By going through these Maharashtra State Board Class 11 Political Science Notes Chapter 5 Concept of Representation students can recall all the concepts quickly.
Maharashtra State Board Class 11 Political Science Notes Chapter 5 Concept of Representation
In this chapter, we will study the meaning and methods of Representation. We will examine the evolution of Representative Assemblies in England an in India. Next, we will examine channels of representation such as political parties, pressure groups and NGO’s.
Meaning: The concept of representation is important in any democracy. In ancient Greek and Roman city-states, there existed directed democracy. City-states such as Athens were of limited geographical area and had a small population. Hence, people there governed themselves. All persons (adult males) who had the right to conduct the affairs of the city-state participated in its decision making.
Today, most countries have large territory and population. Hence, direct democracy is not possible. The form of democracy today is indirect democracy or representative democracy. People elect representatives from among themselves to govern the country for e.g., in India, Members of Parliament (MP’s), Members of State Legislative Assemblies/ Councils (MLA’s, MLC’s), of corporations, etc., are all our representatives.
History Of Representative Democracy:
Representative democracy has its origins in medieval Europe. Till that time, Absolute Monarchies existed in most countries. The Divine Rights of Kings Theory was in application. As time went by, Monarchs in many countries like England started having ‘Representative Assemblies’ which represented the population. Soon, these assemblies asked for a share in the decision-making process of the country leading to conflicts between the monarchs and the assemblies for e.g., during the French Revolution.
Most conflicts ended with reduced power to the monarchs. The ‘Representative Assemblies’, now become ‘Political Representatives’ as they dealt with all government activities. Abraham Lincoln’s definition of a democracy as a government of the people, by the people and for the people’ aptly sums up the concept of political representation.
After the uprising of 1857, the Queen’s Proclamation (1858) and subsequent Indian Councils Acts (1861, 1892, 1909) had a few Indians appointed to the National and Provincial Councils. The 1935, Government of India Act, provided for Provincial Assemblies, consisting of elected members in India.
Methods Of Representation:
Methods of representation refer to methods adopted to choose persons in charge of governance.
- Electoral Method – Persons are directly or indirectly elected by the citizens to govern them as members of representative assemblies e.g., General elections to Lok Sabha.
- Non-electoral Method – Representatives occupy their position though nomination or appointment for e.g., President of India appoints 12 Members to the Rajya Sabha.
- Non-official Method – Civil society represents the people through various pressure groups like trade unions, student groups, etc.
Constituencies And Electoral Systems:
Generally, elections to representative assemblies take place on a geographical basis. The territory is divided into distinct areas (based on population) called constituencies. Citizens living in each constituency have the right to elect their representatives for e.g., Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha constituencies and Mumbai city alone has 6 constituencies.
Electoral systems may be classified based on –
(i) How many members need to be elected per constituency?
- Single Member Constituency – only one member is elected
- Multi-Member Constituency – several members can be elected from each constituency.
(ii) How many votes are required to get elected from the constituency?
- Plurality System – The candidate who receives the maximum number of votes is declared as elected for e.g., in the Lok Sabha elections. This is also called First Past the Post system. It is employed in single-member constituencies.
- Majority System – It is necessary to secure a majority of votes (50% or more generally) to be declared as elected for e.g., in Presidential elections in India
- Proportional System – is generally used in multi-member constituencies. The number of candidates of a given political party to be elected depends upon the proportion of votes that the party receives. The types of Proportional Representation include Single Transferable Vote System (used in Legislative Council and Rajya Sabha elections) list system, etc.
Meaning: Political parties are the most important channels for political representation. They are organized groups, comprising of persons who hold similar views on a variety of issues or have similar objectives. They seek to obtain political power, generally, through the process of elections.
The views of a party taken together are called the party’s ideology. Most parties have a hierarchical organization. At election times, political parties issue ‘Manifestos’ i.e., what policies/programmes they would implement if voted to power. Every party puts up its candidates who contest elections.
Origin Of Political Parties:
Political parties emerged a little after representative assemblies. Members within these assemblies, who held similar views, soon began gathering together to influence policies as they desired. The need for organized groups was felt in representative assemblies to ensure that they commanded a majority to head the government. This was noticed in United Kingdom in the 18th century.
In India, Indian National Congress (INC) was the first political party. It was established in 1885. During the freedom struggle many parties like Muslim League, Communist Party, Hindu Mahasabha, etc. were formed. Many parties were also formed after Independence. Some of these are regional parties like TDP, Shiv Sena, others were formed when they broke away from the main party for e.g., NCP, TMC broke a way from INC while other parties were formed to represent a specific ideology e.g., BJP, Akali Dal, AIMIM or toward specific issues e.g., TRS (Telangana).
Classification Of Political Parties:
In India, political parties are classified as ‘National’ or ‘State’ parties. The Election Commission has set up certain criteria. For a political party be eligible to be recognised as a National party.
- It secures at least six percent (6%) of the valid votes polled in any four or more states, at a general election to the House of the People or, to the State Legislative Assembly.
- In addition, it wins at least four seats in the House of the People (Lok Sabha) from any State or States. OR
- It wins at least two percent (2%) seats in the House of People (i.e., 11 seats in the existing House having 543 members), and these members are elected from at least three different States.
At present there are seven National parties i.e. Indian National Congress (INC), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India Marxist (CPM), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and All India Trinamool Congress (TMC).
State-level parties are also called Regional parties since their presence is restricted to one or more states for e.g., Dravida Munnetra Kazhagan (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam AIADMK (Tamil Nadu) or TDP (Andhra Pradesh).
Levels Of Representation And Decision Making:
In India, which is a federation, decision making occurs at both the national and state levels. It also takes place at the local level i.e., in local self-government. Political parties serve as channels of representation at all three levels.
Interest Groups And Pressure Groups:
Interest groups and pressure groups are informal channels that seek to represent the people. A pressure group is an interest group that is organized to influence public opinion and government policy towards the fulfilment of it’s objectives and without active participation in the electoral process.
This includes interest groups in the fields of business such as Federation of India Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI); for labour e.g., Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Bharatiya Kamgar Sena (BKS), for peasants e.g., Shetkari Sanghatana; for students e.g., Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), National Students Union of India (NSUI). In the USA, pressure groups are also called Lobby Groups.
Non-Government Organization (NGO’s):
Non-Governmental Organizations are another mechanism for representation. They seek to represent and to aid sections of society where the government agencies have been negligent or unsuccessful. Most NGO’s represent a cause and have people with specialized knowledge or strong convictions associated with it. In India, there are numerous NGO’s working for social causes such as for the environment or for underprivileged sections of society such as children, the disabled, women, etc.