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PSIR Optional Paper I Section A by R P Singh (150 Words)

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  • Test Date
    2022-06-27 07:00:00
  • Evaluated


  • Attempt both questions
  • The test carries 30 marks.
  • Write Each answer in 150 words.
  • Any page left blank in the answer-book must be crossed out clearly.
  • Evaluated Copy will be re-uploaded on the same thread after 2 days of uploading the copy.
  • Discussion of the question and one to one answer improvement session of evaluated copies will be conducted through Google Meet with concerned faculty. You will be informed via mail or SMS for the discussion.

Question #1. Comment: “Because the society is federal, the authority must also be federal”. (Laski)

Question #2. What are the exclusive features of a Liberal State which differentiate it from authoritarian or totalitarian states?

(Examiner will pay special attention to the candidate's grasp of his/her material, its relevance to the subject chosen, and to his/ her ability to think constructively and to present his/her ideas concisely, logically and effectively).

Model Answer

Question #1. Comment: “Because the society is federal, the authority must also be federal”. (Laski)


Laski is a liberal scholar and advocates pluralist theory of state. In the above statement, he deals with the pluralistic theory of state sovereignty. Pluralists like Laski are critical of monistic theory of state which means state exercising power in absolute manner. Rather, they advocate that sovereignty of state is limited because of the presence of other associations in the society. In our social life, no single relation or association can be supreme, but federal in nature. Each has its own role to play.

Laski as an advocate of international peace and humanity also maintained that state authority can’t be sovereign and absolute. According to Laski, the universe is multidimensional. Man as a part of the universe also has a multidimensional personality. All needs can’t be fulfilled by any one association. Therefore, we require different associations like family, civil society for fulfillment of our different needs. Therefore, all such associations also deserve some share in the authority upon man. Thus, the state alone can’t claim monopoly on authority. Thus, it can be said that society is a federal authority and must be federal.

The Pluralist view of the state is distinct from the perspective of Marxist. The Pluralist does not hold that the state is essentially contradictory in nature, as the Marxist and the Elitist schools of thought consider. Instead, the Pluralist view of the state that it is neutral in nature. It is also supposed that the state is vulnerable to numerous influences from various groups in the society. The modern state is not only dominated by one class, that is the capitalist or the bourgeoisie class, which dominates the political power, as believed by the Marxist philosophy. The modern state is a type of framework wherein interests of the society can be reunited.

In simple term, Pluralism is an influential protest against the monistic theory of sovereignty which endows the state with supreme and unlimited power. Pluralist theories indicate that political power should be regarded as analytically distinct from economic power and, in contrast to elitists, power is not concentrated in the hands of a single group, but widely dispersed among a variety of groups and actors. The exponents of Pluralism are Harold Laski, J.N. Figgis, Ernest Barker, G. D.H. Cole, A. D. Lindsay, Duguit, MacIver and others. Pluralists stated that sovereignty resides not with the state but it resides with many other institutions. There exist many social, political, cultural and economic institutions in society and many of these institutions are prior to the State. For example, Family and Church are prior to the State. According to them, the notion of the state is that there can be various sources of political power. Therefore, a single group does not have monopoly of political power. Although the capitalist class can have a very strong position in the society, they cannot however have complete dominance over the working class, as anticipated by the Marxists. The proletariats can extend their power through labour unions or trade unions.

The views of Laski are relevant in the contemporary world. There are many examples in international politics that show that states exercising absolute control and authority sooner or later dissolve. Arab spring in some of the dictator states of the West Asia and North Africa region is such an example.


Question #2. What are the exclusive features of a Liberal State which differentiate it from authoritarian or totalitarian states?


A liberal state can easily be identified from an authoritarian or totalitarian state and this is because of certain exclusive features of such a state are as under:

  • A liberal state always accepts a liberal approach towards the rights of citizens. The most vital precondition of an individual's development is granting of rights and privileges to all individuals justifiably. If any inequality or discrimination is to be followed that must be for the general interest of the body politic and to the least disadvantage of anybody. By resorting to this system, the authority of the liberal state will be in a position to ensure the progress of the individuals. In defined term, liberalism implies what is granted in the forms of rights and privileges to one shall also be granted to others.
  • Liberal state presumes the existence of many groups and organisations and the typical feature of a liberal state is that they are involved in cooperation and conflict among themselves. These groups are termed in various ways such as "power elite" "ruling elite" etc. There are also many interest groups.
  • Under normal and nonviolent conditions, liberal states do not normally intend to impose restrictions upon their activities. In an authoritarian state, the predominance of such a situation cannot be imagined. Plurality of ideas and organisations is a prohibited fruit in such a state.
  • The liberal state upholds neutrality among all these groups. Since diversity of groups and organisations and cohabitation among them are the distinguishing features of a liberal state, any conflict of interests can also be regarded as a foreseeable consequence. The liberal state maintains utmost neutrality. This is the claim of the voters of a liberal state. The liberal state generally does not favour any particular class or elite group in the case of conflict. Though the state maintains neutrality the state is quite aware of clashes of interests between classes and groups. As a provider of check and stability in the political system, the state espouses reforms so that disruption cannot occur. A liberal state can sensibly be called a reformist state. Through frequent reforms a liberal state brings about changes in the political system. In fact, liberalism or liberal state is strongly related with reforms and in that sense, it is based on reformism. It accepts liberal attitude to improvements.
  • Vital feature of a liberal state is that it is accountable to the people which means that all its activities, decisions and policies are to be accepted by the body politic. The consent and accountability is the matching ideas related with the liberal state. It means that the decision of the state is not final even though it is for the general welfare of the community. It is because what is welfare and what is not, is to be decided for whom it is meant. There is no scope of imposing anything upon the individuals against their will.
  • Liberal state is never a one-idea state. It embraces diversity of ideas, views and existence of numerous groups and parties. This finally indicates a competition among them. Competition involved seizure of political power through constitutional means, legal procedure and democratic ways, competition in views and philosophies. It is believed that the truth will emerge only from this struggle of words and ideas. That is why, in a liberal state, such a competition is always encouraged. J. S. Mill strongly supported the competition among the different shades of views and ideas.
  • A liberal state always has numerous political parties. In any liberal state, there are a number of philosophies of political parties and they struggle to capture power. Here lies a major difference between a liberal state and authoritarian state. A liberal state is occasionally called a pluralist state because of the plurality of ideas and organisations.
  • A competitive party system is a very important aspect of a liberal state. One party captures power, while the other party or parties sit in the opposition and in this way, the change in power takes place which does not normally occur in a dictatorial state. It has been upheld by a critic that modern parties are mass organisations with extra-parliamentary structure.
  • Separation of power is a major feature of liberal state. A liberal state means limited state and it again infers the three organs of the state, will discharge this function keeping themselves within the confinement decided by law and constitution. When this is applied, no organ of the government will interfere with the functions and jurisdiction of another organ. But the separation of powers need not be the only requirement of being liberal. For example, Britain is a liberal state but the separation of powers has been unsuccessful to be an integral part of state mechanism. But some forms of separation of power must exist in all liberal states.
  • A liberal state does not sanction the supremacy of a particular philosophy, various opinions or ideologies work and exist side by side. It is a state of multiple ideas, ideals, ideologies and views and all of them use opportunities and atmosphere for work. In a non-liberal state, such a situation is unimaginable. In authoritarian governments, the state-sponsored dogma dominates over all other philosophies. Both fascism and communism fall in this category. The citizens are free to select any one idea or ideology and application of force is non-existent.
  • In all liberal states, there are mainly two centres of power, one is economic and the other is political. But the economic power-centre controls the political power. Marx highlights this aspect of liberal state. After appraising history, he understood that the owners of the sources of production and the controllers of distribution in all possible means control the political power for the continuance of the interest of the capitalist class. They control parties, pressure groups, send their own persons to represent people, the legislatures enact laws to protect the interests of the dominant class.
  • There is no fixed form of liberal state.

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