Indian Political System

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  • Topic: Lok Sabha, India, Parliament of India
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  • Published : December 8, 2010
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According to our Constitution, India is a "sovereign secular socialist democratic republic." It has 28 states and seven Union Territories. With a population of approximately 112 crore, India happens to be the largest democracy in the world. Indian polity is a multi-party democracy, based on the adult franchise system of voting. That is any Indian citizen of 18 and above, who is not debarred by law, can vote in the Indian elections, at national, state and local levels.

India is a parliamentary democracy and a federal parliamentary representative democratic republic, where the Prime Minister is the head of government. He or she should be chosen by the MPs (Member of Parliaments) of the ruling party or the coalition that comes to power, and is the focal point of political power in India.

However, the Prime Minister is formally appointed by the President of India. Presently Manmohan Singh is the Prime Minister of India.

Indian President: A Titular Head

President is the head of the state and the first citizen of the country, and also the supreme commander of the armed forces. Though in theory he/she holds considerable power, but in reality he/she is a titular head, whose role is similar to that of the Constitutional Monarch in the UK. The President is elected by members of an electoral college, consisting of elected members of both Houses of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of the states, with suitable weightage given to each vote. The election uses single transferable voting method of proportional representation. The President's term of office is five years, and the President can be re-elected to his/her office.

Among his/her important powers on paper, the President can proclaim an emergency in the country if he/she is satisfied that the security of the country or of any part of its territory is threatened whether by war or external aggression or armed rebellion. When there is a failure of the constitutional machinery in a state, he/she can assume to himself/herself all or any of the functions of the government of that state. However, in reality, the Indian polity entails that most of the political authority excluding few exceptions, and their execution, rests with the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister, which comprises Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State(Independent Charge), and Ministers of State, whose suggestions President is bound to oblige.

In the Indian polity, the Union Government (the Council of Ministers, headed by the Prime Minister) executes its administrative powers in the name of the President, whose post is largely ceremonial. Besides the formal appointment of the Prime Minister, the President is also responsible for making many important appointments such as of the Council of Ministers in the Union Government (on the 'advice' of the Prime Minister, which he/she is supposed to adhere to anyway), the Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court of India and High Courts, Governors and Attorney General among others. Pratibha Patil is the twelfth President of India, and also the first woman to become the President of India.

The President of India can also be removed before his/her term through impeachment. A resolution to impeach the President of India has to be passed by a two-thirds majority of the total members of the house of the Parliament, which originates such a motion. It is then sent to the other house. The other house investigates the charges that have been made. During this process, the President has the right to defend himself/herself through an authorized counsel. If the second house also approves the charges made by two-thirds majority again, the President stands impeached and has to vacate his/her office.

The President of India is assisted in his duties by the Vice President. The Vice President is elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of members of both Houses of Parliament, that is the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, in accordance...
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