Polity and Governance

The Indian Context

Polity and governance are interrelated in any system of administration, especially in countries like India, which seek to establish and promote democracy. Polity, without governance, is a people loosely scattered with nothing to stand on and with nothing to look forward to. Governance, in fact, gives polities, a life, a direction and a goal. To imagine one without the other is an exercise in futility. Governance provides polities a system, an order and a framework. It is, in fact, the very soul of the polity.

Polity and governance are all about the state and the government, all about the government and the administration, all about the administrators and the rulers, all about the rulers and the legislators, all about the legislators and the executives, all about the executives, and the adjudicators, all about the adjudicators and the laws, all about the laws and the policies. In short it is all about how the people and the polities are governed.

Governance is more than administration. Administration is more than the maintenance of law and order; it is welfare in so far as it extends its policies to better the lives of those who are needy as well as poor’economically, educationally, in terms of backwardness and deprivations; it is developmental in so far as it conserves, sustains and develops,

The Constitution of India : General


Governance, in a democratic polity, works through a system of fundamental laws enshrined in the CONSTITUTION. The Constitution is rightly described as the autobiography of power ‘political power, the power that authorizes the rulers to rule, the power that empowers the government through its institutions to make, formulate and enact laws, the power that makes the governors and put limits on them, the power that identifies its sources, the power that legitimises what the government does, the power that grants the people their rights, liberties, and the obligations, the power that gives the government its powers, functions, responsibilities and its duties. It is the power that prescribes and proscribes, one that binds and compels.

Power springs from the constitution’how it originates, where it rests, who exercises it and why does it do the way it does. e constitution is all about the rules with regard to power, rules with regard to the administration of power, and rules with regard to laws and policies relating to power, in short, it is how the power is exercised, All definitions of the constitution relate to the fundamental and basic rules of exercising power so as to help conduct


A combination of rules and principles on the basis and under the power of which the government runs the state. In Black Law Dictionary, the constitution is described as the fundamental and organic law of a nation or a state that establishes the institutions and the systems of government, denes the scope of governmental power, and guarantees individual civil rights and civil liberties. According to Professor Strong. ‘A constitution may be said to be a collection of principles according to which power of the government, the rights of the governed and the relation between the two are adjusted.’ Andrew Heywood, sharing the opinion with Professor Strong, is of the view that the constitution is a set of rules which seeks to establish the duties, powers and functions of the various institutions of government, and regulates the relationships between them. The constitution, through the power vested in it by its people, prescribes the form of government for its operation, organizes the way the state will be governed and institutes the machinery through which it administers the people, and the territorial community.

The constitutions are written (hence usually enacted and mostly codified) as well as unwritten (Israel, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have unwritten Constitutions). The unwritten constitutions are, usually, evolved and uncodified. The written constitutions do not remain always written, for with the passage of times, some conventions and usages creep in (examples, the US and the Indian Constitutions have enormous conventionally-based maxims). Likewise the unwritten constitution, such as that of the United Kingdom, for instance, has a number of charters and parliamentary acts (which now form parts of the British political system) which were enacted from time to time. Usually as the unwritten constitutions, evolved or encodefied as they are, are: flexible because their constitutional laws, like any other laws, and practices are changed or modified the ways, and with the majority as any new laws are mode. Like wise the written constitutions as enacted and codified as the y are, are rigid and inflexible: rigid or inflexible because their con situational laws, say the articles of their constitutions are amended or changed through special majority, other than the majority required for the ordinary laws. The British constitution is a classical example of being an evolved, unwritten and flexible constitution white the USH constitution is an example of a written, enacted and rigid constitution.

The constitution not only provides the form of the state but also the form of government. The form of the state may be confederal (for example the European Union), federal (for example, the USA, Switzerland, Australia, India) on unitary (for example the United Kingdom, Israel, Italy, France, Singapore, Sri Lanka). While some federations may have unitary tendencies, some unitary systems may grant certain amount of autonomy to the local units. e known forms of government, usually are parliamentary, presidential or semi-parliamentary or semi-presidential. e two broad parliamentary form of government are west-minster type (Canada, the United kingdom, India, or West-European type Spain, Germany). Countries with presidential or non-parliamentary systems include countries such as the USA, Indonesia, Mexico, South Korea. Finland and Srilanka provide examples of semi-presidential or semi-parliamentary forms of government.

The Constitution of India, though written, and thus is codified and enacted and has developed numerous convention over the years. The Constitution of India is the product of the Constituent Assembly which worked for nearly three years to frame the Constitution. And yet the contribution of factors, both external and internal in the making of our Constitution cannot be denied and in fact, should not be ignored. It is important to know these factors and the background which made India’s Constitution, a reality. The British contributed to the making of our Constitution, indeed, significantly, through the English East India Company’s regime and later, through the Crown’s direct rule over India.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply