30 August 2015

Chapter – 5 Popular Struggles and Movements

CBSE NCERT Class X (10th) | Civics

Chapter – 5 Popular Struggles and Movements

Popular Struggles And Movements

Democracy often involves conflict of interests and viewpoints of the people. An ordinary citizen can play a vital role in a democracy through pressure groups and movements that can influence decisions made by those in power.
In April 2006, Nepal witnessed a popular movement which was aimed at regaining popular control over the government from the king. Political parties joined hands and a new coalition was formed, the Seven Party Alliance (SPA).

In Bolivia the World Bank pressurized the government to give up control of municipal water supply in favour of multi nationals. The government hence sold the water rights for the city of Cochabamba to a multinational company who immediately increased the price of water by four times and people received monthly water bill of Rs 1000 in a country where average income is about Rs 5000 a month.

Mass scale protest by the people started in the country and a new alliance of labour, human rights and community leaders was formed in January 2000. The movement in Nepal was to establish democracy while in Bolivia it involved accountability of a democratically elected government.

The struggle in Nepal was about the foundation of the country’s politics whereas the movement in Bolivia was about one specific policy.
Both these struggles were successful through popular movements and struggles but their impact was at different levels.

Pressure Groups

Pressure groups are organizations that influence government policies by putting pressure on the ruling government. Unlike political parties, pressure groups do not aim directly to control or share political powers.

Pressure groups are of two types; Sectional interest groups and Public interest groups. The sectional interest groups seek to promote the interests of a particular section or group of society.

Their main concern is the betterment and well-being of their members and not the people in general. Public Interest Groups are organizations that represent common interests for the betterment of people in general or even a common cause that needs to be defended. A public interest group or a promotional group can also work in self-interest along with others.

Movement groups can be broadly classified under two types. An issue specific movement which seeks to achieve a single purpose usually within a specified time like the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

The other type of movement is more generic that seek to achieve a broad ranging goal in the long term like the women’s movement. Sometimes there is an alliance between all these broad movements which can have an umbrella organization like the National Alliance for Peoples movement.

Influence Of Pressure Groups on Politics

The objective of pressure groups and movements is to pressurize the government to agree to their demands. These groups try to get public support and sympathy for their objectives by carrying out campaigns, and some unconventional methods like organizing protests.

The relationship between political parties and pressure groups can take different forms. This can be either directly or indirectly. The pressure groups are either formed or led by leader of political parties or act as the extended form of political parties.

In most cases the relationship between parties and interest groups or movement groups is not direct. They often take positions that are opposed to each other, yet they are in dialogue and negotiation. Pressure groups with small public support backed by individuals willing to spend for the cause can hijack public discussion in favour of their narrow agenda.

In such scenarios the public interest groups and movements perform useful role of countering these undue influence.

Political Parties - An Introduction

Parties are necessary to represent the people of a country. They help to conduct elections in an organized functioning of the legislature.

A political party is a group of people with a definite agenda and who intend to acquire power in the government. Political parties reflect political divisions in a society; so parties are a part of the society and thus involve Partisanship. A political party has three components: The Leaders, the active members and the keen followers.

Political parties play an important role in making laws for a country. Though laws are debated and passed by the legislature, they go by the direction of the ruling party leader irrespective of personal agenda. Political parties are necessary in a democracy as they unite like-minded people from diverse background. Political parties form a two-way link between government and people bringing them close to each other.
Types of Political Parties

There are three major types of Party system in use in various countries: Mono party system, Bi party or two party system and Multi-party system.

Mono-party system is a political system in which only one party controls and runs the government. Mono-party system is not expensive. There is also stability in this type of a system as there is no opposition and there is no chance of being voted out of power. There is no choice to the voter.

A Bi party system is a type of system in which power alternates between two parties only. The party that gets the majority forms the government and the other party forms opposition. There is stability in this system as it comes to power having won a majority. Thus there is continuity of policies and programs.

There is a strong opposition as only one party forms the opposition. The choice is however limited between two parties. Hence public opinion cannot be expressed properly.

A Multi-party system is a system in which several parties compete for power and more than two parties have a reasonable chance of coming into power either on their own or in alliance with others.

It is a democratic system of representative government where the opinions of the people are represented adequately. There is a wide spectrum of choice for the voters.

In this system the coalition government works keeping inmind the interest of the people. A coalition government is generally a multi party system when no single party wins a majority of seats many parties get together based on compromise and tolerance.

National And Regional Parties

India is a Federal democracy with two kinds of political parties i.e. Regional and National Parties.

Regardless of their status all parties have to register with the Election Commission. Once the commission recognises these parties they are known as ‘recognized political parties’.

A party that secures at least 6% of the total votes in Lok Sabha elections or wins four seats in the Lok Sabha is recognized as a national party.

As per the classification of Election Commission in 2006, there are six national parties in India. 
  • The Indian National Congress,
  • Bharatiya Janata Party,
  • Bahujan Samaj Party,
  • Communist Party of India
  • Nationalist Congress Party 

The recently added 7th party is the Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD.

The AIADMK or All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Shiromani Akali Dal, TDP or Telugu Desam Party and Shiv Sena are some of the popular regional parties.

Challenges And Reforms

Political parties are the most visible force of democracy.

In order to function properly and remain effective instruments of democracy, a political party must overcome the following four challenges:
  • Lack of internal democracy within parties
  • Dynastic succession or other unfair advantages
  • Money and muscle power
  • Absence of meaningful choices to the voters

As political parties face these challenges, there is a growing need to reform the system. Some of the reform measures taken by the government are: Anti-defection law, affidavit requirement and organisational meetings for political parties.

The anti-defection law was introduced to curb the growing trend of elected representatives who changed political parties to become ministers or to get cash rewards.

The affidavit requirement was an order passed by the Supreme Court as a measure to curb the challenge of money and muscle power.

The third reform measure was made by the Election Commission where for all political parties it was mandatory to hold regular elections and also file their income tax returns.

Political parties can also be reformed in two other ways. One is to pressurise political parties through pressure groups, movements and media and the other is to include reformers in the political parties.

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