|Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Discuss role and function of pressure groups. Mention influence and limitations of pressure groups wrt their mandate.
Conclusion. Way forward.
pressure groups in India are forms of organizations, which exert pressure on the political or administrative system of a country to extract benefits out of it and to advance their own interests. Pressure groups have become a very important part of an administrative system. These groups try to pressurize the administrative and political system of a country either to ensure that their interests are promoted or to see that at least their interests are not relegated to the background. No system can function effectively without taking their view point into consideration.
Role/Functions of Pressure Groups:
- Pressure groups are agents of political socialisation in so far as they influence the orientations of the people towards the political process. They play an important role in the transmission of cultural values and in influencing the behaviour of the people in politics. They are the factors of the sociological and psychological environment of the political system.
- Through participation in the group activities and by influencing the nature of the political process the members of various groups get engaged in political participation. Similarly, these groups play a vital role as two-way communication links between the people and the government.
- The training that the members of the groups undergo as its office bearers or active members enables and encourages them to take up political roles. It is in this way that pressure groups perform the function of political recruitment.
- Pressure groups, by nature, are non-partisan groups. These indirectly play a crucial role in elections. When the political parties are selecting their candidates, these groups try to influence the choice. They try for the inclusion of favorable provisions in the election manifestoes of political parties. After elections, the pressure groups try to influence the choice of ministers from amongst the elected members.
- In a political system, there is present a continuous process of interactions between political parties and pressure groups. The latter are always at work to influence the policies and activities of a political party (usually the majority party) or parties in such a way as can help them to secure their interests.
- Pressure groups play a vital role in the legislative process, not only as important structures of interest articulation but also as active agencies engaged in lobbying with the legislators for securing desired laws or amendments in laws and policies of the government.
- Pressure Groups are actively involved with the process of administration. The important role played by the organized associations, unions, and trade unions of the civil servants is a well-known fact. Civil Servants are the real personnel behind the political executive, who manage the day-to-day administration and policies of the government.
Growing influence of Pressure Groups fulfilling their mandate:
- For a successful democracy it is important to generate a public opinion, so that policy in question may be supported or condemned.
- PGs help to educate people, compile data and provide specific information to policy makers, thus they work as an informal source of information.
- Active constructive participation of numerous groups in polity helps to reconcile general interest with individual group interests.
- Pressure groups played a leading role in the formulation of public opinion. Each pressure group is continuously engaged in evaluating all such laws, rules, decisions and policies which have a direct or indirect bearing on the interests it represents.
- It has helped in placing the pros and cons not only before its members but also before the general public for eliciting popular support as well as for catching the attention of the government.
- There are some groups that played important roles in developing policies and dissolving issues according to situations or for specific purpose. For example, anti-dowry, anti-sati.
Issues related to pressure groups:
- Sometimes they have biased interests limited to few members. Most PGs except business groups & big community 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 un-constitutional means like violence. Naxalite movement started in 1967 in West Bengal is one such example. And since pressure groups are not elected, it is not fair that they decide crucial policy decisions in a democracy.
- In India, organised groups largely influence the administrative process rather than the formulation of policy. This is dangerous as a gap is created between policy formulation and implementation.
- 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.
- 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 as well as their withering away as it becomes difficult to sustain the interest of the persons, initially attracted to form these pressure groups.
In a country like India the tendency to politicise every issue, whether it has social, economic, cultural import, restricts the scope, working, and effectiveness of pressure groups. Instead of the pressure groups exerting influence on political process, they become tools and implements to subserve political interests. The factors which inhibit development of sound civic consciousness, also hinder emergence of healthy and functional pressure groups as a legitimate means of projecting legitimate socio-economic-ethnic and cultural interests of the citizen.