Pressure Group :role and function of pressure groups in India

Pressure group are the interest groups which work to secure certain interest by influencing the public policy. They are non-aligned with any political party and work as indirect yet powerful group to influence the decision. In this article focus is paid on nature, types, role and function of pressure groups in India.

Pressure group are the interest groups which try to secure their interests by influencing the formulation and administration of public policy. They referred to as Civil Society Organization(CSO). They are non-partisan organization which attempt to influence some phases of public life. The role of pressure group is indirect, ordinarily, invisible and intermittent yet very important part of administrative system. The emergence of trusts and monopolies and the struggle over tariffs led to the formation of pressure group. Pressure group is a living public behind the parties. Pressure group role is as vital as that of political party existing in any country Finner has characterized pressure group as anonymous empire. Richard.D.Lambert views it as an unofficial government. V.o.key has defined Pressure group as a private associations formed to influence public policy.pressure group act outside political party and there is vast difference between the two.

Difference between political party and pressure group

political party and pressure group both very important in decision making of the various policies and exists along with political parties in every nation but there is vast difference between the two. The major difference between political parties and pressure group are as follows-
  • Pressure group is the public body acting behind the political party(outside political party) where as political parties constitutes government
  • Pressure group act is indirect as well as intermittent. They tries to influence and pressurize the government to get their demand fulfilled. They do not intervene directly where as Political parties act directly, they are legally entitled to frame policies and take decision concerning the country.
  • Pressure group pressurize executive and legislature to achieve its aim where as Political party bring co-ordination in the working of executive and legislature.
  • pressure group uses both conventional and non-conventional means to demonstrate their demands where as Political parties uses only constitutional means to execute its duties and functions
  • Pressure group works for self interest, they emerges and dissolves as per the need of certain groups where as Political party works for national interests and not merely for any certain group or objective.
  • pressure groups emerges and dissolves where as political parties are recognized by election commission.

Pressure group in India

In India Political parties and pressure groups together play a big role in the struggle of power. In India pressure group arose even during the colonial period. All India trade union congress was the first countrywide pressure group of working class. India is developing country having scarcity of resources and acute poverty promoting significant role of pressure group. The aim of these pressure group was to secure economic and political concessions for themselves. Providing crucial component of the structural equilibrium i.e. maintenance function.

Features of Indian pressure group

The various features of Indian pressure group are as follows-
  1. Based on certain interest-The basis on which each pressure groups are formed are the certain interest. Each pressure group organizes itself keeping in view certain interests.
  2. Lack of alignment with any party-Pressure group in India functions in multi-party system environment. Hence they try to maintain relation with all of them. During 1947-89 pressure group tries to keep good relation with congress as it was the ruling party in most part of India. Since mid 1990's pressure group in India try to influence all major national party.
  3. Pressure group uses party platform-pressure groups uses party platform to seek their interest fulfilled. They try to maintain their relation with both ruling and opposition party.
  4. presence of political parties sponsored pressure group-In India political parties always tries to organize their own interest groups in various trade, professions and industries. For example Congress-Youth congress, Communist party-Student's federation of India, Bhartiya Janta party-Akhil Bhartiya vidhjarthi Parisad etc.
  5. Resulting out of increasing pressure and demand on resources-As resources of developing country are usually scarce, there are claims and counter claims on their resources from different and competing section of society emerging as pressure group.
  6. Use of traditional and modern means-Indian pressure group use both modern and traditional means. Modern method like lobbying, funding political parties, introducing favorable person in the legislature, executive and cultivate connections with bureaucratic officials, traditional loyalties, caste loyalties, religious loyalties etc are traditional method.
  7. Existence of several caste family and religion based groups-Several Indian pressure group have been formed for promoting the interest of certain caste and religion. The All Indian Rajput sabha, The Jat organization, the Jain Sabhas,Shiv Sena, Brahmin Sabha etc.
  8. A counter check on political parties-India is having mixed economy and its foremost goal is included in planned development. In this context the pressure group plays vital role and act as a counter cheek to politics and political parties. For example-acts like MRPT or land reforms.
  9. Keep on emerging and dissolving-According to the interest the pressure group formed and once interest attained the pressure groups may dissolve. Pressure groups are temporary in nature which keep on emerging and dissolving after some time. For example anti-sati group, anti-dowry etc.
  10. More dependent on means of direct action-Indian pressure group depends more on methods of direct action such as bandh, strikes, gheraos etc.
  11. influence being shifted from negative to positive-In India pressure group initially influence negatively as preventing nationalization of rice trade, food grain, increase in land tax etc. But now pressure group have positive influence, it assists government in forming rules. For example wheat policy of government framed in march 1974 was outcome of positive efforts and support of all-India food grain dealers association.
  12. State acts as pressure group-Constitution under Article 262 and 263 makes provision for central parliament to settle border disputes and inter-state water disputes where in the members of every states maintains its liaison officers in Delhi to maintain its contact and act as pressure group.

Types of pressure groups

Almond and Powell have divided interest groups into four parts-
  • Institutional pressure group-These groups are formally organized which constitutes professionally employed persons. They are part of government machinery and raises its protests with constitutional means. For example Bureaucracy, army, central election committee etc.
  • Anomic pressure group-These are the group that have analogy with individual self-representation. They may be constitutional or unconstitutional, perpetual infiltration such as riots, demonstration etc. For example ULFA. Naxalites, Kashmir liberal front etc.
  • Associations pressure group-These are organized specialized groups formed for interest articulation but to pursue limited goal. For example Trade union, student association, teachers association etc.
  • Non-Associations pressure group-These are the informal groups include caste group, language group, syndicate, Ghanaian group etc.

Major pressure groups in India

The major pressure groups present in India are as follows-
  1. The business group-They are independent of political parties and influence planning licensing bodies and economic ministers. They help in budget formulation. For example conference of Indian Industries(CII), Association chamber of commerce, federation of Indian chamber of Commerce industry(FICCI).
  2. Peasant's organization-It gained power in 1960's. At Central level only one All India Kisan Congress exists. On territorial basis All Kisan Kamgar, Akil Bhartiya Kisan Sangh. The Bhartiya Kisan Party(BKP) in western U.P is most significant.
  3. Student's organizations-They pressurize the government on educational issues and various critical issues. For example All Bengal Student Association formed in 1928. The All India Student Federation(AISF) in 1936. Student's federation of India, National Union of India, The Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarti parishad etc.
  4. Community association-They are in context to safeguard respective religion. For example Schedule caste federation, Backward caste federation, Vishwa Hindu parishad etc.
  5. Linguistic groups-These pressure groups promote certain languages. For example-Tamil Sangh, Hindi Protection Parishad, Punjabi Sahit sabhas etc.
  6. Tribal(regional groups)-There are several tribal interest groups have been active in India. For example The United Mizo Federal organization, The Tribal sang of Assam, The tribal League of Assam, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha etc.
  7. Professional groups-Several professional interest groups like India Bar Association, All India Medical Council, College teachers etc.

Media as pressure group

Mass media plays vital role in reveling the various happening of politics and life of common people all around. In countries such as India the mass media –the radio, TV, the cinema and the press are very powerful means of social change and act as pressure group for the interest of common people and reveals the all deeds of the government. Mass media in its full swing of working can openly criticize the government and have right to place their view on certain situation. Further mass media help to generate a common platform which tries to focus on core issues of the society and its need. So media role is as much important in influencing activities of the political parties as that of other pressure group working to strive certain specific goals. In-fact in this contemporary world media acts as agent of change focusing on social development of society and hence media role of pressurizing government given it nature of pressure group which is of vital importance.

Role of pressure group in India

The capacity of pressure groups id determined by leadership, organizational abilities, mass media, economic power base and mobilizations technique. Beside this they are using lobbying method, strike, bandh, demonstration, funding political parties, using party platform etc. Even pressure group role is indirect it facilitates many vital roles in administration. The various role of pressure groups are as follows-
  1. Role in legislature-Pressure groups tries to introduce their chosen person into legislature. They help political parties on the eve of election and prepares election manifesto.
  2. Role in executive-Pressure group tries to fill high executive posts with men of their own choice i.e. selection of cabinet, distribution of portfolios and P.M selection due to prevalence of collation government. And henceforth influences policy implementation process.
  3. Role in Bureaucracy- Bureaucrats are politically neutral and hence pressure group tries to oblige them by putting good remarks that protect their interests. Bureaucrats have long tenure and so they be in contact with them to oblige.
  4. Role in judiciary-appointment of judges in political affairs and here pressure groups plays important role in that high judicial offices are occupied by them.

Criticism of Pressure groups

Pressure group in India are basically criticized on the following grounds-
  1. Focus on parochial interest-Pressure group getting influence by their sectional and local interest more as compared to their common interest.
  2. Lack of effective membership-Pressure groups do not have well developed infrastructure which can help them in regular way pursuing their interest.
  3. Dominance of single party system-In India for long time there have been single party dominance and these powerful political party do not want to be ruled by any pressure groups.
  4. Lack of autonomous existence-Most of the pressure groups except business groups does not have an independent autonomous existence of their own. most of them dominated by political parties, which tries to divide each pressure group and have strong hold over one group at least.
  5. varying life span-In India we have loose and disorganized multiparty system hence even pressure group appears big and small with varying life span that appears and disappears.
  6. Unstable-Pressure group lacks stability and commitment which results in shift in their loyalties according to changing political situation.
  7. Ineffective for interest articulation-pressure group like trade union in India lacked trained and competent functionaries. They have been not an effective agents of interest articulation in India.
  8. Use of unconstitutional method-Pressure groups in India tries to influence the government mainly through various unconstitutional method as strikes, agitation, demonstration, lockouts etc.
  9. Sometimes led to mass violence -Pressure group involves with protest and certain radicalization of political life results into mass violence. For example Naxalite movement starting after fourth general election of 1967 in west Bengal.
  10. Threat to democratic set up-The tendency of pressure group to resort to coercion to secure the solution of a socio-political problem in streets could be regarded as a serious threat to democratic set up.


But despite of all these major criticism the existence of pressure group are now indispensable and helpful element of democratic setup. Pressure group promotes national and particular interests, constitute a link of communication between citizen and the government. They provides necessary information and keeps the nation politically alive. Today democratic politics has to be politics through consultation, negotiation and some amount of bargaining. These cannot happen without pressure group. The society has became highly complex and individual cannot pursue their interest on their own, they need pressure group for this.Tom Driberge-"You have only two option with pressure group if you agreed with it then accept it and embrace it and if you are not agreed then ignore it". Pressure groups are so vital that they are not confined to need of developed or developing nation or any form of government.


Author: Venkiteswaran.20 Jun 2012 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 1

Media has also become a pressure group now. With private national and international interest in media business, this pressure group is more powerful than any other group. Media pressure group works for self and other external and internal interests.

Guest Author: puspanjali rpout30 Aug 2013

This is a fantastic article on the role of a pressure group which should be very essential for Political Science students.

Author: Ankita Sinha03 Sep 2013 Member Level: Gold   Points : 0

Thanks a lot puspanjali. It feels great that it helped you.

Guest Author: ritu30 Sep 2014

Very helpful article on pressure groups covering all the aspects. Thanks a lot.

Author: Ankita Sinha04 Oct 2014 Member Level: Gold   Points : 0

Welcome Ritu. I am glad that my article helped you.

Guest Author: paramjeet singh29 Nov 2014

very very useful article regarding IAS mains GS 2nd paper thank u for the concise work

Guest Author: deogratias kyndait10 Dec 2014

Is it need to register?

Guest Author: Ashwin13 Dec 2014

So helpful to me for my social project

Guest Author: Riyas K20 Dec 2014

Good one which helps for my daughter's project in school. As mentioned above media also became a pressure group.

Guest Author: jumoke31 Dec 2014

wow. I came across this tryin to broaden my knowledge on pressure group,am a political science student in Nigeria. I found this article lovely and educating

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