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Pressure Groups: Types,Characteristics and Functions with Examples

Pressure Groups: Definition, Types, Elements, Objective, Importance, Characteristics, Disadvantages & Examples
What is a Pressure Group?

Pressure Groups

» Pressure Groups are organisations that want to influence the Government to act in a certain way.
» They are the interest groups which work to secure certain interest by influencing the public policy.
» Pressure groups are also called Advocacy groups, lobby groups, campaign groups, interest groups, or special interest groups.
» Pressure groups use various forms of advocacy in order to influence public opinion and/or policy.
» Pressure Groups have played and continue to play an important part in the development of political and social systems.
» Pressure 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.
» The role of a pressure group is indirect, ordinarily, invisible and intermittent yet very important part of an administrative system.
» The pressure groups do not themselves want to form the Government, but they try to influence the decisions of the Government.
» Thus, every pressure group has three elements:

Elements of Pressure Groups

1. An organised group of people,
2.The common interests and
3.Exercise influence on the decisions of the Government.
» Pressure groups are sometimes referred to as ‘Anonymous Empire’ & ‘legislation behind legislature’ due to their strong presence and influence in the polity.

Insider and Outsider Pressure Groups

Insider Pressure Groups 

» Insider pressure groups are regularly consulted by ministers and civil servants and are trusted by government departments because they negotiate quietly and unobtrusively for their members.
» Insider pressure groups have access at a high political level, usually contacts of a Government Minister or an MP, and have some influence on them.
» Examples of insider groups include the National Farmers’ Union, the CBI, the professional associations and trade associations with detailed knowledge of their area of interest.

Outsider Pressure Groups

» Outsider pressure groups are as their name suggests are outside everyday contact with ministers and civil servants.
» Outsider groups lack such close and business-like links with government.
» Outsider pressure groups have to rely more on influence on public opinion to get governments to listen.
» Examples of outsider groups include CND, the Motor Cycle Action Group, the various animal welfare protest groups, Irish Republican Army in favour of united Ireland seen as illegitimate by Britain. Govt etc are the examples of outsider pressure groups.

Characteristics or Features of Pressure Groups

» One of the characteristic features of any pressure group is that they try to manipulate governmental affairs without any intention to have any direct control over it which is one thing that differentiates it from a political party.
» Pressure Groups influence the policy making for their own specific interests.
» Pressure Groups are related to some specific areas like professional activities.
» They indirectly participate in political activities.
» Pressure Groups influence the political power to a great extent and that is why they are termed as ‘Anonymous Empire’ & ‘legislation behind legislature’

Methods or Techniques used by pressure groups to achieve their goals

» Pressure groups organise strikes, dharnas, non-cooperation, public demonstrations, signature campaign and other modes of mass mobilisation. Some of the techniques used bu pressure groups are as follows:
» Lobbying government and parliament: Persuading public officers to adopt and enforce policies of their interest.
» Going through a political party: Method employed almost exclusively by insider groups. Groups more likely to put gentle pressure on opposition party as so many groups lobby government. 
» Legal Action: The judicial branch of government can also be used by advocacy groups to exert influence, especially in states that have codified constitutions (such as the United States)
» Direct Action: Civil Disobedience
» Modern Methods: Using Social Media for mass mobilisation
» The pressure groups working for human causes like peace, environment protection and human rights etc. adopt a method of building enlightened public opinion and creating a good sense of compassion and reasoning. They work through organising occasional national campaigns and international solidarity activities. The movement against AIDS, Terrorism, nuclear bomb etc. are the examples of such campaigns.

Pressure Groups in India

» In the words of Kochanak, “As the Indian case reveals, the political system itself sets the parameters for group activities and groups can be understood as part of a larger and more complex set of relationships which composes the larger political system.” Quite often in India pressure groups are overweighed by religion, caste and language rather than ideological considerations.
» After independence, there was the dominance of single political party over government for a long time and role of pressure groups was limited & perceived negative but today their role are taken to be constructive and democratic.
» The major pressure groups present in India are as follows-

Major Pressure Groups in India

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).

Peasant's Organisation
» It gained power in 1960's. At Central level, only one All India Kisan Congress exists.
» All India Kisan Sabha (All India Peasants Union, also known as the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha), was the name of the peasants front of the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI), an important peasant movement formed by Sahajanand Saraswati in 1936. It later split into two organisations known by the same name: AIKS (Ajoy Bhavan) and AIKS (Ashoka Road).
» On territorial basis All Kisan Kamgar, Akil Bhartiya Kisan Sangh.
» The Bhartiya Kisan Party (BKP) in western U.P is most significant.

Student's Organisations
» They pressurise 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 and Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti etc.

Community Association
» They are in context to safeguard respective religion.
» For example Schedule caste federation, Backward caste federation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak SanghVishwa Hindu Parishad etc.
» Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was founded in 1925 by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, a doctor in the city of Nagpur, British India.
» The VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) was founded in 1964 by M. S. Golwalkar and S. S. Apte in collaboration with Swami Chinmayananda.

Linguistic Groups
» These pressure groups promote certain languages.
» For example-Tamil Sangh, Hindi Protection Parishad, Punjabi Sahit Ssabhas etc.

Tribal (regional groups)
» There are several tribal interest groups have been active in India.
» For example The United Mizo Federal Organisation, The Tribal sang of Assam, The tribal League of Assam, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha etc.

Professional Groups
» Several professional interest groups like India Bar Association, All India Medical Council, College teachers etc.

Major Pressure Groups Names in India

Groups Type
Groups Names
Business Groups 
FICCI, CII, ASSOCHAM, AIMO, FAIFDA etc. (institutional groups).
Trade Unions
Agrarian Groups
All India Kisan Sabha, Bharatiya Kisan Union etc.
Student’s Organisations
Religious Groups 
RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Jamaat-e-Islami etc.
Caste Groups
Harijan Sevak Sangh, Nadar Caste Association etc
Linguistic Groups
Tamil Sangh, Andhra Maha Sabha etc
Tribal Groups
NSCN, TNU, United Mizo federal org, Tribal League of Assam etc.
Professional Groups
Ideology based Groups
Narmada Bachao Andolan, Chipko Movement, Women Rights Organisation, India Against Corruption etc.
Anomic Groups*
ULFA, Maoists, JKLF, All-India Sikh Student’s Federation etc.

Media as Pressure Group

» The media is made up of newspapers, radio, magazines, TV, the Internet
» All are influential, although to different extremes
» The media becomes particularly important at election time
» Media scrutiny is very important because it helps to make the government accountable
» As the opposition (HMO) has a minority of MPs/MSPs, it can be ineffective
» The media lets us know about MPs, Ministers or the government itself and whether or not they are doing anything wrong

Do pressure groups enhance democracy?
Yes •

Advantages of Pressure Groups

» Pressure Groups represent various demands and interests (e.g. pro and anti-fox hunting), and are therefore a vital element of a pluralist society.
» This also ensures that both sides of an argument are heard.
» Pressure Groups encourage and enable the people to participate in the political process.
» Pressure Groups can also educate and inform the electorate, and thus enhance political education.
» Pressure Groups can help to achieve change within society that strengthens democracy, such as the civil rights campaign in the united states during the 1960s.
» Decision-makers are made aware of how the public feel about certain issues.
» Trade unions help to counterbalance the considerable power of employers, and in doing so, ensure that workers are treated fairly.

Do pressure groups enhance democracy?
No •

Limitations of Pressure Groups

» Outsider groups usually take direct action, which can be illegal and undemocratic (e.g. in the united states, pro-life campaigners have sent letter bombs to abortion clinics)
» Pressure Groups are not elected (and are therefore unaccountable) to the public.
» Some Pressure Groups do not even elect their own leaders
» Insider Pressure Groups can hold too much influence over government ministers, which can be detrimental to those who wish to reduce the role of the state.
» This argument is closely associated with the new right
» The most powerful Pressure Groups tend to represent the interests of big business.
» Whilst most demonstrations are peaceful, some demonstrations can turn violent (e.g. the poll tax riots in 1990).
» Some Pressure Groups could be accused of holding the country to ransom.

List of Pressure Groups working World-wide

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
» People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an American animal rights organization based in Norfolk, Virginia, and led by Ingrid Newkirk, its international president.
» PETA is a nonprofit corporation with nearly 400 employees, it claims that it has 6.5 million members and supporters, in addition to claiming that it is the largest animal rights group in the world.
» Its slogan is "Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way."

» Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over 40 countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
» It was founded by Canadian and US ex-pat environmental activists in 1971, Greenpeace states its goal is to "ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity" and focuses its campaigning on worldwide issues such as climate changedeforestationoverfishingcommercial whalinggenetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues.
» It uses direct actionlobbyingresearch, and ecotage to achieve its goals.

Amnesty International
» Amnesty International (commonly known as Amnesty and AI) is a non-governmental organization focused on human rights that claims to have over 7 million members and supporters around the world.
» The stated objective of the organisation is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."
» Amnesty International was founded in London in 1961, following the publication of the article "The Forgotten Prisoners" in The Observer on 28 May 1961, by the lawyer Peter Benenson.
» Amnesty draws attention to human rights abuses and campaigns for compliance with international laws and standards.
» It works to mobilise public opinion to put pressure on governments that let abuse take place.
» Amnesty considers capital punishment to be "the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights".
» The organisation was awarded the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize for its "campaign against torture," and the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights in 1978.

» Oxfam is an international confederation of charitable organizations focused on the alleviation of global poverty.
» Oxfam was founded at 17 Broad Street in OxfordOxfordshire, in 1942 as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief by a group of Quakerssocial activists, and Oxford academics
» Oxfam believes that poverty and powerlessness are avoidable and can be eliminated by human action and political will.
» The right to a sustainable livelihood, and the right and capacity to participate in societies and make positive changes to people's lives are basic human needs and rights which can be met.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
» The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961, working in the field of the wilderness preservation, and the reduction of humanity's footprint on the environment.
» It was formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States.
» The living planet report is published every two years by WWF since 1998, it is based on living planet index and ecological footprint calculation.

Important Questions asked on Pressure Groups 

The Pressure groups are:
a. Political organisations
b. Economic organisation
c. Moral organisations
d. Organisations of universal character (Correct Answer)

The Pressure Group tries to promote the interests of their members by exerting pressure on:
a. Executive
b. Judiciary
c. Legislative
d. All the above (Correct Answer)

Which of the following are known as Pressure Groups?
a. Trade unions
b.  Caste groups
c. Tribal organisations
d. All the above (Correct Answer)

Which of the following is not a feature of pressure group?
a. It tries to influence from outside
b. Its membership is large
c. It actively joins political parties (Correct Answer)
d. Its members can join any number of groups

Which of the following is not a method used by the pressure group for achieving its objectives?
a. It finances political parties
b. It organises demonstrations
c. It clearly aligns with a political party (Correct Answer)
d. It tries to influence policy makers

Is Greenpeace an INSIDER or OUTSIDER pressure group?
Answer: Outsider

Fill in the Blanks
The pressure groups adopt __________ methods to pressurise the government. (liberal/extremist) (Correct Answer: Extremist)
The _____________ pressure groups are able to get their demands fulfilled. (strong/ weak) (Correct Answer: Strong)
(c) The pressure groups try to mould the public opinion by using various ____________ methods. (publicity/confidential) (Correct Answer: Publicity)

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