State Structure and Political System of India

State Structure and Political System of India

According to microedu, India is a sovereign, democratic, federal state with a republican form of government. The words “socialist and secular” were added in August 1976 following the passage of the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution by Parliament. India includes 28 states – Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamilnadu, Tripura, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Hariana, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, as well as the national capital territory of Delhi and 6 union territories – Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, Pondicherry, Chandigarh.

India is a federal state established as a Union of States. There is a parliamentary form of government of the British type. The federal (central) government and the governments of the subjects of the federation are functioning. The legal supremacy belongs to the Constitution. The Supreme Court has the power to invalidate any act that does not comply with the basic law. The Supreme Courts of the states are vested with similar rights within their competence. Unlike other federations, India was created by turning a unitary state (British India) into a federal one. Entry into the federation of the provinces of British India was mandatory, and the principalities – voluntary. Another feature of the Indian federation is that the states do not have the right to secede from the Union. The highest body of legislative power is the parliament. Its upper house – the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) – includes 250 deputies, the lower – the People’s Chamber (Lok Sabha) – 545 deputies. The 238 members of the upper house are representatives of the states and union territories, and 12 members are appointed by the president from among persons with special knowledge or practical experience in the fields of literature, science, art and social work. The lower house consists of not more than 525 representatives of the states, not more than 20 representatives of the union territories and 2 Anglo-Indians appointed by the president; the number of state representatives in the House ranges from 1 (Nagaland) to 34 (Uttar Pradesh). A citizen of India who has reached the age of 25 can be a member of the House of the People, and a citizen of the Council of States – 30 years of age. The President can dissolve the lower house and announce the dates for early elections. The upper chamber cannot be dissolved ahead of time. A bill is introduced in either House of Parliament by a Minister or an ordinary member of the House. It can be submitted for consideration, sent to a special commission or made public in order to identify public opinion. When a proposal for a bill to be considered has been passed by the House but no amendments have been proposed, or the amendment process has already been completed, the bill’s sponsor has the right to petition for its passage. Following the adoption of one chamber, the bill is transferred to another. Once passed by both houses of parliament, it is passed to the president.  The president’s refusal to approve means the bill’s failure. If the president approves the bill, it becomes law.

The President is the head of the executive power of the Union. He appoints the Prime Minister and, at the proposal of the latter, the members of the Cabinet of Ministers, as well as the governors of the states, members of the Supreme Court and the Superior Courts of the states. The President is endowed with the right of legislative initiative, the right of veto and the issuance of emergency decrees between sessions of Parliament, having the force of laws. The president has the power to declare a state of emergency in the event of a threat of war or internal unrest and to impose presidential rule in the state “in view of the failure of the constitutional mechanism.” The president is elected for a term of 5 years by an electoral college composed of elected members of both houses of parliament and elected members of the state legislatures. In July 2002, Abdul Kalam (b. 1931) became President of India. In fact, the key figure in the system of executive power is the Prime Minister, who heads the government – the Council of Ministers. He coordinates government policy, liaises between the cabinet and the president, and assists and advises the president in the performance of his functions. The Prime Minister is the leader of the party or coalition that wins elections to the House of the People. In September-October 1999, such a victory was won by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Its leader A.B. Vajpayee became prime minister. Elections to the House of the People and state legislatures are held every 5 years on the basis of universal suffrage by persons over 18 years of age. Elections are direct. For their implementation, the territory of the country is divided into territorial constituencies. Elections are controlled by an electoral commission headed by a chief commissioner. The Council of States and the State Legislative Council are renewed by 1/3 every 2 years. State representatives are elected by the elected members of the state legislatures under a system of proportional representation based on a single transferable vote. The representatives of the union territories are elected by a two-stage election by the members of the electoral peers for that territory under a system of proportional representation on the basis of a single transferable vote. Legislative power in the states is exercised by the legislature. In some states, the legislature consists of two chambers – the legislative assembly and the legislative council, in others – from one chamber, i.e. legislative assembly. The total number of members of the legislative assembly must not exceed 500 or be less than 60. The number of members of the legislative council varies depending on the total number of members of the legislative assembly, but cannot be less than 40. The governor of the state is appointed by the president. The usual term of office for a governor is 5 years. He acts in accordance with the instructions given to him by the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister heads the state government – the Council of Ministers and is the person in whose hands the real executive power is concentrated. The position of chief minister of a state resembles that of the prime minister of a country. The Union Territory is governed by an administrator appointed by the President. The Law on the Administration of the Union Territories provides for the creation in each of them of a legislative assembly and a Council of Ministers to advise the administrator. The main administrative unit of the states and union territories is the district. It is divided into urban and rural areas. The urban area is administered by the municipality, the rural area by the panchayat. The collector is at the head of the district. A characteristic feature of the Indian federation is a clear delimitation of the powers of the Union and the states. The competence of the Union includes a list of 97 items: defense, relations with foreign states, money circulation, foreign trade, nuclear energy, etc. The list of issues within the jurisdiction of the states consists of 66 items: public order, local government, health care, agriculture, forest protection, markets and fairs, etc. The list of issues of joint competence consists of 47 items: criminal law, legislation on marriage, family and guardianship, economic and social planning,

India Politics