Pressure Groups / Interest Groups.
Pressure groups are known as ‘invisible empires’. Pressure groups are considered as integral component of pluralist democracies. Every democracy recognizes freedom to form association.
Pressure group politics is most influential in USA. Pressure groups are not very powerful in countries where political parties represent specific ideology e.g. Britain, where Labor party is assumed to work in interest of working class.
Pressure groups in India have also not played an effective role. However, since 1990s, there is a growth of pressure group politics in India. One of the earliest studies on pressure group politics in India has been done by Rajni Kothari.
According to Rajni Kothari, pressure groups have been, agents of modernization, reserviors of leadership. In India, communal pressure groups have been more dominant. However, pressure groups did not enjoy much legitimacy in the eyes of the people. The predominant status of Congress party did not allow pressure groups to gain primacy. In fact, the status of other political parties was like pressure group. Hence Rajni Kothari calls them, ‘Parties of Pressure’.
Rudolph & Rudolph have also analyzed the role of caste association. Myron Weiner, in his book POLITICS AND SCARCITY has highlighted the role of communal pressure groups.
Christophe Jaffrelot has studied the role of RSS in Indian politics.
According to Prof. Anand Chakravarty, GOI should have shown greater accomodation towards pressure groups as many pressure groups were banned under ULPA. It govt. had accommodated them, it would have been easier to address the alienation and secessionist trends.
Changing Nature of Pressure Groups in India
Robert Hardgrave and Stanley Kochanek has highlighted the changing nature of pressure groups in India.
Since 1990s, pressure group politics is shifting from state dominated pluralism to more powerful pressure group politics. Pressure groups started gaining legitimacy as a result of liberalization and globalization. Govt. of India has incorporated different interest groups in policy making institution. Like NAC, NSAB and now NITI Aayog.
There is a substantial increase in the power of business groups. Business groups are also part of the delegation of foreign countries. The tradition of organizing parallel business summit along with political summit have become the regular feature. There is a greater pressure and influence of foreign lobbies and advocacy groups.
Communal pressure groups, pressure groups of corporate sector, pressure group of rich farmers, all continue to play dominant role. India still does not have dominant women organization. Environmental lobbies, student unions, trade unions continue to be junior partners of political parties and many pressure groups primarily of left wing have been banned under ULPA.
State continues to be dominant actor in India. At times state has been not tolerant towards certain pressure groups. Recently there was a highly disputed report of IB which has pointed out that many NGOs are having anti-national propaganda and their activities have been detrimental to India’s growth.