Interest groups play a critical role in a diverse, democratic country such as India in putting forward opinion of the various interests of different groups onto the public discourse. They provide space for people to enter the public realm to discuss and debate on an informed and reasonable manner.
The demand of the various interest groups must be entertained on an issue by issue basis. There can be no universal answer to the question. It is subjective. There might be issues for which a particular action may benefit a group but adverse to national interest. Privatisation of defence industry may benefit the corporate and foreign lobby but is detrimental to the national security. Similarly, liberals may argue the dismantling of subsidies but the social and economic scenario show the need for subsidies.
Interest groups also provide inputs regarding the grievances of the people so that government can take corrective measures. Such as Bank employees association, Railway mazdoor union etc. Industrial interest groups like FICCI and CII have from time to time influenced the commercial and foreign trade policy of the country.
On the other hand, there have been instances when the interest groups have involved in violence activities to pressurize the government, e.g. the blockage of rail routes by Gujjars in Rajasthan to demand reservation, the violence erupted in Bombay due to the sons of soils doctrine, etc. There have been cases, where certain vested interest groups have influenced govt policy by corrupt means, like bribe, gifts, etc. Also, issue of international agencies to stall development projects in India via pressure groups has also been raised. Sometimes, pressure groups can articulate the interests of the rich, while the voices of the poor and the marginalised goes unheard.
Thus, it can be said that the interest groups can be entertained by the govt, but the objective behind every decision must be guided by social, economic and political justice to all. Also, transparency in the decision making process can increase the confidence in the working of pressure groups and their role in govt policies.
Should the demands of interest groups be entertained by governments? Substantiate and with suitable examples critically examine the role of interest groups in deciding the outcome of government policies in India. (200 Words)