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The 5th chapter of the Political Science book “Popular Struggles and Movements” discusses how a common man can play a role in democracy. The students will also get to learn the indirect methods of influencing politics with movements and pressure groups and also how struggles around the various demands and pressure helps shape democracy.
In what ways do pressure groups and movements exert influence on politics?
Pressure groups and movements exert influence on politics in different ways. Support the statement with suitable examples.
Pressure groups are organised and unorganised groups who try to influence government policies to promote their interests. Although movements also try to influence politics but both of them do not take part in direct elections. They try to influence the politics in one way or the other. They affect politics through the following ways:
- For the purpose of gaining public support, these pressure groups and movements campaign on any particular issue. They take the help of mass media to draw attention of the public.
- They generally call for a strike, protest march (dharnas) to raise their voice and try to disrupt the governmental programmes. Most of the federation, unions take such steps for influencing governmental policies.
- Generally business groups form a lobby of the people having common objectives in order to pressurise the government to change its policies.
Describe the forms of relationship between pressure groups and political parties
Generally, pressure groups are those groups of people who try to influence government policies. They aim at achieving their objectives by exerting pressure on the government. Generally the members of these groups are those people who share common interests, goals, aims, etc. They never try to contest the elections but try to indirectly control the government. The forms of relationships between pressure groups and political parties are given below:
- In many cases pressure groups are formed or led by different political parties and act as their extended arms. For example, labour unions formed by different political parties.
- Many a times movements give birth to political parties. If the struggle for achieving the set goal becomes too long then these pressure groups may take the form of a political party. For example, the roots of DMK and AIADMK can be seen from the rise of different movements.
- On some occasions, the views and ideas of political parties and interest groups are opposite to each other. In such situations, they may stand against each other on a particular issue.
Explain how the activities of pressure groups are useful in the functioning of a democratic government.
Pressure groups and movements are necessary for the democracy. If everyone in the country gets equal opportunity, it is considered healthy for the society. Generally, government falls under pressure of these rich and influential people. Movements and public interest groups can play a useful role for reducing this undue control and can tell the government about the needs of the ordinary people from time-to-time. Even different sectional interest groups can play an important role in it. If any interest group tries to influence the government for achieving its aims, then another interest group can counter-attack the first group and create hurdles in the desires of the first group. From this, government can come to know about the needs of the people and can accommodate all of them with conflicting interests.
What is a pressure group? Give a few examples.
Pressure groups are organised and unorganised groups which try to influence government policies for promoting its interests. They achieve their aims by exerting pressure on the government. Generally, the members of these groups are those people who share common interests. They never try to directly contest elections like political parties, but try to control the power with their influence. They do not aim directly to control the political power.
Examples: Narmada Bachao Andolan, Anti-Liquor Movement, Movement for Right to Information are some of the examples of pressure groups.
What is the difference between a pressure group and a political party?
A pressure group is an organised and unorganised group which tries to influence government policies to promote its interests. They achieve their aims by exerting pressure on the government. Generally, the members of these groups are those people who have some common interests. They try to control the power with their influence. Pressure groups never try to contest elections but try to indirectly control the power. A political party on the other hand, is an organised body which tries to attain political power of the country by contesting direct elections and win by ideology. Members of one political party have their common goals and common ideology.
Organisations that undertake activities to promote the interests of specific social sections such as workers, employees, teachers and lawyers are called _____________ groups.
Which among the following is the special feature that distinguishes a pressure group from a political party?
- Parties take political stances, while pressure groups do not bother about political issues.
- Pressure groups are confined to a few people, while parties involve larger number of people.
- Pressure groups do not seek to get into power, while political parties do.
- Pressure groups do not seek to mobilise people, while parties do.
(c) Pressure groups do not seek to get into power, while political parties do.
Match List I (organisations and struggles) with List II and select the correct answer using the codes given below the lists:
- Organisations that seek to promote the interests of a
- Organisations that seek to promote common interest.
- Struggles launched for the resolution of a social problem
- Organisations that mobilise people with a view to win
1. (c), 2. (d), 3. (a), 4. ( b)
Match List I with List II and select the correct answer using the codes given below the lists:
- Pressure group
- Long-term movement
- Single issue movement
- Political party
1. (d), 2. (c), 3. (a), 4. ( b)
Consider the following statements about pressure groups and parties.
A. Pressure groups are organised expression of the interests and views of specific social sections.
B. Pressure groups take positions on political issues.
C. All pressure groups are political parties.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
- A, B, and C
- A and B
- B and C
- A and C
(ii) A and B
Mewat is one of the most backward areas in Haryana. It used to be a part of two districts of Gurgaon and Faridabad. The people of Mewat felt that the area will get better attention if it were to become a separate district. But political parties were indifferent to this sentiment. The demand for a separate district was raised by Mewat Educational and Social Organisation and Mewat Saksharta Samiti in 1996. Later, Mewat Vikas Sabha was founded in 2000 and carried out a series of public awareness campaigns. This forced both the major parties, Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal, to announce their support for the new district before the assembly elections held in February 2005. The new district came into existence in July 2005.
In this example what is the relationship that you observe among movement, political parties and the government? Can you think of an example that shows a relationship different from this one?
This example tells us that there were two pressure groups in Mewat who raised the demand for drawing attention towards the people. Another pressure group Mewat Vikas Sabha started a campaign for it. Hence, due to the campaigns of pressure groups, political parties were forced to support that movement so that they can get maximum votes in the coming elections. Due to their efforts, government made it a district which shows that government was unable to ignore the demand of pressure groups and political parties. Another example of this type is from the neighbouring state of Punjab where Kisan Unions had demanded free electricity and power. Both the main parties SAD (Shiromani Akali Dal) and INC (Indian National Congress) also agreed to that demand and promised to do the same if they came to power. It shows that pressure groups play an important role in changing or making policies of the government.
Does it means that whichever side manages to mobilise a bigger crowd gets away with whatever it wants? Are we saying that ‘Might is Right’ in a democracy?
No, a democratic country/democracy is based on public opinion and necessarily means giving acceptance to the demand of the mass. It does not necessarily means acceptance of their demands by the government. In a democratic country, only those movements and struggles succeed whose demands are judicious and based on the demand of public welfare.
Follow the news on any news TV channel for on a weak. Make a note of news related to pressure groups or movements representing the following sectors or sectors: farmers, traders, labour, industry, environment and women which of those are mentioned most on television news? Which sections or interests get mentioned the least? You may follow a newspaper if you do not have TV at home.
Hint: Watch any newspaper or read newspaper and make a list of the news related to activities of a pressure groups or movement groups and write it on a notebook. Collect these news under different heads and subhead and discuss it with your class teacher or subject teacher.