- You might have come across this question and topic many times during your mains test series. But you are used to answering for the whole domain of pressure groups rather than a particular sector’s pressure groups. But there is nothing to worry about
- The main theme of the answer will be the discussion on farmers related pressure groups and how they influence the policymaking in India and how effective are they.
- In the introduction, define what are pressure groups and their types. Introduce some of the agrarian PGs here itself.
- Then in the main body, list the methods used by them to influence policymakers.
- While mentioning those methods, try to have comprehensive coverage and do not stick to the recent events only. You can include methods used by them since independence.
- Then in the 2nd part, discuss their effectiveness in short and long terms.
- Before ending, do mention the reasons for their failures in various domains like clustered and regional approach; the politicization of the movement etc.
- In conclusion, be optimistic and lend your support to them and mention how they can move forward in the coming times.
Pressure group are among the most important and potentially legitimate actors that can promote pro-poor agricultural development. PG in the farmers’ interests occupies the domain between the state and the marketplace. Prominent farmers organization are All India Kisan Sabha, Bharatiya Kisan Union, Hind Kisan Panchayat, etc.
Agriculture based organisations
- The rise of peasants groups in India has been mainly due to abolition of Zamindari System, implementation of Panchayati Raj, land reform measures, Green Revolution Movement. They gained power since the 1960s.
- Their demands relate to procurement prices of agricultural products, fertiliser subsidy, tenancy rights, electricity charges, etc.
Methods used by them
- Supporting political parties in elections: The farmers’ organizations offer support to the political parties during the election time and sometimes even during the non-election times. They control the parties through this voting-in-a-bloc mechanism.
- Protests: Another method is staging a protest at the state and national level. This is mainly done on a large scale basis and sometimes these protests turn violent, as it happened in Madhya Pradesh a couple of years ago.
- Long march: In recent times, the long march of farmers to prominent cities for their demands has become an active medium of voicing their issues. Recently, Mumbai was gheraoed by hundreds of thousands of peasants comprising various agrarian outfits.
- Media: With the gains made in mass media and education level, there are various experts and members of these farmers organizations who constantly raise their issues and opinions through media, social media and interviews. Through this, they have tried to influence public opinions.
- Close rapport with the State apparatus: The agrarian pressure groups also maintain close rapport with the State apparatus, viz., the bureaucratic machinery. The more organised pressure groups maintain a wavelength with the key bureaucrats and executives in the framing of agri policies.
Effectiveness of these methods:
Areas where they have been effective
- The overall impact has been tremendous for landless labourers and tillers of the soil.
- Not only the farmers’ organizations succeeded in many places increasing the wage rates for agriculture labourers and securing a due share for poor peasants.
- Pressure has been exerted by organized agrarian lobbies to persuade the government to improve the socio-economic position of the farmers. Hence varied land reforms measures have been adopted since independence.
- Major reforms due to the intervention of these farmers’ bodies include the abolition of Zamindari system, tenancy, reforms, ceiling of land holdings, setting up of co-operative farms etc.
- As a result of these interventions, intermediaries between the actual cultivators and the states have been abolished.
- These organisations have pressed governments to pursue the better realisation of prices for farm produces through policies like MSP and agri export policies etc.
- The overall impact of these groups and organizations has been feeble when compared to other big economies.
- The overall political voice and influence of these groups have been less.
- The organisations have limited territorial reach because of a fractured mandate, political party’s support, geography and various other factors.
- These organizations have become a tool for the vote bank politics and because of lack of a truly national organization since the last couple of decades, has rendered these organisations ineffective in their persuasiveness.
- The interplay of language, caste factor, weak financial positions, etc. have been greatly responsible for non-emergence of national-level pressure groups.
- Farmers’ organised groups largely influence the administrative process rather than the formulation of policy. This is dangerous as a gap is created between policy formulation and implementation.
- Unlike the farmers pressure groups in the developed countries of the West, where these are invariably organised to safeguard economic, social, cultural interests, etc. of farmers, in India, these groups are organised around regional and ethnic issues.
Despite their, some shortcomings, farmers pressure groups are now considered as an indispensable and helpful element of the democratic process. The society and economy have become highly complex and farmers individually cannot pursue their interests on their own. They need the support of other fellow beings in order to gain greater bargaining power; this gives rise to agrarian pressure groups based on common interests. Democratic politics has to be politics through consultation, through negotiation and some amount of bargaining is also involved. Thus, it is very essential for the government to consult these farmers’ organised groups at the time of policy formulation and implementation.