The state is the most universal and most powerful of all social institutions. The state is a natural institution.
Aristotle said man is a social animal and by nature he is a political being. To him, to live in the state and to be a man were identical.
The modern term “state” is derived from the word “status”. It was Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) who first used the term “state” in his writings. His important work is titled as “Prince”.
The state is the highest form of human association. It is necessary because it comes into existence out of the basic needs of life. It continues to remain for the sake of good life.
The aims, desires and aspirations of human beings are translated into action through the state. Though the state is a necessary institution, no two writers agree on its Definition.
Woodrow Wilson, “State is a people organized for law within a definite territory.”
Aristotle defined the state as a “union of families and villages having for its end a perfect and self – sufficing life by which it meant a happy and honourable life”.
Holland, the state is “a numerous assemblage of human beings generally occupying a certain territory amongst whom the will of the majority or class is made to prevail against any of their number who oppose it.”
Elements of state
From the above definitions, it is clear that the following are the elements of the state:-
Physical bases of the State.
Political bases of the State.
Population: It is the people who make the state. Population is essential for the state. Greek thinkers were of the view that thepopulation should neither be too big nor too small.
Territory: There can be no state without a fixed territory. People need territory to live and organize them socially andpolitically. It may be remembered that the territory of the state includes land, water and air -space.
The modern states differ in their sizes. Territory is necessary for citizenship. As in the case of population, no definite size with regard to extent of area of the state can be fixed. There are small and big states.
Government: Government is the third element of the state. There can be no state without government. Government is the working agency of the state. It is the political organization of the state.
Prof. Appadorai defined government as the agency through which the will of the State is formulated, expressed and realized.
Sovereignty: The fourth essential element of the state is sovereignty.
The word ‘sovereignty” means supreme and final legal authority above and beyond which no legal power exists. The concept of “sovereignty” was developed in conjunction with the rise of the modern state. The term Sovereignty is derived from the Latin word superanus which means supreme. The father of modern theory of sovereignty was
Jean Bodin (1530 – 1597) a French political thinker.
Sovereignty has two aspects:
1) Internal sovereignty.
2) External sovereignty
Internal sovereignty means that the State is supreme over all its citizens, and associations.
External sovereignty means that the state is independent and free from foreign or outside control