Urban Political Institutions

There is a plethora of Urban Political Institutions. Rao (1974) has identified four problem areas in the study of political institutions, organization and processes in the urban context:

1)Formal political structure

2)Informal political organizations

3)Small town politics and


There is the formal political structure, municipal or corporation government where national, regional and local political parties compete for positions of power. Lloyd Rudolph’s (1961) essay on Populist Government in Madras outlines the struggle for power in the Madras Corporation and shows the decisive dominance of the D.M.K, a regional political party. It also reveals the control exercised by the party leaders in the context of the anti-Brahmin movement and the populist support the party has acquired. The study brings out clearly the relationship between urbanization and the changing power structure.

Besides formal structures of power, informal political organisations operate through caste, religious and sectarian groups, and occupational categories. Associations formed on these lines acquire political dimensions in so far as they act as pressure groups, and in some cases they even form part of organized political parties. There is a great caste divide in Urban India.

The informal organization is defined as a network of social and personal relationships that occur in a work environment. It is a fact that an informal organization co-exists with a formal one and generally emerges because of default. Although formal principles do not bound these, they are still considered an integral part of formal organization.

A third aspect of politics in the urban context refers to the small town politics where elites, factions or ethnic groups, more than political parties, are significant in understanding the power structure. Ethnic groups get politicized and act as vote banks and pressure groups articulating their interests, and complete for various benefits of urbanism. This results in a situation of conflict between ethnic groups and between the migrant ethnic groups and the locals with a heady mix of Ethnicity.

Another important feature of urban politics is violence resulting from communal conflict, political disturbance, student strikes and regional armies such as the Shiv Sena in Bombay- a city of Class Divide.

Owen M Lynch (1980) studied the political mobilization and ethnicity among the Adi-Dravidas in a Bombay slum, who are a low-ranking caste from southern India and who have migrated to Bombay. Here, different political parties compete for their votes. One party calls on them to identify as ‘untouchables’ on all-India basis; another party bids them to remember their South Indian roots. The way in which the Adi-Dravidas define themselves politically is thus related both to their position in Bombay as rural migrants from another region and to their caste.

Source(s) and Link(s):


Peopling Process of India



About Rashid Faridi

I am Rashid Aziz Faridi ,Writer, Teacher and a Voracious Reader.
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