for their own benefit.
  • They may be incorporated as a society, trusts, etc.
  • Established with the objective to meet certain demands.
  • Members are either exclusive or selective.
  • Funded by the local community or by individuals with vested interests.

Political Parties

  • Authority to set policies and make decisions.
  • Political parties work together for making legislation and Policies.
  • ECI registers and regulates political parties.
  • They are set up with the goal of gaining political power.
  • The political party's membership is open to all.
  • Donations from the public and corporates are given to political parties

Similarities:

  • Both works to sway public opinion on an issue of public importance. 
  • Serve as a conduit for information between the common people and the government. 
  • Both try to influence the government's public policies.

Benefits of Pressure Groups:

  • Advocate Democracy:  They become the “voice” of the people, express their opinion, and bring forward their message.
  • Ex. Ex. SEWA and NCW campaigned for the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
  • Encourage Legislators: Interest groups use their size and motivation to push legislators to pass and implement laws that uphold the interest groups’ beliefs. Ex.FICCI advocated for removing obsolete laws.
  • Check and balance for government: Interest groups are strongly driven by their belief and support in upholding human rights and public interest.
  • Support Political Awareness: Help to disseminate valuable information to the common public. They spur political involvement among the people who are otherwise helpless, meek, or ignorant on their own.
  • Better Representation: Interest groups advocate causes that are dear to their hearts, and those of the people (minorities) they represent.
  • Link between government and public: Pressure groups keep the government in touch with public opinion in-between elections. Ex.IAC’s anti-corruption movement 
  • Widen political participation through grass roots activism and decentralised organisation. 
  • Ensure competition and debate by promoting democracy by widening the distribution of political power
  • Promote Political education through debates, discussions, and argument

Issues/ Challenges of Pressure Group

    • Pluralism and chaos: For Example-FICCI pushes for an easy hire and fire policy, whereas trade unions ask for the promotion of unionism.
    • Increased socio-political crimes: Ex: use of unconstitutional means like corruption, horse trading, and violence.
  • Poor organisational structure: Ex: Absence of internal democracy.
    • Increased inequality: Ex: direct buying of products from the industry, excluding intermediaries
  • Increased inequality: Ex: direct buying of products from the industry, excluding intermediaries
  • Influence of Castes and Religions: Ex: functions in the interest of the group.
    • Lack of Commitment: Ex: Shifting in loyalties in accordance with the political situation.
  • Lack of accountability and transparency in the functioning of pressure groups.

Conclusion: 

Pressure groups play a vital role in shaping Indian democracy by advocating for diverse interests and holding institutions accountable. Moving forward, fostering transparency, promoting constructive dialogue, and ensuring inclusive representation can enhance the effectiveness and legitimacy of pressure group activities in India.

Samadhaan