Pressure Groups: Types, Functions, and Role | Pressure Groups UPSC

By K Balaji|Updated : January 17th, 2023

Pressure Groups are groups of people who form a unit, fight for a cause, and promote it. Although the Pressure Groups are mostly seen in a political frame, not all of them do not have to be political in nature. They can either be non-political or formal or informal groups. Some common examples of Pressure Groups in India are IMA, ABVP, FICCI, and AITUC.

Pressure Groups come under the Indian Polity and Governance section of the UPSC Syllabus. For the upcoming UPSC Exam, the aspirants must have an in-depth understanding of this topic and its role, function, and impact on society.

Table of Content

Pressure Groups

The term "Pressure Group" was first used in the United States of America. A pressure group is a collection of people actively promoting and defending their common interests.

  • It is expected that by putting enormous pressure on the government, these Pressure Groups will effect change in society and public policy.
  • They are also called vested groups or interest groups.
  • The Pressure Groups should not be confused with any political party or group as they do not contest any election. Still, they have certain programs or issues for which they perform certain activities for their fulfilment.
  • The common methods used by these Pressure Groups to influence the policy-making and implementation by the government are correspondence, publicity, propaganda petitioning, debating, and lobbying.

Role of Pressure Groups in India

Pressure Groups, as their name goes, are badmouthed for creating a nuisance in society by creating pressure on the government about their demands. However, the pressure groups are not always bad. Pressure groups have a significant role to play in our society and modern political system.

  • Pressure groups act as a strong link between the government and the public, which helps to keep the government more responsive to the needs and wishes of the community.
  • One of the biggest and most important roles of pressure groups is that they are the voice of commoners and help to express the views of minorities who don't even receive a hearing.
  • Pressure groups comprise some experts in their field who provide the government with some relevant information to work for the betterment of society.
  • If taken seriously and actively, these pressure groups can also be an alternative source of advice to the government.
  • The pressure groups mostly talk about the rights and freedom of the people, either in a profession or on legal grounds.

Characteristics of Pressure Groups

Pressure Groups are recognized to work for the common interest by dealing with the political system.

  • The Pressure Groups finance the political parties and maintain connections with the bureaucrats.
  • They also engage in traditional social practices to gain publicity and influence, like targeting caste-related issues and engaging in religion-based politics to highlight their interests.
  • Pressure Groups should not always be viewed negatively because they raise legitimate issues, such as a lack of resources.
  • If any social or economic condition changes immediately or after a certain period of time, these Pressure Groups take some time to adjust to them, disrupting their existing order.

Types of Pressure Groups in India

There are various types of Pressure Groups in India, and we have covered them below.

  • Business Groups: The business groups include the industries and commercial bodies that are sophisticated and powerful and are the largest of all Pressure Groups in India. For example, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
  • Trade Unions: Trade unions are not unknown to many UPSC aspirants, as we know that these groups raise their voices to demand the genuine requirements of industrial workers. Trade unions are also known as labour groups. For example, the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).
  • Agrarian Groups: As the name implies, agrarian groups represent the farmers of India and their demands before the government. The recent example that can be coded to this group is related to the farm bill brought by the Indian government, which was protested by Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU).
  • Professional Associations: The professional associations include some major reputed professionals like doctors' lawyers, engineers, teachers, and journalists who demand justice or full means of their criteria from the government. For example Indian Medical Association and the Indian Federation of Working Journalists.
  • Students Organizations: India has many colleges which promote the elections within the Universities and also promote student organizations. For example, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
  • Religious Organizations: Certain organizations in India based on religion play a very important role in Indian politics. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Anglo Indian Association, and Jamaat-e-Islami are common examples of religious organizations.
  • Caste Groups: Like religion, caste also has a very important place in Indian politics. Most of the rivalries, clashes, and disputes among the groups in various states in India are because of caste-based issues only. For example, Kaysth Sabha, Kshatriya Mahasabha, Marwadi Association, etc.
  • Tribal Organizations: The tribal organizations are more prominent and active in regions of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh Madhya Pradesh, and some of the northeast states of India. To get their demands fulfilled by the government, these groups at times carry out insurgencies and create disturbances in the areas. For example, United Mezo- Federal Organisation.
  • Linguistic Groups: India has over 100 types of languages which lead to the formation of different linguistic groups. For example, Tamil Sangh, Andhra Mahasabha, and Hindi Sahitya Sammelan.
  • Ideology-Based Groups: Recently, ideology-based Pressure Groups are also created which promote their personal ideologies and principles. For example, Democratic Rights Organisations and Civil Liberties Associations.
  • Anomic Groups: Anomic groups are sort dangerous groups who are intense to break through the political system and get their demands fulfilled by performing drastic activities like riots, assassinations, demonstrations, etc. For example, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front was headed by Yaseen Malik.

Functions of Pressure Groups

The functions of Pressure Groups are listed below:

  • Pressure groups work to sway public policy in the desired direction in every culture, whether democratic or totalitarian, without being prepared to take on the duties of public office or by refusing to assume direct responsibility for governing the nation.
  • Pressure groups push for favourable administrative and policy choices. They frequently change the structure of their operations. The interaction of governmental institutions, actions, and attitudes concerning the breadth or intensity of their interest shapes group politics in pressure groups.
  • Suppose the task of formulating policy and carrying it out is given to the central administration branch. In that case, a pressure group may assume a highly significant, potent, and organised position even at the national level.

Shortcomings of Pressure Groups

While, on the one hand, the pressure groups are of significance to the political system, it is also equally demeritorious to society. Let's see what the shortcomings of the pressure groups are.

  • Pressure groups are mostly biased. They prioritize their interests and overlook the essential issues of other people.
  • Pressure Groups sometimes overexaggerate the issues of minorities.
  • Representing minorities is a good cause, but in this propaganda, various other important issues are sidelined and overlooked.
  • Pressure Groups sometimes present offensive opinions before the government. The issues and protests raised by these groups are over-dramatized by the media. Hence they distort public opinion.
  • These pressure groups use lobbying for their promotion, leading to primary corruption that ultimately harms the country and its development.
  • It is not uncommon for pressure groups two pursue their narrow interest to the detriment of the welfare of the entire population.

Pressure Groups UPSC

So till now, we have learned that Pressure Groups are a collection of people who stand together for a particular cause to get fulfilled by putting pressure on the government. Pressure Groups are part of the UPSC Syllabus under Indian polity and are important to learn for the UPSC Exam. You can also download the UPSC study material to boost your preparation.

Pressure Groups UPSC Questions

Question: Which of the following is the primary purpose of a pressure group?
  1. To criticise the government
  2. To contest the elections
  3. To formulate policy
  4. To bring pressure on the government to influence policy decision

Answer: Option D

Question: Which one of the following statements is not an explanation of the general characteristics of a pressure group?
  1. A major objective of a pressure group is to acquire, consolidate and extend political power.
  2. A pressure group aims at projecting and fulfilling specific interests.
  3. A pressure group seeks to influence decision-makers in a manner favourable to its specific interests.
  4. A pressure group is generally too limited in its organisation and goals to be mistaken for a bonfire political party.

Answer: Option A

 

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FAQs on Pressure Groups

  • Pressure Groups are groups of people who form a unit and fight for a cause, and these groups can be non-political or formal or informal groups. They are created when individuals who share similar values, beliefs, and aspirations band together to work toward a common goal.

  • If done correctly, the Pressure Groups can be a link between the public and the government, through which the government can get an idea of the impacts of their policies on the public.

  • The oldest Pressure Group in India is the All India Trade Union Congress. It was founded by Lala Lajpat Rai, in 1920.

  • Yes. Pressure Groups can be a threat to national security as when these groups go violent in nature toward the government or any political party, then they damage the lives and public properties, and create mass destruction.

  • For once, yes, it can be considered to be of importance to society as there may be certain sections of society that may not be satisfied with all the decisions taken by the government, so to carry their voice forward to the bureaucracy, Pressure Groups are important.

  • All pressure groups share the common goal of swaying those in positions of authority. Pressure groups do not pursue political power, but they impact the choices made by those who do.

  • The term "pressure groups" can also refer to interest or vested groups. They vary from political parties because they don't run for office or strive to take over the government.

  • Political parties concentrate on nearly all the issues that affect the state or country, whereas pressure groups are driven by concerns that only affect a specific group. For instance, the Narmada Bachao Andolan opposed building a dam on the Narmada River and later launched a movement against dams.

  • The functions of Pressure Groups are:

    • Pressure groups work to sway public policy in the desired direction, without being prepared to take on the duties of public office or by refusing to assume direct responsibility for governing the nation.
    • Pressure groups push for favourable administrative and policy choices. 
    • In that case, a pressure group may assume a highly significant, potent, and organised position if task of formulating policy is given to the central administration branch.
  • Pressure groups serve as a democratic forum for group members to voice their thoughts and a responsible source of criticism for the government, the political system, and the public at large.

  • The groups employ a variety of tactics, such as swaying public opinion, establishing personal relationships with decision-makers, infiltrating decision-making bodies, pressing public officials for pertinent information, threatening the government with direct action, and demonstrating using violent or passive resistance methods. Pressure groups serve as a responsible source of criticism for the government.

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