The Indian polity is as varied and intricate as the tapestry. It reflects the unity of the nation in diversity. It is a dynamic combination of values, governance and aspirations that has developed over the years, shaped by history, cultural diversity and democratic values.
From the Constitution to the functioning of the government, India is a vibrant nation that holds the core of its people’s aspirations.
The Constitution: the cornerstone of Indian polity
The Indian Constitution is one of the most important documents in the country’s history. Written by visionaries, it guarantees fundamental rights, duties and principles of governance. It not only protects our rights but also balances the power of different branches of government.
A living document, adapting to changing times, the Constitution serves as a reminder of India’s unity in diversity.
Indian polity is the study of the political system and governance of India. It covers various aspects of the Constitution, the institutions, the processes, and the policies that shape the functioning of the world’s largest democracy. Indian polity is a dynamic and evolving subject that reflects the aspirations, challenges, and diversity of the Indian people.
The Constitution of India is the supreme law of the land. It was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 and came into force on 26 January 1950. It lays down the framework of the political system, defines the basic rights and duties of the citizens, and establishes the separation of powers among the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. The Constitution also provides for a federal structure of government, with a central authority at the centre and states at the periphery. The Constitution has been amended 103 times so far to accommodate changing needs and circumstances.
The executive branch consists of the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, and the Council of Ministers. The President is the head of state and the first citizen of India. He or she is elected indirectly by an electoral college consisting of members of both houses of Parliament and state legislative assemblies. The President appoints the Prime Minister, who is usually the leader of the majority party or coalition in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament). The Prime Minister heads the Council of Ministers, which is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. The Vice President is ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of Parliament).
The legislative branch consists of Parliament, which is bicameral in nature. The Lok Sabha has 543 elected members from single-member constituencies using first-past-the-post system. The Lok Sabha has a term of five years, unless dissolved earlier. The Rajya Sabha has 245 members, out of which 233 are elected indirectly by state legislative assemblies using single transferable vote system, and 12 are nominated by the President from eminent persons in various fields. The Rajya Sabha has a term of six years, with one-third of its members retiring every two years. Both houses have equal powers in most matters, except in financial matters where the Lok Sabha has more say.
The judicial branch consists of a hierarchy of courts, headed by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has a Chief Justice and up to 34 other judges, appointed by the President on the recommendation of a collegium of senior judges. The Supreme Court is the final interpreter and guardian of the Constitution. It can also hear appeals from lower courts on civil and criminal matters. Below the Supreme Court are High Courts in each state or group of states, which have jurisdiction over state matters. Below High Courts are District Courts and other subordinate courts, which deal with local matters.
Indian polity also encompasses various constitutional bodies, statutory bodies, quasi-judicial bodies, and other institutions that perform specific functions related to governance. Some examples are:
- Election Commission: It conducts free and fair elections to Parliament, state legislatures, and local bodies.
- Comptroller and Auditor General: It audits the accounts and finances of the Union and state governments.
- Union Public Service Commission: It conducts examinations for recruitment to various civil services.
- National Human Rights Commission: It protects and promotes human rights in India.
- Central Vigilance Commission: It investigates cases of corruption in public administration.
- Central Information Commission: It ensures transparency and accountability in public authorities by implementing the Right to Information Act.
- National Commission for Women: It safeguards the interests and rights of women in India.
Indian polity is influenced by various factors such as history, culture, society, economy, geography, international relations, etc. It also faces various challenges such as poverty, inequality, corruption, communalism, terrorism, regionalism, etc.
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Q: What is the difference between a written and an unwritten constitution?
A: A written constitution is one that is codified and consolidated in a single document, such as the Constitution of India. An unwritten constitution is one that is not codified in a single document, but consists of various sources such as statutes, conventions, customs, judicial decisions, etc. For example, the United Kingdom has an unwritten constitution.
Q: What is the difference between a rigid and a flexible constitution?
A: A rigid constitution is one that requires a special procedure for amendment, such as a supermajority vote in the legislature or a referendum. A flexible constitution is one that can be amended by the ordinary procedure of legislation. For example, the Constitution of India is rigid, while the Constitution of New Zealand is flexible.
Q: What are the basic features of the Indian Constitution?
A: Some of the basic features of the Indian Constitution are:
- It is the longest written constitution in the world, with 395 articles, 22 parts, and 12 schedules.
- It is a blend of federal and unitary features, with a strong centre and states with limited autonomy.
- It is based on the principle of parliamentary democracy, with a bicameral legislature at the centre and unicameral or bicameral legislatures at the states.
- It provides for a single citizenship for all Indians, irrespective of their state or territory.
- It guarantees fundamental rights to all citizens, which can be enforced by the courts.
- It lays down directive principles of state policy, which are non-justiciable guidelines for the government to promote social welfare and justice.
- It incorporates fundamental duties for all citizens, which are moral obligations to uphold the values of the constitution.
- It establishes an independent judiciary, with the Supreme Court as the apex court of the country.
- It provides for a quasi-federal system, with provisions for emergency powers, inter-state relations, and special status for some states and regions.
- It embodies the principles of secularism, socialism, and democracy.
Q: What are the sources of the Indian Constitution?
A: The Indian Constitution draws its inspiration from various sources, such as:
- The Government of India Act 1935: It provided for federal structure, provincial autonomy, bicameralism, office of governor, etc.
- The British Constitution: It provided for parliamentary system, rule of law, cabinet system, etc.
- The US Constitution: It provided for fundamental rights, judicial review, independence of judiciary, etc.
- The Irish Constitution: It provided for directive principles of state policy, nomination of members to Rajya Sabha, etc.
- The Canadian Constitution: It provided for federation with strong centre, residuary powers to centre, appointment of state governors by centre, etc.
- The Australian Constitution: It provided for concurrent list, joint sitting of two houses of parliament, etc.
- The German Constitution: It provided for suspension of fundamental rights during emergency, etc.
- The French Constitution: It provided for ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity in the preamble, etc.
- The Japanese Constitution: It provided for procedure for amendment of the constitution, etc.
- The South African Constitution: It provided for procedure for election of members of Rajya Sabha by state legislatures, etc.