Interest Groups

VOICE OF PEOPLE

In a Democracy, there are several organised groups representing the voice of its citizens. They interact among themselves and with the government, and augment and supplement the role and purposes of the political parties.

  • While parties are the formal, open and recognized part of the political system, competing for power, the interest groups are informal, often secretive, concealed and conspiratorial and sometimes even unrecognized entities.
  • They’re even referred to as ‘unofficial government’s and ‘invisible government’s.
  • Their objective is not to capture power like political parties but only to influence its decisions.
  • They do not aspire to form government, but to effect a change in its policies and direction in a manner of their interest.
  • Different interest groups project different interests. They seek to influence the policies and decisions of the government, sometime through open propaganda and direct approach, and sometime through disguised and clandestine means.
  • To achieve this, they try to influence the government through all its three organs legislature, executive and judiciary as well as the administrative procedure, rules and inclinations.
  • An interest group represents the social, economic and political interest of the respective segment in the polity.
  • These segments, for example, could be farmers, industrial workforce, miners, business and commerce, professional groups like medical practitioners, lawyers, servicemen, journalists, teachers, students and youth etc.
  • Its members have common objectives and share certain similar values. They try to build public opinion in their favor and often canvas support of the party leaders, the legislators and the government officials while pursuing their objectives.
  • Trade-unions are more aggressive, organize gheraos, bandh and dharnas; students and youth organizations tend to get violent. Business interests are pursued more discreetly and secretly.
  • Interest groups that work for larger human causes like peace, disarmament, environment, human rights, human development, friendship among countries etc., pursue a different approach and method.
  • They work by building enlightened public opinion, by promoting an all-party consensus, by enlisting the sympathy, support and participation of a cross-section of opinion leaders in a society, and appealing to human reason, good sense and compassion.

In one sense, interest groups provide a necessary link in the functioning of democracy, and in extending the concept of representative responsible government.