Q1: Give a detailed description of the powers of the President of India.
The President is the elected head of the state. He/she heads the executive body of the Indian Union. He/ she issues orders to enforce laws made by the Parliament. He/she exercise the following powers:
- The Council of Ministers themselves is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
- All laws and major policy decisions of the government are issued in his/her name.
- All top-level officials of the Union government sire appointed by the President and can be removed by him/her.
- He/she has the power to appoint the ambassadors to other countries. He/she also receives the ambassadors and other envoys from foreign countries.
- All international treaties and agreements are made in the name of the President.
- A bill passed by the Parliament becomes a law only after the President gives assent to it. If the president wants, he/she can delay this for some time and send the bill back to the parliament for reconsideration.
- The President can grant pardon to anyone sentenced by the courts.
- The President exercises direct control on the administration of Union Territories.
Q2: In what different ways does Parliament exercise political authority on behalf of the people?
In all democracies, an assembly of elected representatives exercise supreme political authority on behalf of the people. Such an assembly is called Parliament. At the state level this is called Legislature or Legislative Assembly.
- Parliament exercises political authority on behalf of the people in many ways:
- It is the final authority for making laws in any country. Parliaments all over the world can make new laws, change existing laws, or abolish existing laws and make new ones in their place.
- Parliaments all over the world exercise some control over those who run the government. In some countries like India this control is direct and full.
- Parliaments controls all the money that governments have. In most countries any of the public money can be spent only when the Parliament sanctions it.
- Parliament is the highest forum of discussion and debate on public issues and national policy in any country. Parliament can seek information about any matter.
Q3: What are the powers and functions of the Prime Minister of India?
The Prime Minister of India is the head of the government and exercises wide ranging powers:
- He/she chairs cabinet meetings. He/she coordinates the work of different departments. His/her decisions are final in case disagreements arise between departments.
- He/she exercises general supervision of different ministries. All ministers work under his/her leadership.
- The Prime Minister distributes and redistributes work to the ministers. He/she also has the power to dismiss ministers. When the Prime Minister quits, the entire ministry quits.
- He is a link between the President and the people. He/she is the person who is actually responsible for the effective functioning of the government.
- The Prime Minister is the head of the Council of Ministers. The whole body works together under him/her as a team. Thus, if the cabinet is the most powerful institution in India, within the Cabinet it is the Prime Minister who is the most powerful.
Q4: How can you say that in India courts are independent of the legislature and the executive?
In India, we have courts independent of the legislature and the executive.
- The judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister and in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
- In practice it now means that the senior judges of the Supreme Court select the new judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. There is very little scope for interference by the political executive.
- The senior most judge of the Supreme Court is usually appointed the Chief Justice. Once a person is appointed as judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court it is nearly impossible to remove him or her from that position.
Q5: How is the President elected in our country?
Ans: In our country the President is not elected directly by the people. The elected Members of Parliament (MPs) and the elected Members of the Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) elected him. A candidate standing for President’s post has to get a majority of votes to win the election. This ensures that the President can be seen to represent the entire nation. He remains the nominal executive and can never claim the kind of direct popular mandate that the Prime Minister can.
Q6: Give the brief description of the Council of Ministers.
Council of Ministers is the official name for the body that includes all the Ministers. It usually has 60 to 80 Ministers of different ranks:
- Cabinet Ministers 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. Cabinet is thus the inner the ring of the Council Ministers. It comprises about 20 ministers.
- Ministers of State with independent charge are usually in-charge of smaller Ministries. They participate in the Cabinet meeting only when specially invited.
- Ministers of State are attached to and required to assist Cabinet Ministers.
Q7: What are the two categories that make up the executive? Describe them.
- In a democratic country, two categories make up the executive. The first category which is elected by the people for a specific period is called the political executive. Political leaders who take the big decisions fall in this category.
- In the second category, people are appointed on a long-term basis. This is called the permanent executive or civil servants. Persons working in civil services are called civil servants. They remain in office even when the ruling party changes. These officers work under political executive and assist them in carrying out the day-to-day administration.
Q8: Name the three institutions that play a key role in major decisions in a democratic country. How do these institutions work?
The three institutions are: Legislature, executive and judiciary.
- Legislature: It is an assembly of people’s representatives with the power to enact laws for a country. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures have authority to raise taxes and adopt the budget and other money bills.
- Executive: It is a body of persons having authority to initiate major policies, make decisions and implement them on the basis of the Constitution and laws of the country.
- Judiciary: It is an institution empowered to administer justice and provide a mechanism for the resolution of legal disputes.
Q9: What was the objective of the Mandal Commission? Mention one of the recommendations that it make in its report.
- The Government of India appointed the second Backward Classes Commission in 1979 under the supervision of B.P Mandal. Since its head was B.P Mandal it came to be known the as Mandal Commission.
- The main objective of this commission was to identify the socially and educationally backward classes in India and recommend steps to be taken for their advancement.
- The Commission gave its Report in 1980 and made many recommendations. One of these was that 27 per cent of government jobs be reserved for the socially and educationally backward classes.
Q10: How did people react to the decision to implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission?
- The decision to implement the Mandal Commission’s recommendations led to widespread protests and counter protests, some of which were violent. People reacted strongly because this decision affected thousands of job opportunities.
- Some felt that existence of inequalities among people of different castes in India needed job reservations. The felt, this would give a fair opportunity to those communities who so far had not adequately been represented in government employment.
- Others felt that this was unfair as it would deny equality of opportunity to those who did not belong to backward communities. They would be denied jobs even though they could be more qualified. Some felt that this would generate caste feelings among people and hamper national unity.
Q11: In our country, the Parliament consists of two Houses. Describe briefly these two Houses.
- These two Houses are known as the Council of States or the Rajya Sabha and the House of the People or the Lok Sabha.
- The Rajya Sabha is usually elected indirectly and performs some special functions. The most common work of this House is to look after the interests of various states, regions or federal units.
- The Lok Sabha is usually directly elected by the people and exercises real power on behalf of the people.
Q12: How is the Prime Minister appointed in our country?
- Prime Minister is the most important political institution in the country. But there is no direct election to the post of the Prime Minister. The President appoints the Prime Minister.
- But the President cannot appoint anyone he/she likes. The president appoints the leader of the majority party or the coalition of parties that commands a majority in the Lok Sabha, as Prime Minister.
- In case no single party or alliance gets a majority, the President appoints the person most likely to secure a majority support. 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.
Q13: What are the limitations of the Prime Minister in coalition government?
The emergence of coalition government has put some barriers on the power of the Prime Minister:
- The Prime Minister of a coalition government cannot take decisions as he/she likes. He has to accommodate different groups and factions in his party as well as among alliance partners.
- He also cannot ignore the views and positions of the coalition partners and other parties, on whose support the survival of the government depends.
Q14: Enlist the disputes that can be taken by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court can take up the following types of disputes:
- Between citizens of the country;
- Between citizens and the government;
- Between two or more state governments; and
- Between governments at the Union and State level.
- The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal in civil and criminal cases. It can hear appeals against the decisions of the High courts.