There are many differing views when it comes to defining the characteristics of a State, and hence definitions are ever-changing. However, a common thread through all studies is this – the State is a territorially bound political unit with centralized institutions for the administration of governance, and so is very different from groups such as tribes or units without such governing institutions. There are features of interest when it comes to defining the modern State. These are:
- It is contained within precise boundaries over which there exists administrative control,
- It occupies large territories with control given to organized institutions,
- It has a capital city and associates with State symbols that symbolize its power and authority,
- The government within said State creates organizations to monitor, govern and control its population through record keeping, and
- It increases this surveillance over time.
The State is based on certain structures, as we have mentioned before. Now, let’s have a look at them one by one.
Society – By society we mean different people living together in a common geographical area, having different beliefs and cultures, under a single political authority. A society is composed of different kinds of institutions, such as education, marriage, family etc. Every individual who is born in and is a member of society experiences these three things in different phases of time. These institutions create and nurture civic and moral values in a person belonging to society, and also shape that person’s personality.
Government – In simple words, it is the instrument through which people get enforced their basic rights, by selecting their representatives and giving them the power or authority to make decisions in their interest. Government is the focus and centre of the common purpose of the people occupying a definite territory and it is through this medium that common policies are determined, common affairs are regulated and interests promoted. Without a government, there cannot be any concrete decisions made, and anarchy may ensue, since no wishes or needs of the people may be fulfilled in the absence of such an instrument. Insurrection and civil war would be the ultimate consequence of the absence of government. The State cannot and does not exist without a government, no matter what kind of State it may be.
A State as an institution has certain essential elements and traits. These are:
- Sovereignty and
Population – this factor is the key without which a State simply cannot exist. But this population must be large and substantial. A single person, or for that matter a single family will not lead to the formation of a State. However, there is no limit on how many members can be there in a State. They can number in thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions.
One factor which matters a lot is the kind of people who live in a nation and who form a State. A good citizen vis-a-vis a bad citizen is an asset for the growth of the nation. He/she is intelligent, disciplined, respectful of the law of the land, healthy and educated. They can maintain unity and tolerance in tense times, and hence contribute to the State’s internal strength and security. No State however, is without its anti-social, dissenting elements, and these have a negative effect of the welfare of the nation State. The way to keep them in check is through a system of penal law, which punishes the guilty and protects the innocent.
Territory – Just as every person is part of his/her State, so is the physical piece of Earth he/she inhabits and lives on. The existence of a clearly defined territory is vital for the existence and recognition of a State and its boundaries, for purposes of gaining Statehood.
Land, water and airspace within the defined territorial area comprise the territory of the State. In other words, the biosphere contained within the limits of a State forms its territory.
Government – This is also known as organized government. It is a creation of society so as to ensure that social order is maintained, and any dispute, originating out of a conflict of interests between, say, two different individuals, or an individual and the State is resolved. In simple words, it is the instrument through which people get enforced their basic rights, by selecting their representatives and giving them the power or authority to make decisions in their interest.
Sovereignty – It is the independence of a State from external aggression or control, and indicates complete control over and power to regulate its own affairs.
Legitimacy – simply put, it is the consent of the people which lends acceptability to the State’s control over them. But it also indicates that the people are complying with, or are bending down in front of a superior power. The State takes advantage of this legitimacy, in the sense that sometimes the rules and regulations devised by it may not benefit a certain citizen, or even a group or community, but the people bear it because they understand that these decisions are made for the common good of the entire society.
Responsibilities of the State:
The State has certain roles and responsibilities which it fulfills through the instrument of government. These range from providing access to good education and healthcare, ensuring social welfare, promoting cultural peace and harmony, and also making sure that the State’s economy is up and running in good condition. This includes the reallocation of funds and resources to those who require these things most. This can be done through various plans the State implements through the government every year or at certain intervals of time.
The State’s economy can be encouraged through introducing friendly tax schemes, so that industries are provided with an incentive to set up their workplaces and factories within the geographical boundaries of the State. Greater tax deductions lead to the contrary effect; they discourage industries from stepping foot inside the State. Other methods include – financing roads, educational institutions, hospitals, public amenities such as parks, zoos etc.
Another job of the State is to ensure welfare and security of its citizens and their means of employment. Standards of work, such as proper wages and safety are things which the State must give to its working class citizens. Providing them with medical aid plans, pension and insurance schemes comes under this sphere too. Then we have the issue of law and order. The State ensures the protection of rights and performance of duties by the instrument of legislation, and consequently, law. There can be different kinds of law – punitive/penal law, civil law etc. All these branches of law either punish and deter, or place liability on the wrongdoer(s).
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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