Questions on Indian Constitution - general studies questions and answers

Salient Features of our Indian Constitution

Our Indian Constitution stands among the best written Constitutions in the world, sharing some of their fundamental ideas, but also being special and unique in many ways. Let us look at some salient features of our Indian Constitution.

Universal Adult Franchise

Having voting rights for every single adult in the nation has never been a smooth sailing task for many countries. In many countries, women suffrage came long after male suffrage, and in countries like USA, the Blacks were granted voting rights much after the Whites. However, in India, our Constitution granted every single adult in this country voting rights from the start. This reaffirms our belief in equality and fairness and this also goes by the essence of our Preamble.

Every single Indian above the age of 18 has voting rights (it was 21 at the start, but by the 61st Constitutional Amendment of 1988, it was brought down to 18 years starting from 1989 )

Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties

Our Constitution grants us 6 Fundamental Rights:

1) Right to Equality (Article 14-18)
2) Right to Freedom (Article 19-22)
3) Right against Exploitation (Articles 23-24)
4) Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25-28)
5) Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29-30)
6) Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

The above 6 Fundamental Rights are granted to each and every citizen of India in order to promote political democracy and protect the individuality of every citizen.

Fundamental Duties were added to the Constitution on the recommendation of the Swaran Singh Committee with the help of the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976. The Fundamental Duties, although not legally enforceable by any court of law, but they serve as valuable guidelines to an ideal citizen.

Directive Principles of State Policy

Although the Directive Principles of State Policy are not legally enforceable in any court of law like the Fundamental Rights are, the Directive Principles impose a moral obligation on the states to make sure that a 'welfare state' is established in India along with promoting the objectives of economic and social democracy.

Independent and Integrated Judiciary

India has a system of courts at all levels- from district and lower courts, high courts, till Supreme Court that stands at the apex of the judicial system. Extreme care has been taken to make sure that the courts remain independent from the influence of Executive and maintain their integrity. Supreme Court is granted the power to declare parliamentary laws at unconstitutional if it finds them so. This is balanced by granting the powers of amendment of Constitution (major portions of it) to the Parliament

Federal System and Parliamentary Government

India follows a Federal system of government but showing a unitary bias. Along with having many features of a normal federation- like bicameralism, independent judiciary, two governments, etc. we also have many unitary features like a strong Center, provision of appointment of state Governors by the Center, nation-wide civil services, etc.

In contrast to the Presidential system of government, India follows a Parliamentary form of government which is also known as 'Westminster' model of government followed in UK. The same form of parliamentary government is followed at state level as well.

Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic

The Constitution declares India to be a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic. Sovereign means absolutely independent, Socialist means having a system of political economy that ensures equitable distribution of wealth and protects from exploitation, Secular means having no official state religion and granting every citizen the right to freely follow any religion of his or her choice, Democratic means having a democratic form of government that grants equal voting rights to every single citizen of the world, and Republic means that the head of the state is elected by the citizens and is not hereditary.

Longest Constitution in the World

Among all the written Constitutions in the world, India's Constitution has the distinct feature of being the longest Constitution in the world. Currently, it has around 450 Articles, and 12 Schedules. It also draws from various other Constitutions like Canada, Australia, USA, Germany, Ireland, South Africa, France, Japan etc. Thus it makes sure to fetch the best from each Constitution in the world while removing their faults, and adding own unique parts to it to make it more suitable to India's unique conditions and challenges.

Rigid and Flexible at the same time

To achieve the balance of challenging modernity without losing sight of our most fundamental ideals, our Constitution contains rigidity and flexibility at the same time. For some provisions, there needs to be a special majority for the Amendment to be passed whereas for other parts one can introduce an Amendment with just a simple majority.
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