State And Government


The government is one element of the state.

  • It is the agency through which laws are made, enforced and those who violate laws, are punished.
  • It is the visible manifestation of state authority.
  • It consists of all the persons, institutions and agencies through which the will of the state is expressed and carried out.

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Though the state speaks through the government, it is proper to differentiate between the two.

(a) The state has authority inherent in itself whereas the government has no inherent powers. The government gets its structure, authority and power from the Constitution of the State.

The Constitution being the collection of basic rules, is the fundamental law according to which the government of a state is organized.

(b) The state is a larger entity that includes all the citizens; the government is, relatively a smaller unit that includes only those who are employed to perform its functions. We are all citizens of the state, but we are all not functionaries of the government.

Garner writes: “The government is an essential organ or agency of the state but it is no more than the state itself than the board of directors of a corporation is itself the corporation.”

(c) The idea of state is quite abstract. The government is the concrete manifestation of the idea of the state. Thus, we see the government, not the state.

(d) The state is a near permanent institution; it is so because it does not die unless it is attacked and made a part of the other state. The government is temporary; it is so because it may change: today’s rulers may not be tomorrow’s rulers.

To put it the other way, the state may be the same everywhere whereas, the government may vary from one state to another. India, the United States, Great Britain and France for example, are all states. But the governments which work in these states may not be of the same type. In India and Great Britain there is a parliamentary government, whereas in the United States of America there is presidential government.

Parliamentary Government is a system of government where the legislative organ of the government is closely related to its executive organ; the cabinet is taken from the legislature and is responsible to it, especially to the lower house of the legislature.

Presidential government is a system of government where the legislative organ of the government is independent of the executive organ; the executive exists separately from the legislature and is not responsible to it.

(e) The sovereign powers lay with the state; it is the state which is sovereign. The government only exercises power. The government’s powers are delegated and derivative; the state’s powers are real and original.

(f) The opposition to the state is different from the opposition of the government.

  • We criticize the government; we never condemn the state.
  • The criticism of the state is a revolt; the criticism of the government is not a rebellion.
  • We would never hear from an Indian that India is bad; but we would usually hear that the policies of the Indian Government headed by a political party or a multitude of political parties are bad.
  • It is a crime to condemn one’s state; it is a duty, in fact it is a right to criticize one’s government.

(g) The government is merely an element of the state. Accordingly, it is one part of the state. It is a part of the whole (of the state). As a part, the government is not greater than the whole. When we talk of the state, we talk of the population, the definite territory, the government and sovereignty. But when we talk of the government, we talk of one part, one element of the state.

(h) The state’s territory is always definite. It remains unchanged. Its boundaries remain where they are. The government’s territory is never permanent. Muhammad Tughlaq had changed his capital to a place called Daulatabad. Many governments had changed their capitals to London during the World War II, fearing the German attack.

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Bibliography : NIOS – Political Science

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