41) What is the role of the two Houses of Parliament?
Answer: (i) In India, the Parliament consists of two Houses.
(ii) The two Houses are known as the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha).
(iii) The President of India is not a member of Parliament but no Bill can be passed without the assent of the President.
42) In what ways does the Lok Sabha exercise more powers than the Rajya Sabha?
Answer:(i) Any ordinary law needs to be passed by both the Houses. But if there is a difference between the two Houses, the final decision is taken in a joint session. However, since the number of members in the Lok Sabha are more; their view or decision is more likely to prevail.
(ii) The Lok Sabha exercises more powers in money matters. Once the Lok Sabha passes the budget of the government or any other money related law, the Rajya Sabha cannot reject it. The Rajya Sabha can delay it only by 14 days or can suggest changes in it. The Lok Sabha may or may not accept the change.
(iii) The Lok Sabha controls the Council of Ministers. If the majority of the Lok Sabha members say that they have 'no confidence' in the Council of Ministers; all the ministers including the Prime Minister, have to quit. The Rajya Sabha does not have this power.
43) Which two categories constitute the executive in a democratic country?
Answer:(i) Political Executive: One that is elected by the people for a specific period is called the 'political executive'. Political leaders who take big decisions fall in this category. (ii) Permanent Executive: In this category, people are appointed on a long-term basis. This is called the permanent executive or civil services. They are the civil servants. They remain in office even when the ruling party changes. These officers work under ministers and assist them in carrying out the day-to-day administration.
44) What is the importance of civil servants in running the government?
Answer: (i) The civil servants are usually more educated and have more expert knowledge of the subject.
(ii) The advisors working in the Finance Ministry know more about economics than the Finance Minister.
(iii) Sometimes, ministers may know very little about the technical matters that come under their ministry, but they are supported in all these matters by the civil servants. This could easily happen in ministries like the Defence, Industry, Health, Science and Technology, Mining, etc.
45) How are the Council of Ministers categorised?
Answer: The Council of Ministers are classified as follows:
(i) Cabinet Ministers: They are usually top-level leaders of the ruling party or parties who are in charge of the major ministries. Usually, the Cabinet Ministers meet to take decisions in the name of the Council of Ministers.
(ii) Ministers of State with Independent Charge: They are usually in charge of smaller ministries. They participate in the cabinet meeting only when they are specially invited.
(iii) Ministers of State: They are attached to and are required to assist the Cabinet Ministers.
46) What powers rest with the Prime Minister of India?
Answer: As head of the government, the Prime Minister has wide-ranging powers.
(i) He chairs the Cabinet meetings.
(ii) He coordinates the work of different departments.
(iii) He supervises different ministries.
(iv) decisions are final in case disagreements arise between departments.
(v) He distributes and redistributes work to the ministers.
(vi) He also has the power to dismiss ministers. When the Prime Minister quits, the entire ministry quits.
47) What is the role of the Prime Minister in a coalition government?
Answer: (i) The Prime Minister of a coalition government cannot take decisions as he likes.
(ii) He has to accommodate different groups and functions in his party, as well as among alliance partners.
(iii) He also has to heed to the views and positions of the coalition partners and other parties on whose support the survival of the government depends.
48) How is the President of India elected?
Answer: (i) The President is not elected directly by the people.
(ii) All the Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of State Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) elect the President.
(iii) A candidate contesting for the President's post has to get a majority of votes to win the elections. This ensures that the President can be seen to represent the entire nation.
49) Does the President exercise his powers on the advice of the Council of Ministers?
Answer: (i) The President can ask the Council of Ministers to reconsider his or her advice. But if the same advice is given again, he or she is bound to act according to it. (ii) A Bill passed by the Parliament becomes a law only after the President gives assent to it. If the President wants, he or she can send back the Bill to the Parliament for reconsideration. But if the Parliament passes the Bill again, he or she has to sign it.
50) What are the discretionary powers of the President?
Answer: (i) The President appoints the Prime Minister. When a party or coalition of parties secures a clear majority in the elections, the President has to appoint the leader of the majority party or the coalition that enjoys majority support in the Lok Sabha.
(ii) When no party or coalition gets a majority in the Lok Sabha, the President exercises his or her discretion. The President appoints a leader who, in her opinion, can muster majority support in the Lok Sabha. In such a case, the President can ask the newly appointed Prime Minister to prove a majority support in the Lok Sabha within a specified time.
51) What does 'independence of judiciary' mean?
Answer:(i) The Judiciary is not under the control of the Legislature or the Executive.
(ii) The judges do not act on the directions of the government or according to the wishes of the party in power.
(iii) That is why, all modern democracies have units that are independent of the Legislature and the Executive.
52) What does 'integration of judiciary' mean?
Answer: It means that the Supreme Court controls the judicial administration in the country. Its decisions are binding on all the other courts of the country. It can take up any dispute:
(i) between the citizens of the country;
(ii) between citizens and the government;
(iii) between two or more state governments; and
(iv) between the union and state governments. It is the highest court of appeal in civil and criminal cases. It can hear appeals against the decisions of the high courts.
53) What do you understand by Public Interest Litigation?
Answer: (i) In recent years, the courts have given several judgements and directives to protect public interest and human rights.
(ii) Anyone can approach the courts, if public interest is hurt by the actions of the government. This is called Public Interest Litigation.
(iii) The courts intervene to prevent the misuse of the government's power to make decisions. They check malpractices on the part of the public officials.
54) Which of the two Houses is more powerful?
Answer: (i) It might appear that the Rajya Sabha has more power, for it is called 'Upper Chamber' and the Lok Sabha the 'Lower Chamber'.
(ii) But this does not mean that Rajya Sabha is more powerful than Lok Sabha. This is just an old style of speaking and not the language used in our constitution.
(iii) Our constitution does give the Rajya Sabha some special powers over the states. But on most of the matters the Lok Sabha exercises supreme power.
55) What does executive mean?
Answer: (i) At different levels of any government, we find functionaries who take day-to-day decisions but do not exercise supreme powers on behalf of the people.
(ii) All those functionaries are collectively known as executive.
(iii) They are called executive because they are in charge of the 'execution' of the policies of the government. Thus, when we talk about 'the government' we usually mean 'executive'.
56) How are ministers appointed?
Answer: (i) The ministers are usually from the party or the coalition that has the majority in the Lok Sabha.
(ii) The Prime Minister is free to choose ministers as long as they are members of Parliament.
(iii) Sometimes, a person who is not a member of Parliament can also become a minister. But such a person has to get elected to one of the Houses of Parliament within six months of appointment as minister.
57) Who forms the cabinet?
Answer: (i) Cabinet is formed by the top-level leaders of the ruling party or parties who are in charge of the major ministries.
(ii) Usually the cabinet meets to take decisions in the name of the Council of Ministers. (iii) Cabinet is thus the inner ring of the Council of Ministers. It comprises about twenty ministers.
58) What is Impeachment Motion?
Answer:(i) A judge can be removed only by an impeachment motion passed separately by two-third members of the two Houses of the Parliament.
(ii) Similarly, with impeachment, even President of India can be removed. It is passed by both the Houses of Parliament by two-third members majority.
59) What is the 'Office Memorandum'? Give example.
Answer: (i) This order announced a major policy decision.
(ii) According to this, the Mandal Commission gave a recommendation for 27 per cent of the government jobs to be reserved for the Socially and Economically Backward Classes (SEBC) in India. (iii) SEBC is another name for all those people who belong to castes that are considered backward by the government.
(iv) The benefit of job reservation was till then available only to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
(v) Now a new third category called SEBC was introduced. Only persons who belonged to backward castes were eligible for this quota of 27 per cent government jobs. Others could not compete for these jobs.
60) Why was the Mandal Commission appointed by the Indian government?
Answer:(i) The government of India had appointed the Second Backward Classes Commission in 1979. It was headed by B.P. Mandal.
(ii) Hence, it was popularly called the Mandal Commission.
(iii) It was asked to determine the criteria to identify the socially and educationally backward classes in India and recommend steps to be taken for their advancement.
(iv) The Commission gave a report in 1980 and made many recommendations. One of these was that 27 per cent of the government jobs to be reserved for the socially and economically backward classes.
61) What developments took place after the recommendations of the Mandal Commission?
Answer:(i) The President of India in his address to the Parliament announced the intention of the government to implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission.
(ii) On 6 August 1990, the Union Cabinet took a formal decision to implement the recommendations.
(iii) Next day, the then Prime Minister V.P. Singh informed the Parliament about this decision through a statement in both the Houses of Parliament.
(iv) The decision of the Cabinet was sent to the Department of Personnel and Training. The senior officers of the department drafted an order in line with the Cabinet decision and took the minister's approval. An officer signed the order on behalf of the Union government called the 'Office Memorandum'.
62) Who resolved the dispute of the Mandal Commission? How did it materialise later on?
Answer: (i) Some persons and associations opposed this order and filed a number of cases in the courts.
(ii) They appealed to the court's to declare the order invalid and stop its implementation. (iii) The Supreme Court of India bunched all these cases together. This case was known as 'Indira Sawhney and others Vs Union of India case'.
(iv) Eleven judges of the Supreme Court heard the arguments of both sides.
(v) By a majority, the Supreme Court judges in 1992 declared that this order of the Government of India was valid.
(vi) At the same time, the Supreme Court asked the government to modify its original order.
(vii)It said that well-to-do persons among the backward classes should be excluded from getting the benefit of reservation.
(viii) Accordingly, the Department of Personnel and Training issued another Memorandum on September 8, 1993. The dispute thus came to an end and this policy has been followed since then.
63) Describe the functions and powers of the Parliament.
Answer: Functions and powers of the Parliament:
(i) Final Authority for making laws. (ii) Power to amend the Constitution.
(iii) Controls and checks the Council of Ministers.
(iv) Can remove the President from office through the process of impeachment.
(v) Controls all the money that governments have.
64) Why should ministers have the final say in technical matters?
Answer: (i) In a democracy, the will of the people is supreme.
(ii) The minister is elected by the people and is thus, empowered to exercise the will of the people on their behalf.
(iii) The minister is finally answerable to the people for all the consequences of the decision taken by him or her. That is why, the minister takes all the final decisions.
(iv) The minister decides the overall framework and objectives in which decisions on a policy should be made.
(v) The minister takes the advice of experts on all the technical matters. But very often, experts hold different opinions or place before the minister more than one option. Depending on what the overall objective is, the minister decides.
65) How is the Prime Minister elected?
Answer: (i) The Prime Minister is the most important institution in the country; yet there is no direct election to the post of the Prime Minister.
(ii) The President appoints the Prime Minister. He appoints the leader of the majority party or coalition of parties that commands a majority in the Lok Sabha, as the Prime Minister.
(iii) In case no single party or alliance gets a majority, the President appoints the person who is most likely to secure a majority support.
(iv) The Prime Minister does not have a fixed tenure. He continues in power so long as he remains the leader of the majority party or coalition.