Working of the Constitution Class 10 Political Science Notes Maharashtra State Board
The textbooks of Political Science till now have helped us to take an overview of local government, the values and the philosophy of the Indian Constitution as well as the governing structures created by the Constitution and India’s place in international relations. The Indian Constitution has declared its objective to establish a secular, democratic Republic. Also, it has made extremely important provisions to ensure that the citizens get justice and their freedom is protected. The Indian Constitution is seen as the means through which a progressive developed society based on social justice and equality will be established.
The Constitution came into force on 26 January 1950 and since then the Government has been working in accordance with the principles of the constitution. In this chapter, we will take a brief overview of the wide-ranging nature of Indian democracy, important changes that have taken place in its political process, and steps that have been taken to establish social justice and equality. This review will primarily focus on three areas
- Social Justice
- Judicial System
Democracy does not merely imply a representative structure. The essence of a representative system is to integrate the principles of democracy into actual practice. Once this is done, democracy becomes an integral part of the political life of the society. Accordingly, the Indian people have direct representation in the Parliament, State legislature, and local government. Holding free and fair elections at regular intervals is an important indicator of India’s successful democracy. The increasing participation of the people in the political process and political competition shows that Indian democracy has become successful to a great extent.
Right to Vote:
The Indian Constitution had made the provision of the right to vote for adults. In the pre-independence period, several provisions existed which restricted the Right to Vote. All such provisions were canceled after independence and the Indian constitution guaranteed adult suffrage by giving the right to vote equally, to both men and women above the age of 21 years. The voting age was later reduced from 21 to 18 which allowed political participation to the young generation in India. Such provisions have made India the largest democracy in the world. India has the largest number of voters compared to any other democratic nation. This change is not only quantitative but also qualitative as new political parties are emerging with the active support of young voters. These parties represent various expectations of people and compete in the political sphere.
Decentralization of Democracy:
Decentralization of power is central to democratic government. Decentralization controls the misuse of power and also creates opportunities for political participation for the common people. The Directive Principles of State Policy include the provisions for democratic decentralization. One such important provision is regarding empowering the local self-government to make genuine democratic governance a reality. After independence, several attempts were made toward democratic decentralization. One such important attempt is the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Indian Constitution; which gave a constitutional status to local self-governing institutions and also increased their powers.
Right to Information (R.T.I.2005):
Citizen empowerment is the essential condition of democracy. It is necessary to create opportunities for citizen’s participation and interaction with the government. Increased communication between citizens and government helps in strengthening democracy and in building a relationship of trust between them. Citizens have a right to know about the functioning of the government. The Government of India gave the Right to Information to the citizens of India to ensure transparency and accountability which are the hallmarks of good governance. Right to Information has made the government more transparent and has reduced the element of secrecy in the working of government. After the year 2000, the whole approach towards democratic reforms has changed. Democratic reforms are considered as the ‘rights’ of citizens. Accordingly, citizens in India have got Right to Information, education, and food security. These rights have strengthened democracy in India.
Rights Based Approach:
In the decades after independence, progress was made towards more and more democratization of India. However, in this process, citizens were considered as beneficiaries. In the last few decades, development has been considered a right of the citizens.
Social Justice and Equality
Social justice and equality are the important objectives of our constitution. The Constitution has given the guidelines to establish a new society based on these two values. We are following the path laid down by our Constitution to achieve this goal. To establish social justice is to remove those social conditions that are responsible for injustice and insist on the equality of dignity for all individuals. The principles of justice and equality aim at ending discrimination in social status such as superiority or inferiority based on caste, religion, language and gender, place of birth, race, and property, and giving equality of opportunity for development to every individual. To establish justice and equality, efforts are to be made at all levels of society. But the government’s efforts and policies on this front are more important. For Democracy to be inclusive, one must try to bring all sections of the society into the mainstream. Democracy is in fact, a process of accommodating different sections of society. Democracy helps in reducing social conflicts. Let us take a review of the efforts made in India in this direction.
Policy of Reservation of Seats:
The policy of Reservation of seats is meant for those sections of society who have been deprived of the opportunities for education and employment for a long period. Accordingly, in educational institutions and in government services some seats are kept reserved for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. There is also a provision for the reservation of seats for other backward classes.
The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act:
This is an important Act for establishing social justice and equality. This act prevents any injustice against the people belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe and any act of atrocity committed against them is liable for punishment.
Provisions for Minorities:
The Indian constitution has made several provisions for the protection of minorities. The government has adopted several policies for minorities to provide them the opportunities for education and employment. The Indian constitution prohibits discrimination based on caste, religion, race, language, and region. This is a comprehensive provision for minorities that fundamentally protects their right to equality, freedom, rights against exploitation, and cultural and educational rights.
Laws Relating to Women and Provisions for Representation:
In the post-independence period, efforts were made to empower women. Taking into consideration the problems of women, several policies have been adopted at national and international levels to remove illiteracy among women and to make available opportunities for their development. The right to have an equal share in the property of the father and husband, the Dowry Prohibition Act, the act against sexual harassment, Domestic Violence Prohibition Act are some important provisions that create a favorable environment for the protection of freedom of women and secure their development.
In our country, from the very beginning, women have had inadequate representation in politics and political institutions. Many countries in the world have made efforts to increase the representation of women. From this perspective, changes are taking place in India as well. The 73rd and 74th amendments reserved 33% of seats for women in local self-governing institutions. This percentage has been raised to 50% in several states including Maharashtra. A National Commission for Women has been established. Similar commissions also exist at the State level. The Act for the protection of women against domestic violence is an important step in the direction of democracy. This act underlined the need to protect the dignity and self-esteem of women. This act rejected traditional forms of domination and authoritarianism and expanded the scope of Indian democracy to make it inclusive in the true sense.
The Representation of Women in Lok Sabha
The visibility of women is very low in public life. If the Family structure, social surroundings, economic sector, and political sphere become more open, women will get a chance to participate in the decision-making process that can provide a different direction to politics. For this purpose, women’s participation should be increased in representative institutions.
Role of Judiciary
The Judiciary in India has played an important role in strengthening democracy and helping to make towards achieving the objectives of social justice and equality. While interpreting the provisions of the constitution, the judiciary has always taken into consideration the fundamental objectives of the constitution and also the intentions of the constitution makers. We will try to understand the contribution of the judiciary in this regard with the help of the following points.
1. The Basic Framework of the Constitution:
The Constitution is dynamic. It is a living document. The Constitution has to change according to changing conditions and the Parliament has the power to make those changes. The Judiciary has accepted this power of the Parliament to make changes in the Constitution but at the same time specified the limitations on this power. The Judiciary has taken a stand that the Parliament while amending the constitution cannot alter the basic structure of the constitution. The basic structure of the constitution generally includes the following provisions.
- Republican and democratic form of government
- Federal structure of the Constitution
- Promotion of unity and integrity of the nation
- Sovereignty of the nation
- Secularism and supremacy of the constitution
2. Significant Judicial Decisions:
The protection provided to the citizens by fundamental rights in the constitution has been made more meaningful through various decisions of the judiciary. Some of the important subjects on which the Court has given judgments include the rights of children; protection of human rights; protection of the honour and dignity of women; individual freedom; and tribal empowerment. These efforts have made the political process in India more mature. Democracy requires good governance or best-governing practices. The following are the features of good governance. What should be done to bring good governance in democracy?
- Accountable/Responsible Government
- Effective and Efficient Government
- Responsive Government
- Transparency in the Working of the Government
- Just and all-inclusive Development
- People’s participation in the governing and decision-making process
In this chapter, we took a review of the constitution and the workings of the government based on the constitution in the context of Indian democracy. There are many challenges before India’s democracy. The government’s acts and policies have not put an end to all the problems. There are several new problems confronting us. However, what is important is that the people in India have developed a democratic mindset.
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