The Indian Government

Introduction

India is essentially a Union of States. As per the Constitution of India, it is a ‘sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic’. The President of India is the nominal head of the country who is elected by a special electoral college. The Prime Minister of India is the leader of the political party with the majority in the Lower House of Parliament. The Prime Minister of India is also the head of the Executive. He is assisted by his Cabinet and Council of Ministers.

The Indian Parliament is bicameral i.e. the Rajya Sabha (Upper House or the Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (Lower House or House of People). 233 members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by the different states and Union Territories and 12 members are appointed by the President of India. 543 members of the Lok Sabha are directly elected and 2 are appointed. Currently, India has 29 states (Telangana being the latest addition) and 7 Union Territories.

The Judicial system of India is directly inherited from the British Judicial architecture. Supreme Court is the apex court of the nation which supersedes the High Courts. The Supreme Court of India has a Chief Justice and a maximum of 25 judges, appointed by the Prime Minister’s advice to the President.

The state assemblies are either unicameral or bicameral headed by the Chief Minister. The nominal head of the state government is the Governor, appointed by the President of India. The distribution of powers is slightly tilted towards the Central government, which is directly evident from the long list of items placed in the Concurrent List of the Constitution.

Principal Government Officials as in February 2014

President à Shri Pranab Mukherjee
Vice President à Mohammed Hamid Ansari
Prime Minister à Dr. Manmohan Singh
Minister for Home Affairs à Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde
Minister of External Affairs à Salman Khurshid

Major Current Political Parties of India

Party Abbreviation Secretary-General / President
Indian National Congress INC Sonia Gandhi
Bharatiya Janata Party BJP Rajnath Singh
Bahujan Samaj Party BSP Mayawati
Communist Party of India CPI Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy
Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M) Prakash Karat
Nationalist Congress Party NCP Sharad Pawar
Aam Aadmi Party AAP Arvind Kejriwal
Trinamool Congress TMC Mamata Banerjee
Samajwadi Party SP Mulayam Singh Yadav

About the Main Political Parties of India

Indian National congress – Brief History

Created in December, 1885, the Indian National Congress spearheaded the national movement of the country and was at the helm of affairs in 1947 when India got independence. Some of the prominent leaders of Indian National Congress are Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Bipin Chandra Pal, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and Lala Lajpat Rai. Since independence, Congress government has ruled majority of the times and currently Indian National Congress is heading the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – Brief History

Bharatiya Janata Party is another major active political party in the Indian political scenario headed by Shri Rajnath Singh. The BJP has performed exceedingly well in development of some states including Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh. Some of the dynamic party leaders – such as Narendra Modi, Raman Singh and Shivraj Singh Chouhan – have propelled the party popularity in the national political chart. Some of the most important leaders of the party are Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiya Naidu, and Smriti Irani.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, headed by Shri Mohan Bhagwat is the champion of Hindutva. It was founded in the year 1925 by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. The RSS is directly related to the genesis of the BJP and it promotes the ideology of self-reliance and social service. Important figures who changed the history of RSS were Balasahab Deoras, and Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar.

Benefits of Democracy

The term ‘democracy’ is derived from the Greek language meaning ‘as much as power to the people’. Democracy is the fundamental requirement of any truly decentralized polity. Democracy means government ‘for the people’ and ‘by the people’. In some countries like Switzerland direct democracy is practiced i.e. referendum by the people influences policy making. Democracy is enshrined as a basic ideal in the Preamble to the Constitution of India.

Following points should be noted while understanding democracy.

  1. In a democratic environment all the citizens are equal in front of the law, in spite of their racial caste, religious origins etc.
  2. The rights of all the citizens are protected with equal fervor without any discrimination.
  3. Legal framework of the state is framed either directly by the citizens or by their representatives in a democracy.