Political Science is the study of politics and the political phenomenon. Power is the basic focus of study in Political Science. The study of politics may sound vague! A normal individual might have questions like: What would they do with analysing the decisions of a government? How would they form conclusions from a simple political incident? Well, this article tries to analyse these questions and focus on the basic structure of political science.
THE FIELD OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
The subject of Political Science accommodates a number of sub-fields: POLITICAL THEORY explains the idea of politics in a philosophical manner. Two approaches used are Traditional approach, that gives a better understanding of the political system on the basis of ideas and beliefs; the Empirical approach, that focuses on the scientific basis of the political system. For example The ideas of political thinkers such as John Locke; Thomas Hobbes or Aristotle. The concepts like equality; liberty; justice etc. are studied here. DOMESTIC POLITICS deals with the study of politics in the local; regional; state or national level, such as when a state holds elections or when a country elects its head. COMPARATIVE POLITICS studies the political notion of different countries through the mode of comparison, for instance: When the nations are ranked on the basis of the best literacy rate. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS focus upon the interaction of nations on an international level in the international community. Such as when nations form Diplomatic or Trade relations. Secondly, when nations come together and discuss important issues at organizations like the UNITED NATIONS. PUBLIC POLICY relates to the study of policies and it’s impact on the people. Such as : When America passed a bill, which put a ban on Abortion, policy analyst tried to analyse how people were affected through this bill and what were the consequences of this bill.
The change in political trends, the growth of social and economic trends, important political developments such as the general elections of a nation; appointment of important leaders; new trade relations between two or multiple nations. etc are analysed under the field of Political Science. To understand better about what this field is all about, let’s move further and focus upon the important aspects of the field.
THE ESSENTIAL CONCEPTS OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
Politics is about who gets power; by what means do they get power and how do they use that power!
The first essential concept is the FORM OF GOVERNMENT. Every country is run by a different pattern of the political system such as the DEMOCRACY of INDIA; the COMMUNIST REGIME of CHINA, which can be called as a DICTATORSHIP and the MONARCHY of BHUTAN. Now, what defines, who is a democratic government or who is an authoritarian government? Well, DEMOCRACY comes with a bonus of fundamental rights for its citizens. Here the citizens get to choose their leaders, through fair elections. Rights such as Freedom of speech and expression, where citizens can openly express their ideas and can even criticize the government, they can hold up demonstrations and protests for their demands to be heard; Equality wherein everyone is treated in the same manner irrespective of their religion, race, gender, colour etc. and suitable measures are taken to prevent discrimination. A few examples of strong democratic nations include THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; CANADA; INDIA and. On the other hand, in a MONARCHY power is shared in a hierarchal setting of a royal family. An important example is: Queen Elizabeth, the queen of the UNITED KINGDOM and a number of other small states. JAPAN; BRUNEI and BHUTAN are other countries with a monarch system. NEPAL was a monarchy until 2006, after which it transitioned to democracy. The Authoritarian regime of CHINA, is recognized as the COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT, here, only one single party exists that is The Communist Party, no other party is allowed to contest for elections; the basic civil rights of the citizens are also bleak. The same form of government was in the erstwhile SOVIET UNION, where the citizens weren’t allowed to criticize or question their government and there was no accountability of the leaders. Such forms of government are described as Authoritarian governments or a Dictatorship. Nations like AUSTRALIA; BRAZIL and THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA follow a FEDERAL FORM OF GOVERNMENT where power is divided between two entities: the federal or the national government and the state government, both of these shares balanced power to maintain the status quo.
The principles and fundamental rights of democratic nations are enshrined in the CONSTITUTION. The constitution, in reality, is just a book about rights and rules but in morality, it has greater implications. It is often regarded as the soul of a democracy. A constitution is written in a framework that it accommodates the interests of all groups, including the protection of minority communities and gives the citizens rights to protect them from the exploitation of the government. (for example: if the government becomes authoritarian, these rights help the citizens to retaliate against it). The second essential concept is how International organizations other than the national government’s (non-governmental actors) play an important role in political science. The formation of the association’s over the previous decades like ASEAN (Association of South Eastern Asian Nations); NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) etc. ; nations agglomerate together and form such associations for either trade relations; financial aids; for military help or just diplomatic relations. This new trend proved to be a game-changer in world politics. INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS such as The UNITED NATIONS; THE WORLD BANK or THE AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, play a major role in the study of politics in the international arena. Where the former keeps a check upon how nations behave in the international community and try to resolve conflicts in times of crisis; the latter grants loan to nations and the last one is the biggest human right’s organization. Many of the non-governmental organizations work for achieving world peace and work on issues such as Terrorism, Climate Change, Human Rights etc. Such organizations are very important to analyse the political decisions of the nations in terms of world politics.
UNDERSTANDING THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM
We learnt that the basic element of politics is Power, so now we try to understand how leaders acquire this power and how they use this power! A major part of political science tries to understand how a certain leader gains its position or how a certain party fails to win! Nations with democracy uphold free and fair elections to elect candidates. Several parties contest for elections, but only the one with majority votes comes out victorious. Under the UNIVERSAL ADULT FRANCHISE, everyone above the age of 18, regardless of their gender are allowed to vote. Through this, one person counts one vote. In the election period, the Aspirations of people really matter. An election commission is set up with the election commissioner as the head, to ensure that the elections aren’t rigged. The candidates campaign before the elections, on the basis of which citizens choose their leader. Power here in a democracy is acquired through fair elections, on the other hand, nations with Military dictatorship or Authoritarian Rule have a very bleak scope of elections, this means that people don’t have a say in who becomes the head of the state. The same scenario is in a Monarchy, which has a certain kind of hierarchal ascendancy, thus, people again do not have a say in who becomes their leader.
ANALYSING THE GROWTH OF POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS
Political Science lays a lot of emphasis on understanding what are the aspirations of people and what are their demands or expectations from their governments. It tries to encapsulate the public opinion. But sometimes, when the decisions of the government contradict the aspirations and interests of the people, it often leads to Movements. These aspirations are not just limited to their personal life or political domain but also about the social; economic and environmental domains. People often use protests; rallies and demonstrations as a means to pressurize the government and try to make the government fulfil their demands. This is a novel aspect and one of the recent political trend. Certain examples of the same are THE CHIPKO MOVEMENT in INDIA, concerning the environmental degradation; THE ME TOO MOVEMENT which began in the UNITED STATES and then spread out globally; The Protest against Anti-Lgbt rules all across the globe etc. Political Science tries to understand what led to such events, what might be the consequences of such events and what change it would bring.
The other novel political developments include the formation of Coalition governments, where two or more parties join together as neither of them is able to achieve the required majority; an increased dialogue between nations; be it bilateral (between two nations) or multilateral (between multiple nations) on topics concerning the environment, For example, Nations meet annually to discuss important issues affecting the environment and try to focus on the solutions for the same; Political Reforms to improve the functioning of political institutions such as Improved bureaucracy to keep a check on Corruption etc. With the passage of time, as people are becoming more and more aware of the analysis of right and wrong of any political situation, they tend to work to bring a positive change in the society.
Politics is something that surrounds us all the time and has immense effects on our daily lives, on the same hand the Political Scientists work an extra step to analyse and predict important trends in the realms of politics. The field of Political Science might appear like everyone’s cup of tea but in reality, it’s diverse nature makes it a bit complex.