Modeled after the British Westminster System, Politics of India take place in a framework of a federal parliamentary multi-party representative democratic republic. India is the world’s largest democracy. In India, the Prime Minister of India is identified as the head of government of the nation, while the President of India is said to be the formal head of state and holds substantial reserve powers, placing him or her in approximately the same position as the British monarch. Executive power is enforced by the government. It can be noted that federal legislative power is vested in both the government of India and the two characteristic chambers of the Parliament of India. Also, it can be said that the judiciary is independent of both the executive and the legislature.
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Looking at the constitution, India is a nation that is characterized to be “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic.” India is the largest state by population with a democratically-elected government. Like the United States, India has a federal form of government, however, the central government in India has greater power in relation to its states, and its central government is patterned after the British parliamentary system. Regarding the former, “the Centre”, the national government, can and has dismissed state governments if no majority party or coalition is able to form a government or under specific Constitutional clauses, and can impose direct federal rule known as President’s rule. Locally, the Panchayati Raj system has several administrative functions.
For most of the years since independence, the federal government has been guided by the Indian National Congress (INC), In India the two largest political parties have been the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Presently the two parties have dominated the Indian politics, however regional parities too exist. From 1950 to 1990, barring two brief periods, the INC enjoyed a parliamentary majority. The INC was out of power between 1977 and 1980, when the Janata Party won the election owing to public discontent with the corruption of the then Prime Minister Indhira Gandhi. In 1989, a Janata Dal-led National Front coalition in alliance with the Left Front coalition won the elections but managed to stay in power for only two years. As the 1991 elections gave no political party a majority, the INC formed a minority government under Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and was able to complete its five-year term. The years 1996aa‚¬”1998 were a period of turmoil in the federal government with several short-lived alliances holding sway. The BJP formed a government briefly in 1996, followed by the United Front coalition that excluded both the BJP and the INC. In 1998, the BJP formed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with several other parties and became the first non-Congress government to complete a full five-year term. In the 2004 Indian elections, the INC won the largest number of Lok Sabha seats and formed a government with a coalition called the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), supported by various parties. In the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections, it won again with a surprising majority, the INC itself winning more than 200 seats.
At the federal level, India is the most populous democracy in the world. While many neighboring countries witness frequent coups, Indian democracy has been suspended only once. Nevertheless, Indian politics is often described as chaotic. More than a fifth of parliament members face criminal charges.
The central government exercises its broad administrative powers in the name of the President, whose duties are largely ceremonial. The president and vice president are elected indirectly for 5-year terms by a special electoral college. The vice president assumes the office of president in case of the death or resignation of the incumbent president
The constitution designates the governance of India under two branches namely the executive branch and Real national executive power is centered in the Council of Ministers, led by the Prime Minister of India. The President appoints the Prime Minister, who is designated by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding a parliamentary majority. The President then appoints subordinate ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister. In reality, the President has no discretion on the question of whom to appoint as Prime Minister except when no political party or coalition of parties gains a majority in the Lok Sabha. Once the Prime Minister has been appointed, the President has no discretion on any other matter whatsoever, including the appointment of ministers. But all Central Government decisions are nominally taken in his/her name.
The constitution designates the Parliament of India as the legislative branch to oversee the operation of the government. India’s bicameral parliament consists of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The Council of Ministers is held responsible to the Lok Sabha.
States in India have their own elected governments, whereas Union Territories are governed by an administrator appointed by the president. Some of the state legislatures are bicameral, patterned after the two houses of the national parliament. The states’ chief ministers are responsible to the legislatures in the same way the prime minister is responsible to parliament.
Each state also has a presidentially appointed governor who may assume certain broad powers when directed by the central government. The central government exerts greater control over the union territories than over the States, although some territories have gained more power to administer their own affairs. Local state governments in India have less autonomy compared to their counterparts in the United States, Africa and Australia.
India’s independent judicial system began under the British, and its concepts and procedures resemble those of Anglo-Saxon countries. The constitution designates the Supreme Court, the High Courts and the lower courts as the authority to resolve disputes among the people as well as the disputes related to the people and the government. The constitution through its articles relating to the judicial system provides a way to question the laws of the government, if the common man finds the laws as unsuitable for any community in India..
On April 24, 1993, the Constitutional (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 came into force to provide constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions. This Act was extended to Panchayats in the tribal areas of eight States, namely Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Rajasthan from 24 December 1996.
The Act aims to provide 3-tier system of Panchayati Raj for all States having population of over 2 million, to hold Panchayat elections regularly every 5 years, to provide reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Women, to appoint State Finance Commission to make recommendations as regards the financial powers of the Panchayats and to constitute District Planning Committee to prepare draft development plan for the district.
Role of political parties
As like any other democracy, political parties represent different sections among the Indian society and regions, and their core values play a major role in the politics of India. Both the executive branch and the legislative branch of the government are run by the representatives of the political parties who have been elected through the elections. Through the electoral process, the people of India choose which majority in the lower house, a government can be formed by that party or the coalition.
Indian state governments led by various political parties as of March 2009.
India has a multi-party system, where there are a number of national as well as regional parties. A regional party may gain a majority and rule a particular state. If a party represents more than 4 states then such parties are considered as national parties. In the 61 years since India’s independence, India has been ruled by the Indian National Congress (INC) for 48 of those years. The party enjoyed a parliamentary majority barring two brief periods during the 1970s and late 1980s. This rule was interrupted between 1977 to 1980, when the Janata Party coalition won the election owing to public discontent with the controversial state of emergency declared by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The Janata Dal won elections in 1989, but its government managed to hold on to power for only two years. Between 1996 and 1998, there was a period of political flux with the government being formed first by the right-wing nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) followed by a left-leaning United Front coalition. In 1998, the BJP formed the National Democratic Alliance with smaller regional parties, and became the first non-INC and coalition government to complete a full five-year term. The 2004 Indian elections saw the INC winning the largest number of seats to form a government leading the United Progressive Alliance, and supported by left-parties and those opposed to the BJP.
On 22 May 2004, Manmohan Singh was appointed the Prime Minister of India following the victory of the INC & the left front in the 2004 Lok Sabha election. The UPA now rules India without the support of the left front. Previously, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had taken office in October 1999 after a general election in which a BJP-led coalition of 13 parties called the National Democratic Alliance emerged with a majority.
Formation of coalition governments reflects the transition in Indian politics away from the national parties toward smaller, more narrowly-based regional parties. Some regional parties, especially in South India, are deeply aligned to the ideologies of the region unlike the national parties and thus the relationship between the central government and the state government in various states has not always been free of rancor. Disparity between the ideologies of the political parties ruling the centre and the state leads to severely skewed allocation of resources between the states.
The lack of homogeneity in the Indian population causes division between different sections of the people based on religion, region, language, caste and race. This has led to the rise of political parties with agendas catering to one or a mix of these groups.
Some parties openly profess their focus on a particular group, for example, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s focus on the dravid population, and the Shiv Sena’s pro-Marathi agenda. Some other parties claim to be universal in nature, but tend to draw support from particular sections of the population, for example, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (translated as National People’s Party) has a vote bank among the Yadav and Muslim population of Bihar and the All India Trinamool Congress does not have any significant support outside West Bengal. The Bharatiya Janata Party, the party with the second largest number of MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha, has an image of being pro-Hindu, and anti-Muslim and anti-Christian. Such support from particular sections of the population affects the agenda and policies of such parties, and refute their claims of being universal representatives. The Congress may be viewed as the most secular party with a national agenda, however it also practices votebank politics to gain the support of minorities, especially Muslims, through appeasement and pseudo-secularist strategies.
The narrow focus and votebank politics of most parties, even in the central government and central legislature, sidelines national issues such as economic welfare and national security. Moreover, internal security is also threatened as incidences of political parties instigating and leading violence between two opposing groups of people is a frequent occurrence.
Economic issues like poverty, unemployment, development are main issues that influence politics. Garibi hatao (eradicate poverty) has been a slogan of the Indian National Congress for long. The well known Bharatiya Janata Party is looked upon with grace as a political party that is indeed encouraging to free market economy, businesses and others. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) vehemently supports left-wing politics and has strongly opposed to socio-economic policies such as globalization, capitalism, foreign investments and privatization. The economic policies of most other parties do not go much further than providing populist subsidies and reservations. As a noteworthy case, the manifesto of the Samajwadi Party, the third largest party in the 15th Lok Sabha, for the 2009 general elections promised to reduce the use of computers upon being elected.
Law and order
Just to name a few, terrorism , Naxalism, Religious violence and caste-related violence are important issues that affect the political environment of the Indian nation. Stringent anti-terror legislations like TADA, POTA and MCOCA have received much political attention, both in favour as well as criticism.
Law and order issues such as action against organized crime are not issues that affect the outcomes of elections. On the other hand, there is a criminal-politician nexus. Many elected legislators have criminal cases against them. In July 2008 Washington Times reported that nearly a fourth of the 540 Indian Parliament members faced criminal charges, “including human trafficking, immigration rackets, embezzlement, rape and even murder”.
Political stability helps in making economic decisions and reducing the risk of imbalance in the
economy. In May 2004, elections brought the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) into power.
Growth, stability and equity are mutually reinforcing objectives. The quest of the UPA
Government is to eliminate poverty by giving every citizen an opportunity to be educated, to learn
a skill, and to be gainfully employed. The economic strategy of the UPA is composed of four
main elements: maintaining macroeconomic balances; improving the incentives operating upon
firms; enhancing physical infrastructure; and a range of initiatives aimed at empowering millions
of poor households to participate in the growing prosperity.
The major concern remains on commitment towards national interest, reduction of interference of
unlawful elements in politics, public accountability and growth oriented policies of the
government. Under the leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh the focus of the government is
appropriate and will not be cause of distress.
1 Indiaaa‚¬a„?s Growth
Since Independence India has moved from a moderate growth path of the first three decades
(1950 to 1980) to a higher growth trajectory since 1980s. Over the last two and a half decades,
India has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies of the world, averaging about 6
percent growth rate per annum and ranking of the country in terms of size of the economy,
especially in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) Terms have improved. In the last three years. We
have averaged a growth rate of 8 percent. Apart from registering impressive growth rate over the
last two and a half decades, Indiaaa‚¬a„?s growth process has been stable. Studies indicate that the
yearly variation in growth in India has been one of the lowest.
During the period, we have faced only one crisis in 1991. The crisis was followed by a credible
macroeconomic structural and stabilization program encompassing trade, industry, foreign
investment, exchange rate, public finance and financial sector. The evidence of stable economic
condition is the successful avoidance of any adverse contagon impact of shocks from the East
Asian crisis, the Russian crisis during 1997-98, sanction like situation in post pokhran scenario,
and border conflict during May-June 1999.
The performance of the Indian economy during the current fiscal year has exceeded
expectations. Initial growth projections for the period April 2004 to March 2005 were around
6.8%. Expectation was paired with a percentage point due to low rainfall from July 2004.
Global price shocks in oil, steel and coal added to apprehension, particularly about inflation.
However, shaking off these fears, the economy has grown by a robust 6.9%.
There are two aspects to the “emergence of India.” First, there are signs of vigorous growth in
manufacturing. High growth rates in exports have been extended beyond the now-familiar
services story to skill-intensive sectors like automobiles and drugs. Manufacturing growth
accelerated every month after May 2004 to reach double-digit levels in September and October.
Merchandise export growth in the first 10 months of 2004-05 was 25.6%. For three quarters
running, revenue growth in the corporate sector has been above 20% and net profit growth has
been around 30%. Second, there is a pronounced pickup in investment. From 2001-02, the
investment rate in India, low by East Asian standards, rose by 3.7 percentage points to 26.3% of
GDP in 2003-04. There are signs of an investment boom in the high growth in production and
imports of capital goods from late 2004 onwards.