Political Science Chapter 5: Popular Struggles and Movements

Facts that Matter

  1. Democracy almost invariably involves conflict of interests and viewpoints. These differences are often expressed in organised ways. Those who are in power are required to balance these conflicting demands and pressures. Let’s see how struggles around conflicting demands and pressures shape democracy.
  2. Pressure groups and movements are indirect ways of influencing politics.
  3. Nepal won democracy in 1990. The king formally remained the head of the state and the real  power was exercised by the elected representatives. But when King Gyanendra became the new king of Nepal in 2001 he did not accept democratic rule. In February 2005, he dismissed the Prime Minister and dissolved the popularly elected Parliament. People revolted and started a movement in April 2006 to regain popular control over the government from the king. Finally, the king granted the demands. As a result, the parliament was restored and laws were passed to take away most of the powers of the king.
  4. Bolivia’s Water War is worth mentioning here. Bolivia is a small and poor country in Latin America. The World Bank pressurised the government to give up its control of municipal water supply. The government sold off these rights to an MNC. The company immediately increased the prices four times. This led to serious agitation. Finally, the contract with MNC was cancelled and water supply was resorted to municipality at old rates. This was known as Bolivia’s water war.
  5. The popular struggle in Bolivia was about one specific policy, while the struggle in Nepal was about the foundations of the country’s politics. But both these are instances of political conflict that led to popular struggles. In both cases the struggle involved mass mobilisation.
  6. Democratic conflicts are resolved through mass mobilisation. Sometimes it is possible that the conflicts are resolved by the existing institutions like parliament or judiciary but when there is a deep dispute then it is resolved by the people.
  7. The conflicts and mobilisations are based on new political organisations. These include—political parties, pressure groups and movement groups.
  8. Organisations played an important role in making these struggles successful. In Nepal SPA or Seven Party Alliance organised the mass upsurge. Besides SPA other organisations were also there such as Nepalese Communist Party (Maoist), etc. Other organisations like organisation of indigenous people, teachers, lawyers and human rights groups extended their support to the movement.
  9. In Bolivia, the protest against water privatisation was not led by any political party. It was led by an organisation called FEDECOR. This organisation comprised local professionals, including engineers and environmentalists.
  10. The organisations play their role in two ways—Direct and Indirect

Direct: One way of influencing the decision in democracy is direct participation in competitive politics. This is done by creating parties, contesting elections and forming governments. Citizens participate through voting.

Indirect: There are many indirect ways in which people can get government to listen to their demands or their point of view. This can be done by forming an organisation and undertaking activities to promote their interest or their viewpoints. These are called Interest or Pressure groups.

11.  Pressure groups are organisations that attempt to influence government policies.

12.  They do not directly control or share political power. These organisations are formed when people with common occupation, interest, aspirations and opinions come together in order to achieve a common objective.

13.  People’s movement involves collective action. We can cite here the examples of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Movement for Right to Information, Anti-liquor Movement, Women’s Movement, Environmental Movement.

14.  Sectional interest groups seek to promote the interest of a particular section/group of society. For instance, trade unions, business associations and professional (lawyers doctors, teachers etc).

15.  They are sectional because they represent a particular section of a society like workers, employees, businessmen etc. Their principal concern is the betterment of their members and not society in general.

16.  Public interest groups represent some common or general interest that needs to be defended. The members of the organisation may not benefit from the cause that the organisation represents. For example, the Bolivian organisation FEDECOR.

17.  They are also called promotional groups as they promote collective and not selective good. They aim to help groups other than their own members. In some cases, the members of a public interest group may undertake activity that benefits them as well as others too.

18.  BAMCEF (Backward and Minorities Community Employees Federation) is such an organisation that campaigns against caste discrimination. It addresses the problem of its members who suffer discrimination and its principal concern is with social justice and social equality for the entire society.

19.  There are two types of movement groups:

(i) Specific movements/short term movements are formed to achieve single objective. For instance, the Nepalese movement for democracy.

(ii) General/generic movements/long term movements came into existence to achieve a broad goal in the long run. For instance, the environmental movement and women’s movement.

20.  These movements share a broad objective and have a similar approach. Sometimes these broad movements have a loose umbrella organisation. For example: NAPM (National Alliance for People’s Movement) is an organisation of organisations. Various movement groups struggling on specific issues are constituents of this loose organisation which coordinates the activities of a large number of people’s movements in our country.

21.  Pressure groups and movements exert influence on politics in a variety of ways. They try to obtain media attention and public support through activities like carrying out information campaigns, organising meetings, filing petition etc. They organise activities like strikes or disrupting government programmes to compel the government to listen to their demands.

22.  Interest groups and movements seek to exert influence on political parties. Most of the movement groups take a political stance without being a party.

23.  Relationship between political parties and pressure groups can take different forms, some direct and others indirect.

24.  Pressure groups are often formed and led by politicians and political parties. Most trade unions and students’ organisations in India are either established by, or affiliated to one or the other major political party.

25.  Sometimes political parties grow out of movements. For instance, when the Assam movement led by students against the ‘foreigners’ came to an end, it led to the formation of Asom Gana Parishad.

26.  Interest or movement groups often take positions that are opposed to each other. Yet they are in dialogue and negotiation. They often raise new issues which are taken up by the political parties.

27.  It may initially appear that it is not healthy for the groups that promote interest of one section to have influence in democracy.

28.  A democracy must look after the interest of all, not just one section. Political parties have to face the people in elections, but these groups are not accountable to the people.

29.  But it is a fact that pressure groups and movements have deepened democracy. Putting pressure on rulers is not an unhealthy activity in a democracy as long as everyone gets this opportunity.

30.  Even sectional interest groups play a valuable role. When different groups function actively, no single group can achieve dominance over society.

31.  If one group brings pressure on the government the other will counter pressure. The government ultimately hears about what people want. This brings a rough balance of power and accommodation of conflicting interests.

Words that Matter

  1. Pressure groups: Organisations that attempt to influence government policies but do not directly control or share political power.
  2. Sectional interest groups: These groups are formed by those who seek to promote the interest of a particular section/group of society.
  3. Public interest groups: These groups are formed by those who represent some common or general interest that needs to be defended. They are also called promotional group as they promote collective and not selective good.
  4. Political Party: A group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government.
  5. Maoists: The communists who believe in the ideology of Mao, the leader of the Chinese revolution.
  6. Constitutional monarchy: The type of government in which the King or Queen remains the head of the state accepted by the Constitution and an elected parliament, e.g. United Kingdom, Spain etc.
  7. Third wave’ countries: Countries that changed into democratic government from either monarchy, dictatorship or from colonial rule, e.g. Nepal.
  8. Absolute monarchy: The system of governance in which the head of the state has absolute power. The monarch runs the country with total powers.


Choose the correct option:

1. FEDECOR is a/an ......... .

(a) Indian organisation                                                            (b) Bolivian organisation

(c) American organisation                                                       (d) Japanese organisation.

2. Name the type of government adopted in Nepal in the year 1990.

(a) Monarchy                                                                           (b) Dictatorship

(c) Colonial rule                                                                      (d) Democracy.

3. Bolivian struggle of 2000 was against what?

(a) Privatisation of water

(b) Regaining popular control over the government from the king

(c) Establishment of democracy

(d) None of the above.

4. The aim of the Nepalese popular movement of April, 2006 was to ......... .

(a) overthrow democracy                                (b) regain control over the government from the king

(c) establish dictatorship                                 (d) none of the above.

5. The full form of NAPM is ......... .

(a) National Alliance of Public Movement                 (b) National Authority of People’s Movement

(c) National Alliance of People’s Movement              (d) National Agency of Public Movement.

6. The Green Belt Movement of Kenya was led by ......... .

(a) Wangari Maathai                                                   (b) Nelson Mandela

(c) Binni Mandela                                                      (d) Desmond Tutu.

7. Which one is an example of single issue movement?

(a) Women’s movement                                              (b) Environment movement

(c) Narmada Bachao Andolan                                    (d) People’s movement.

8. The aim of BAMCEF is to campaign against ......... .

(a) untouchability                                                        (b) smoking

(c) moral devaluation                                                  (d) caste discrimination.

9. The movement called Kittiko-Hachchiko started in Karnataka in 1987. What does Kittiko-Hachchiko mean?

(a) Catch and save                                                      (b) Sow and harvest

(c) Pluck and plant                                                      (d) Pluck and throw

10. What is FEDECOR?

(a) Political party                                                         (b) Health institution

(c) Educational institution                                          (d) Organisation.

Ans. 1—(b) 2—(d) 3—(a) 4—(b) 5—(c) 6—(a) 7—(c) 8—(d) 9—(c) 10—(d)


  1. Who dissolved the popularly elected parliament in February 2005, in Nepal? (CBSE 2015)
  2. What was the main role of ‘FEDECOR’ organisation in Bolivia? (CBSE 2015)
  3. What did the world Bank ask the Bolivian government?
  4. Water did the government of Bolivia do then?
  5. What was the immediate step taken by the company?
  6. How is democratic conflict resolved?
  7. What was FEDECOR comprised of?
  8. Which party supported the movement led by FEDECOR?
  9. What are called interest groups?
  10. What are pressure groups?
  11. How are pressure groups different from political parties?
  12. Name some people’s movement which have become very popular.
  13. How is a movement similar to an interest group?
  14. How is a movement different from an interest group?
  15. What are sectional interest groups? Give examples.
  16. What is the principal concern of the sectional interest groups?
  17. What is the principal concern of the promotional groups?
  18. What is BAMCEF?
  19. What is the principal concern of BAMCEF?
  20. Give an example of the issue specific – movement.
  21. What was the objective of Narmada Bachao Andolan?
  22. Give two examples of movements that are long term and involve more than one issue.
  23. Name one movement that gave birth to a political party. What is the name of this party?
  24. Which financial agency pressurised the government of Bolivia to give an MNC, control over water supply arrangements in the city of Cochabamba?
  25. In which two ways, the public interest groups achieve their arms?


  1. “The struggle of the Nepali people is a source of inspiration to democrats all over the world.” Support the statement. (CBSE 2015).
  2. Name the two types of movement groups and give one example of each.
  3. Compare and contrast the popular struggles of Nepal and Bolivia.  (HOTS)
  4. What are pressure groups? Why are they formed?    (HOTS)
  5. What events led to the restoration of democracy in Nepal?
  6. Write a short note on Bolivia’s water war.
  7. Which groups were involved in Bolivian Water War?       [V. Imp.]
  8. Write the full form of NAPM. What do you know about it?
  9. Write a short note on promotional groups.
  10. How is a democratic conflict resolved?      (HOTS)
  11. Why did the people of Bolivia protest in 2000?   (CBSE 2011)
  12. Describe the movement for democracy in Nepal, April 2006.    (AI CBSE 2012)
  13. Describe the ‘second popular movement for democracy of Nepal’.   (CBSE 2012)
  14. How do pressure groups and movements exert pressure on politics? Explain with an example.  (CBSE 2012)
  15. Distinguish between ‘pressure groups’ and ‘movement groups’ with examples. (AI CBSE 2013).
  16. What are the differences between the ‘pressure groups’ and ‘political parties’? (CBSE 2011, 2013)
  17. Distinguish between ‘issue–specific movements’ and ‘long term movements’.         (CBSE 2011)
  18. Explain three common features of the popular struggle in Nepal and Bolivia.          (CBSE 2011)
  19. What are the differences between ‘sectional interest groups’ and ‘public interest groups’. (CBSE 2011, 2013)
  20. Justify with three points that democracy evolves through popular struggles.            (CBSE 2011)


  1. How do pressure groups and movements exert influence on politics? Explain with examples. (CBSE 2015)
  2. How far are pressure groups good for democracy?   [V. Imp.]
  3. In what ways do the Environmental Movement and Women’s Movement differ from the Narmada Bachao Andolan?   [V. Imp.]
  4. Distinguish between sectional interest groups and public interest groups.
  5. Describe, in brief, any four features of movement for democracy in Nepal.  (CBSE 2010)
  6. “Pressure groups and movement exert influence on polities in a variety of ways.” Explain any four ways.      [CBSE 2011, AI CBSE 2012, 2012(F), 2013]
  7. How did the struggle of the Nepali people become a source of inspiration to democrats all over the world? Explain.                                                                                               (AI CBSE 2013)
  8. How was Nepal movement different from Bolivia’s movement?    (CBSE 2013)
  9. What are public interest groups?


How do they look after the public interest? Explain.  (AI CBSE 2009)

     10.  Describe the ‘second popular movement for democracy’ of Nepal.   (AI CBSE 2012)


  1. “Social movements and pressure groups try to mobilise citizens in many ways.” Read the above statement carefully and then answer the questions that follow:
  2. What is BAMCEF? What problems does it deal with? What is its principal concern?


  1. ‘Popular struggles are integral to the working of democracy’. Discuss.
  2. What are the indirect ways of protest in democracy?
  3. Give one reason for struggle in Bolivia.
  4. Distinguish between interest groups and pressure groups.
  5. Describe the four main features of popular mass struggle for restoring democracy in Nepal.