Question – Pluralistic democracy is India’s biggest strength, but its mode of operation is the source of our major weaknesses. In the context of the Indian parliamentary system, give your opinion on the said statement and also explain how the presidential system can be an alternative.

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Question – Pluralistic democracy is India’s biggest strength, but its mode of operation is the source of our major weaknesses. In the context of the Indian parliamentary system, give your opinion on the said statement and also explain how the presidential system can be an alternative. – 27 July 2021

Answer

India already had experience in operating the parliamentary system under the Acts of 1919 and 1935. This experience showed that in the parliamentary system, the executive can be effectively controlled through the representatives of the people.Hence accountability was given more importance than the stability of the presidential system. This system has been adopted because of the pluralistic nature of our society, which includes the majority of the population as well as the representation of diverse classes and regions in the political stream.

In contrast to the system of vesting the entire executive power in an individual, this system emphasizes on institution building. Its integration and coordination occurs at two levels: where MPs are representatives from different backgrounds at the legislative level as well as at the level of the Council of Ministers. Furthermore, in a system issue-based opposition is often heard by the ruling party and their views are incorporated into governance.

Limitations of Parliamentary System in India:

Before independence, similar parliamentary system of government had been implemented in India, which was adopted even after independence. Nevertheless, some differences are seen in the parliamentary system of both the countries-

  • The parliamentary system was successful in Britain due to the low population and diversity. At the same time, political traditions in Britain also make parliamentary democracy a practical system.
  • The parliamentary system in Britain is based on traditions that do not exist in India. Britain is an island country with less than 1 lakh voters per constituency while India has 1.5 million voters per constituency.
  • Political parties in Britain have a clear ideology, and their policies and priorities set them apart from each other. Whereas in India often a member of a political party keeps on changing his party and ideology according to his convenience.
  • In Britain, the reaction of a politician to the defection of both the public and the political party is negative. Whereas in India, the hope of victory is given by political parties and caste, religion is given preference by the people.
  • In Britain, where the accountability of the government is given importance by the members of parliament, in India, the members of the legislature give more importance to the exercise of executive powers.

Reasons for failure of parliamentary system in India:

  • In India, the legislative power is exercised as executive power. Since in a parliamentary system the executive is made up of members of the legislature, the possibility of exercising legislative powers in the form of executive powers increases further.
  • To give more importance to politics than administration – When the government rests on the support of fewer members, there is a fear of losing the power of such a government. In such a situation, the ruling party has to focus more on politics than administration.
  • Political parties are multiplied in India, while they neither have any definite ideals nor methodology. Many parties are based only on their vested interests. In a coalition government system, such parties hinder administrative decision-making, and can destabilize the government as soon as it gets better self-serving opportunities.
  • Since there are no fixed ideals of political parties in India, voters give preference to individuals rather than parties at the time of voting. Due to which elements of populism and authoritarianism are getting more impetus
  • Instead of evaluating candidates individually in constituencies, people vote on the basis of their caste, religion or the name of the prime minister or chief minister.

Arguments in favor of Presidential System:

  • This will make political parties more democratic, and conscious in the selection of candidates. They have to select their best candidate for direct election.
  • Voters will be well acquainted with their candidates. This will increase the accountability of the candidates.
  • All executive power will be vested in the President. He will be able to attract superior and intelligent persons to his cabinet, irrespective of their political affiliation.
  • Our democratic institutions have matured and developed, and today the public is more aware, so we can move towards a new order.

However, the parliamentary system shows many shortcomings, such as lack of representation, efficiency and morality of the MPs, corruption, instability due to coalition politics, weak opposition, etc. Yet it can be said that this system needs a thorough examination and improvement, and not a move to a new system.

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