We are planning to put up a series of informatory topics over the next few weeks to pep up your preparation for the most important part of your selection, the GDs and PIs. Now, you would be dealing with students who have already been filtered, so though the conversion ratio is higher here, the margin of error is definitely much less compared to the other stages of selection. Since, TG has a wonderful advantage of having a very high written calls conversion ratio, it is natural that we start converting them to get close to 100%. Credit for this article to TG students- Mehak Bharti and Amit Kumar. Slightly long but surely worth a read. HISTORY Political system is a social institution which deals with the governance of a state and its relationship with the people. India is no different and it also developed govt. and pol. inst. to give shape and form to the fundamental principles. The identity and the unity of its govt. belong to the ancient Vedic age. Ancient Indian political system goes back to 5000 years or more. The history of Indian pol. system gets enriched with Indus valley civilisation and further develops with the coming of Aryans in the early Vedic period. This period saw the upsurge of kingdoms which was tribal in nature. Each tribe formed a separate kingdom. The basic unit of the political organisation was the family and a number of families formed a village. Here king and his subjects were bound by "dharmas" which were code of duties. During the medieval period king-in-ministry became the usual form of govt.The concept of central govt evolved during the period of sultanate. In the mughal period pol system revolved around the autocracy of the king and assistance by the council of ministers. Village admin and panchayat system were also a significant part of ancient Indian pol system. They are systems of local self govt. found at village level. Panchayat system has become an integral part of Indian administrative system. At present its a 3 tier inst. and continues to administer the villages. Ancient Indian system underwent a change with the coming of British. The British took over the whole administration into their hands. The establishment of east India Company made India into a colony. The princely states ruled by the individual rulers came under the dominion of the British crown. The political union after 1876 was officially called the Indian empire. In the late nineteenth century self govt underwent a change in the British India with the appointment of Indian counsellors to advise the British viceroy. The Indian councils act of 1892 was passed and municipal corporations and district boards were created for local administration. The govt. of India act of 1909 known as Morley Minto reforms provided limited roles to the Indians in the central and the provincial legislatures known as legislative councils. these elected members were gradually given the idea of opposition to the official govt. THE GOVT. OF INDIA ACT of 1935 was approved by the British parliament for establishment of independent legislative in all provinces of British India. This text has further influenced the development of constitution of independent India. According to the act bicameral national parliament and an executive branch under the purview of the British govt.came into force. The attainment of independence from British colonial rule made India a sovereign nation. The constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950 and India was made a "sovereign socialist democratic republic" with a representative parliamentary system of govt.It can be rightly identified that the present Indian political system has grown out of a long evolutionary process. India is the largest state by population with a democratically-elected government. Like the United States, India has a federal form of government, however, the central government in India has greater power in relation to its states, and its central government is patterned after the British parliamentary system. Regarding the former, "the Centre", the national government, can and has dismissed state governments if no majority party or coalition is able to form a government or under specific Constitutional clauses, and can impose direct federal rule known as President's rule. Locally, the Panchayati Raj system has several administrative functions. The central government exercises its broad administrative powers in the name of the President, whose duties are largely ceremonial. The president and vice president are elected indirectly for 5-year terms by a special electoral college. The vice president assumes the office of president in case of the death or resignation of the incumbent president. The constitution designates the governance of India under two branches namely the executive branch and real national executive power is centered in the Council of Ministers, led by the Prime Minister of India. The President appoints the Prime Minister, who is designated by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding a parliamentary majority. The President then appoints subordinate ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister. In reality, the President has no discretion on the question of whom to appoint as Prime Minister except when no political party or coalition of parties gains a majority in the Lok Sabha. Once the Prime Minister has been appointed, the President has no discretion on any other matter whatsoever, including the appointment of ministers. But all Central Government decisions are nominally taken in his name. Legislative branch The constitution designates the Parliament of India as the legislative branch to oversee the operation of the government. India's bicameral parliament consists of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The Council of Ministers is held responsible to the Lok Sabha. State Government States in India have their own elected governments, whereas Union Territories are governed by an administrator appointed by the president. Some of the state legislatures are bicameral, patterned after the two houses of the national parliament. The states' chief ministers are responsible to the legislatures in the same way the prime minister is responsible to parliament. Each state also has a presidentially appointed governor who may assume certain broad powers when directed by the central government. The central government exerts greater control over the union territories than over the States, although some territories have gained more power to administer their own affairs. Local state governments in India have less autonomy compared to their counterparts in the United States and Australia. Judicial branch India's independent judicial system began under the British, and its concepts and procedures resemble those of Anglo-Saxon countries. The constitution designates the Supreme Court, the High Courts and the lower courts as the authority to resolve disputes among the people as well as the disputes related to the people and the government. The constitution through its articles relating to the judicial system provides a way to question the laws of the government, if the common man finds the laws as unsuitable for any community in India. Local governance Panchayati Raj On April 24, 1993, the Constitutional (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 came into force to provide constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions. This Act was extended to Panchayats in the tribal areas of eight States, namely Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Rajasthan from 24 December 1996. The Act aims to provide 3-tier system of Panchayati Raj for all States having population of over 2 million, to hold Panchayat elections regularly every 5 years, to provide reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Women, to appoint State Finance Commission to make recommendations as regards the financial powers of the Panchayats and to constitute District Planning Committee to prepare draft development plan for the district. As like any other democracy, political parties represent different sections among the Indian society and regions, and their core values play a major role in the politics of India. Both the executive branch and the legislative branch of the government are run by the representatives of the political parties who have been elected through the elections. Through the electoral process, the people of India choose which majority in the lower house; a government can be formed by that party or the coalition. India has a multi-party system, where there are a number of national as well as regional parties. A regional party may gain a majority and rule a particular state. If a party represents more than 4 states then such parties are considered as national parties. EVOLUTION OF PARTIES IN INDIA The evolution of parties and party system in India after Independence may be viewed broadly as consisting of four phases, with each phase having its genesis in the earlier one and flowing into the next one: period of Congress consolidation and dominance (1952-67); consolidation of opposition parties and emergence of multi-party system (1967-89); period of flux (1989-98); shaping of coalitional party system (1998-2004). It has now become conventional to begin any discussion on political parties in India with the emergence of the Congress dominance during the 1950s and its breakdown during the 60s and 70s. The factors that helped Congress party to assume the role of a dominant ruling party in the wake of Independence and consolidate itself are well known. With partition, the main rival to the Congress, the Muslim League, was removed from the electoral scene. Electoral politics that replaced the politics of freedom struggle had severely constricted the space available to non-Congress parties earlier. Relatively weak as they were when compared to the Congress during the freedom struggle, they were further rendered feeble under the first past the post electoral system followed in India. It enabled the Congress to gain two thirds majority in the legislatures .The multiplicity of parties and the presence of large number of independents enhanced the chances of victory for the Congress. Thus the presence of other parties in legislatures was much below their popular support. However, the beauty of democracy lies in its ability to provide ground for the working out of the opposition to the dominant idea or institution. Alongside the blossoming of the Congress dominance, we notice the sprouting of the second phase. New opposition parties began to emerge in the 1950s and 1960s. Several leaders within the Congress, who were either disgruntled with the policies of the party or denied access to power went out of it and formed separate parties – Socialist parties, Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party (KMPP), Krishikar Lok Party (KLP), Bangla Congress, Kerala Congress, Jana Congress in Orissa, Swatantra, Bharatiya Kranti Dal, etc. Other parties, rooted in long-standing anti-Congress orientations, also began to gain strength: SAD in Punjab, Muslim League in Kerala, DMK in Tamil Nadu, National Conference in Jammu & Kashmir, etc. The Communist party too split on the question on support to the Congress party and those who took a vehement anti-congress position, saying that defeat of the Congress was necessary for the advancement of peoples democracy in the country, formed the CPM in 1964, which within in three years became the ruling party in Bengal and Kerala. If the 50s saw the consolidation of the Congress, the late 60s and 70s saw the consolidation of the non-Congress parties. Although the Congress retained power at the Union level in the 1967 elections, the party citadels began crumbling in several States. Opposition parties forged alliances and formed governments in eight major Indian States. Biju Patnaik, who formed the Utkal Congress in 1970, advocated the theory that future belongs to provincial parties which championed the hopes and aspirations of the people of their respective regions. Visions of a federal government comprising representatives from different States began to appear on the political horizon. The congress rule was interrupted between 1977 to 1980, when the Janata Party coalition won the election owing to public discontent with the controversial state of emergency declared by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The 1980s was a period of great flux. It saw the emergence of more and more new parties. Several National and regional parties were born as the Janata party began to fall apart. So me old parties took a new avatar, such as the BJP (formed in 1980), which began to gain strength as the major opposition to the Congress at the national level and in some States. The Bahujan Samaj Party began to take shape in the North as the representative of the dalits. New regional parties sprouted, developed and captured power in States: such as the TDP (1983) in AP and the AGP (1985) in Assam. As a result of reconfiguration of politics numerous small parties began to gain strength or emerge: All India Muslim League (1948), Shiv Sena (1966), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (1972), Manipur Peoples Party, Mizo National Front (1965), J&K Panthers Party, Nagaland Peoples Party, Nagaland Peoples Council, Sikkim Sangrama Parishad, Indian Peoples Front, etc. Due to the fragmentation of major regional parties different splinter parties of SAD, DMK (the Anna DMK in 1972), and Republican Party of India and Kerala congress began to appear. 1989 marked the collapse of the Congress dominance at the national level, In terms of presence in the Lok Sabha, the Congress for the first time in 1996 became the second party, behind the BJP. The growth of the BJP after 1989 and its coming to power in 1998 indeed marked a turning point in the history of party politics in the country. That the difference between the first and second parties was reduced to almost to zero showed that the BJPs performance was not a one-time affair (see). The rapid expansion in the electoral support for the BJP and sudden increase in the number of its MPs in the Parliament, and its ability to forge alliances with several parties to come to power marked the party politics of the 1990s. We saw the emergence of bipolarities in the States and at the Centre. While in the States it is in the form of a competition between two parties or between two competing alliances, at the national level it was mainly a competition between competing alliances. As the BJP gained strength, the effort by the Janata Dal and other regional parties of the United Front to work with the third alternative (to the Congress and the BJP) proved to be in vain. The tri-nodal party system that raised hopes in the 1990s got slowly melted away. ALLIANCES AND COALITION GOVERNMENT The formation of alliances and coalition governments at the National and State levels ushered in a new phase in party competition and cooperation. It is amazing that NDA government at the Centre during 1999-2004 had about 25 partners in it. Wallowing in its former glory, the Congress party wanted to come to power on its own. But on the eve of 2004 Lok Sabha elections it finally realised that it could not do so and forged alliances with 16 parties. The ability to rope in the support of the regional and small parties and their electoral performance decided the fate of the National parties. In 2004 elections, a loss of few allies and the poor performance of two or three of its partner State parties caused an electoral disaster for the NDA. The reverse saw the Congress forming the government (Yadav, 2004).The 2004 Indian elections saw the INC winning the largest number of seats to form a government leading the United Progressive Alliance, and supported by left-parties and those opposed to the BJP. Thus, the alliance affect became crucial in the defeat and victory of parties at the national and State levels. The Congress allies added about 10 per cent to the UPA, while the BJP allies added about 14 per cent to the NDA. 22 May 2004, Manmohan Singh was appointed the Prime Minister of India following the victory of the INC & the left front in the 2004 Lok Sabha election. The UPA now rules India without the support of the left front. Previously, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had taken office in October 1999 after a general election in which a BJP-led coalition of 13 parties called the National Democratic Alliance emerged with a majority. Formation of coalition governments reflects the transition in Indian politics away from the national parties toward smaller, more narrowly-based regional parties. Some regional parties, especially in South India, are deeply aligned to the ideologies of the region unlike the national parties and thus the relationship between the central government and the state government in various states has not always been free of rancour. Disparity between the ideologies of the political parties ruling the centre and the state leads to severely skewed allocation of resources between the states. In the working of parties, caste, religion, language and region also have acquired ideological overtones. Religion has been an active element in party domain before and after Independence. Today we have parties that claim to represent the interests and culture of specific religions. In Punjab, the rise of the Shiromani SAD had its roots in religion and its membership is restricted to Sikhs only. Some times, language and region also acquired the nature of ideology. India has some of the highly developed and rich languages of the world. The consolidation of the Tamil Dravid parties, the rise of the Shiv Sena, TDP, AGP, BJD (and its earlier version the Utkal Congress), National Conference and PDP in J&K, JMM, Trinamool Congress, etc. shows how “region” has the potential to assume the form of an ideology. Parties in India on the whole acted as key agencies of democratic transformation in the country. In a society that had a long history of social inequalities and dogged by poverty and backwardness it is not easy to bring freedoms to all in an equal measure that too in a swift manner. At the time India became a republic, the democratic political structure came in a big way. Its polity was much ahead of its social and economic structure. Leaders of India are aware of this contradiction between political democracy and socio-economic structure. Political parties had precisely tried to grapple with this new situation and tasks. Change in social relations and values cannot be brought in a jiffy nor can the pace be forced at will. In any democracy it has to happen only through reconciliation of all sections to the changing realities, which is more slow and irritating to those who want swift radical changes. Parties popularised notions of equality and freedom among people and also moderated the extreme demands for individual liberty and social equality. Both change and stability are important. Thus, even those parties that stood for radical changes are compelled to implement incremental changes when came to power. Parties enabled the democratic institutions in India to work with a large measure of success. The parties in the initial years of post-Independence did work for the realisation of the noble objectives of the Indian Constitution. Parties grappled with the sudden expansion of democracy in 1950 through the sanctioning of basic freedoms and adult franchise. The bitter struggle among the socialists, communists and the Congressmen were both over sharing power and also shaping policies. The parties became the forums where intense discussions and debates were held on the possible policy alternatives for governments. The ability of the parties during the 50s and 60s to fight the Congress policies, although from different and often divergent perspectives, to mobilise people on the basis of alternative programmatic standpoints showed the vibrancy of parties in India. The attempts to resist the authoritarian rule and the way the non-Congress parties focused on the need to protect the basic freedoms strengthened the democratic fabric of the nation.