Interest group or pressure group is a kind of group activity which is common to all democratic societies. This assumes significance because it is a part of the political process, though of course, it is not a part of the government. It is related to government in the sense that it protects or promotes a particular interest by influencing the process of policy making of the government.
A pressure group is a group of people who have shared interests and interact with each other. They are primarily interest groups and have a potential of playing the role of exercising pressure on the political system. The term ‘Pressure Group’ therefore, refers to any interest group whose members because they share certain common attributes, make claims on other groups and on the political process. Their objective is to realise their aims that arise out of their common interest. Their aim is to see that laws or Government’s actions are favourable to their interests.
In this respect, it is to be noted that all pressure groups are interest groups but all interest groups are not necessarily pressure groups. Unless an interest group participates in bringing some kind of social, economic and political pressures to influence public policy, it does not become a pressure group. Thus, various associations of social and cultural bodies are interest groups, but not pressure groups.
The concept of pressure group applies to India also as the Indian society is composed of several interacting groups and that the political system represents the plural character of Indian society. Again, it must be remembered that India is basically a developing – country with different political culture, where the ‘politics of scarcity’ as described by Myron Weiner, plays an important role.Therefore, the character of pressure groups and their role in Indian polity should be understood in the above context.
Difference between Pressure Groups and Political Parties
Pressure Groups are different from political parties in their very nature, function and objectives. A pressure group seeks to influence the public policy making processes only to serve the interest of its members but it does not aim at capturing power and form a government of its own. Political parties are primarily concerned with capturing power through election and forming the government.
Pressure groups are representation of homogeneous interests seeking influence, while political parties combine heterogeneous groups. The membership of political parties is larger than that of pressure groups. A person can be a member of several pressure groups as he has diverse interests, but can not be a member of several political parties at the same time. Thus, interest groups act as agents of interest articulation and these various interests are aggregated by the political parties and the political system of a country.