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The Government of Indiamarker was established by the Constitution of India, and is the governing authority of a union of 28 states and seven union territories, collectively called the Republic of Indiamarker. It is seated in New Delhimarker, the capital of India.

The government comprises three interdependent branches: the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. The executive branch headed by the President, who is the Head of State and exercises his or her power through a Council of Ministers led by the Prime Minister. The Legislative branch or the Parliament consists of the lower house, the Lok Sabha, and the upper house, the Rajya Sabha, as well as the president. The Judicial branch has the Supreme Courtmarker at its apex, 21 High Courts, and numerous civil, criminal and family courts at the district level.

The basic civil and criminal laws governing the citizens of India are set down in major parliamentary legislation, such as the Civil Procedure Code, the Indian Penal Code, and the Criminal Procedure Code. The union and individual state governments consist of executive, legislative and judicial branches. The legal system as applicable to the federal and individual state governments is based on the English Common and Statutory Law. India accepts International Court of Justicemarker jurisdiction with several reservations. By the 73rd and 74th amendments to the constitution, the Panchayat Raj system has been institutionalized for local governance.

Type of government

The Preamble lays down the type of government that India has adopted - Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic.


The word sovereign means supreme or independent nation)(. India is internally and externally sovereign - externally free from the control of any foreign power and internally, it has a free government which is directly elected by the people and makes laws that govern the people.


The word socialist was added to the Preamble by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976. It implies social and economic equality for all its citizens. There will be no discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, creed, sex, religion or language. Everybody will be given equal status and opportunities. The government will make efforts to reduce the concentration of wealth in a few hands, and provide a decent standard of living to all.

India has adopted a mixed economic model, and the government has framed many laws to achieve the goal of socialism, such as Abolition of Untouchability and Zamindari Act, Equal Wages Act and Child Labour Prohibition Act.


The word secular was inserted into the Preamble by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976. It implies equality of all religions and religious tolerance. India does not have any official state religion. Every person has the right to preach, practice and propagate any religion of their own choice. The government does not favour or discriminate any religion. It treats all religions with equal respect. All citizens, irrespective of their religious beliefs are equal in the eyes of law. No religious instruction is imparted in government or government - aided schools.


India is a free country; vote from any place, specific seats are given out for Scheduled social group and scheduled tribes (89%) in parliament called (reserved voters), in local body election a proportion of seats are given out for women candidates.There is also a proposal to give out 33% seats in all elections to woman candidates, at this moment there is no agreement how to apply it and which seats should be given out.The Election Commission of India is responsible for performing free and fair elections.


As opposed to a monarchy, in which the head of state is appointed on hereditary basis for a lifetime, or until he abdicates, a republic is a state in which the head of state is elected, directly or indirectly, for a fixed tenure. The President of India is elected by an electoral college for a term of five years.

Parliamentary government

India has a parliamentary system of government based largely on that of the United Kingdommarker (Westminster system).

The legislature is the Parliament. It is bicameral, consisting of two houses: the directly-elected 545-member Lok Sabha ("House of the People"), the lower house, and the 250-member indirectly-elected and appointed Rajya Sabha ("Council of States"), the upper house. The parliament enjoys parliamentary supremacy.

The executive is split between a mainly ceremonial head of state (the President of India). The President enjoys all constitutional powers, but exercises them only on the advice of the actual executive, the head of government (Prime Minister of India) and his or her Council of Ministers (the cabinet), which enjoy all real powers and make important policy decisions.

All the members of the Council of Ministers as well as the Prime Minister are members of Parliament. If they are not, they must be elected within a period of six months from the time they assume their respective office. The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are responsible to the Lok Sabha, individually as well as collectively.

Individual responsibility

Every individual minister is in charge of a specific ministry or ministries (or specific other portfolio). He is responsible for any act of failure in all the policies relating to his department. In case of any lapse, he himself is individually responsible to the Parliament. If a vote of no confidence is passed against the individual minister, he has to resign. Individual responsibility can amount to collective responsibility. Therefore, the Prime Minister, in order to save his government, can ask for the resignation of such a minister and the people have a say.

Collective responsibility

The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are jointly accountable to the Lok Sabha. If there is a policy failure or lapse on the part of the government, all the members of the council are jointly responsible. If a vote of no confidence is passed against the government, then all the ministers headed by the Prime Minister have to resign.

Judicial branch

India's independent judicial system began under the British, and its concepts and procedures resemble those of Anglo-Saxon countries. The Supreme Court of Indiamarker consists of a Chief Justice and 25 associate justices, all appointed by the President on the advice of the Chief Justice of India. In the 1960s, India moved away from using juries for most trials, finding them to be corrupt and ineffective, instead almost all trials are conducted by judges.

Unlike its US counterpart, the Indian justice system consists of a unitary system at both state and federal level. The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court of Indiamarker, High Courts at the state level, and District and Session Courts at the district level.

National judiciary

The Supreme Court of Indiamarker has original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Its exclusive original jurisdiction extends to any dispute between the Government of India and one or more states, or between the Government of India and any state or states on one side and one or more states on the other, or between two or more states, if and insofar as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or of fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends.

In addition, Article 32 of the Indian Constitution gives an extensive original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in regard to enforcement of Fundamental Rights. It is empowered to issue directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari to enforce them. The Supreme Court has been conferred with power to direct transfer of any civil or criminal case from one State High Court to another State High Court, or from a court subordinate to another State High Court.

Public Interest Litigation(PIL) : Although the proceedings in the Supreme Court arise out of the judgments or orders made by the Subordinate Courts, of late the Supreme Court has started entertaining matters in which interest of the public at large is involved, and the Court may be moved by any individual or group of persons either by filing a Writ Petition at the Filing Counter of the Court, or by addressing a letter to Hon'ble The Chief Justice of India highlighting the question of public importance for invoking this jurisdiction.

Such a concept is known as Public Interest Litigation, or PIL and several matters of public importance have become landmark cases. This concept is unique to the Supreme Court of India, and perhaps no other Court in the world has been exercising this extraordinary jurisdiction.



Overview of the index of perception of corruption, 2007

The combination of corruption and politics plays a key role in governance.

The concept of tipping and working on commission is new to India. The country has experienced free markets since 1948, less than the average life span. Concepts like "premium" processing is new and is being slowly adopted to diminish corruption. At micro levels, these are called as "Tatkaal" schemes being introduced in government offices, meaning immediate processing, which directly deals with the common man. At macro levels these are called betterment charges that are levied on corporations that wish to invest in large projects. Starting in the early 1990s, privatization helped government to raise more taxes.

Occupations such as facilitator, negotiator, or agent, were never part of the Indian society. In business there was a seller and a buyer; and negotiation was considered the skill of the seller to influence the buyer.

Because it has freedom, the media has played an important role in unmasking corruption.

In 2009, nearly a quarter of the 543 elected members of parliament had been charged with crimes, including rape or murder.


Indian government is among the most bureaucratic in the world. The current government has concluded that most spending fails to reach its intended recipients. Lant Pritchett calls India's public sector "one of the world's top ten biggest problems - of the order of AIDS and climate change". The Economist article about Indian civil service (2008) said that Indian central government employs around 3 million people and states another 7 million, including "vast armies of paper-shuffling peons". The Economist states that "India has some of the hardest-working bureaucrats in the world, but its administration has an abysmal record of serving the public".

Unannounced visits by government inspectors showed that 25% of public sector teachers and 40% of public sector medical workers could not be found at the workplace. Teacher absence rates ranged from 15% in Maharashtramarker to 71% in Biharmarker. Despite worse absence rates, public sector teachers enjoy salaries at least five times higher than private sector teachers. India's absence rates are among the worst in the world.

Many experiments with computerization have failed due to corruption and other factors. In 2008, Tanmoy Chakrabarty noted that "There are vested interests everywhere, politicians fear that they will lose control with e-government, and this is coming in the way of successful implementation of e-government projects in India. [...] Out of the 27 projects under the NEGP, only one (the MCA21 program) has been completed. There is tremendous gap between conceptualization and implementation".

Spending priorities

The government subsidizes everything from gasoline to food. Loss-making state-owned enterprises are supported by the government. Water is free and paid by the state. Farmers are given electricity for free. Overall, a 2005 article by International Herald Tribune stated that subsidies amounted to 14% of GDP. As much as 39 percent of subsidized kerosene is stolen. Moreover, these subsidies cause economic distortions.

On the other hand, India spends relatively little on education, health, or infrastructure. Urgently needed infrastructure investment has been much lower than in China. According to the UNESCOmarker, India has the lowest public expenditure on higher education per student in the world.


As per the CIA World Factbook, India ranks 23rd in the world with respect to the Public Debt with a total of 61.30% of GDP just before United states which ranks 24th (2008 estimated).



India has a three-tier tax structure, wherein the constitution empowers the union government to levy income tax, tax on capital transactions (wealth tax, inheritance tax), sales tax, service tax, customs and excise duties and the state governments to levy sales tax on intrastate sale of goods, tax on entertainment and professions, excise duties on manufacture of alcohol, stamp duties on transfer of property and collect land revenue (levy on land owned). The local governments are empowered by the state government to levy property tax and charge users for public utilities like water supply, sewage etc. More than half of the revenues of the union and state governments come from taxes, of which half come from Indirect taxes. More than a quarter of the union government's tax revenues is shared with the state governments.

The tax reforms, initiated in 1991, have sought to rationalise the tax structure and increase compliance by taking steps in the following directions:
  • Reducing the rates of individual and corporate income taxes, excises, customs and making it more progressive
  • Reducing exemptions and concessions
  • Simplification of laws and procedures
  • Introduction of permanent account number (PAN) to track monetary transactions
  • 21 of the 29 states introduced value added tax (VAT) on April 1, 2005 to replace the complex and multiple sales tax system

The non-tax revenues of the central government come from fiscal services, interest receipts, public sector dividends, etc., while the non-tax revenues of the States are grants from the central government, interest receipts, dividends and income from general, economic and social services.

Inter-State share in the federal tax pool is decided by the recommendations of the Finance Commission to the President.

Total tax receipts of Centre & State amount to approximately 18% of national GDP. This compares to a figure of 37-45% in the OECD .

General budget

The Finance minister of India presents the annual union budget in the Parliament on the last working day of February. The budget has to be passed by the Lok Sabha before it can come into effect on April 1, the start of India's fiscal year. The Union budget is preceded by an economic survey which outlines the broad direction of the budget and the economic performance of the country for the outgoing financial year. This economic survey involves all the various NGOs, women organizations, business people, old people associations etc.

The 2009 Union budget of India had a total estimated expenditure for 2009-10 was Rs.10,20,838 crore, of which Rs.6,95,689 crore was towards Non Plan and Rs.3,25,149 crore towards Plan expenditure. Total estimated revenue was Rs 6,19,842 crore, including revenue receipts of Rs 6,14,497 and capital receipts of Rs 5345 crores, excluding borrowings. The resulting fiscal deficit was Rs 4,00,996 crore while revenue deficit was Rs 2,82,735 crore.The gross tax receipts were budgeted at Rs.6,41,079 crore and non tax revenue receipts at Rs.1,40,279

India's non-development revenue expenditure has increased nearly fivefold in 2003–04 since 1990–91 and more than tenfold since 1985–1986. Interest payments are the single largest item of expenditure and accounted for more than 40% of the total non development expenditure in the 2003–04 budget. Defence expenditure increased fourfold during the same period and has been increasing due to India's desire to project its military prowess beyond South Asia. In 2007, India's defence spending stood at US$26.5 billion.


External links

Further reading

  • Subrata K. Mitra and V.B. Singh. 1999. Democracy and Social Change in India: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the National Electorate. New Delhi: Sage Publications. ISBN 81-7036-809-X (India HB) ISBN 0-7619-9344-4 (U.S. HB).

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