[Solved] How do pressure groups influence Indian political process? Do you agree with this view that informal pressure groups have emerged as more powerful than formal pressure groups in recent years? UPSC GS-1 Mains 2017)

[Solved] How do pressure groups influence Indian political process? Do you agree with this view that informal pressure groups have emerged as more powerful than formal pressure groups in recent years? UPSC GS-1 Mains 2017)

A pressure group refers to any interest group that has members with common interests and these members making joint efforts to pressurize the formal political system to pursue their interests. They are sometimes known as informal face of the politics.

Methods of exerting influence:

• There are a variety of ways via which the pressure groups could exert political influence. These include:

• Ministers and Governments consult groups for a variety of reasons.

– Major economic, industrial and trade policies are developed with the consultation of major

corporations, trade associations and business groups.

– To gain the cooperation of important groups.

– To gauge the reaction of the affected groups to proposed policies.

• Parliamentary Lobbying: Parliamentary lobbying is to supplement contacts with ministers and officers via members of parliament in influencing the policy through private members bills, parliamentary questions and committee enquiries.

• Political parties: Links with a political party help in influencing the policy decisions when that party is in power. One of the major ways to influence the parties is funding and donations.

• Public opinion: Pressure group indirectly influence the policy decision by public-opinion campaigning via pushing issues up the political agenda and demonstrating both the strength of commitment and the level of public support for a particular cause.

• Direct action: Strikes, blockades, boycotts and sit-ins are all examples of direct action. Direct action may be violent or non-violent. Non-violent direct action sometimes takes the form of civil disobedience.

• Electioneering: Placing in public office persons who favor their interests. Formal pressure groups like FICCI, civil society organizations and even political parties have played significant role in public interest like RTI act and RTE act was due to influence of formal pressure groups. The widening of access points: Devolution has allowed pressure groups to exert influence through the Parliament. Conventional Pressure Groups (PGs) based on caste, community, religion-based & regional groupings are playing decisive role in Indian polity.

• Informal pressure groups have been more powerful, as they are characterized by greater political activism and the spread of grass roots participation, so there is a mass appeal to it.

• There are some groups that keep on emerging & dissolving as per circumstances or for specific purpose. e.g. anti-dowry, anti-sati, etc.

• Sometimes they have biased interests limited to few members. Most of these groups do not have

autonomous existence, so 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 exam

Further reading..

Role of pressure groups in positive democratization of citizens: It acts a liaison between the Government and its members

 They do not contest election and do not try to capture

  • Political power; Instead their activities are confined to the protection and promotion of the interests of their members by influencing the Government
  • The ‘All India Trade Union Congress(AITUC)’ has been objective since its inception in 1920, to promote Socialist Policies, as it promotes workers’ welfare and doesn’t allow Government to pass an anti-labour Policies
  • The pressure groups influence the policy-making and policy implementation in the government through legal and
  • legitimate methods like lobbying, correspondence, publicity, propagandising, petitioning, public debating, maintaining contacts with their legislators and so forth
  • The ‘Bharatiya Kisan Union’ has been instrumental in addressing farmers’ concerns related to Low agricultural prices, increase in electricity rates, addressing their Poverty issues
  • The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan’s efforts are best known for its successful struggle and demand for Right to Information Act(RTI)
  • Environment Protection groups have led movements Narmada Bachao Andolan and Chipko movement, to voice the native concerns against vagaries faced by Developmental projects, and show their responsibility towards environment
  • The Pressure groups keep the administrative machinery accountable, by resorting to three techniques for securing their purposes: Electioneering: placing persons in public office whoa are favourably disposed towards their interests
  • Lobbying: By 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: By influencing Public Opinion and thereby gain an indirect influence over government, since the government in a democracy is substantially affected by public opinion The pressure groups have also come under criticism for following reasons: They are biased in favour of their own interest and not present a balanced agreement
  • Members are often very passionate, they may resort to undesirable tactics like violence or criminal behaviour to promote their cause
  • This is evident in the secessionist demand for state autonomy in North Eastern states, which has led to tussle between Government and Pressure groups
  • Strikes damaging Public property with their violent activities are a common sighting in India
  • Opinions held by Pressure groups, have polarised to communal overtones. This is seen with the groups supporting particular religions’ progress to achieve their aims

 Conclusion

 Hence, there is a need for better organisation and influence of pressure groups, with clear defined aims, to be able to make difference

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