Political Science

Political Science is concerned with the theory and practice of politics and analysis of political systems and political behaviour.

Indian Polity

Political Science is concerned with the theory and practice of politics and analysis of political systems and political behaviour. Herein relationship between the political events and the conditions is studied.

Whenever there is an aggressive protest and demonstration or violent activities leading to loss of lives and property, it is a threat to peace and security. But a number of such occurrences are law and order problems which are locally managed by the police. In a democracy like India such protests, demonstrations, strikes, bandhs and other agitations do take place to draw the attention of governments or concerned authorities towards specific demands and concerns.

Like any other country, in India also peace and security has been one of the major concerns. The geographical position of India and its emergence as a global power make it vulnerable to external threats. India has not only faced wars with neighbouring countries like China and Pakistan, but has also been dealing with international terrorism.

Peace does not mean a state of mind or a condition with complete absence of disturbances or conflicts. In fact, complete absence of disturbances or conflicts in human world is impossible. Peace is a social and political condition that ensures development of individuals, society and nation. It is a state of harmony characterised by the existence of healthy relationships.

India has earned accolades for successfully conducting so many elections. There is a huge electoral system that has been engaged in managing elections in India.

The establishment of Indian National Congress in 1885 in India is considered as the beginning of the formation of parties. The Indian National Congress which led national movement was an umbrella organisation representing interests of all sections of society. The formative phase of the Indian National Congress was dominated by the Moderates like Dada Bhai Naoroji, Surendra Nath Banerjee, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and others as well as the Extremists like ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’ - referring to Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first President of India and held the office for two consecutive terms. Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil was the first woman to be elected as the President of India. She was the 12th President of India.

According to the Constitution, there has to be a High Court for every State. A High Court may have more than one State under its jurisdiction. For example, Guwahati High Court that acts as a common High Court for the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura. Mostly, the Union Territories come under the jurisdiction of the High Court of their neighbouring States.

The Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as its head functions as the real executive. The Chief Minister and other members of the Council of Ministers are appointed by the Governor. Their term of office is for five years, but they remain in office till they enjoy the support of the majority in the Assembly.

India is a federation having governments at two levels: state level and union or central level. Every citizen is related to and influenced by the governments functioning at both the levels. All the three branches of government, executive, legislature and judiciary exist and function at both the levels.

Panchayats used to be the seat of justice. Local disputes and other problems were referred to Panchayats and their decisions used to be respected by one and all. National leaders like Mahatma Gandhi had a firm faith in this system. The Constitution makers also considered this system to be very important and made provisions for it in the Directive Principles of State Policy.

The Constitution guarantees six fundamental rights to Indian citizens as follows: (i) right to equality, (ii) right to freedom, (iii) right against exploitation, (iv) right to freedom of religion, (v) cultural and educational rights, and (vi) right to constitutional remedies.

Rights are rules of interaction between people. They place constraints and obligations upon the actions of the state and individuals or groups. For example, if one has a right to life, this means that others do not have the liberty to kill him or her. Rights are defined as claims of an individual that are essential for the development of his or her own self and that are recognised by society or State.

There are two forms of government: presidential and parliamentary. In presidential system, the three organs of government are independent of one another. There is absence of close relationship between the executive and the legislature. The United States of America has a presidential form of government. But, in a parliamentary form of government, there is a very close relationship between the executive and the legislature.

India is a federal state. There are generally two types of states in the world. The state that has only one government for the entire country, which is known as unitary state. The United Kingdom has a unitary system. But there are states like United States of America and Canada which have governments at two levels: one at the central level and the other at the state level.

The Preamble embodying constitutional values clearly demonstrates that these are important for the successful functioning of Indian democracy. The constitutional values permeate all the salient features of Indian Constitution.

Constitution means a set of fundamental principles, basic rules and established precedents (standards or instances). It identifies, defines and regulates various aspects of the State and the structure, powers and functions of the major institutions under the three organs of the Government - the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. It also provides for rights and freedoms of citizens and spells out the relationships between individual citizen and the State and government.

As Panchayati Raj System is meant for rural area, similarly there are institutions of urban local government. There are three types of urban local bodies.

Elections take place regularly in any democracy. In democracies, people rule through their representatives. Election is a mechanism by which people can choose their representatives at regular intervals and change them if they wish to do so. Therefore, elections are considered essential for any representative democracy.

People are different from each other in many ways. They belong to different regional, cultural or religious backgrounds. All these different people, who come from all kinds of backgrounds, and belong to all kinds of religions and cultures make India diverse.

Every country needs a government to make decisions and get things done. These can be decisions about where to build infrastructure, or how to supply electricity. The government also takes action on many social issues, running postal and railway services.

A society also has constitutive rules that make it what it is and differentiate it from other kinds of societies. In large societies in which different communities of people live together, these rules are formulated through consensus, and in modern countries this consensus is usually available in written form. A written document in which we find such rules is called a Constitution.

In India, we have the rule of law. Laws apply equally to all persons. A certain set of fixed procedures need to be followed when a law is violated. To enforce this rule of law, we have a judicial system that consists of the mechanism of courts that a citizen can approach when a law is violated.

Three Organs of the Government

Legislature, Executive and Judiciary are the three organs of government. Together, they perform the functions of the government, maintain law and order and look after the welfare of the people. The Constitution ensures that they work in coordination with each other and maintain a balance among themselves.

In a democracy, the idea of consent, i.e. the desire, approval and participation of people is important. It is the decision of people that creates a democratic government and decides about its functioning. One way of doing so is through elections. People elect their representatives to the Parliament. Then, one group from among these elected representatives forms the government.

Local government is government at the village and district level. Local government believes that local knowledge and local interest are essential ingredients for democratic decision making. They are also necessary for efficient and people-friendly administration. The advantage of local government is that it is so near the people.

The Parliament is the supreme legislative body.

In the past, Panchayats used to be the seat of justice. Local disputes and other problems were referred to Panchayats and their decisions used to be respected by one and all.

Judicial activism has been defined as innovative interpretation of the Constitution by the Court.

The Supreme Court has three types of jurisdiction.

India has a unified judiciary. It means that there is a hierarchy of Courts, at the highest level of which is the Supreme Court, then at the state level there are High Courts and at the district and still lower levels there are subordinate courts.

According to the Constitution, there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall act according to that advice. The President is bound to exercise all the powers exactly according to the advice of the Council of Ministers, which is headed by the Prime Minister. It is the Prime Minister who is the real head of the Union executive.

There are subordinate courts at district and sub-divisional levels. There is a Distict and Sessions Judge in each district. Under him or her, there is a hierarchy of judicial officers.

The State Legislature performs the following categories of functions.

According to the Constitution, there has to be a High Court for every state. A High Court may have more than one state under its jurisdiction. For example, Guwahati High Court acts as a common High Court for the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura.

Every State has its Legislature. In some of the states, the Legislature is bicameral (two houses). In most of the states, it is unicameral (one house).

The Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as its head functions as the real executive. Their term of office is for five years, but they remain in office till they enjoy the support of the majority in the Assembly.

At the state level, there is a Governor in whom the executive power of the State is vested by the Constitution. But the Governor acts as a nominal head, and the real executive powers are exercised by the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister.

Apart from the rural and urban local self governments, there is administrative machinery in every district. In every district, there are Sub-Divisions and Blocks or Talukas and the officials posted there assist the district administration.

An urban centre with more than 30,000 and less than 1,00,000 inhabitants has a Nagar Panchayat. However, there are some exceptions.

Cities which do not have very large population have Municipalities known as Municipal Councils to look after the local cities, their problems and developmental work.

Municipal Corporations are established in big cities according to the provisions made in the Acts enacted by the State Legislatures. The Councillors of Municipal Corporations are elected for 5 years. The elected Councillors elect one of them as Mayor annually.

The 74th Constitutional Amendment Act 1992 brought about significant changes in the structure and functioning of urban local government.

As Panchayati Raj System is meant for rural area, similarly there are institutions of urban local government. There are three types of urban local bodies.

Zila Parishad is at the apex, being the third tier of Panchayati Raj System. It is situated at the district level. Zila Parishad has a term of 5 years.

Panchayat Samiti is the intermediate or the middle tier of the Panchayati Raj System. These are named differently in different States. Its organization and functions also vary as these are determined by the Act passed by the concerned State. It coordinates all the activities of the Panchayats in a Block.

Village Panchayat (also called Gram Panchayat) is the grass root institution of Panchayati Raj System.

The passage of the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 marked a new era in the federal democratic set up of the country and provides constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).

The Directive Principles aim at establishing a welfare state. The aim of Fundamental rights is also the same but there are some basic differences between the two.

The Directive Principles of State Policy are guidelines to the central and state governments of India. The governments must keep these principles in mind while framing laws and policies. These provisions of the Constitution of India are not enforceable by any court of law. But the principles are considered fundamental in the governance of the country.