[Civics Notes] on Meaning of Government Pdf for Exam

Humans are social beings. They love to interact with other people and grow in communities. Therefore, a country can be defined as a large community that is controlled by a single head. This single head is called a government. There are 3 forms of government- autocracy, democracy, and oligocracy. Let us understand the functions and purposes of a government with special attention to each of these types.

What is the Government?

Whenever you read the newspaper, you will come across the word ‘government.’ Several news articles are related to it, and therefore, you need to understand its concepts. For example, the recent news on privatization of public sectors will have the word used in several places. It also reflects conversation on other issues like fuel price hikes. All such conversations revolve around governmental policies. To understand these policies, you need to understand the meaning of government.

To answer what a government is, the best definition will be a system or institution made from groups of people who manage the country or a state. The government functions according to its own constitution set for the country. The constitution is a set of fundamental rules and principles that is specifically designed to provide effective governance. These guidelines help the government conduct all activities related to social law, order, welfare, defence, education, and financial policies of the country or the state.

What are the Governmental Responsibilities?

The list of responsibilities and duties performed by a government is endless. The responsibilities are more or less similar for all three types of government. Firstly, the government is endowed with the responsibility of fixing the law and order of the country. They must provide sufficient support for setting up an effective and able police force, a judicial system that provides fair justice to all citizens, and a highly trained defence force. The security system is a top priority for all three forms of government.

After ensuring the security of the top order, the government must focus on the welfare of the people. They must focus on the health sector, transport sector, and infrastructure to boost their economy. Some of their initiatives will be on the grounds of inflation, foreign investments, and foreign reserves. 

Along with the previous two, the government must also focus on maintaining nature and the environment. It must take responsibility for cleaning national and international waters, preserving forests, setting up sanctuaries, and controlling air pollution. It must also concentrate on investments in renewable energy resources.

Different Levels of Government

As you can understand, the responsibilities of a government are endless. To successfully complete all these responsibilities, the government has to allocate them to several levels of subordinate bodies. Different countries have different levels of conducting their responsibilities. For example, in India, the central government exercises its duties through the different state governments. The state government distributes its duties to the different municipal bodies and panchayats. Such levels of work allocation allow for the proper implementation of rules in the country.

What are the Three Forms of Government?

There are three types of government- autocracy, democracy, and oligocracy. Different countries in the world follow either of the 3 types of government. For example, India is a democratic country. However, other countries might not follow democracy. Let us look at each of them.


Democracy is a system where the citizens of the country choose their own government. They vote for some representatives that will form the government. In a democracy, different groups of people from different parties. These parties are not formed based on race, class, or wealth. Every citizen has the right to vote for their representatives. The parties present their manifesto before the election. The citizens base their votes on their support or these manifestos. From the group of elected representatives, different responsibilities are allocated.

Even within a democracy, different forms exist. Some of them are a republic, presidential system, parliamentary system, or constitutional monarchy.


Autocracy is such a system where a single power rules over the entire state. The citizens of the state do not have any say in determining the hands that control the power. In most cases, autocracy is based on hierarchy, where a royal family rules over a country for several generations. Autocracy is also known as a monarchy. No laws can govern or restrict the powers of a monarch. For example, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Brunei are examples of absolute monarchs.

In recent times, other forms of monarchies also exist. Some of them are constitutional monarchies, symbolic monarchies, and crowned republics. In such a system, the monarch has to work according to a set of laws, written or unwritten.

Autocracy also involves dictatorship- both civilian (for example, Adolf Hitler) or military dictatorship (for example, Saddam Hossain).


In Oligocracy, a handful of citizens have the right to vote. It is different from autocracy since voting occurs, and power exists amongst a handful of people. It is also known as aristocracy. The power to vote is not only inherited but can also depend on nobles (aristocracy), wealth (plutocracy), honour (timocracy), and technicalities (technocracy). These terms are an important inclusion in the answers to the question- what are the three types of government.

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