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About India  

The State Structure

The Internal Polity:

Overview

INDIA, a Union of States, is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with a parliamentary system of government. The Republic is governed in terms of the Constitution, which was adopted by Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 and came into force on 26 January 1950.

THE UNION AND ITS TERRITORY

India comprises 28 States and seven Union Territories. They are: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Kamataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Three new states -  Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal - came into being recently. Union Territories are : Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Delhi, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry.

CITIZENSHIP

The Constitution of India provides for a single and uniform citizenship for the whole of India. Every person who was at the commencement of the Constitution (26 January 1950) domiciled in the territory of India and: (a) who was born in the territory of India or (b) either of whose parents was born in the territory of India or (c) who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement, shall be a citizen of India. The Citizenship Act, 1955 provides for acquisition and termination of citizenship after the commencement of the Constitution.

The Union Executive:

PRESIDENT

The President is elected by members of an electoral college consisting of elected members of both Houses of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of the states in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. To secure uniformity among state inter se as Well as parity between the states, as a whole, and the Union, suitable weightage is given to each vote.

VICE-PRESIDENT

The Vice-President is elected by members of an electoral college consisting of members of both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. He must be a citizen of India, not less than 35 years of age and eligible for election as a member of the Rajya Sabha.

COUNCIL OF MINISTERS

There is a Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President in exercise of his functions. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President who also appoints other ministers on the advice of Prime Minister. The Council is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha.

LEGISLATURE

Legislature of the Union which is called Parliament, consists of President and two Houses, known as Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and House of the People (Lok Sabha). Each House of Parliament has to meet within six months of its previous sitting. A joint sitting of two Houses can be held in certain cases.

RAJYA SABHA

The Constitution provides that the Rajya Sabha shall consist of 250 members, of which 12 members shall be nominated by the President from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service; and not more than 238 representatives of the States and of the Union Territories.

The State Executive:

COUNCIL OF MINISTERS

The Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor who also appoints other ministers on the advice of the Chief Minister. The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to legislative assembly of the State.

GOVERNOR

State executive consists of Governor and Council of Ministers with Chief Minister as its head. Governor of a state is appointed by the President for a term of five years and holds office during his pleasure. Only Indian citizens above 35 years of age are eligible for appointment to this office. Executive power of the State is vested in Governor.

Local Government:

ELECTION COMMISSION

Superintendence, direction and control of preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of elections, to Parliament and state legislatures and elections to the office of President and Vice-President of India are vested in the Election Commission of India. It is an independent constitutional authority set up in pursuance of Article 324(1) of the Constitution of India. Since its inception in 1950 and till October 1989, the Commission functioned as a single member body consisting of the Chief Election Commissioner.

PANCHAYATS

Article 40 of the Constitution which enshrines one of the Directive Principles of State Policy lays down that the State shall take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and, authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.

MUNICIPALITIES

Municipal bodies have a long history in India. The first such Municipal Corporation was set up in the former Presidency Town of Madras in 1688; and was followed by similar corporations in Bombay and Calcutta in 1726. The Constitution of India has made detailed provisions for ensuring protection of democracy in Parliament and in the state legislatures.
 
 
 
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