How Central Is an Understanding of the Constitution to an Understanding of Indian Politics

Following a British parliamentary pattern, the constitution embodies the Fundamental Rights, which are similar to the United States Bill of Rights, and a Supreme Court similar to that of the United States. It creates a "sovereign democratic republic" called India, or Bharat (after the legendary king of the Mahabharata ), which "shall be a Union of States." India is a federal system in which residual powers of legislation remain with the central government, similar to that in Canada. The constitution of India provides detailed lists dividing up powers between central and state governments as in Australia, and it elaborates a set of Directive Principles of State Policy as does the Irish constitution. (‘Indian Government’ 2000)

The founding fathers borrowed much from the constitutions of other countries and then created a mosaic of stones of different hues. Obviously, it lacks the essential content of Indianness and, for this reason, it establishes not an indigenous but an imported system. (p. 67 )

The Indian government follows that of a federal parliamentary representative framework with power vested on three branches of the central government – the executive branch, the legislative and the judiciary.

The executive department is led by the ceremonial office of the President who is elected indirectly by a special electoral college. He appoints a Prime Minister who in turn discharges the real national executive power. This branch of the Indian government closely resembles that of the relationship between the British sovereign and her Prime Minister. This is also the same with the case of India’s bi-cameral legislature which in some ways follows that of its British counterpart. The parliament is consisted of the Rajya Sabha (Council of states) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). Administration of the federal states is also the same as those of federalist countries such as the United States’ only that in India, the federal government is distinguished by the higher degree of control over the country’s 28 states and 7 union territories.