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Indian Polity #4


Conditions of service

  • It is composed of all Union Ministers – the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers
  • The council is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister
  • A Minister must be a member of either House of Parliament, or be elected within 6 months of assuming office
Collective Responsibility

  • The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha
  • A vote of no confidence even against a single Minister means the entire Council must resign
  • Each Minister is also responsible for his department and can be removed from office by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister
Functions of the Council of Ministers

  • Formulates policies of the country on the basis of which administration is carried out
  • Introduces all important Bills in Parliament and oversees their passage
  • Presents the Budget to the Parliament
  • Determines foreign policy
  • Approves international agreements and treaties
  • Render advice to the President regarding proclamation of war or emergency
  • Cabinet Minister
    • Senior minister in charge of a particular Ministry
    • May hold additional charges of other Ministries (if no other Cabinet Minister is appointed)
    • Cabinet Ministers must belong to either House of Parliament
    • Currently there are 33 Cabinet Ministers
  • Minister of State (Independent Charge)
    • In charge of a particular portfolio
    • Is not under the oversight of a Cabinet Minister
    • Currently there are 7 MoS with independent charge
  • Minister of State
    • A minister with a specific responsibility in a particular Ministry
    • Reports to the concerned Cabinet Minister
    • Currently there are 38 MoS



  • The Prime Minister is the head of government and the head of the Council of Ministers
  • The PM is responsible for the discharge of functions and powers of the President
  • The PM must be a member of either House of Parliament, or be elected within 6 months of taking office

  • The Prime Minister is appointed by the President on the basis of his being the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha
  • If no party gets an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha or a PM resigns or dies, the President can use his own discretion in the choice of a Prime Minister
  • If the person the President so appoints is not a member of the Lok Sabha, he must get himself elected within a period of 6 months
Conditions of service

  • The Prime Minister serves in office for 5 years
  • He can be re-appointed
  • When the Lok Sabha is dissolved, he can continue in office upon the request of the President
  • If the government is defeated in the Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister and entire cabinet must resign
  • However, if defeated in the Rajya Sabha, resignation is not obligatory
  1. Legislative functions
    1. He is the leader of the majority in the Lok Sabha
    2. The President convenes and prorogues sessions of Parliament in consultation with the PM
    3. Can recommend dissolution of the Lok Sabha to the President
    4. All members of the Cabinet are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the PM
  2. Administrative functions
    1. Acts as the chief channel of communication between the President and the Council of Ministers
    2. Allocates portfolios among various ministers and shuffles them
    3. Presides over meetings of the Council of Ministers
    4. Supervises the working of other Ministers
  3. Executive functions
    1. Represents the country internationally
    2. Acts as the ex-officio Chairman of the Planning Commission
    3. Has exclusive jurisdiction over the disposal of the PM’s National Relief Fund and the PM’s National Defence Fund
  4. Advisory functions
    1. Assists the President in the appointment of all high officials
    2. Recommends to the President proclamation of emergency
    3. Advices the President on the imposition of President’s Rule
Prime Minister
Jawaharlal Nehru
1947 – 1964
First Prime Minister
First to die in office
Longest tenure
Guzari Lal Nanda
May 1964 – Jun 1964
First and only “acting” PM
Lal Bahadur Shastri
Jun 1964 – Jan 1966
First PM to die abroad during official tour
Guzari Lal Nanda
Jan 1966 – Jan 1966

Indira Gandhi
Jan 1966 – Mar 1967
First woman PM
First PM to lose an election
Moraji Desai
Mar 1977 – Jul 1979
Oldest to become PM (81 years)
First to resign from office
Charan Singh
Jul 1979 – Jan 1980
Only PM that did not face Parliament
Indira Gandhi
Jan 1980 – Oct 1984
First PM to be assassinated
Rajiv Gandhi
Oct 1984 – Dec 1989
Youngest to become PM (40 years)
VP Singh
Dec 1989 – Nov 1990
First PM to resign after vote of no confidence
Chandra Shekar
Nov 1990 – Jun 1991

Narasimha Rao
Jun 1991 – May 1996

AB Vajpayee
May 1996 – Jun 1996
Shortest tenure (13 days)
Deve Gowda
Jun 1996 – Apr 1997

IK Gujral
Apr 1997 – Mar 1998

AB Vajpayee
Mar 1998 – May 2004

Manmohan Singh
May 2004 – Present

  • It is not a constitutional post
  • Does not carry any specific powers
  • Can chair meetings of the Cabinet in the absence of the PM, and take on the responsibility of the PM in case of the latter’s death
  • India has had 7 Deputy Prime Ministers
  • Sardar Vallabhai Patel was the first Deputy PM. He was also the Home Minister concurrently
  • The current government does not have a Deputy PM


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13.0 Learning Outcome

13.1 Introduction

13.2 Initiatives towards Constitutional Status to Local Governance

13.2.1 Features of 73rd Constitutional Amendment

13.2.2 Features of 74th Constitutional Amendment

13.2.3 Decentralised Planning in Context of 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act

13.3 Initiatives after Economic Reforms

13.4 Functioning of PRIs in Various States after 73rd Amendment

13.5 Functioning of Local Governance after 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment: Observations

13.6 Conclusion

13.7 Key Concepts

13.8 References and Further Reading

13.9 Activities


After studying this Unit you should be able to:

• Identify the background of revitalisation of local governance;

• Understand the features of 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment;

• Discuss the initiatives after economic reforms; and

• Outlines the functioning of local governance in various states after the amendment.


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Q. What is the meaning of the terms like ‘Pardon’, ‘Reprieve’, ‘Respite’, ‘Remission’ and ‘Commutation’ with respect to the power of the President to grant pardon to convicted persons?

Ans. In terms of their scope and effect, these terms have specific connotations. The effect of Pardon is to abolish punishment and to absolve the convict of all charges. If Pardon is granted, it is assured as if the convict has not committed any crime. The convict will not face any disabilities due to the allegations and charges made against him. ‘Remission’ means reducing the punishment without changing the nature of punishment. For example, the imprisonment for 20 years may be reduced to the imprisonment for 10 years. ‘Commutation’ means reducing the punishment by changing the nature of punishment. For example, punishment to death may be changed to life imprisonment. ‘Respite’ means reducing or changing the nature of punishment in view of the specific facts and circumstances of the convict. For example, the punishment to death awarded to a pregnant woman, may be changed to simple life imprisonment. Respite means delay in execution of punishment especially that of death, in order to …

General Studies :: Indian Polity #1

Constitutional evolution under British ruleRegulating Act 1773beginning of British parliamentary control over the East India Companysubordination of the presidencies of Bombay and Madras to BengalGovernor of Bengal made Governal-Generalcouncil of Governor-General establishedSupreme Court established in CalcuttaPitt’s India Act 1784commercial and political activities of the Company separatedestablished a board of control over the CompanyCharter Act 1813trade monopoly of the Company abolishedmissionaries allowed to preach in IndiaCharter Act 1833Governor-General of Bengal becomes Governor-General of Indiafirst Governor-General Lord William Bentickends commercial activities of the CompanyCharter Act 1853legislative and executive functions of the Governor-General’s council separatedopen competition for Indian Civil Services establishedIndian Council Act 1861establishes legislative councils at the centre, presidencies and provincesGovernor-General’s executive council to have Indians as non…