Popular Struggles – Imp Q and A

1. What conclusions do we draw from popular struggles in Nepal and Bolivia?

Ans.  (i)   Democracy evolves through popular struggles. It is possible that some significant decision may take place through consensus and may not involve any conflict at all.

(ii)   Democratic conflict is resolved through mass mobilisation.

(iii)  These conflicts and mobilisations are based on new political organisations.

Q.2. Differentiate between a pressure group and a people’s movement.

1. Movements have loose organisation while pressure groups are fully organised.

2. Generally pressure groups are guided by organisations but this is not so common in movement groups.

3. The decision making in pressure groups is more formal and rigid, while in the movement groups it is more informal and flexible.

4. Lastly movement groups depend much more on spontaneous mass participation than a pressure group.

Q.3. What is the difference between a sectional interest group and public interest group?

Sectional Interest Groups:

1. They promote selective good rather than collective good.

2. They work for the benefit of the members of the group. They are not much concerned about the society at large.

3. Examples of Sectional Interest Groups are Lawyers Association, Teachers ‘Association, Trade Unions, Students ‘Unions  and so on.

Public Interest Groups:

1. They promote collective good rather than selective good.

2. They work for the benefit of the society. The members may not be benefited by their work.  E.g., An N G O that fights against the bonded labour.

3. As in case of B A M C E F, sometimes both the members and society can benefit.

PREVIOUS YEARS’ QUESTIONS

Q.1. What are public interest groups? How do they look after the public interests? Explain.

Ans: Refer previous question.

Q.2. What  is  a  single-issue  movement?  How  does  it  differ from  a  long-term  movement? Explain with examples.

Issue Specific Movements

1. Issue specific movements are related to only a single issue.

2. They are short lived and have a clear organisation and leadership.

For e.g. .Nepalese movement and Narmada Bachao Andolan

Long term Movements

1. Long term movements are related to general issues like environmental protection, anti-liquor movement etc.

2.  They have a broad goal and are actively long. They can last for generations. For example, women’s movement for equality.

3. They can be very flexible. For example, The Narmada Bachao Movement was started to prevent construction of dams across the Narmada. Now it questions economic development that requires construction of dams.

3. In what three ways can the pressure groups influence the government policies ? Explain.

• They try to gain public support and sympathy for their goals and their activity by carrying out information campaigns, organising meetings, file petitions, etc. Most of these groups try to influence the media into giving more attention to these issues.

• They often organise protest activity like strikes or disrupting government programmes. Workers’ organisations, employees’ associations and most of the movement groups often resort to these tactics in order to force the government to take note of their demand.

• Business groups often employ professional lobbyists or sponsor expensive advertisements. Some persons from pressure groups or movement groups may participate in official bodies and committees that offer advice to the government.

Q.4. Justify with three points that democracy evolves through popular struggles.

1. It is possible that some significant decisions may take place through consensus and may not involve any conflict at all.

2. Defining moments of democracy usually involve conflict between those groups who have exercised power and those who aspire for a share in power. For example, the conflict in Nepal was between Monarchy and Democracy.

3. These moments come when the country is going through transition to democracy, expansion of democracy or deepening of democracy. This is evident with the case of Nepal and Bolivia. There was conflict in Nepal because it faced the foundational challenge. Bolivia on the other hand faced the challenge of expansion and deepening.

Examples:

(i) In Nepal, the movement for democracy was aimed at regaining popular control over the government from the king.

(ii) In Bolivia, the World Bank pressurised the government to give up its control of municipal water suppy. The government sold these rights for the city of Cochabamba to a multi- national company (MNC). After the struggle of Bolivians, the contract with the MNC was cancelled and water supply was restored to the municipality at old rates.

Q.5. “The relationship between political parties and pressure groups can take different forms.” Support the statement with three points.

• While interest groups and movements do not directly engage in party politics, they seek to exert influence on political parties. Most of the movement groups take a political stance without being a party. They have political ideology and political position on major issues. The relationship between political parties and pressure groups can take different forms, some direct and others very indirect.

• In some instances the pressure groups are either formed or led by the leaders of political parties or act as extended arms of political parties. For example, most trade unions and students’ organisations in India are either established by or affiliated to one or the other major political party. Most of the leaders of such pressure groups are usually activists and leaders of party.

• Sometimes political parties grow out of movements. For example, when the Assam movement led by students against the ‘foreigners’ came to an end, it led to the formation of the Asom Gana Parishad. The roots of parties like the DMK and the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu can be traced to a long drawn social reform movement during the 1930 and 1940s.

• In most cases the relationship between parties and interest or movement groups is not so direct. They often take positions that are opposed to each other. Yet they are in dialogue and negotiation. Movement groups have raised new issues that have been taken up by political parties. Most of the new leadership of political parties comes from interest or movement groups.

Q.6. Explain how the activities of pressure groups are useful in the functioning of a democratic government?

Pressure groups have deepened democracy. Putting pressure on the government is not an unhealthy activity in a democracy as long as everyone gets this opportunity. Governments in a democracy can often come under undue pressure from a group of rich and powerful people. Pressure groups remind the government of the needs and concerns of ordinary citizens. The government gets to hear about what different sections of the population want. This leads to accommodation of conflicting interests.

Q.7. Explain any three common features of the popular struggle in Nepal and Bolivia.

1. Both these are instances of political conflict that led to popular struggles. In both cases the struggle involved mass mobilisation.

2. Public demonstration of mass support clinched the dispute.

3. Both instances involved critical role of political organisations; if it was S P A in Nepal, it was FEDECOR in Bolivia.

Q.8. . State any three points of distinction between movements and interest groups.

1. Movements have loose organisation while pressure groups are fully organised.

2. Generally pressure groups are guided by organisations but this is not so common in movement groups.

3. The decision making in pressure groups is more formal and rigid, while in the movement groups it is more informal and flexible.

4. Lastly movement groups depend much more on spontaneous mass participation than a pressure group.

Q.9. What are the techniques adopted by the pressure groups and interest groups to influence politics?

OR

How do Pressure groups and Movements influence politics?

• They try to gain public support and sympathy for their goals and their activity by carrying out information campaigns, organising meetings, file petitions, etc. Most of these groups try to influence the media into giving more attention to these issues.

• They often organise protest activity like strikes or disrupting government programmes. Workers’ organisations, employees’ associations and most of the movement groups often resort to these tactics in order to force the government to take note of their demand.

• Business groups often employ professional lobbyists or sponsor expensive advertisements. Some persons from pressure groups or movement groups may participate in official bodies and committees that offer advice to the government.

Q.10. How are popular struggles an integral part of the working of democracy? Explain by giving an example of Bolivia’s struggle for water.

 

(i)   Democracy evolves through popular struggles. Significant decisions in democracy usually involve conflict between those groups who have exercised power and those who aspire for share in power.

(ii)   Democratic conflict is resolved through mass mobilisation. Sometimes it is possible that institutions like Parliament or judiciary, which are set up to solve the disputes, themselves get involved in disputes. Then the solution has to come from outside — from the people, which happens in the form of popular struggles.

(iii)The government of Bolivia sold the right of municipal water supply of the city of Cochabamba to a multinational company. The company immediately raised the price of water by four times.This led to a popular protest and in January 2000, an alliance of labour, human rights and community leaders organised a successful four-day general strike in the city. The government agreed to negotiate and the strike was called off. Instead of resolving the issue, the police resorted to brutal repression and the government imposed martial law. But the power of the people forced the officials of the MNC to flee the city and made the government concede to all the demands of the protestors. The contract with the MNC was cancelled and water supply was restored to the municipality at old rates. This came to be known as Bolivia’s water war.

Q.11. ‘Pressure groups and movements have deepened democracy.’ Discuss.

In democracy, putting pressure on the rulers is not regarded as an unhealthy practice as long as everyone gets this opportunity. Public interest groups and movements perform a useful role of countering the undue influence of a small group of rich and powerful people, reminding the government of the needs and concerns of the ordinary citizens.

Even the sectional interest groups play a valuable role. Where different groups function actively, no one single group can achieve dominance over society. If one group brings pressure on government to make policies in its favour, another will counter pressure not to make policies in the way the first group desires. The government, thus, gets to hear about what different sections of the population want. This leads to the accommodation of conflicting interests and thus deepening of democracy.

Q. 12. “Pressure groups influencing politics is not healthy”. Support this statement.

1. A democracy must look after the interests of all, not just one section.

2. These groups wield power without responsibility.

3. Political parties have to face the people in elections, but these groups are not accountable to the people.

4. Pressure groups and Movements may not get support and funds from the people, but, Sometimes, pressure groups with small public support but lots of money can hijack public discussion in favour of their narrow agenda.

Q.13. “Pressure groups influencing politics is healthy”. Support this statement.

1. Putting pressure on the rulers is not an unhealthy activity in a democracy as long as everyone gets this opportunity.

2. Governments can often come under undue pressure from a small group of rich and powerful people. Public interest groups and movements perform a useful role of countering this undue influence and reminding the government of the needs and concerns of ordinary citizens.

3. Where different groups function actively, no one single group can achieve dominance over society. If one group brings pressure on government to make policies in its favour, another will bring counter pressure not to make policies in the way the first group desires. The government gets to hear about what different sections of the population want. This leads to a rough balance of power and accommodation of conflicting interests

 

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