Essay on the Important Elements of the State

The members of one single family do not make a State; there should be a series of families. No limit, however, can be placed on the number of the people constituting the State. Differences in population, other things remaining the same, do not make any difference in the nature of the State, although opinions as to its size have varied from time to time.

Plato and Aristotle put definite limitations on the population of the State. Their ideal was the Greek City-State, like Athens and Sparta. Plato fixed the number at 5,040 citizens. Aristotle held that neither ten nor a hundred thousand could make a good State, both these numbers were extremes.

He laid down the general principle that the number should be neither too large nor too small. It should be large enough to be self-sufficing and small enough to be well governed. Rousseau, the high priest of direct democracy, determined 10,000 to be an ideal number for a State.

The modern tendency is in favour of States with huge population. It is believed that manpower of the State must swell as population is the sinews of war and power. Hitler’s and Mussolini’s governments gave bounties to couples producing children above a given minimum. Issueless and unmarried persons were taxed.

The erstwhile Soviet Union encouraged the growth of her population. The 1936 Constitution guaranteed State aid and honours bestowed on members of large families and unmarried mothers.

In India, the problem is to check the ever growing population due to the wide disequilibrium between the population and the available means of production. China has a system of incentives and disincentives to observe a one-child family norm.

But the size of the population is no criterion of the State. Monaco and China are entities with equal status of statehood, although the disparity in the population of both these States is significantly marked. Similarly, increase or loss in population makes no difference in its Statehood.

Though no limit, either theoretical or practical, can be placed on the population of a State, yet the population must be sufficient to maintain a State organisation, and it should not be more than what the territorial resources of the State are capable of supporting. But behind all these quantitative factors lie qualitative elements in evaluating the problem of the population of a State.

Population cannot be reckoned in mathematical terms; the kind of people they are matters no less than their numbers. Aristotle rightly said that a good citizen makes a good State and a bad citizen a bad State. A good citizen must be intelligent, disciplined, and healthy.

Healthy citizens are the health of the State, for disease diminishes intelligence, capacity for work, energy and vitality; it makes for poor production, laziness and lethargy. Similarly, good citizens will not allow religious or political differences to destroy the State’s unity and security. The people of India have yet to learn the requisites of good citizenship, though in numbers they stand in the front row.

2. Territory:

Some writers ignore territory as an element of the State. Leon Duguit says, “The word State designates the rulers… or else the society itself in which the differentiation between rulers and ruled exists and in which, for that very reason, a public power exists.”

Duguit is chiefly interested in the differentiation between rulers and ruled which takes place “in almost all human societies, large or small, primitive or civilised,” and then, he tersely says that “territory is not an indispensable element in the formation of a State.” Sir John Seeley, too, does not regard territory as an essential attribute of the State.”

If a society is held together, he maintains, by the principle of government, it constitutes a State, and Political Science should not concern itself only with the so called civilised society.

Why should we not say that States are found in deserts of Arabia and in other regions where the soil is unfruitful and discourages fixed settlement and agriculture? W.W. Willoughby says, “The State itself then is neither the people, the Government, the Magistracy, nor the Constitution. Nor is it indeed the territory over which its authority extends. It is the given community of given individuals, viewed in a certain aspect, namely, as a political unity.”

But such views are rarely encountered now. They have been rejected, not on theoretical grounds, but because of certain practical considerations. Even Duguit admits that in practice there can be no State without a fixed territory. Just as every person belongs to a State, so does every square yard of earth.

There is no State without its proper territory, large or small, and no territory that is not part of some State, large or small. And as far as we personally are concerned, it is our connection with a particular territory that normally creates our membership of a State.

I am a citizen of India, because I was born there, or because my father was born there. My fellow citizens are my fellow-residents, and it is this sharing of the same territory that creates most of our common interests.

Living together on a common land welds the people in a community of interests and it is a powerful incentive to fellow-feeling. Love for the territory inculcates the spirit of patriotism, which has been described in all ages and stages as a supreme virtue of man.

Some reverentially call their country ‘fatherland’ while others call it “motherland” and they all invoke his or her blessings and vow to safeguard its territorial integrity. Territorial integrity of the State is the most cherished sentiment of oneness and the object of patriotism and both together for its permanent existence.

Moreover, the conduct of international relations would be seriously impeded without the requirement of a defined territory. All authorities on International Law are now agreed that a fixed territory must be a condition of Statehood. People and government are not enough.

The occupation of a fixed territory is also essential, otherwise the State could not be readily identified and held to account if one attempts to conquer or violate the integrity of another.

Land, water and airspace within the defined territorial area comprise the territory of the State. It embraces the geographical limits of the State, its rivers and lakes, the natural resources it has, and the airspace above.

Generally, the ‘territorial limits of a State extend to a distance of three miles (4.4 Kilometres) of the sea from the coast, though in practice the maritime jurisdiction is sought to be extended further by the States.

As a result of the extensive developments in aviation, radio-communication and space-flights, the importance of the territorial sovereignty of the States over airspace has, during recent times, assumed a vital role.

There are at present 185 States which are members of the United Nations and along­side of such giants as China, India and the United States there are such pigmies as Monaco, Renitria and Luxembergas independent States.

No limit, like population, can be put on the territory of the State, although opinion has differed on the political utility of a small and a big State. Plato drew a close analogy between the stature of a well- formed man and the size of a normal State.

Aristotle was also favourably inclined toward the State of a moderate size. Rousseau took his cue from Plato’s analogy and set definite limits to the size of a well-governed State.

He maintained that in general “a small State is proportionately stronger than a large one.” Montesquieu said that there is a necessary relation between the size of the State and the form of government best adapted to it.

Popular government, it is claimed, can be applied only to a small State. In a small State the population is limited and the people have the best opportunity to assemble together and express their opinions. They can exercise vigilance, which is the price of democracy, far more effectively when the State is small.

De Tocqueville said, “The history of the world offers no instance of a great nation retaining the form of a republican government for a long series of years. It may be advanced with confidence that the existence of a great republic will always be exposed to far greater dangers than that of a small one.

All the passions which are most fatal to republican institutions spread with an increasing territory, while the virtues which maintain their dignity do not augment in the same proportion.” Direct democracy can only flourish in a small State and Switzerland is cited as a living example.

A small State, it is further argued, evinces more unity and greater patriotism. It is a compact class of people who live a corporate life. Each stands for all and all stand for each, concentrating their energies collectively in promoting common welfare.

Small States, on the other hand, are relatively less secure. They fall an easy prey to bigger States which are usually aggressive, and history is full of examples of many a naked aggression. Hitler in no time trampled Poland and other Central European countries. Japan did the same in the Far East. Recent opinion is invariably in favour of bigger States.

Trietschke, the German philosopher, in his work on “Politics” (Politik), published a little before World War I, declared that “the State is power,” and it is a sin for the State to be small. He said that even the idea of a small State “is ridiculous on account of its weakness, which in itself is reprehensible because it masquerades as strength.”

Economic resources cannot be left out of account while evaluating the utility- of small States. The modem tendency is towards planning and self-sufficiency and it can only be realised when the terntory of the State is large enough to abound in a variety of natural resources.

The scale of production determines the mode of production. Large-scale production is always accompanied by rationalization of industry in order to advantageously compete in the international market, besides commanding an extensive and stable domestic market. After all, the economic conditions of a State determine the political stature of its people. In this competing world a large number of small States endanger international peace.

The improved political devices run down the argument that small States are best suited for democracy. The representative system, growing familiar to Europe from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and now taking roots in Asia and Africa, has vastly extended the scope of democratic institutions. Federalism has also proved its value.

Federalism has reconciled local autonomy with national unity, diversity with uniformity, and it has enabled local communities to retain much of their individual character and yet they cooperate for certain purposes in a single State.

Big States, according to Trietschke, “are more adapted than small ones to promote the development of intellectual culture.” The resources which a big State possesses, the talent it can command, and the greater genius it can produce immensely help the cultural advancement of a nation and consequently its civilisation.

Lord Acton, a great admirer of big States, while summing up the defects of small States, says that they “isolate and shut off their inhabitants, to narrow the horizon of their views; and to dwarf in some degree the proportion of their ideas. Public opinion cannot maintain its liberty and purity in small dimensions, and the currents that come from large communities sweep over a contracted territory.

These States, like the minute communities of the middle Ages, serve a purpose, by constituting partitions and securities of self-government in the larger States but they are impediments to the progress of society, which depends on the mixture of races under the same government.”

The principles of representation and federalism, operating in the transformed mechanical environment, have invalidated some of the political premises of the past and public opinion today veers round big States. Yet, large and small States continue to be discussed. But as long as power remains the primary factor in international politics, States must either be large or make no attempt to play an important political role.

It must, however, be emphasised that there should be some proportion between the population and territory of the State. If there is a disproportionate disparity between the two, the State must suffer from all those economic and political disabilities which are natural to such a situation. The State, in brief, must be viable or capable of maintaining a separate independent existence.

This can be possible only if it has adequate area and resources to support the increasing population and to adequately meet the needs of defence and an efficient administration. The modem demands for an efficient and up-to-date defence and administration are ever-growing and consume a pretty big slice of the resources of all States.

3. Government:

The purpose for which people live together cannot be realized unless they are properly organised and accept certain rules of conduct. The agency created to enforce such rules of conduct and to ensure obedience is called government.

Government is the focus 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 common interests promoted.

Without government the people will be just a babel of tongues with no cohesion and means of collective action. They would divide themselves into groups, parties and even warring associations and thus creating conditions of utter chaos and even civil war.

It is, therefore, imperative that there should be a common authority and a consequent order wherever people live. It is the prerequisite of human life and, as such, government is an essential element of the State. The State cannot and does not exist without a government, no matter what form a government may assume.

4. Sovereignty:

Sovereignty of the State is its most essential and distinguishable feature. A people inhabiting a definite portion of territory and having a government do not constitute a State. They must be internally supreme and free from external control. Sovereignty of the State has two aspects, internal sovereignty and external sovereignty. Internal sovereignty is the State’s monopoly of authority inside its boundaries.

This authority cannot be shared with any other State and none of its members within its territory can owe obedience to any other State. If the State admits no rival within its own territory, it logically follows that it has no authority outside its own territory.

Each State is independent of other States. Its will is its own, unaffected by the will of any other external authority. This clarifies the meaning of external sovereignty.

Every State, therefore, must have its population, a definite territory, a duly established government, and sovereignty. Absence of any of these elements denies to it the status of Statehood.

Accordingly, the term “State” generally used for the twenty-five units of the Indian Republic or for any one of the fifty States, which make the United States of America, is a misnomer. None of them is sovereign.

They possess the elements of population, territory and government and are autonomous in their own spheres of jurisdiction. But autonomy is not sovereignty and lack of sovereignty does not entitle them to be ranked as States.