Society is an association of individual beings which fulfill the needs of human life; while state fulfills human’s need of political organization. State has often been termed as ‘society politically organized’. Italian philosopher Machiavelli, to whom the contemporary concept of state owes its origin has called state as ” the power which has authority over man” ( The Prince; 1513). State is thus formed by the amalgamation of four essential elements – population, territory , government and sovereignty.
Society and state may be synonymous when society takes the form of a nation. But that may not be the case always. Society is much wider than state and state itself is formed within society. There can be society beyond the realms of state. The religious communities exists as society much beyond frontiers of states. Infact there can be society without a state. For instance the primitive nomadic tribes around the world are grouped into societies but need not constitute a state. R. M. MacIver in his book The Modern State (1926) observed that:
There are social forms like family or the church or the club, which owe neither their origin nor their inspiration to the state; and social forces like custom or competition, which the state may protect or modify, but certainly does not create; and social motives like friendship or jealousy which establish relationships too intimate and personal to be controlled by the great engine of the state…The state in a word regulates the outstanding external relationship of men in society.
Thus man owes more to society than he owes to the state. But it leads to disastrous social consequences when man identifies state and society as one. When man’s obligations towards society are attributed to the state, it leads to complete subordination of man to the authority of government, unchecked by any balancing control mechanism.
This phenomenon has been evident in the Hindutva based politics of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India. The term was initially popularized by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923 and vigorously defended by the family of Hindu nationalist organisations called Sangh Parivar . There has been a continuous attempt to forcefully unite the meaning of religious society with the state. State has been falsely portrayed as the Hindu society and thus create a Hindu nationalism. The consequence of such politics will be rise of a totalitarian state; where man is forced to abide by the regressive authority of the state. A situation no democratic Indian would ever wish for!