The Internal Polity
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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 Constitution which envisages parliamentary form of government is federal in structure with unitary features. President of India is constitutional head of executive of the Union. Article 74(1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as head to aid and advise President who shall in exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice. Real executive power thus vests in Council of Ministers with Prime Minister as head. Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the House of the People (Lok Sabha). Similarly, in states. Governor is head of executive, but it is the Council of Ministers with Chief Minister as head in whom real executive power vests. Council of .Ministers of a state is collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly.

The Constitution distributes legislative power between Parliament and state legislatures and provides for vesting of residual powers in Parliament. Power to amend the Constitution also vests in Parliament. The Constitution has provision for independence of judiciary, Comptroller and Auditor-General, Public Service Commissions and Chief Election Commissioner.

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. 

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

The Constitution offers all citizens, individually and collectively, some basic freedoms. These are guaranteed in the Constitution in the form of six broad categories of Fundamental Rights which are justiciable.

Article 12 to 35 contained in Part III of the Constitution deal with Fundamental Rights. These are : (i) right to equality including equality before law, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and equality of opportunity in matters of employment; (ii) right to freedom of speech and expression; assembly; association or union; movement; residence; and right to practice any profession or occupation (some of these rights are subject to security of the State, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, decency or morality); (iii) right against exploitation, prohibiting all forms of forced labour, child labour and traffic in human beings; (iv) right to freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion; (v) right of any section of citizens to conserve their culture, language or script and right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice; and (vi) right to constitutional remedies for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.

FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

By the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution, adopted in 1976, Fundamental Duties of the citizens have also been enumerated. Article 51 'A' contained in Part IV A of the Constitution deals with Fundamental Duties.

These enjoin upon a citizen among other things, to abide by the Constitution, to cherish and follow noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom, to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so and to promote harmony and spirit of common brotherhood amongst all people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities.

DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY

The Constitution lays down certain Directive Principles of State Policy which though not justiciable, are 'fundamental in governance of the country' and it is the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws. These lay down that the State shall strive to promote the welfare of people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice—social, economic and political—shall inform all institutions of national life.

The State shall direct its policy in such a manner as to secure the right of all men and women to an adequate means of livelihood, equal pay for equal work and within limits of its economic capacity and development, to make effective provision for securing the right to work, education and to public assistance in the event of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement or other cases of undeserved want. The State shall also endeavour to secure to workers a living wage, humane conditions of work, a decent standard of life and full involvement of workers in management of industries.

In the economic sphere, the State is to direct its policy in such a manner as to secure distribution of ownership and control of material resources of community to subserve the common good and to ensure that operation of economic system does not result in concentration of wealth and means of production to common detriment.

Some of the other important directives relate to provision of opportunities and facilities for children to develop in a healthy manner, free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14; promotion of education and economic interests of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other weaker sections; organisation of village panchayats; separation of judiciary from executive, promulgation of a uniform civil code for whole country; protection of national monuments; promotion of justice on a basis of equal opportunity; provision of free legal aid; protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife of the country and promotion of international peace and security, just and honourable relations between nations, respect for international law, treaty obligations and settlement of international disputes by arbitration.


 

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