Role of the State




Role of the State:

A democratic society is likely to have a diversity of views. Such diversity arises from a variety of socio-economic, political, and cultural factors. In India, the situation is further complicated by factors such as caste, religion, poverty, illiteracy, demographic pressures, ethnic and linguistic diversity. The country has witnessed many disturbances - agrarian unrest, labour and student agitations, communal riots, and caste-related violence. A lack of good governance and poor implementation of laws are the major factors for public disorder.

Public order, stability, and peace implies a harmonious state of society. It implies the absence of disturbance, riot, revolt, and lawlessness. Maintenance of law and order is universally recognised as the prime function of the State. Peace and stability are one of the crucial requirements for the political, economic, and socio-cultural development of the State. The lack of it is likely to lead to divisive tendencies in the state. It is the function of the State to ensure that there is peace and stability and that the nation remains united. In any state, there are likely to be diverse groups in the society, the establishment of a dialogue between them is also an initiative that the State would be expected to take. This is the process of nation-building and national integration.

Nation is a community that is bound together by a feeling of unity and oneness based on certain factors. They are people who identify socially, culturally, politically, and want to establish a separate identity for themselves. There is a sense of oneness that is psychological and born out of commonness of culture, ethnicity, religion, language, history, etc.

Nationalism is a sense of political identity. They gain a sense of identity and self-esteem by this identification. It is a force that creates the feeling of oneness in a community based on ethnicity, race, religion, language, or any other factors.

When people of a nation want to become a sovereign country, it means they are demanding the right to self-determination. It is this urge for political self-determination that leads a nation in the direction of statehood. A State must have the following characteristics to qualify for statehood: sovereignty; independent government, territory, and population.

A State may have people belonging to different ethnicity, race, religion, language, etc. These people may have a sense of their own identity. But they desire to come together to create a State. Most of the States in the world are multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-racial, etc. They are multi-cultural pluralist entities. The basic problem that any state would face, therefore, is the problem of national unity, integrity, and consolidation. This problem is the problem of national integration.

The values of nationalism, secularism, and democracy and goals, economic development, and social change are the ones that determine the role of the State. This role may be described as follows:

(i) Peace and Order: The State ensures peace and order in society. The core purpose of the State is protection. This role has also been described as ‘state-building’. The survival of the political system may be threatened from the international or domestic environment. The maintenance of security and survival of the state, its constitution, and political order is one of the key roles of the State.

(ii) Economic Development: The State is expected to intervene in economic life for the purpose of promoting industrial and agricultural growth and economic development. Economic stability and growth would ensure the economic wellbeing of the people. This does not imply creating a Socialist System and Planning. It implies that the State must be a facilitator of economic development.

Eg: The NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) is a policy think tank of the Government of India, established with the aim to achieve sustainable development goals with cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach.

(iii) Nation Building: This refers to the problem of ensuring that the diversity in a society does not lead to the disintegration of the State. Nation Building is closely associated with the idea of national integration.

(iv) Governance: Involvement of the members of the society in the decision- making process of the State is good governance. This is sometimes referred to as ‘democratisation’ or the creation of a ‘participatory state’.

Participation is commonly defined as the act of taking part in some action. 'Political participation', hence, is largely assumed as an act of taking part in 'political' action. However, such definition often varies in political science due to the ambiguities surrounding what can be conceived as 'political' actions. Within this general definition, the perception of political participation varies by differing modes, intensities, and qualities of participation. From voting to directly influencing the implementation of public policies, the extent to which political participation should be considered appropriate in political theory is, to this day, under debate. Participatory democracy is primarily concerned with ensuring that citizens are afforded an opportunity to participate or otherwise be involved in decision making on matters that affect their lives.

(v) Welfare: This refers to the application of the principles of social justice, fairness, and equality. The State is expected to rectify the imbalances in the society so that the marginalised sections of the society do not suffer.

The values of nationalism, secularism, and democracy and goals of economic development and social change are essentially those associated with nation building.

The problem of national integration is universal. It involves dialogue and reconciliation of all diversities to build up a common national identity. These diversities may be of socio-cultural, regional, religious, linguistic, and economic nature. Such an identity may be labelled as nationalism. In its effort of creating a common national identity, nationalism tries to promote the forces of unity in the nation. It seeks to reconcile the differences and forge a national rather than a sectoral perspective.

National integration does not wipe out the individual or group identities of various sections of society. It does not try to create a homogeneous society. It only believes in creating a territorial nationality that overshadows subordinate group identities. For example, when we say we are Indians, it is a territorial nationality of being an Indian in the country of India. The subordinate identities of being a Marathi, Tamil, Punjabi, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Christian, etc are not eliminated. They remain subordinate to the territorial national identity of being an Indian. The American use the word ‘salad bowl’ to describe their socio-political system. The task of a nation, thus, is to recognise the regional, ethnic, linguistic, religious, etc. diversity and seek to preserve, consolidate, and strengthen its unity. This in essence is the problem of national integration.

India is a Melting Pot:

‘The Melting Pot’, a metaphor used to represent the synthesis of various cultures, to describe the unity in different essences or the presence of different hues at a single place. In other words, it describes a multicultural society. More positively, it represents a multicultural society living harmoniously, happily, and peacefully.

India is a melting pot of different cultures encompassing in itself various languages, traditions, music, art, and whatnot. Since times immemorial there has been the inclusion of different elements into this melting pot, those elements mixing, sharing their value system, and thus reaching out to a delicious and sense charming dish to everyone in every aspect. And hence diversity is the beauty of India when compared with any other homogenous society.

The common values associated with national integration may be identified as follows:

  1. Common citizenship
  2. Unity in diversity
  3. Feeling of loyalty to the Nation
  4. A sense of fraternity among all diverse communities
  5. Secularism
  6. Socioeconomic and political justice and
  7. Equality.

The role of the State in the context of national integration:

Forging of national unity; strive for nation-building to promote the values that the State stands for; strive to maintain peace and harmony in society; ensure socio-political stability; promote economic development and protect the citizens from external or internal crisis situations.

The role of the State in the process of national integration involves the following:

  1. Promote unity among the culturally and socially diverse groups living in a single territorial unit
  2. Establish a national authority over subordinate political units or regions, with distinct cultural and social groups.
  3. Establish a dialogue between the State authority and the people to understand their aspirations and life conditions.
  4. Evolve certain values and goals that would help maintain social order

Nations stay together when citizens share enough common or shared values and preferences and can communicate with each other. National unity is the solidarity within citizens of a nation and adherence to law and order. National unity is not homogeneity. It advocates a ‘community of communities’ which respects diversity and shared values, experiences, and geographical relativity. It is a form of ethnic, racial, linguistic, and religious tolerance. It is an incremental step towards societal peace. National unity is essential in maintaining a harmonious and functional society. National unity and subsequently societal stability contribute to nation-building.

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