Day 23 – Q 2. How are the activities pursued by pressure groups different from lobbying? Explain. What role do pressure groups play in the polity? Discuss.

  • IASbaba
  • July 6, 2020
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Governance, GS 2
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2. How are the activities pursued by pressure groups different from lobbying? Explain. What role do pressure groups play in the polity? Discuss.

दबाव समूहों द्वारा की जाने वाली गतिविधियां लॉबिंग से अलग कैसे है? स्पष्ट करें। राज्यतंत्र में दबाव समूह क्या भूमिका निभाते हैं? चर्चा करें।

Demand of the question:

It expects student to write about the difference in activities pursued by pressure groups and lobbying. The Question also expects student to discuss the role pressure groups play in polity.


In general terms a pressure group is a group of people who are organised actively for

promoting and defending their common interest. Whereas the term ‘lobbying’ means any attempt to influence the decision-making of a government or opposition representative in the exercise of their official functions on behalf of a third party, for a fee or other reward.


Difference in Activities pursued by Pressure groups & Lobbying:

  • The pressure groups are also called interest groups or vested groups. They are concerned with specific programmes and issues and their activities are confined to the protection and promotion of the interests of their members by influencing the government.
  • Whereas Lobbying activity may corresponds to interest of small section of people’s interest, company or organisation.
  • The pressure groups influence the policymaking and policy implementation in the government through legal and legitimate methods like correspondence, publicity, propagandising, petitioning, public debating, informing legislators and so forth.
  • Whereas lobbying activities emerged as more of sophisticated activities where direct contact with legislator is established in terms of give and take. 
  • Sometimes Pressure groups resort to illegitimate and illegal methods like strikes, violent activities and corruption which damages public interest and administrative integrity.
  • Lobbying activities are back stage activities where no one can surely say who the real people are involved in it. Depending on the type of polity in the country lobbying activities can be legal or illegal. As lobbying is legitimate in some of the states of USA whereas it has no legal basis in India.

Role of Pressure groups in Polity:

  • Pressure groups in India represent interest of various sections of Indian society and economy such as Business groups, Trade unions, Professionals group, Students organisation, Agrarian groups etc.
  • Interest Articulation: Pressure Groups bring the demands and needs of the people to the notice of the decision-makers.

 e.g. Narmada Bachao Aandolan. 

  • Agents of Political Socialisation: Pressure groups are agents of political socialisation in so far as they influence the orientations of the people towards the political process.
  • Pressure Groups and Administration: Pressure Groups are actively involved with the process of administration. e.g. Student groups play a pivotal role in helping the administration for implementation of various schemes & scholarships for students.
  • Pressure groups play a leading role in the formulation of public opinion.
  • Pressure groups help in improving the quality of government. Consultation with affected groups is the rational way to make decisions in a free society.
  • Pressure groups complement the work of opposition political parties by exposing the bad policies and wrongdoings of the government. Pressure groups thereby improve the accountability of decision makers to electorates.
  • Pressure groups help to educate people, compile data and provide specific information to policy makers, thus they work as an informal source of information.

Shortcomings of Pressure Groups:

  • Misuse of power: Instead of the pressure groups exerting influence on political process, they become tools and implements to sub serve political interests.
  • Narrow selfish interests: Some Pressure Groups promote narrow selfish interest. 
  • Instability: Most pressure groups do not have autonomous existence; they are unstable and lack commitment, their loyalties shift with political situations which threatens general welfare. They many a times resort to unconstitutional means like violence. Naxalite movement started in 1967 in West Bengal is one such example.
  • Propagating extremism: Pressure groups can allow too much influence over the government from unelected extremist minority groups, which in turn could lead to unpopular consequences.


Democratic politics  involves  taking decisions through consultation, debate, discussions etc. Pressure groups can form good channel of communication between citizen and government but at the same time their vested interests if any needs to be checked so that true meaning of democracy can be fulfilled i.e. “participative democracy”.

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