In a popular talk the terms the 'State' and Government" are very often used synonymously. Common people use them in an identical sense. Even the king like Louis XIV ignored this distinction when he said. "I am the State". What he claimed was actually the government and the State whose authority he had possessed.
The political scientists make a clear distinction between the State and government. Some of the difficult problems of political science are solved on the basis of the distinction between the State and government. Some of the difficult problems of political science are solved on the basis of the distinction between the State and government.
Here are some of the important differences between the State and government.
1. The Stale has four elements like population, territory. Government and sovereignty. Government is a narrow concept and it is an element of the State. It is rightly said the State is an organic concept in which the government is a part. Willoughby writes. "By the term government is designated the organization of the State machinery through which is designated the organization of the State machinery through which its purposes are formulated and executed'". Government is an agent of the State. That is why in a democracy, it is considered as servant and the State as master. Government is compared with the brain of the living organism; what the brain is to the man. The government is to the State.
2. The State is more or less permanent and continues from time immemorial. But the government is temporary. It changes frequently. A government may come and go, but the State continues for ever. Death of a ruler or the overthrow of a government in general elections does not mean the change of the State. If the Janata Government replaces the Congress Government, it involves no fundamental changes in the structure of the State of India.
3. The State is generally composed of all citizens but all of them are not members of the government. The government consists of only a few selected citizens. The organ of the government consists of only a few selected citizens. The organs of the government are executive, legislature and judiciary. The few selected persons will run these three organs of the government. Thus, the State is a much broader organization than the government. Membership of the State is compulsory but not that of the government.
4. The State possesses sovereignty. Its authority is absolute and unlimited. Its power cannot be taken away by any other institution. Government possesses no sovereignty, no original authority, but only derivative powers delegated by the State through its constitution. Powers of government are delegated and limited.
5. The State is an abstract concept whereas government is a concrete one. Nobody sees the State and the State never acts. The government is a physical manifestation and it acts for the State. It consists of a definite group of persons who can be seen and known. It is a tangible organization which can be seen and questioned.
6. All States are identical in character and nature. Whether big or small, the characteristics of the State do not undergo changes. But governments are of different types and they may vary form the State to the. State Various political scientists, have given different classifications of government. Aristotle had classified government into monarchy, aristocracy and democracy Marriot has classified government into parliamentary or presidential and unitary or federal. Thus, there is no uniform pattern of government. But the State is a universal institution having one single form with its four essential characteristics.
7. Lastly the citizens possess rights to go against, government and not against the State. The State only acts through the government and the government may commit mistakes and not the State. Thus, the citizens have only rights to go against the government. Moreover, the State consists of a the citizens, the citizens go against the State, it will mean to go against themselves. This is an impossible proposition. The State is therefore, and indestructible union of citizens having the chief characteristic of permanence and continuity. Government is only a part of the State.