Meaning of Pressure Group: Pressure Groups are interest groups as well as influence groups. They are not solely political organizations, and unlike political parties they do not put up candidates for elections. We may also call such groups as ‘Private Associations formed to influence the public policy.” They are a nedium through which people with common interest may endeavour to effect the course of public affairs. In this sense, any social groups which seeks to influence the behaviour of administrators and parliamentarians, without attempting to gain formal control of government, can be said to be pressure groups. Pressure groups often represent viewpoints of people who are dissatisfied with the current conditions in society, and they often represent alternative viewpoints that are not well represented in the mainstream population. By forming a pressure group, people seek to express their shared beliefs and values and influence change within communities and sociopolitical structures, such as governments and corporations.
Types of pressure groups: There are many Classification of Pressure Groups. Since, our concern is not about the classification of pressure groups, we will not dig further into the context. However, let us highlight the classification of pressure groups by Gabriel A. Almond in name only:
- Associational Interest Groups
- Non-Associational Interest Groups
- Institutional Interest Groups
- Anomic Interest Groups.
Our Main Concern is pressure Groups in Developing Countries. What type of Pressure Groups are existed in Developing Countries? Peter and Susan Culvert wrote, “Most third world states (1) are still characterised by a predominance of non-associational interest groups (groups people are born into) and a relative scarcity of formally organized associational pressure Groups (Groups that people choose to join)”
Characteristic of pressure Group:
Developing Countries: Developing country is a term generally used to describe a nation with a low level of material well being, and therefore high level of poor know-nothings. There is no single internationally-recognized definition of developed country, and the levels of development may vary widely within so-called developing countries, with some developing countries having high average standards of living. Some international organizations like the World Bankuse strictly numerical classifications. The World Bank considers all low- and middle- income countries as “developing”. In its most recent classification, economies are divided using 2008 Gross National Income per capita. In 2008, countries with GNI per capita below US$11,905 were considered developing. Other institutions use less specific definitions.
Role of Pressure Group In Developing Countries: Pressure Groups play a very important role in every political system and in any part pr regions of the world. Be it a develop Society or Developing Society, the role of pressure groups has been immense. However, their effectiveness and capabilities cannot be the same and so their role differs from society to society and country to country.
In Developing Countries, pressure groups assume different dimensions and plays different roles.
- Since, most of the developing Countries are in a transitional type of Government after their freedom from the shackles of the imperial powers or in other words, in a transition towards the democratic form of Government, pressure Groups in different Countries plays an important role in achieving a more stable government and pulling their countries towards a democratic Government. Pressure Groups like 88 Generation Students in Myanmar are still fighting for the re-establishment of Democracy in a military ruled Myanmar. They played a prominent role in Pro-Democracy campaign inside the Country. In Cambodia, SMD, Student Movement for democracy played an important role in shaping the course of the political system in the country. Students´Movement for Democracy (SMD) is a non-political and most active youth organization in Cambodia. It was established in 1998 after the unfair and unjust election result released manipulated by the CPP. And many countries are shocked by the often takeover of the governance in the country y the military personnel. IN Such times, the pressure groups have played an important role in bringing back the country to a more democratic way of governance.
- Many of the pressure Groups in developing Countries fought against the economic and market policies of the government. Such pressure groups are usually Trade Unions. One powerful pressure Group or to be more specific, Trade Union is Nigeria Labour Congress. It is is an umbrella organisation for trade unions in Nigeria. It was founded in 1978 following a merger of four different organisations: Nigeria Trade Union Congress (NTUC), Labour Unity Front (LUF), United Labour Congress (ULC) and Nigeria Workers Council (NWC). The numerous affiliated unions were restructured into 42 industrial unions. Its founding President was Wahab Goodluck. During the course of its history, it has a conflict with the military regime in the country. Recently, the organisation has a conflict with the Nigerian Government over the higher fuel prices.
- Some pressure groups palayed a very important role in the socio-political and cultural reformation or change in the country. They are fighting against the evils that befalls the society. Congress of South African Trade Unionsplayed a leading role in the struggle against apartheid.
- Significant gains in public health have been achieved because of efforts by pressure groups, including important changes and advances in public health issues such as tobacco control, occupational health and safety, air pollution, and HIV/AIDS. South Africa has one of the largest incidence of HIV/AIDS in the world, with a 2005 estimate of 5.5 million people living with HIV — 12.4% of the population. The trade union movement has taken a role in combating this pandemic. COSATU is a key partner in the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), a registered charity and political force working to educate and promote understanding about HIV/AIDS, and to prevent new infections, as well as push for greater access to antiretrovirals. COSATU passed a resolution in 1998 to campaign for treatment. “It was clear to the labour movement at that time that its lowest paid members were dying because they couldn’t afford medicines,” says Theodora Steel, Campaigns Coordinator at COSATU. “We saw TAC as a natural ally in a campaign for treatment. We passed a formal resolution at our congress to assist and build TAC.
- Types of Pressure Groups like Trade Union is a very powerful organisation in most of the developing Countries striving for a better work condition and environment for the workers. The Trade Unions in Pakistan are involved in Collective bargaining for a labor contract between an employer and employee.
- The Condition of women in developing Countries are relative weaker as compared to those in the developed socitey and hence, pressure groups played a big role in lifting the poor women conditions and strengthening their status. The Gibraltar Women’s Association was founded on the 15 February 1966, by Mrs Mariola Summerfield and Mrs Angela Smith.It was originally known as the Gibraltar Housewives Association, and subsequently, in the early eighties it was changed to the Gibraltar Women’s Association keeping in with more modern times that not all women were solely housewives
- Many pressure Groups in Developing Countries started to give out their concerns over environmental issues and gay, lesbian and transgender rights. Most of the Developing Countries and in transition from traditional to modern Society and such type of pressure groups which took such issues became very important. Equality Rights Group, In Gilbraltar is one example of such pressure groups.
- One remarkable features that emerges since th 1990’s is the emrgence of pressure Groups with an approach to take up the issues in which the government are weak. There was a tendency amaong the people in the devoloping Countries to say, ‘Let the Government do it’. That attitude has now beginning to change. Now, they didn’t wait for the Government to come up with some welfare measures and policy. They (pressure Groups) push the government and even in some issues, they tried to satisfy themselves by a means they developed. One example could be taken up from the case of Pakistan. For a country, where once the attitude prevailed of ‘Let the Government do it’ it is heartening to see that since the 1990s there has been proliferation of NGOs devoted to various sectors of social and human betterment, human rights, democratization, women’s empowerment, and low-income Housing. One of The ealierst is the hauji Foundation. Another influential group is the Edhi Foundation.
- Many of the pressure groups in the developing Countries often assumes the characteristics of an anomic pressure group because the government is usually irresponsible or in other words soft, and political parties are incapable of adequately aggregating the interest and demands of all sections of the population that anomic pressure groups appear on the scene.
- Pressure Groups have played a more significant role in those developing countries which has a more stable government and political System or which has a dopted democracy as its system. The role of pressure groups in a devoloping countries with a stable political system are listed out in the following :
(a) The balance the national and particular interests. The constitute links of communication between the citicens and the state.
(b) They render a necessary service by making much valuable data available to governmental agencies and to the public in general. They supply necessary information and accurate statistic to policy-makers. With the help of the data supplied by the pressure groups With the help of the data supplied by the pressure groups, the pressure groups can support the necessary arguments . Thus, from a mass of conflicting information and views, the truth can always be discerned.
(c) A democracy which permits its citizens to express their varying interest and desires thereby gain a sort of ‘Build In’ protection against the emergence of a single, dominant social force. Businessmen, workers, farmers, social groups, women and religious groups-all seek to advance their own interests, but they are forced to compete with one another. The inevitable result is that they balance each other’s demands and this countervailing tendency protects the society against the threat that an individual group will come to wield total power.
(d) Pressure group keep democracy alive during the interval during the elections and constitute a barrier against inter-regnums. They supplement the party system and the formal instruments of government by serving as spokesman of special interests within society.
(e) Pressure Groups have become a legislature behind a legislature. By their zeal and enthusiasm, their expertise knowlegde and specialised skills, they influenced law-making on the floor of the legislatures and in the committee rooms.
(f) The powers and functions of the government are increasing day by day. The theory of the welfare state and the method of planned development are the new phenomenon which have led to growth of government power. Socialism and Positivism have increased them considerably and today we need ‘Groups’ as a shield against the sword wielded by the government.
EFFECTS OF PRESSURE GROUPS: According to Peter and Susan Culvert,
“ In the Third World Countries interest groups are distrusted, and when they take the form of ethnic or community groups, there is a great fear that they endanger the national Unity. In India where a caste, ethnic group or region dominates the politics of a state that group will benefit disproportionately in the allocation of appoinments and contracts. Many government officials, as Weiner noted, tended initially to decry this tendency as a violation of democratic principles. They had, he suggests, a rather idealistic picture in their minds, not of the way that the british system of democaracy actually works, but of how it was supposed to work, and nor were they well informed about the politics of the United States of America.
CONCLUSION: Developing Countries have a different political system System and in all the political systems, the pressure groups present and played an important role. However, their role vary from country to country and systems to systems. They played a vital role in shaping the future of the country and are a force behind the normal functioning of the country. They help the government and even push them to achieve greater heights for the welfare of all. Thus, pressure Groups in Developing Countries have assumed greater significance in the functioning of the state and help to achieve a stable Political System with the promotion of greater sections of the Society as a whole.
NOTES AND REFERENCES:
- Since, there’s less difference between the Third World Countries and Developing Countries, I treat it as the same term. They are not though, exactly the same termnilogy, however, the two terms are used interchangebly, anyway.
- Calvert, Peter & Culvert, Susan,( 2001), Politics and Society in third world, pearson Education Limited, Essex, England,.
- Maheswari, S.R., (2007), Comparative Government and Politics, Lakshmi Narain Agarwal, Agra.
- Fadia, B.L,(2008), Indian Government and Politics, Sahitya Bhawan Publications, Agra .
- CIA, US. (2008),The 2008 CIA World fact Book, [EBook #29233].
(1) www. Encyclopedia.Com
(2 )www. Nationmaster.Com
(3) www. Wikipedia.Org