India, one of the world's largest democratic countries, is a Union of Twenty Nine states and seven Union Territories. The country is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with a Parliamentary system of government. The Republic is governed in terms of the Constitution adopted by the Constituent Assembly.
India was a dominion under the British colonial rule for a period of over 200 years till 1947. In August 15, 1947 India became independent after years of struggle, under the leadership of the Non- violent revolutionary advocate Mohandas Karam Chand (Mahatma) Gandhi, popularly referred to as the father of the Nation. The Indian constitution, the world's lengthiest constitution (with 395 articles and 8 schedules) was passed by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November 1949 and came into force on 26th January 1950. The Constitution created a Sovereign Democratic Republic which was officially named 'Bharat' (in National language Hindi, after the legendary king of the Epic Mahabharata) or India, a Union of different states.
India is a federal system, a system of government in which power is divided by constitutional right between national and local units of government in regions. The constitution provides detailed lists dividing up legislative powers between central and state governments. The residual powers of legislation of the Union remain with the central government or the Parliament.
Legislature of the Union (Centre) which is called Parliament consists of the President and two houses, the upper house called Council of States or 'Rajya Sabha' and House of the People or 'Lok Sabha'. The President is the head of executive of the Union and is elected by members of an electoral college consisting of elected members of both Houses of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of the states for 5 year terms. Supreme command of the Defence forces of the Union also vests in him.
The Prime Minister and a Council of Ministers (The Cabinet) under him, advice and aid the President in exercising his functions and he acts in accordance with such advice. Thus the real executive power of the Union vests in the Council of Ministers with Prime Minister as its head. The Prime Minister is designated by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding a parliamentary majority and is appointed by the President. The President then appoints subordinate ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Vice- President is ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha and acts as President when the latter is unable to discharge his functions due to any reason. He is elected in the same way as the President for a term of five years.
The Rajya Sabha consists of incumbents elected through an electoral college comprising of members of legislative assemblies (MLA) of the States whereas the 'Lok Sabha' consists of directly elected representatives by the people. The Rajya Sabha shall consist of 250 members out of which the President of India will nominate 12 persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of literature, art, science and social service. The remaining 238 seats are to be filled in by the representatives of the States and of the Union territories to be elected by the legislative assemblies of their respective states. One third of its members retire every second year and are re-appointed in staggered re-elections every second year.
The Lok Sabha consist of 550 members, i.e., 530 members from the States and 20 members from the Union Territories. Its term, unless dissolved, is five years from the date appointed for its first meeting. The Lok Sabha is Presided over by a Speaker. Each house of the Parliament has to meet within six months of its previous sitting.
The Government of India consists of a number of ministries / departments for its administration, each Ministry assigned to a Minister who runs it with the assistance of a Secretary in charge of the particular Ministry. The Ministries are created and assigned by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister under Article 77 of the Constitution.
The system of Government in the States closely resembles that of the Union. Governor is head of executive of the State, but it is the Council of Ministers with Chief Minister as head in whom the real executive power vests.