Government of India
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The Government of India (GoI) is a federal government established by the Constitution of India as the constituted governing authority of the union of 29 states and seven union territories of a proclaimed and established parliamentary democratic republic, constitutionally called the Republic of India. It is located in New Delhi, the capital of India.
Effecting the Westminster system for governing the state, the federal government is mainly composed of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, in which all powers are vested by the Constitution in the Parliament, the Prime Minister and the Supreme Court. The President of India is the Head of State and the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces while the people-elected Prime Minister acts as the chief executive (of the executive branch) and is responsible for running the federal government. There is a bicameral Parliament with the Lok Sabha as a lower house and the Rajya Sabha as an upper house. The judicial branch systematically contains an apex Supreme Court, 24 high courts, and several district courts; all inferior to the Supreme Court.
The basic civil and criminal laws governing the citizens of India are set down in major parliamentary legislation, such as the Civil Procedure Code, the Indian Penal Code, and the Criminal Procedure Code. Similar to the federal (union) government, individual state governments each consist of executive, legislative and judicial branches. The legal system as applicable to the federal and individual state governments is based on the English Common and Statutory Law. The full name of the country is the Republic of India. No other name appears in the Constitution, and this is the name that appears on legal banknotes, in treaties and in legal cases. The Union Government, Central Government or Government of India are often used in an official and unofficial capacity to refer to the Government of India. Because the seat of government is in New Delhi, "New Delhi" is commonly used as a metonym for the Central Government.
Legislative power in India is exercised by the Parliament, a bicameral legislature consisting of the Rajya Sabha, and the Lok Sabha. Of the two houses of Parliament, the former is considered to be the upper house or the Council of States and consists of members appointed by the President and elected by the state and territorial legislatures. The latter is considered the lower house or the House of the people.
The Parliament does not have complete control and sovereignty, as its laws are subject to judicial review by the Supreme Court of India. However, it does exercise some control over the executive branch. The members of the cabinet, including the prime minister and the Council of Ministers, are either chosen from parliament or elected there to within six months of assuming office. The cabinet as a whole is responsible to the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha is a temporary house and can only be dissolved when the party in power loses the support of the majority of the house. Whereas the Rajya Sabha is a permanent house which can never be dissolved though the members of the Rajya Sabha who are elected for a six-year term.
The Executive Branch of government is the one that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the republican idea of the separation of powers.
The executive power is vested mainly in the President of India, as per Article 53 (1) of the constitution. The President has all constitutional powers and exercises them directly or through officers subordinate to him as per the aforesaid Article 53(1). The President is to act in accordance with aid and advice tendered by the Prime Minister, who leads the Council of Ministers as described in Article 74 of the Constitution of India.
The Council of Ministers remains in power during the 'pleasure' of the President. However, in practice, the Council of Ministers must retain the support of the Lok Sabha. If a President were to dismiss the Council of Ministers on his or her own initiative, it might trigger a constitutional crisis. Thus, in practice, the Council of Ministers cannot be dismissed as long as it holds the support of a majority in the Lok Sabha.
- Governors of States
- The Chief Justice, other judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts of India
- The Attorney General
- The Comptroller and Auditor General
- The Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners
- The Chairman and other Members of the Union Public Service Commission
- The President's Officer
- The Cabinet Secretary, whose position is equivalent to the Ministers in Central Government. His/Her work is to facilitate smooth transaction of business in Ministries/ Departments of the Government. The Secretariat held by Cabinet Secretary is termed as Cabinet Secretariat and assists in decision-making in Government by ensuring Inter-Ministerial co-ordination, ironing out differences amongst Ministries/ Departments and evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing/ ad hoc Committees of Secretaries.
- Ambassadors and High Commissioners to other countries
The President, as Head of State also receives the credentials of Ambassadors from other countries, whilst the Prime Minister, as Head of Government, receives credentials of High Commissioners from other members of the Commonwealth, in line with historical tradition.
The President of India can grant a pardon to or reduce the sentence of a convicted person for one time, particularly in cases involving punishment of death. The decisions involving pardoning and other rights by the President are independent of the opinion of the Prime Minister or the Lok Sabha majority. In most other cases, however, the President exercises his or her executive powers on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The Vice-President of India is the second-highest ranked government official in the executive branch of the Government of India, following the President. Vice-President represents the nation in the absence of the President.The Vice-President also has the legislative function of acting as the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
The Prime Minister of India, as addressed to in the Constitution of India, is the chief of government, chief adviser to the President of India, head of the Council of Ministers and the leader of the majority party in the parliament. The prime minister leads the executive branch of the Government of India.
The Prime minister is the senior member of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. The prime minister selects and can dismiss other members of the cabinet; allocates posts to members within the Government; is the presiding member and chairman of the cabinet and is responsible for bringing a proposal of legislation. The resignation or death of the prime minister dissolves the cabinet.
The Prime minister is appointed by the president to assist the latter in the administration of the affairs of the executive.
Cabinet, executive departments and agencies
The Cabinet of India includes the Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers. Each Minister must be a member of one of the houses of India's Parliament. The Cabinet is headed by the Prime Minister, and is advised by the Cabinet Secretary, who also acts as the head of the Indian Administrative Service. Other Ministers are either as Union Cabinet Ministers, who are heads of the various Ministries; Ministers of State, who are junior members who report directly to one of the Cabinet Ministers, often overseeing a specific aspect of government; or Junior Ministers of State (Independent Charges), which do not report to a Cabinet Minister. As per article 88 of the constitution, every Minister shall have the right to speak in, and to take part in the proceedings of, either House, any joint sitting of the Houses, and any committee of Parliament of which he may be named a member, but shall not be entitled to a vote in the house where he is not a member.
In the parliamentary democracy of India, the ultimate responsibility for running the administration rests with the elected representatives of the people which are the ministers. These ministers are accountable to the legislatures which are also elected by the people on the basis of universal adult suffrage. The ministers are indirectly responsible to the people themselves. But the handful of ministers are not expected to deal personally with the various problems of modern administration. Thus the ministers lay down the policy and it is for the civil servants to enforce it.
Cabinet Secretary of India
The Cabinet Secretary of India is the senior most civil servant in the country. The Cabinet Secretary is the ex-officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board of the Republic of India; generally the senior most officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and head of all civil services under the rules of business of the Government of India. The Cabinet Secretary is arguably India's most powerful bureaucrat and right hand of Prime Minister of India.
The Cabinet Secretariat is responsible for the administration of the Government of India Transaction of Business Rules, 1961 and the Government of India Allocation of Business Rules 1971, facilitating smooth transaction of business in Ministries/Departments of the Government by ensuring adherence to these rules. The Secretariat assists in decision-making in Government by ensuring Inter-Ministerial co-ordination, ironing out differences amongst Ministries/Departments and evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing/ad hoc Committees of Secretaries. Through this mechanism new policy initiatives are also promoted.
The Cabinet Secretariat ensures that the President of India, the Vice-President and ministers are kept informed of the major activities of all Departments by means of a monthly summary report of their activities. Management of major crisis situations in the country and co-ordinating activities of the various Ministries in such a situation is also one of the functions of the Cabinet Secretariat.
India's independent union judicial system began under the British, and its concepts and procedures resemble those of Anglo-Saxon countries. The Supreme Court of India consists of a Chief Justice and 30 associate justices, all appointed by the President on the advice of the Chief Justice of India. The jury trials were abolished in India in the early 1960s, after the famous case KM Nanavati v State of Maharashtra, for reasons of being vulnerable to media and public pressure, as well as to being misled.
Unlike its United States counterpart, the Indian justice system consists of a unitary system at both state and federal level. The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court of India, High Courts of India at the state level, and District Courts and Sessions Courts at the district level.
The Supreme Court of India is situated in New Delhi, the capital region of India. The Supreme Court of India has the power original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Its exclusive original jurisdiction extends to any dispute between the Government of India and one or more states, or between the Government of India and any state or states on one side and one or more states on the other, or between two or more states, if and insofar as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or of fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends on.
In addition, Article 32 of the Indian Constitution gives an extensive original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in regard to enforcing fundamental rights. It is empowered to issue directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari to enforce them. The Supreme Court has been conferred with power to direct transfer of any civil or criminal case from one State High Court to another State High Court, or from a court subordinate to another State High Court and supreme court.
Public interest litigation (PIL)
Although the proceedings in the Supreme Court arise out of the judgement or orders made by the subordinate courts, of late the Supreme Court has started entertaining matters in which interest of the public at large is involved, and the Court may be moved by any individual or group of persons either by filing a Writ Petition at the Filing Counter of the Court, or by addressing a letter to Hon'ble The Chief Justice of India highlighting the question of public importance for invoking this .
Elections and voting
India has a federal government, with elected officials at the federal (national), state and local levels. On a national level, the head of government, the Prime Minister, is appointed by the President of India amongst the party which won the majority seats in Loksabha. All members of the federal legislature, the Parliament, are directly elected. Elections in India take place every five years by universal adult suffrage through first-past-the-post voting system .
State and local governments
State governments in India are the governments ruling States of India and the chief minister heads the state government. Power is divided between union government and state governments. State government's legislature is bicameral in 7 states and unicameral in the rest. Lower house is elected with 5 years term, while in upper house 1/3 of the total members in the house gets elected every 2 years with 6-year term.
Local government function at the basic level. It is the third level of government apart from union and state governments. It consists of panchayats in rural areas and municipalities in urban areas. They are elected directly or indirectly by the people.
India has a three-tier tax structure, wherein the constitution empowers the union government to levy income tax, tax on capital transactions (wealth tax, inheritance tax), sales tax, service tax, customs and excise duties and the state governments to levy sales tax on intrastate sale of goods, tax on entertainment and professions, excise duties on manufacture of alcohol, stamp duties on transfer of property and collect land revenue (levy on land owned). The local governments are empowered by the state government to levy property tax and charge users for public utilities like water supply, sewage etc. More than half of the revenues of the union and state governments come from taxes, of which 3/4 come from direct taxes. More than a quarter of the union government's tax revenues is shared with the state governments.
The tax reforms, initiated in 1991, have sought to rationalise the tax structure and increase compliance by taking steps in the following directions:
- Reducing the rates of individual and corporate income taxes, excises, customs and making it more progressive
- Reducing exemptions and concessions
- Simplification of laws and procedures
- Introduction of permanent account number (PAN) to track monetary transactions
- 21 of the 29 states introduced value added tax (VAT) on 1 April 2005 to replace the complex and multiple sales tax system
The non-tax revenues of the central government come from fiscal services, interest receipts, public sector dividends, etc., while the non-tax revenues of the States are grants from the central government, interest receipts, dividends and income from general, economic and social services.
Inter-state share in the federal tax pool is decided by the recommendations of the Finance Commission to the President.
Total tax receipts of Centre and State amount to approximately 18% of national GDP. This compares to a figure of 37–45% in the OECD.
Central Board of Direct Taxes
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is a part of the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India. The CBDT provides essential inputs for policy and planning of direct taxes in India and is also responsible for administration of the direct tax laws through Income Tax Department. The CBDT is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963.It is India's official Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) .The Central Board of Revenue as the Department apex body charged with the administration of taxes came into existence as a result of the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1924. Initially the Board was in charge of both direct and indirect taxes. However, when the administration of taxes became too unwieldy for one Board to handle, the Board was split up into two, namely the Central Board of Direct Taxes and Central Board of Excise and Customs with effect from 1 January 1964. This bifurcation was brought about by constitution of the two Boards u/s 3 of the Central Boards of Revenue Act, 1963.
Organisational structure of the Central Board of Direct Taxes
The CBDT is headed by Chairman and also comprises six members, all of whom are ex officio Special Secretary to Government of India.The Investigation Division of the Central Board of Direct Taxes is also headed by a member of the CBDT.
The Chairman and Members of CBDT are selected from Indian Revenue Service (IRS), a premier civil service of India, whose members constitute the top management of Income Tax Department and other various departments.
The Finance minister of India presents the annual union budget in the Parliament on the last working day of February. The budget has to be passed by the Lok Sabha before it can come into effect on 1 April, the start of India's fiscal year. The Union budget is preceded by an economic survey which outlines the broad direction of the budget and the economic performance of the country for the outgoing financial year. This economic survey involves all the various NGOs, women organisations, business people, old people associations etc.
The 2009 Union budget of India had a total estimated expenditure for 2009–10 was₹10,208 billion (US$152 billion), of which ₹6,957 billion (US$103 billion) was towards Non Plan and₹3,251 billion (US$48 billion) towards Plan expenditure. Total estimated revenue was₹6,198 billion (US$92 billion), including revenue receipts of ₹6,145 billion (US$91 billion) and capital receipts of ₹53.45 billion (US$794 million), excluding borrowings. The resulting fiscal deficit was₹4,009.96 billion (US$60 billion) while revenue deficit was ₹2,827 billion (US$42 billion).The gross tax receipts were budgeted at ₹6,411 billion (US$95 billion) and non-tax revenue receipts at₹1,403 billion (US$21 billion).
India's non-development revenue expenditure has increased nearly five-fold in 2003–04 since 1990–91 and more than tenfold since 1985–1986. Interest payments are the single largest item of expenditure and accounted for more than 40% of the total non-development expenditure in the 2003–04 budget. Defense expenditure increased fourfold during the same period and has been increasing because of India's desire to project its military prowess beyond South Asia. In 2007, India's defence spending stood at US$26.5 billion.
The government provides subsidies on consumable rations like kerosene and agricultural produce as a welfare state. Statutory Corporations like Food Corporation of India are compensated by the governments for any potential losses. Progressive attempts since Liberalisation have been made both at the state and the central level to rationalise these subsidies through commoditisation & through economies of scale with varying results. Farmers are given electricity at nominal rates, often free of charge as to stimulate agricultural production .
On the other hand, India spends relatively less on education, health, or infrastructure. According to UNESCO, India has a very low public expenditure on higher education per student as compared to other developing and developed countries.
As per the CIA's The World Factbook, in 2010, India ranked 60th in the world, with respect to the public debt, with a total of 48.50% of GDP. In 2012, India ranked 63rd, however with public debt increased to 51.70% of GDP.
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