How is President of India ElectedHow is the President of India elected? What are the provisions in the Constitution relating to a vacancy in the office of the President of India? Is there any such provision for a vacancy in the office of the Vice President of India also?
India is a democratic republic and the Constitution provides for an elected Head of State i.e. the President. As Head of the Union Executive, the President is elected by an indirect election for a term of five years. Articles 54 and 55 of the Constitution deal with the election of the President. Article 54 provides that the President of India shall be elected by an electoral college consisting of the elected members of both the Houses of the Parliament and such members of the State Legislative Assemblies. As per subsequent amendments to the Constitution, the Assemblies of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Puducherry were also included in the electoral college, while other Union Territories are not its part. Nominated members of the Parliament, as well as those from the State Legislative Assemblies are not authorised to vote.
Article 55 provides for uniformity of representation of different States in terms of their population and total number of elected members of the State Assembly. As per this provision, every elected member of Legislative Assembly of a State shall have as many votes as there are multiples of one thousand in the quotient obtained by dividing the population of that State by the number of elected members in the Assembly. It is also provided that the election to the office of the President shall be held by means of single transferable vote. Every voting member of electoral college has as many preferences as there are number of candidates in the fray. If there are more than two candidates in the race, the successful candidate must obtain 50 per cent plus one votes.
If in the first round of counting (in which only first preferences are considered) no candidate gets clear majority of the total votes, second preferences of the candidate getting the minimum number of first preferences in the first round of counting are considered as the first preferences for the remaining candidates. This process goes on till a candidate gets clear majority and is declared elected.
As per the Constitution, a vacancy may be caused in the office of the President of India due to completion of tenure, by death of the President, by his resignation or on removal by impeachment. In case of a vacancy due to expiry of term, the process of election of the new President is required to be completed before such an expiry and the newly elected President assumes the office on expiry of term of the outgoing President. In case of vacancy due to any other cause, election to fill up the office must be held in not later than six months from the date of vacancy. During the period of vacancy, and also during the temporary vacancy caused by illness of the President or due to any other reason, Article 65(2) provides that the Vice- President shall discharge the functions of the President till new President is elected or the President resumes his duties.
In case of a vacancy in the office of the Vice-President due to any reason, the process of election has to be completed within six months. But the Constitution is silent about the person who is to discharge the duties of Vice-President during the period of such vacancy. As per practice during the past, the duties of the Vice-President as Chairperson of Rajya Sabha were discharged by the Vice-Chairperson of Rajya Sabha as and when such a vacancy in the office of the Vice-President had arisen.
Role of Judiciary under Indian ConstitutionDescribe the role of Judiciary under the Indian Constitution. Is the Judiciary competent to examine the decision of the Parliament to expel its members from the House on charges of corruption?
While the power of the Parliament to legislate is supreme, at the same time the Judiciary has been made the watchdog of Indian democracy. As per the working of the Constitution for the past more than 60 years, a new role for the Judiciary has emerged. In view of various judgements of the apex court on amendments to the Constitution, the position today is that any amendment which aims at changing the basic structure of the Constitution would be unconstitutional. Hence, every proposed amendment is subject to judicial scrutiny if it is aimed at tinkering with the basic structure of the Constitution, which includes the federal system, parliamentary system, independence of judiciary, Fundamental Rights, etc. In addition, the Judiciary also has the right of judicial review. It implies that every piece of legislation passed by the Parliament is subject to judicial scrutiny by the Supreme Court. No specific provisions exist for this arrangement, but it is as per the law which has emerged through various judgements of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court, thus, has the power to strike down any piece of legislation aimed at amending the Indian Constitution on two grounds. Firstly, if the procedure prescribed under Article 368 is not followed and, secondly, if the amending Act seeks to violate one or more basic features of the Constitution.
In addition to the above, the apex court of the country has also assumed additional duties under a new concept called ‘Public Interest Litigation’ (PIL), under which any citizen can bring any matter of general importance to the general public for consideration of the Supreme Court. In case the apex court finds that the executive has been wanting in due discharge of its duties, it passes the required directions to the concerned authorities in government.
But there is still some conflict about the supremacy of the Parliament vis-à-vis authority of the Judiciary in general and the Supreme Court in particular. This conflict emerged in 2006 when the Parliament took a decision to unseat ten Members of Parliament who were exposed by the electronic media accepting bribe. The Parliament, under the directions of the Speaker, considered the report of a Parliamentary Committee appointed by the Speaker to inquire in to the episode and decided to unseat the members involved in this bribery incident.
It was a bold step by the Parliament to salvage its reputation and to show to the country that all the Members of Parliament were not corrupt and all the guilty were punished by an exemplary expulsion, though no specific provision exists in the parliamentary procedures to support this action. Some sort of constitutional crisis surfaced when the Judiciary decided to take cognizance of this action of the Speaker and issued notice to the Speaker to file his reply on the writ petition filed by the expelled MPs.
View of the Speaker was that it is an internal matter of the Parliament and there can be no interference of the Judiciary in its proceedings in any manner. The Parliament feels that cognizance by the Judiciary is not warranted in this case as the Speaker has final power to interpret the rules and procedures of the Parliament, and under Article 122, Speaker’s conduct in regulating the procedure or maintaining order in the House is not subject to jurisdiction of any court. The Parliament also feels that this act of the Judiciary is an interference with the supremacy of Parliament.
Programmes and Activities of early Nationalists
| What were the programmes and activities of early nationalists? Did they succeed in their goals? |
The period after the revolt of 1857 witnessed the emergence of early nationalism in the country. Broadly, it was the policies of the British, their racialism, economic exploitation of the country by them and imperialism which became main factors responsible for the growth of early nationalism in India. Western thought and education, emergence of the print media and setting up of the communication systems were some of the environmental factor that fuelled the rise of early nationalism in India.
Till 1885, the feeling of nationalism was like a rudderless boat. After the founding of the Indian National Congress in 1885, the vacuum for a political organisation, felt by many, was filled up to a great extent. The early objectives and programmes of the Congress were declared to be the promotion of friendly relations between the nationalist political workers, consolidation of the feeling of national unity irrespective of caste, relation or province, formulation of popular demands and their presentation before the British and generation of nationalist public opinion in the country. All these objectives and programmes later resulted in growth of a strong feeling of nationalism among the masses.
In pursuance of this objective, the early nationalists tried to formulate the popular demands of the Indians on country-wide basis. Such an attempt also resulted in national integration and unity in a nation, which was still on the road to become one after centuries of political fragmentation.
The policy of the British to export the cheaper raw material from India for their industries back home in England, without any restrictions/duties, and import of the finished goods from there to India, was well known to the educated but the masses in the country were required to be made aware of it. The nationalists of the day brought out the economic policies of the British which resulted in ruin of the traditional handicraft industries. Failure of the growth of modern industries to help the cause of the common man was also highlighted.
The idea of swadeshi, which gained currency later, was also popularised to a considerable extent during the later part of nineteenth century.
In addition to the above, the early nationalists felt that the country should move towards democratic self- governance and raised this demand in various forums from time to time. Demand for giving the required freedom and liberties was also highlighted.
It is felt by many that the early nationalist could not achieve much, as very few demands raised by them were accepted by the British. But considering from the view that the level of illiteracy was low, nationalist feeling was dormant and it was for the first time that the concepts like nationalism, unification and swadeshi were being used and introduced, it was wrong to expect immediate discernible results. The contribution of the early nationalists in creating awareness about some of the issues of national importance, which later were caught the fancy of common man in India, cannot be overlooked.
Short Answer Questions
| Answer the following in about 50 words each. |
(a) What are the applications of nanotechnology?
(b) What is ‘Dog Whistle Politics’?
(c) When and where was ‘Al Qaeda’ born?
(d) Who is known as ‘Deep Throat’ and why?
(e) Write a short note on ‘Deep Impact Mission’.
(f) Write a short note on ‘Bharat Nirman’.
(g) Describe Twenty20—the New Mode of Cricket.
(a) Nanotechnology Applications: Nano-technology is still in the stage of infancy and it was during the past five years that this new field has emerged as an important area. Nanotubes and nanofibres are two applications of nanotechnology which are used in manufacturing of batteries and production of anti-scratch plastics. It also has wide applications in biotechnology.
(b) Dog Whistle Politics: An Australian concept, Dog Whistle Politics refers to describe high-pitched political message that incites a receptive audience but is unintelligible to rest of the people. Coined in the year 1997 in Australia, the concept is also being used in the U.K. Such political message would be understood by the desired audience, but would not be understood by the rest, as in case of an ultrasonic whistle heard by a dog while being inaudible to the humans around him. It, thus, refers to an election campaign message that will not cause general offence but contains a coded message to which sympathetic voters would respond.
(c) Al Qaeda: Al Qaeda is a multi-national terrorist organisation with a worldwide presence. The outfit was set up by Osama bin Laden in the Middle East in late eighties to bring together the Arabs who fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. Its announced goal is to encourage all the Muslims to overthrow non-Islamic regimes and to kill US citizens—civilian or military—and their allies everywhere in the world. The USA and Israel have been targeting Al Qaeda and its activists under their anti-terrorist operations.
(d) Deep Throat: ‘Deep Throat’ is the pseudonym that was given to a secret source who leaked the information about the involvement of the then U.S. President Richard Nixon’s administration in the happenings that came to be known as Watergate Scandal in the year 1974. “Deep Throat” was an important source for two reporters of the Washington Post, named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who together wrote a series of articles exposing the misdeeds of Nixon administration. It was recently, after more than three decades of the mystery about the identity of Deep Throat that William Mark Felt, a former Associate Director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed his identity in a Vanity Fair Article that he was ‘Deep Throat’. Woodward and Bernstein also confirmed that Felt was the mysterious Watergate source known as ‘Deep Throat’.
(e) Deep Impact Mission: Deep Impact Mission was a space mission planned and executed by NASA (USA) which has resulted in finding water ice on the comet Tempel 1. This was the first time that ice was detected on the nucleus or solid body of a comet. The flyby spacecraft impacted the comet in July 2005 and excavated the material from its nucleus.
(f) Bharat Nirman: Bharat Nirman is a rural infrastructure development project launched by the UPA government in 2004-05. One of the most ambitious programmes of its type, Rs 1,74,000 crore would be spent under this project to improve rural irrigation, rural roads, rural housing, rural drinking water, rural electrification and telephone connectivity in the rural areas, between the period from 2005-06 to 2009. Targets under this programme include plans to bring one crore hectare land under assured irrigation, road connectivity to all villages with a population of 1000, construction of additional 60 lakh houses for the rural houseless poor, providing potable drinking water to the remaining 74,000 villages, electrification of 1,25,000 villages and providing telephone connectivity to the remaining 66,822 villages in the country.
(g) Twenty20—the New Mode of Cricket: After the introduction of One Day Internationals (ODIs) to make the game of cricket more interesting about four decades ago, a new mode of cricket, called Twenty20 cricket, has been introduced in the recent years. This is even shorter version of the game in which both the teams bowl and bat only for twenty overs each. The aim is to bring more crowds into the cricket grounds, particularly the women and children.