The term ‘pressure group’ originated from in the USA. A pressure group is a group of people who are organised actively for promoting and defending their common interest. They are a vital link between the government and the governed. They keep governments more responsive to the wishes of the community, especially in between elections. They are different from the political parties in that they neither contest elections nor try to capture political power but their activism influence the public policy (Government Decision). These groups promote a specific issue and raise it up the political agenda or may have more general political and ideological objectives in mind while campaigning. These groups make efforts to bring government into the podium of accountability.
Characteristics of Pressure Groups
1. Pressure groups may operate at local, regional, national or even international level, depending upon the cause and notice.
2. All interest groups share a desire to affect government policy to benefit themselves or their causes.
3. They are usually non-profit and volunteer organization
4. They seek to influence political or corporate decision makers to achieve a declared objective.
5. Pressure groups are collections of individuals who hold a similar set of values and beliefs on the basis of ethnicity, religion, political philosophy, or a common goal.
6. Pressure groups often represent viewpoints of people who are dissatisfied with the current conditions in society.
7. These are a natural outgrowth of the communities of interest that exist in all societies.
8. They never form government of contest election but influence the decision of Government or public policy. They seek to create change by being elected to public office, while pressure groups attempt to influence political parties. Pressure groups may be better able to focus on specialized issues, whereas political parties tend to address a wide range of issues.
9. Pressure groups are widely recognized as an important part of the democratic process.
Types of Pressure groups in India
A large number of pressure group exists in India but unfortunately they are not developed as compare to the Western Countries like England, France and USA. It can be classified into following categories.
The Business group is one of the most important, influential and organised pressure groups in India. Examples of business groups- Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and industry (FICCI), Associated Chamber of Commerce (ASSOCHAM) – major constituents are the Bengal Chamber of Commerce Calcutta and Central commercial organisation of Delhi.
Trade unions cater to the demand of workers and labours of the industries. Alternatively, they are also known as labour groups. In India, different trade unions represent different political parties. Examples- The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), All India Trade Union Congress (Communist Party of India)
These groups represent the farmer community of India and works for their well-being. Example- Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Hind Kisan Panchayat (control of socialist).
Such association, raise the concern of working professional in India ranging from lawyers and doctors, journalists and teachers. Examples include Association of Engineers, Bar Council of India (BCI), and Dental Council of India.
There are various organisations present to represent the causes and grievances of students in India. Examples are National Students Union of India (Congress), All Assam Students Union (Asom Gan Parishad), Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (Aam Admi Party).
The organisations based on religion have come to play an important role in Indian Politics. They represent the narrow perspective and are often termed as anti-secular. Examples of these organisations are Rashtriya Swyam Sevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Brahmo Samaj.
Caste has been one of the salient features of Indian Society. However, it has always been one of the ideologies discouraging the aspiration of people and constitution of India. The caste factor is always prevalent in elections of India. Examples of caste groups are Marwari Association, Harijan Sewak Sangh.
Tribal in India are prominent in Central India and North East India, and are also active in Central Indian Tribal belt and in north east India. These organisations include National Socialist Council of Nagaland, All-India Jharkhand, and Tribal Sangh of Assam
There are 22 scheduled languages in India. However, there have been many groups and movements working for the welfare of languages in India. For example- Hindi Sahitya Sammelan and Tamil Sangh etc.
Ideology Based Group
Ideology based groups have been recently formed. Some examples of these groups include Environment Protection Groups like Narmada Bachao Andolan and Chipko movement, Democratic rights organisation, Gandhi Peace Foundation, Woman rights organisation, Civil liberties associations.
Anomic pressure groups refer to those spontaneous groups which are formed with a collective response through riots, demonstrations, assassinations, etc. The Indian government and bureaucratic elite overwhelmed by the problem of economic development and scarcity of resources available to them, inevitably acquires a technocratic and anti-political frame of mind, particularistic demands of whatever kinds are denied legitimacy. As a consequence, pressure groups are alienated from the political system. Some of the anomic pressure groups are- Naxalite groups, United Liberation Front of Assam, All Assam Student’s Union, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front.