Elements of the State

Elements of the State

In the study of Political Science the term ‘State’ has been defined by Bluntschli as “the State is the politically organized people of a definite territory”. However, in general, it is wrongly used as synonym for nation, society, government etc. Laski defines the State as “a territorial society divided into governments and subjects, whether individuals or associations of individuals, whose relationships are determined by the exercise of this supreme coercive power.”

An individual can rise to her or his ability only within a State. If there is no organization, no rules, and no authority, than a society cannot be held together. The structure of the state has existed where human beings have lived in an organized society. It is an essential and natural institution and as Aristotle said, “The State comes into existence originating in the bare needs of life and continues its existence for the sake of good life”. The essence of State, in fact, is in its monopoly of coercive power; it has a right to demand obedience from the people. The State is made up of four essential elements.

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Population: An element of the State

The State is a human institution because it is the people who form a State. For instance, Antarctica cannot be termed as a State because it is without any human population. However, a nagging question comes to the fore time and again- how much should be the population?

In this context, the ideals of Plato and Aristotle were the Greek City State of Athens and Sparta. Against the fixed number of people, of Plato, in an ideal state at 5040, Arristotle laid down a general principle that the state should neither be large nor small; it should be large enough to be self-sufficing and small enough to be well-governed.

Rausseau had put the number of population in a state at 10,000, but it is quite difficult to fix the size of the people of a state. In modern times the task is near impossible where on the one hand we have countries like India and China have huge population on the other countries like San Marino has a very small population.

It is, therefore, no limit- whether theoretical or practical – can be prescribed on population of a state. However it must be enough to make governing and governed classes, enough to support a political organization. The population, practically speaking, must be in proportion to the available land and resources. Every one must understand the fact that the differences in the size of population, other things remaining the same, does not make any difference in the nature of State.

It is quality of the state that is of utmost importance as a state needs healthy, intelligent and disciplined citizens. They should possess qualities of vitality. The composition of population is very significant as a state with a homogenous people can be governed easily.

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Territory: An element of the State

There is no State without a fixed territory because it ensures exercise of political authority. For instance, the Jews were living in different countries; but they became State only with the creation of Israel, that had a definite boundary.

The territory may be large or small, but the State has to have a definite land. It may be as small as San Marion that has an area of 62 square kilometers, or it may be as large as India, USA, Russia or China. The size of a state impels the form of a government. For instance, smaller states can have a unitary form of government while large states like India and the USA, the federal system is comparatively suitable.

The quality of land, the inevitable part of a territory, is also very significant for if the land is rich in natural resources and minerals it makes the state economically strong. It must be able to cater enough food for its people. The States of West Asia were, in the beginning, insignificant but after the discovery of oil they acquired prominence.

States with large territory get strategic and military advantage during the time of war. Most of the times the territory of a state is commensurate and compact though there are exceptions also: the two wings of Pakistan were miles apart before the creation of Pakistan; from the main territory of USA miles apart are Hawaii and Alaska.

The territory of a state is composed of land, water and airspace. Over its land, its rivers, mountains and plains is exercised the sovereignty of a state. The sea, up to a particular level from the land border, is also a part of the territory of a State.

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Unless the people are properly organized and accept certain rules of conduct, the purpose living together for them cannot be realized. The government is the agency that is created to enforce rules of conduct and ensure obedience. The Government works as the medium through which common policies are determined, common affairs regulated and common interests promoted. Without a government, the people will lack cohesion and means of collective action. To have a common authority and order is the pre-requisite of human life. The State does not and cannot exist without a government, the form of it hardly matters. The crux of the matter is that the government is a must and, though it may take any form. It may have a monarchy like Bhutan or republic as in India.

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Sovereignty: An element of the State

Sovereignty is the supreme power by which the State commands and exerts political obedience from its people. A state, to declare itself sovereign, must be internally supreme and free from any external control. India, for instance, before 15 August 1947 had all the other elements of the state but it had not had sovereignty and so it was not a State.

Thus Sovereignty has two aspects: internal and external. The State’s monopoly of authority inside its boundaries is internal sovereignty the authority of which cannot be shared with any other state. The State is independent and its will is unaffected by the will of any other external authority.

Therefore, it can be summed up that the State must have a population, a definite territory, a duly established government and sovereignty. In the absence of any of these elements the State loses its status of a statehood.

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