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The difference between Politics and Government..

Once I was sitting with a friend of mine over a lunch meeting. He happens to be a part of the management team of a big business group in India. As we were discussing about politics in India, he suddenly paused and said, “We should clearly understand the difference between politics and government”

This was one of the best food for thought I have got in the last few years. “What is the difference between Politics and Government?” I referred to the dictionary and also books on political science but no answer seemed to satisfy me.

Just a few days back I happened to meet the same friend again and asked him. “Please tell me what the difference between Politics and Governance is?” He smiled and said, “You have to tell me”. Again, another food for thought.

Over the years I have been connected to teaching Political science and discussing about this subject with many people, especially with experts. But with each person I meet the meaning of the same word changes. And I have come to the conclusion that no one is right or wrong. It is the perspective that matters. It’s the view that matters. Only the approach is different.

So too in these series of articles we do not claim to be technically right but want to give a new approach to well-know and common topics. Hence we call this column as “The new approach”. You can agree or disagree. Neither am I right nor you. It’s the view that is important. Originality creates the change… So from week to week we will take this new approach to create a new change, a new revolution.

Well let’s look at our subject of the week in detail.


Usually this word is connected with some negativity. Be it office politics or politics of an organisation or country. Even generally we say Politics or Politicians are not good. The dictionary definition goes that it is the “factional scheming for power and status within a group”. But then we all play this game of power in one way or the other. It can be hard and open fight for power like the elections or it can be smooth like telling someone a lie to get things done. No matter who we are, and what we are doing, we all play this game in one way or the other.


Government is related to the word governance. Therefore, it is “the action or manner of governing”. As children we used to think that government is a person. When we used to listen to complaints like “The government is not functioning properly” we thought some person out there is responsible. But it is a system. And in democracy we are all collectively responsible.


Both politics and government are inter related words and are dependent on each other. For governing one requires to know the art of politics. And a politician who is holding power should know how to govern.

In Kautilya’s Arthashastra Chanakya has said,

“In the happiness of the subjects lies the benefit of the king and in what is beneficial to the subjects is his own benefit” (1.19.34)

Therefore every politician (minister) or every government servant finally should understand one thing as a bottom line – Every citizen should he happy.

Once JRD Tata was asked, “Do you want India to be a super power?” He said, “I want India to be a happy country”. What an approach by this visionary leader.

Our new approach – “We want India to be a super power and also a happy country”

(The author, Radhakrishnan Pillai is a ‘strategic leadership’ trainer and consultant and also the Director of SPM FOUNDATION, the vision of which is to bring back ancient Indian knowledge in modern day applications. Can be contacted at



LISTEN TO RADHAKRISHNAN ‘CHANAKYA’ PILLAI ON RADIO Every week on the show ‘Ask Chanakya’ (Sunday 11-12 noon & Friday 8-9 pm Indian Time) on Moksha channel no 602 of Worldspace satellite radio. For details click below


Comments Listing
Posted: 21/07/2013 08:29:30

As a political science student I do enjoy this site

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