India, a union of states, is a sovereign, secular, democratic Republic with a Parliamentary system of Government. The Indian polity is governed in terms of the Constitution, which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 and came into force on 26 January 1950.
The President is the constitutional head of Executive of the Union. Real executive power vests in a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as head. Article 74(1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President who shall, in exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice. The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha, the House of the People.
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There are 28 states and 7 Union territories in the country. The system of government in states closely resembles that of the Union. In the states, the Governor, as the representative of the President, is the head of Executive, but real executive power rests with the Chief Minister who heads the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers of a state is collectively responsible to the elected legislative assembly of the state.
The Union Executive consists of the President, the Vice-President and Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President.
The President is elected by members of an Electoral College consisting of elected members of both Houses of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of the states, with suitable weightage given to each vote. His term of office is five years.mong other powers, the President can proclaim an emergency in the country if he is satisfied that the security of the country or of any part of its territory is threatened whether by war or external aggression or armed rebellion. When there is a failure of the constitutional machinery in a state, he can assume to himself all or any of the functions of the government of that state.
The Vice-President is elected by the members of an electoral college consisting ofmembers of both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the system of proportionalrepresentation by means of a single transferable vote. He holds office for five years. The Vice-President is Ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
The Cabinet Secretariat has an important coordinating role in decision making at highest level and operates under direction of Prime Minister. The Legislative Arm of the Union, called Parliament, consists of the President, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. All legislation requires consent of both houses of parliament.However, in case of money bills, the will of the Lok Sabha always prevails.
The Rajya Sabha consists of 245 members. Of these, 233 represent states and union territories and 12 members are nominated by the President. Elections to the Rajya Sabha are indirect; members are elected by the elected members of Legislative Assemblies of the concerned states. The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution, one third of its members retire every second year.
The Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of the people chosen by direct election on the basis of universal adult suffrage. As of today, the Lok Sabha consists of 545 members with two membersnominated by the President to represent the Anglo-Indian Community. Unless dissolved under unusual circumstances, theterm of the Lok Sabha is five years.
A recognised political party has been classified as a National Party or a State Party. If a political party is recognised in four or more states, it is considered as a National Party. The Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Janata Dal, Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist) are the prominent National Parties in the Country.Telugu Desam in Andhra Pradesh, Asom Gana Parishad in Assam, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in Bihar, Maharashtrwad Gomantak Party in Goa, National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir, Muslim League in Kerala, Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, Akali Dal in Punjab, All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and All-India Forward Block in West Bengal are the prominent state parties.
Compiled by Romola Butalia
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.