Need for political institutions:
The government is responsible for providing various things and facilities to the people. It needs to provide security to the people. It needs to work for the welfare of the people. The government has to collect taxes so that it can get money to carry out various welfare programmes. The money from the tax is also utilised in maintaining the government machinery.
There are various organs and departments of the government with separate roles and responsibilities. Division of responsibilities ensures division of labour. It also ensures that power is not concentrated in one person or one particular body.
Various departments and bodies are called government institutions. Formation of various institutions is necessary for smooth functioning of the government.
In most of the cases; pertaining to civil matters; three main institutions are at work. They are as follows:
1.The Prime Minister and the Cabinet take important decisions on all policy matters.
2.The Civil Servants which comprise the bureaucracy implement the decisions which are taken by the cabinet.
3.The Supreme Court plays a role whenever there is a dispute between the public interest and the government.
Disadvantages of Institutions: Presence of various institutions leads to delay in decision making which can be quite frustrating for many.
Advantages of Institutions: Presence of various institutions ensures that a broad consensus is arrived at before any major decision is taken. Institutions also prevent a bad decision being rushed into.
In India, there are two houses of Parliament, viz. the House of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of People (Lok Sabha). Rajya Sabha is called the Upper House, while the Lok Sabha is called the Lower House. System of two houses in legislature is called Bicameral Legislature.
Members of the Lok Sabha are directly elected by people, while the members of the Rajya Sabha come through indirect elections.
Lok Sabha is more powerful compared to the Rajya Sabha; because Lok Sabha is directly elected by and answerable to the people. However, the Rajya Sabha has some special powers to look after the interests of states or regions.
Parliament is the final authority for making laws in the country. The task of making a law is called legislation and hence the parliament or the assemblies are called legislatures. The legislature can make a new law, change existing laws or abolish existing laws.
All over the world, the parliaments have some control over those who run the government. In case of India; the control of the parliament is direct and full. A government is empowered to takes decision only till it enjoys the support of the Parliament.
Parliament controls all the money which the government has. In most of the democratic countries, the public money can only be spent after the sanction of the parliament.
Parliament is the highest forum of discussion and debate on public issues and national policy in any country. Parliament has the right to seek information on any matter.
Any ordinary law needs to be passed by both the houses. A bill can become a law only after passage from both the houses.
If there is a difference between the two Houses, then a joint session is held to take the decision. Since the Lok Sabha has more members than the Rajya Sabha, so the view of the Lok Sabha is likely to prevail during a joint session.
Lok Sabha has more powers in case of money bills. Once the budget or any other money bill is passed by the Lok Sabha, it cannot be rejected by the Rajya Sabha. The Rajya Sabha can only delay it by 14 days or suggest changes in it. The Lok Sabha may or may not accept those changes.
The Lok Sabha controls the Council of Ministers. A person who enjoys the majority support in the Lok Sabha is appointed as the Prime Minister. Once the Lok Sabha says that its members have ‘no confidence’ in the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister; alongwith all the ministers; has to quit. The Rajya Sabha does not enjoy this power.
Political Executive: The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers make the political executive. The task of the Council of Ministers is to execute the programmes and policies of the government hence it is called the executive. Members of the political executive are elected by the people.
Permanent Executive: The Civil Servants form the permanent executive. They are selected through the All India Civil Services and continue in their job irrespective of the change of government.
Since the political executive is answerable to the people hence it enjoys more power than the permanent executive. However, people in the permanent executive are technically more knowledgeable and capable compared to those in the political executive.
Prime Minister and Council of Ministers
The Prime Minister does not have a fixed tenure because he remains in office as long as he enjoys the majority support of the Lok Sabha. The President appoints the Prime Minister but he cannot appoint anybody as per his wish. The President appoints a person as the Prime Minister who is most likely to prove majority at the floor of the Lok Sabha. The Prime Minister then makes his Council of Ministers.
The Council of Ministers is usually composed of 60 to 80 Ministers of different ranks. The various ranks of Ministers are as follows:
(a) Cabinet Ministers: Cabinet Ministers are usually made from the top-level leaders of the ruling party. They are in charge of major ministries. There are about 20 ministers of the Cabinet Rank.
(b) Minister of State with Independent Charge: These are usually in charge of smaller ministries. They participate in the Cabinet Meeting only on invitation.
(c) Minister of State: They are attached to a Cabinet Minister. Their role is to assist the Cabinet Minister.
Important decisions are usually taken in the Cabinet meetings. Due to this, parliamentary democracy is also known as the Cabinet form of government. A minister may have different opinion but the minister needs to own up every decision made by the Cabinet. A minister cannot openly criticize any decision taken by the Cabinet. Every ministry has secretaries who come from the civil services. The Cabinet as a team is given the assistance of a Cabinet Secretariat. The Cabinet Secretariat is composed of senior civil servants who coordinate the functions of various ministries.
Powers of the Prime Minister
1.The Prime Minister chairs the meetings of the Cabinet.
2.He coordinates the working of different departments. In case of any disagreement between two or more departments, the decision of the Prime Minister is final.
3.The Prime Minister supervises the functions of various ministries. He can distribute and redistribute work to the ministers. He can also dismiss a minister. In case the Prime Minister resigns, the entire ministry has to quit.
4.During the days of Congress monopoly in the Union Government, the Prime Minister used to be very powerful. But situation has changed because of prevalence of coalition politics in the country. Now, the Prime Minister needs to accommodate a diverse set of political parties. He needs to pacify different coalition partners because he needs their support for the survival of the government.
1.The President is the head of the State. Although all decisions of the government are taken in the name of the President, he is just a titular head of the government.
2.Any bill which is passed by the Parliament needs the signature of the President to become a law.
3.All the major orders of the government need President’s assent before they can be enacted. All international treaties are signed in the name of the President.
4.The President appoints the Chief Justice of India, Chief Justices of the High Courts and Judges of the lower courts. He also appoints the governors of the states. All major appointments are made by the President.
5.The President is the Supreme Commander of the armed forces.
6.When no single party or a coalition is in a position to form a government, it is the President who decides on who is going to form the government. In that situation, the President invites the person; who he observes is most likely to secure a majority of the house; to form the government. After that, the newly appointed Prime Minister is given some deadline to prove his majority in the Lok Sabha.
An independent and powerful judiciary is considered essential for democracies. India has an integrated judiciary which is composed of the Supreme Court, High Courts, District Courts and various local level courts. The Supreme Court is the apex court in the country and hence its decision cannot be challenged. Its decision is binding on all other courts of the country. The Supreme Court can take up any dispute which is as follows:
1.Between citizens of the country.
2.Between citizens and government.
3.Between two or more state governments.
4.Between the Union Government and the state government.
The independent judiciary’s main role is in protecting the Fundamental Rights as enshrined in the Constitution of India. If any law is passed by the Government (at centre or state); which is viewed as overlooking the fundamental tenets of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the right to revoke the law. There are many cases in which litigations have been filed on behalf of public against laws enacted by the government. The independence of the judiciary ensures that no government can behave in an autocratic way.