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Essay, Paragraph or Speech on “Coalition Politics and National Unity” Complete Essay, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Coalition Politics and National Unity

The breakdown of the national consensus on a parliamentary majority in 1 India, a phenomenon which is characteristic of the function of parliamentary governments in the developing countries, has led to a dangerous trend, to identify the federal division of powers with sub-national pluralism. In an attempt to seek legitimacy for the coalition governments, which largely depend upon the support of several regional parties, a phenomenon specified to the Indian political system, many of the political parties, which claimed to have demolished one-party dominance of the Congress, have called for the identification of the federal division of powers with sub-national identities representing the pluralist content of the Indian society.

Indeed the proposals were aimed to evolve a centre of power in which the coalition constituents shared authority to sustain their power. The decentralisation of central authority on horizontal basis, it was contended would, end the quest for identity of the regionalised sub-national cultures in India, otherwise compartmentalised in artificial administrative divisions of the Indian federal organisation. The pluralisation of power at the federal centre in India and in the states, it came to be actively advocated, would dissolve the configuration of political power based upon the traditional one-party parliamentary majority which reflect the diversity of the Indian society.

Besides the theoretical proposition that all forms of federal organisation are based upon territorial division of political authority on administrative basis, not even remotely related to any social pluralities, the practical implications of seeking any identification of the federal division of powers with sub-national identities, would be disastrous for such a large country as India and would, sooner than anticipated, lead to the disintegration of the Indian federal structure.

Federalization and Indian Unity

Federalization is a political process which underlines a division of powers on territorial basis. Whenever the territorial division of powers was sought to be identified with sub-nationalism, the federal structures disintegrated.

The Indian federal polity grew out of two diametrically divergent processes, which underlined the devolution of authority to erstwhile provinces of at was known as the British India, before the independence and the integration of the Indian Princely States, which acceded to India in accordance with the instruments of Accession. The Instruments of Accession envisaged, the procedure by virtue of which the Indian States acceded to India. The federal organization of India, was, therefore, constituted of the erstwhile Indian provinces and the Indian Princely States, which were liberated from the British tutelage after the British colonial empire in India came to its end in 1947.

The federating process in India underlined a combination of the devolution of authority to the provincial governments on the one hand and the integration of the acceding states, on the other. The Constituent Assembly favoured a conditional devolution of the powers to the provinces. The rulers of the states, on their part too, approved of a conditional transfer of their authority to the federation. The Constituent Assembly of India, however, proved to be a great leveller and forged the provinces and the states into an irreversible union in which the Central government assumed paramount authority over the provinces as well as the States.

The political boundaries of the Indian Provinces and the Princely States, as they evolved with the consolidation of the British Power in India, overspread ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic diversities. The Indian social pluralism did not represent any political boundaries. The ethnic divisions, religious commitments, caste gradation and cultural diversities, cut across the political boundaries, the British described, creating many interlocking segments. None of the interlocking segments presented any political uniformity and territorial contiguity.

The Indian federal organization envisaged by the Constitution of India does not represent the division of political authority on the basis of the division of powers between the federation and the sub-national identities. The founding fathers of the Indian Constitution, envisioned integration as well as autonomy in a concrete political system. The Indian federal organization was embedded in an environment, which was plural and diverse, but its boundaries were clearly defined.

The federal division of powers evolved by the Constituent Assembly transcended the cultural, religious and linguistic pluralism of the Indian society. The autonomy, now claimed for sub-national identities as the basis of what is called ‘cooperative federalism’, is a prescription for the dissolution of the federal relationship evolved by the Constituency Assembly of India as a basis of the Indian Federal Organisation. Any attempt, made, consciously or unconsciously, to change the territorial division of powers in the Indian federation will lead to its disintegration.

There is an inherent conflict between sub-national pluralism and political autonomy. Political autonomy is a residue of political authority and therefore, complementary to national integration. Sub-national pluralism is basically a function of ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic separatism and consequently irreconcilable to national integration and nation-building.

Coalition politics is not an attribute of parliamentary government. It is a dysfunctional feature of the cabinet system of government, which is essentially founded on an ideological and political consensus on a national level. Regional aspirations, autonomy and plural sociology, are an antithesis of a parliamentary consensus. Federalization of power in India, is reconcilable to the national census in a parliamentary government to the extent it underlines on a political division of powers, within the broad framework of a parliamentary order.

Coalitions, are destructive of the parliamentary majority. If the trend to replace, parliamentary majorities continues, the whole parliamentary systems in India will not survive for long. Nor will the federal division of powers endure for many years, because its basis in India is underlined by a consensus on a parliamentary majority.

Parliamentary Vs. Presidential System of Government

The term parliamentary system does not mean that a country is ruled by 1 different parties in coalition with each other. Such multi-party arrangements are usually the product of an electoral system known as proportional representation. India stands out as a shining symbol of democracy amongst the nations that emerged as independent states after the demise of colonial rule post-World War II. India’s founding fathers, opted for the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy as practiced in Britain with some modifications. They did study the American and French presidential systems but opted for the Parliamentary system of government. Parliamentary countries like India that use “first past the post” voting usually have governments composed of one party. However, parliamentary systems in continental Europe do use proportional representation, and tend to produce election results in which no single party has a majority of seats.

Some believe that its easier to pass legislation within a parliamentary system. This is because the executive branch is dependent upon the direct or indirect support of the legislative branch and often includes members of the legislature. In a presidential system, the executive is often chosen independently from the legislature. If the executive and legislature in such a system include members entirely or predominantly from different political parties, then stalemate can occur.

In addition to quicker legislative action, Parliamentarianism has attractive features for nations that are ethnically, racially, or ideologically divided. In a unipersonal presidential system, all executive power is concentrated in the president. In a parliamentary system, with a collegial executive, power is more divided.

It can also be argued that power is more evenly spread out in the power structure of parliamentarianism. The premier seldom tends to have as high importance as a ruling president, and there tends to be a higher focus on voting for a party and its political ideas than voting for an actual person.

The Case Against

India is developing not because of the political system. India is developing inspite of the political system. With proper and accountable form of governance, India could have by now reached a super power status given the resources and the abilities of the people.

India experimented with parliamentary system of democracy, copied largely from UK. Unfortunately it has not worked for India. India as a nation is deeply divided into several groups with conflicting interests. Indian democracy in practice has not been able to abolish caste system that divides the majority community into groups with conflicting interests despite many laws. Accountability, is the major causality in the Indian style of democracy.

The Political parties often give importance to the winning chances based on the group and caste following a candidate has. Even in cabinet formation, caste plays its role, many times in the formation of Cabinet. Caste and communal divide made India into one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Some credible estimates put the annual corruption at 50 Billion dollars.

To fight the twin causes of corruption and caste, may be India need to debate on a presidential form of government on the US model. A strong executive President does not need the support of caste and communal vote banks. He can go ahead with reforms that make the administration more transparent, less corrupt and more account to the citizens and the nation. A powerful and committed, and accountable administration is the need of the hour.

India’s parliamentary democracy after more than half a century in existence today presents a sordid picture if the following features that have emerged are taken into account:

  • Due to the compulsions of electoral arithmetic of a parliamentary system. India has become politically more divisive and fragmented.
  • India’s political dynamics today are more driven by considerations of casteism, communalism and other sectarian factors.
  • In India today no political party can claim to be a national party of stature. Their influence may be predominant in some regions and negligible or even non-existent elsewhere.
  • India’s Congress Party claiming to be more than a century old has yet to nurture a leadership independent of the political dynasty that has held sway ever since independence. In election after election to ensure their success they look for their dynastic icon of the day to lead them.
  • Election tickets for contesting elections are being given by all political parties to the progeny of existing political leaders, their wives, their kin or close aides down to personal assistants. Merit is not the consideration, nor a record of public service.
  • The above has de-generated to the level of criminals, people charge-sheeted in courts and those having considerable muscle-power to contest elections on tickets of political parties whose sole consideration is how many seats can these notorious elements bring along.
  • In the absence of clear mandates, India has entered the era of coalition politics where political defections are the order of the day and political loyalties arc switched by the number of briefcase full of millions of rupees that can change hands.
  • Crucial portfolios in the Central Cabinet have been given not on the basis of the professional competence of the Minister so appointed but by blackmail of withdrawing support to the coalition even though the Minister may be a tainted one.
  • In such a milieu India’s foreign policies are getting communized and communalized and national security priorities are given a go by.

Why not we debate the merits and demerits of presidential form of Government for India and if it appears to be suitable then why not go for it?

Ninth Schedule Verdict Judicial Antidote To Politics Of Social Justice

Supreme Court of India reasserted its powers as a watchdog of the country’s parliament on January 11th 2007, ruling it had the right to overturn laws, which the legislature had tried to put beyond judicial review.

Progressive laws designed to protect sweeping land reforms and end feudalism following the foundation of modern India had been put out of the judiciary’s reach in a small pocket of the constitution known as the ninth schedule. That was done to protect the laws from appeal by disgruntled feudal lords, and other challenges. But parliament has increasingly hidden controversial laws unrelated to land reform behind that protective cloak, including some that out rightly contradict earlier Supreme Court rulings.

The ruling means around 30 ninth schedule laws contested by Indian citizens in so-called public interest litigations can now come under Supreme Court scrutiny. These include controversial state laws that reserve government jobs and college seats for people from lower castes and other historically oppressed groups.

What is Ninth Schedule ?

  • The 9th Schedule was included in the Indian Constitution by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951, along with Article 31 B. The objective of the schedule is to immunize certain acts and regulations from a challenge on the ground of violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, and 19 of the Constitution. Thus, its purpose was to deprive the courts of the power to challenge the validity of the acts passed by the legislature.
  • Article 31B, which gives blanket protection to all items in the 9th Schedule, is also retrospective in nature. So, even if a statute which has already been declared unconstitutional by a court of law is included within the schedule, it is deemed to be constitutional from the date of its inception.

The basic purpose of the schedule was to abolish zamindari system. But with the passage of time, the Ninth Schedule has become a laundry bag, into which all laws with a spot on them have been tucked away in order to avoid judicial scrutiny.

Apprehensions and Ground Reality

Any of the apprehensions about the verdict should be dismissed about its going to open a Pandora’s box. The verdict only reaffirms Fundamental Rights. There is no question of confrontation between two institutions of democracy as every institution is working under demarcated spheres. The Supreme Court is only doing its duty and Parliament is doing its. So long as they remain within their limits, there is no problem. The Supreme Court has the power of judicial review under the Constitution. If any attempt is made to evade judicial review by putting a large number of 284 Acts under the Ninth Schedule saying they are immune to judicial review, that is a dishonest way of doing things under the Constitution.

First some level setting. For years we had been told that the basic structure of the constitution couldn’t be amended. We had also been told for years that the fundamental rights were what they were meant to be fundamental. So what do you think happens when the fundamental rights get in the way of the political agenda of the government of the day. You realize that you cannot amend the constitution to change its basic structure but you have to preserve these laws that you made that were meant to favor some individuals while discriminating the rights of others. So what do you do? You pass the First Amendment to the world’s lengthiest written constitution. Remember the purpose of the constitution is to layout general and fundamental principles, articles of faith, values that we collectively share and believe in and which are meant to form the basis for law making. So when you have the lengthiest written constitution it is indication that somewhere in the process of laying out general principles we went about making a number of special provisions and exceptions to accommodate special interests. So what then was the motivation to amend a constitution which was already diluted in its design with IFs and BUTs.

The answer to this question becomes clear with a reading of the First Amendment. The first amendment was brought about by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, on 10th May 1951 to address judicial decisions and pronouncements specially in regard to the chapter on fundamental rights. Nehru was also very clear on the purpose behind the first amendment. The state wanted to pursue nationalization, take away lands from the zamindars and re-distribute them and make special provisions for the socially and economically backward. Despite having architected the constitution, the lengthiest one at that, Nehru was not confident that the laws made to pursue these special interests of the state would stand up to judicial scrutiny on account of being discriminatory, hence the first amendment.

It was the First Amendment that brought in Articles 31A and 31B conferring upon the state the right to make laws to acquire private property and to then deem such laws as not being discriminatory and to further protect all such laws from any judicial review by creating something called the Ninth Schedule. It is interesting to note that the origins of the Ninth Schedule lie in land acquisition by the state, given the current political debate on SEZs and Singur, Nandigram.

Since the First Amendment, the Ninth Schedule has been relied upon to amend the constitution multiple times over. The 4th amendment inserted six acts to the 9th schedule. The 17th amendment added 44 more acts. The 29th amendment brought in 2 acts from Kerala. The 34th amendment in 1974 added 20 more land tenure and land reforms laws enacted by the states. In 1975 Indira Gandhi’s infamous abuse of executive power leading upto emergency saw the 39th amendment adding certain central enactments. 1976 saw the 40th amendment even more to the 9th schedule. The 47th amendment in 1984 added more, and then in 1990 the 66th amendment gave more protection to land ceiling acts. Which then brings us to the present dispute. The 76th amendment to accommodate Tamil Nadu Government’s legislation to provide for reservations to the level of 69 percent for SC/ST and OBCs. What takes the cake however is the 78th amendment, which was about not just immunity to laws in 9th schedule, which was suspect, but amendments to those laws and making those amendments immune. Since then we have had absurd laws from Sugarcane supporting price to the New Delhi Urban Zoning Laws all clamouring for an exalted sot in the much-abused Ninth Schedule. p

Till date, the norm has been that the Supreme Court is of the law  the final interpreter reform laws and its word regarding the validity of a law is final. Only land were supposed to be included in the Ninth Schedule, but in the recent times governments have included several controversial legislations under it. In recent times, it was misused widely by governments. Not just land reforms laws, the Ninth Schedule today includes several controversial legislation like the 69 per cent reservation law of Tamil Nadu, which violates the Apex Court’s 50 per cent ceiling on quotas.

The Supreme Court Ruling

Rejecting the argument of the government that the court has no role to play once a law is placed in the Ninth Schedule, a nine-judge Bench, headed by outgoing Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, said, “This court, being bound by all provisions of the Constitution and also by the basic structure doctrine, has necessarily to scrutinise the Ninth Schedule laws.” It said if any of such laws violated the fundamental rights under Articles 14 (equality), 15 (religious, caste and race discrimination), 19 (freedom of speech), 21 (protection of life and liberty), these are deemed to be striking at the root of the basic structure of the Constitution and apparently open to judicial review, even if put in the Ninth Schedule.

The judgement set at rest the raging debate in political circles in the wake of a demand that the laws on certain contentious issues like reservation and sealing in Delhi be put in the Ninth Schedule to take these out of bound for the apex court to adjudicate upon these. The judgement improved upon the famous Keshwananda Bharti case decision of 1973 with the Bench unanimously concluding that the 29th amendment of the Constitution (in 1972) making provision in Article 31-B against court’s invalidation of certain laws by putting these in Ninth Schedule, would not apply to any legislation that violated the enumerated fundamental rights. The verdict in the Keshwananda Bharti case was by a 13 judge Bench with 7-6 majority.

The Bench said, “The power to grant immunity (to Parliament on the Ninth Schedule laws), at will, on fictional basis, without full judicial review, will nullify the entire basic structure doctrine. The golden triangle rights under Articles 14, 14 and 19 read with 21, formed basic feature of the Constitution as these provisions stand for equality and the rule of law.” Any challenge made to such laws, has to be tested “on the touchstone” of the basic feature reflected in Article 21, read with Articles 14, 15 and 19, and the principles laid down there under, the court ruled. “Justification for conferring protection, is not blanket on the laws included in the Ninth Schedule by the constitutional amendments,” the court said.

Tightening the constitutional provisions on the Ninth Schedule laws, it said any legislation passed after 1973, if violated the basic fundamental rights, was open to challenge in the court, irrespective of it being placed in the Ninth Schedule.

Since over 30 petitions had been filed against such laws, including the Tamil Nadu Reservation Act that raised the ceiling of quota from 50 per cent to 69 per cent, land reform laws passed by it and West Bengal and Gujarat and certain property-related laws by some other states, the court said a three judge Bench would now decide these petitions on merits as per the laid-down parameters. But the Bench clarified that if the apex court had already given validating verdict on placing of any law in the Ninth Schedule in between, the parameters laid down today would not affect that order.

Significance of 1973

So what is the significance of 1973? Foremost is the landmark verdict in the Keshavanand Bharti case when the Supreme Court for the first defined the concept of the basic structure of the constitution. Also if you look at the acts prior to 1973 in the 9th schedule they were primarily agrarian reforms. Most of the executive abuse started with Indira Gandhi’s actions prior to emergency and subsequent vote bank politics that saw absurd laws making their way to the 9th schedule violating freedom and imposing restrictions.

The Ninth schedule saga also highlights an important aspect of the Right of Center Political and Intellectual Movement in India. That for 34 years there was not a murmur of protest or legal challenge tells us that there is no Right of Center Movement in India. Yes there are some who claim to be for reforms and markets but these are individuals who see capitalism as an end in itself while missing the underlying fundamental principle of Individual Freedom. It is this same mindset that endorses the State’s pursuit of industrialization through SEZs on the basis of phony faith in capitalism while looking the other way as the State violates fundamental rights and individual freedom to acquire private property on behalf of private enterprises. This underlying intellectual contradiction sums up why there is no constituency for economic reforms in the country – because there is no fundamental belief in the primacy of individual freedom.


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