Political System of India
India is the largest world's democracy with the 814 million of voters and is still contrasted to the political failures of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Having gained independence, this huge country adopted a constitution, which provides liberty and equality for all citizens alongside with the political guarantees, freedoms and trinity of justice. This fundamental law consists of 444 articles and lays out the foundations of India’s political system. The aim of the presented paper is to investigate the main features of India’s political system as well as to assess its check and balances mechanisms.
First, it should be noted that India is a federal country as it consists of 26 states and 6 centrally administrated Union Territories, which are granted with a certain amount of independence from the central government (Karim, 2013). Currently, two states are partially claimed by the neighboring countries, Pakistan and China. India is a federation that has been founded as a union of states. Unlike other federations, this Union emerged from the unitary state and transformed into a federal country. Another feature of the Indian federation is that states do not have the right to withdraw from the Union (Karim, 2013). The federal system of India is not entirely centralized. However, it is in charge of the most essential areas such as defense, economy, public expenditures, taxation etc. The decisions of the states are often influenced by the central government, as the latter assigns the funds for particular purposes of each state. Moreover, central government remains to hold a lot of power mainly due to the initiatives of Negru and Indira Gandhi who have constrained the powers of the states (Karim, 2013). The power structure of the federation consists of the President as a head of executive branch, Prime Minister, Parliament and Supreme Court. There is the Governor, who rules the state, Chief Minister, Assembly and High Court at the state level.
Executive Branch of Power
The President of India is the head of the state. It should be noted that the tradition of weak Presidents and monarchs has been completely inherited by India’s political system from Britain. Indeed, the role of President is rather ceremonial. The President is entitled to return the passed bill to the Parliament for the reconsideration (Sangma, n.d.). Additionally, the President is empowered to declare the state of emergency or war, which in turn extends the period of the Parliament's service. The legislative branch of power appoints the President. In total, 4500 members of the state and national parliaments have a right to choose the head of the state. The Vice-President is also elected by the Parliament (Karim, 2013). The President who follows the nomination suggested by the ruling party appoints a Prime Minister. The executive power is also performed through the Council of Ministers.
The Parliament of India consists of two chambers, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. The first one is the upper house and encompasses not less than 250 members. The President of India nominates twelve members. The legislative assemblies indirectly elect the rest of the MP (Sangma, n.d.). This House of Parliament could not be dissolved. However, the third of its members retire once in two years. Lok Sabha, the lower House of Parliament, consists of the representatives who are elected by the Indian citizens during the general elections. The President nominates two members of this chamber. They have to represent the Anglo-Indian Community. The lower House serves for five years (Sangma, n.d.). Both chambers hold legislative powers. However, concerning the financial matters, Lok Sabha is in charge (Karim, 2013). In case both houses of Parliament cannot find common ground in resolving a certain issue the joint meeting is held, where the opinion of Lok Sabha often prevails as it is almost twice larger than another chamber.
The judicial system of the state is represented by both national and state courts. The Supreme Court is located at the very top of the structure. High Courts, in turn, hold the same positions within the respective states. Each state consists of several judicial districts in which sessions judges or district courts exercise jurisdiction over the majority of cases (Sangma, n. d.). Additionally, there are the courts of civil jurisdiction as well as chief judicial and judicial magistrates who hear the criminal cases (Karim, 2013).
The Supreme Court of India serves many functions. It might have the original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. The Supreme Court solely resolves all the disputes that involve Union and the state or the disputes between any two states. Additionally, it has the exclusive authority to enforce the laws.
The Supreme Court may consider the case after the High Court issues the certification. Additionally, the Court might hear the case if it granted leave in respect to the judgment or decree that was issued by the High Court. The Supreme Court might also provide the President with advice on legal matters. The President appoints all the justices.
As to the High Courts, it should be noted that there are 18 of them in all the states and territories of the Union (Sangma, n. d.). Three of them hold the jurisdiction to consider the case emerging in more than one state. The capital of India, Delhi, has its own High Court. The justices are appointed by the President on the joint recommendation of the Chief justice and Governor of the state in question.
In total, all political parties in India can be divided into four main categories. They differ in terms of geographical extension, as some of them represent the entire population of India, while others advocate the interests of the residents of particular regions or communities. In terms of political orientation, there are various kinds of parties with the most radical right or left views. The right ones comprise traditional conservative parties with strong religious roots the left rely on the support of socialist and communist groups.
All-India political parties are reported to have broad national support. As usual, they win at least 6% of votes in four or more Indian States when general elections are held. Additionally, they are expected to hold at least four seats in the House of People, or Lok Sabha from any State (Mohita, n. d). All of these circumstances ensure that the party will have enough political weight to influence the policies implemented by the legislative branch of government.
Regional party usually represents a certain area and the residents inhabiting it, which are tied by the common language, culture, religion, history etc. These parties lobby the interests of these people regardless of their religion or caste. Furthermore, they focus on the needs of the population, not on their characteristics. Such parties as ADMK, Telugu Desam and Assam Gana Parishad belong to the regional representatives.
Adding to the abovementioned political forces of India, the political experts also point out two additional types of parties. The first ones advocate the interests of a particular group of people. They are rather exclusionary in nature and unite people appealing to the particular emotions. Finally, the ad hoc parties promote the interests of the influential people or specific state or local issues. The political life of such parties usually does not last long. Frequently, they merge with other parties or completely disappear. The Kerala Congress and the Bangla Congress are usually considered as ad hoc parties.
In total, there are 1800 political parties in India (Cheaib & Antonopoulos, 2014). However, the majority of the population honors and supports only a few of them. Among them is Indian National Congress, which is the oldest political party in India and advocates the interests of both local and central governments. Many voters are emotionally tied with the party as its representatives have been ruling when India gained its independence. The party also has well-established relations with the United Province Alliance. The party was founded in 1885 (Cheaib & Antonopoulos, 2014). Currently it is headed by Sonia Gandhi. The party in question has the richest experience in running the country in comparison to the rest of the political parties. At the same time, it is often involved in corruption scandals.
Bhartiya Janta Party, or BJP, is also ranked among the oldest ones though it was established hundred years after the Indian Congress. It aims to represent the majority of the state (Cheaib & Antonopoulos, 2014). The party was extremely popular when Vajpayee Modi ruled it. Amit Shah is a current President of the party. However, this political force is frequently accused of being financed by unauthorized sources. Aam Aadmi Party has been established as a result of the common anger of publicity. This political party managed to form a government within one year after its forming. Because of such intensive preparations, the party won 28 seats out of 70 in legislative elections (Cheaib & Antonopoulos, 2014). In general, the vision and mission of the party is considered as a very good concept. However, it lacks experience in running the state.
The political parties of India are frequently ranked among the largest ones. Few months ago, the ruling political power, BJP, was recognized as the biggest in the world. Its membership includes 8.80 crore (TNN, 2015). Similarly, in China the Communist Party enumerates only 8.60 crore members (TNN, 2015). At the same time, the political experts admit that increase in the number of members does not necessarily mean the growth of influence and political power. They suggest that the party might experience the disloyalty when tough decisions will be passed.
The number of the political parties operating in India should also be carefully examined. It should be noted that despite the fastest growing economy, Indian population is reports to have a great number of parties representing its interests and the quantity of the latter tends to significantly increase over time (Dubbudu, 2015). Moreover, currently there is no evidence that a rapid pace at which this number is growing will ever slow down. The reasons for that are the following. First, not much effort is needed to register a party. Additionally, parties, on the contrary to independent candidates, get the preferences in terms of free symbols (Dubbudu, 2015). The political observers assert that such an outbreak has been caused by the high level of marginalization of the society. With the end of the previous era, the population started to enjoy its political freedoms and, thus, started to establish various politics-oriented unions and parties. Another reason links the increased amount of parties with the Indian past. The experts stated that Indira Gandhi had been preventing new and independent parties from appearing on the political landscape of India for almost ten consequent years (Verma, 2013). After her return to the politics, she restructured the party she headed and ensured that she appointed all the key ministers and other officials. One of the India’s former chief ministers, J. Mishra, once said that whereas God rules in heaven, Gandhi governs on Earth (Verma, 2013). Such was her influence on the political system in India, and, needless to say, it still has certain implications on the present-day politics of India.
In conclusion, few points are to be stressed. First, in accordance with the Constitution, India has a rather developed political system based on the principle of democracy. The powers are balanced and checked, as all the braches of power have controlling competencies regarding other branches. Despite all the formal perfectness, the political system in India is rather corrupted. Additionally, the rights of the state and central governments are not justified. The latter still controls the key areas of the public life. Additionally, it should be noted that the real power is vested to the Parliament as President has only nominal powers. Parliament, at the same time, is bulletproof, as President holds no powers to dismiss it. At the same time, India on the contrary to Pakistan and China, still belongs to the developing democracies in the world despite all the challenges it brings to such huge country.