Pressure groups are organizations that attempt to influence government policies but do not directly control or share political power. These organizations are formed when people with common occupation, interest, aspirations or opinions come together to achieve a common objective.
The recent withdrawal of controversial farm laws has highlighted the role of pressure groups in our polity and democratic functioning.
There are two types of Pressure Groups (PG):
Sectional Pressure Groups
- Promoting the interests of a particular section or group of society such as trade unions, business associations or professional bodies.
- Their principal concern is the betterment and well-being of their members.
- E.g.: Women’s Rights Organisation, India against Corruption, FICCI, All India Kisan Sabha etc.
Promotional Pressure Groups
- They promote collective rather than selective good and aim to help groups other than their own members.
- Example: a group fighting against bonded labour fights for those who are suffering under such bondage.
- E.g.: Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation is largely made up of government employees that campaigns against caste discrimination and addresses the problems of its members who suffer discrimination. But its principle concern is with social justice and social equality for the entire society.
Pressure Groups exert their influence:
- Gaining public support and sympathy by carrying out information campaign and meetings
- Organizing protest activities or strikes (at times with the support of industrialists) – forcing government to take note of the demands
- Lobbying state members and the Parliament via petitions, letters and deputations.
- Consulting with ministers or senior public servants.
- Hiring professional lobbyists by business groups to advance their corporate agenda.
- Taking legal action through injunctions or appeals to higher courts.
- Campaigning for, or opposing, certain candidates at elections.
Pressure Groups Strengthen polity:
- Provide a platform to vulnerable sections in channelizing their grievances.
- Refine and shape the demands of various sectors of polity, society and economy.
- Acts as a channel of communication between government and sections of society.
- Pressure groups offer an alternative source of advice to the government.
- Promote debate and deliberations on important issues in India’s national interest.
- Holding the government accountable and responsive to the needs of the citizens.
- Governments are better informed of the electorate’s sensitivities to their specific policies.
- Overall strengthens Indian democracy by playing a participatory role.
- Forces the government to take measures which may be detrimental to national interests.
- The use of direct action by pressure groups such as strikes by unions, demonstrations, blockades, pickets can cause hardship to the community in general.