As one of the four ancient civilizations, India has a time-honored history and unique culture and exerts great influence in regional and international affairs. Historically, India was colonized by Britain. After independence in August 1947, India became a federal republic and established a parliamentary democracy, with the prime minister at the centre of the country’s political life and a system of mentor and assistant ministers to the prime minister.
British parliamentary democracy
In the early 20th century, the British introduced parliamentary system to India and made necessary adjustments to suit the needs of their colonial rule. After independence, Indian politicians debated whether the country should adopt a parliamentary or presidential system. But in the end, leaders of the Indian National Congress, led by Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, prevailed. In January 1950, India’s constitution took effect, marking the formal establishment of a new parliamentary democracy in India.
Under the constitution, India’s president is the nominal head of state and “symbol of national unity.” The Indian parliament is composed of the Rajya Sabha (upper house) and the Lok Sabha (lower House), with the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha or the leader of a multi-party coalition as the prime minister of government. The prime Minister, appointed by the president, is the most powerful core of the Indian government. In addition to leading the government, the Prime Minister has the power to nominate cabinet members, ministers, ministers of State (equivalent to deputy ministers) and other senior officials. He also has the power to ask the president to reshuffle the Cabinet, with the prime Minister’s approval for all cabinet decisions. India’s parliamentary democracy was deeply influenced by the British constitutional system, which was also related to the fact that most of the Indian political elites were educated in Britain and admired British parliamentary democracy.
The Cabinet acts for most of the executive branch
Established in accordance with the Constitution, the Council of Ministers of India, with the prime Minister as the core of leadership, is the highest administrative organ of India and has extensive executive power. The real administrative power in India is concentrated in the hands of the council of Ministers headed by the prime minister, and major decisions are made under the leadership of the prime minister. The premier delivers a report on the work of the government to the Lok Sabha every year and responds to MPS ‘inquiries on behalf of all members of the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers is composed of the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and the Minister of State responsible for independent affairs. It usually has 40 to 60 members, but the specific composition can be decided by the Prime Minister according to the needs of the work. In July 2021, prime Minister Narendra Modi reshuffled his government, replacing 12 ministers and appointing 36 new ones in an effort to revive plummeting approval ratings due to his poor response to the epidemic. The number of ministers in the Council of Ministers increased from 52 to 77 (excluding the prime minister).
But in practice, the ministerial meeting is rarely held. In principle, the Cabinet meeting is held once a week and acts on behalf of the majority of the powers of the Ministerial meeting. Some important policies are formulated and implemented by the Cabinet. The Indian cabinet has three main responsibilities. First, it makes decisions on major issues and submits them to parliament or the President for enactment. Second, it exercises executive power in accordance with laws passed by the Parliament and decrees issued by the President. Third, we coordinated and divided the powers of various departments to ensure the implementation of the premier’s decisions. The composition of the cabinet is small, usually about 12 to 20 people, only composed of the prime minister and cabinet ministers.
The four “heavyweight” ministers in the prime minister’s cabinet are home minister, foreign minister, finance minister and defense minister. Amit Shah, the current home minister, is seen as Modi’s deputy. He became president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BHARatiya Janata Party) after Modi first won the general election in 2014. After Modi’s re-election in 2019, Shah was appointed home minister and has been influential in consolidating the power of the Indian Party and formulating the country’s reform and development strategy. ‘s new foreign minister, s jaishankar, a former foreign secretary (chief executive) India’s foreign ministry, is deep trust modi, had in a long period of time is the “most authoritative” India’s foreign secretary, he is considered the “pass” and “China hands”, successively in 2009 and 2013 respectively for India’s ambassador to the United States and China.
The Cabinet also has a number of committees whose primary task is to assist the Prime Minister and cabinet in examining major issues and to push the Cabinet to come up with timely and effective policies. Among them, the political committee is responsible for studying major domestic and international political issues. The National Defense Committee studies national defense policy and reviews major defense procurement projects. The Science and Technology Council provides science and technology information to the Prime Minister and Cabinet of India on issues such as science and technology, education and nuclear energy policy. The Appointments committee, chaired by the Prime minister, appoints senior officials in government ministries and senior officers such as the chiefs of staff of the army, navy and air Force on the recommendation of a senior selection committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary. The crisis Management Committee assists in responding to sudden natural disasters in the country. Before the cabinet meeting, the Cabinet Standing Committee first discusses the relevant issues and makes recommendations. A large number of policies are negotiated in advance by the standing Committee of the Cabinet, then submitted to the cabinet for discussion, and finally decided by the prime minister.
An exterior shot of India’s Parliament building.
The Cabinet Secretariat is an important coordinating body
Cabinet Secretariat is an important coordinating body and administrative body of the Indian Cabinet. Its predecessor was the Secretariat of the Executive Council of the Governor-General in British India, headed by the private secretary of the Governor-General of India. In September 1946, after the establishment of the Provisional Government of India, the Cabinet Secretariat was formally established. The Cabinet Secretariat plays an important role in assisting the Premier in government governance, decision-making and implementation. The Cabinet Secretariat is responsible for implementing the Rules of Division of Labour in Government Affairs of India and the Rules of Implementation of Government Affairs of India promulgated in 1961, and formulating the Office Working Procedures, which clearly define the terms of reference and working procedures of officials at all levels, and ensure the smooth flow of government affairs by supervising the compliance of all government departments with relevant regulations. In addition, the Cabinet Secretariat also assists the Premier in taking necessary measures to strengthen coordination between various departments of the central government and between the central and local governments, promotes new policy initiatives, supervises the implementation of relevant cabinet decisions, and coordinates the response of relevant departments to national emergencies.
The Cabinet Secretariat has the cabinet affairs office, military office and information office and other important functional departments. The Cabinet Office is responsible for the secretarial work of the Cabinet and the Cabinet Standing Committees; The Military Affairs Office is responsible for secretarial work in national defense and military fields; The Information Room assists in the handling of important information. In addition, the Cabinet Secretariat is affiliated with several important agencies, such as the Office of Public Appeals, the Office for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser. The Office of Public Appeals was set up in March 1988 to co-ordinate the response of the authorities to complaints from Indians on everything from postal, rail, banking and insurance. Established in May 1997, the Office for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is responsible for communicating with the ORGANIZATION for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CWC) and other agencies to ensure effective implementation of the CONVENTION. The Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser was set up in 1999 to assess India’s position and challenges in the world of science and technology, and formulate the country’s science and technology development roadmap.
The Cabinet Secretary presides over the Cabinet secretariat and is directly under the authority of the Prime Minister. Since the government has had no deputy prime minister since 2004, the cabinet secretary helps the prime minister oversee the vast civil service, in effect becoming the most senior minister in India’s civil service. In 2015, in modi’s second year as prime minister for the first time, fulfilling his campaign slogan of “small government, big governance”, then Cabinet secretary Aji Saez issued a notice to all government officials telling ministries to cut red tape and shorten decision-making.
PM’s Office is nerve center of Indian government
The Office of the Prime Minister is an important support for the Indian Prime Minister to lead the government to carry out concrete work. Its predecessor was the Secretariat of the Prime Minister established by the Indian Government in August 1947, and was officially renamed the Office of the Prime Minister in March 1977. The Office of the Premier assists the Premier in his administration as required by him. It also assists the Premier in handling letters and visits and in managing national defense funds and national aid funds. The Prime Minister’s Office receives a large number of documents deemed necessary by various ministries to be submitted to the Prime Minister for his approval on a daily basis and submits them uniformly by the Prime Minister’s Office. When Indira Gandhi, India’s first female prime minister, came to power in 1966, she intended to strengthen the role of the prime Minister’s office, making it the prime minister’s staff. Therefore, the Prime Minister’s Office is also known as the “nerve center” and “shadow cabinet” of the Indian government.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (3rd r) waves as he attends republic Day celebrations in New Delhi, India, January 26, 2022.
The Prime Minister’s Office consists of a team of political secretaries, including the Principal secretary, auxiliary secretary and joint Secretary, and a team of advisers, including the national Security Adviser, principal Adviser and private adviser. They are the prime minister’s “key brains” for overall leadership of the central government, and they interact with people across the government. Jobs in the Prime Minister’s Office are divided into formal and non-appointed positions at 18 levels from the highest to the lowest. Among them, senior secretaries, national security advisers, and senior advisers are the highest ranking officials, followed by senior officials such as the prime minister s advisor, assistant secretaries, and joint secretaries, followed by middle and senior officials such as the director, deputy director, deputy secretary, and deputy secretary. The prime minister’s office currently has 326 staff, including a chief secretary, a national security adviser, a chief adviser, an auxiliary secretary, six joint secretaries and two private secretaries.
The chief secretary is responsible for the main management of the Prime Minister’s office, serving as the prime minister’s “chief steward” and acting as his spokesman. The post has been in place since February 1971 and is appointed by the Cabinet Appointment Committee for a term generally consistent with that of the Prime Minister. As the prime minister’s “closest” aide, the chief secretary has a great deal of “hidden power”. In July 2019, a poll published by The Indian magazine Bureaucrat Today showed that 80 percent of respondents considered Misra, the current chief secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, to be the “most powerful” figure in the Modi government after Modi.
The National Security Adviser is the most important political confidant of the Prime minister of India. He reports directly to the prime Minister, provides decision-making advice for the prime Minister in handling national security affairs, assists in managing the nuclear command, has the right to make recommendations to the political committee of the Cabinet headed by the prime Minister, and carries out the orders issued by the committee to use nuclear weapons. The national security adviser is not a member of the cabinet, but he is as influential as the defence and foreign ministers. Together, the prime minister, foreign minister and national security adviser form the “troika” that dominates India’s foreign policy. Ajit Doval, the current national Security adviser, has been in office since 2014. With a 33-year experience in the intelligence sector, he is a core member of Modi’s decision-making circle. His policy emphasizes the “India First” principle and pursues the “power first” national security concept, and he is a famous “hawk” in the field of Indian security. Also considered the “most powerful” national security adviser of all time. Doval has been active in coordinating the military’s fight against armed separatists in India, leading negotiations with Pakistan, and was a key figure in pushing the Modi government to repeal Article 370 of the Constitution and revoke the “special status” of Indian-administered Kashmir in 2019. Doval also serves as special Representative on The China-India Boundary Issue and heads the China Study Group, a key advisory body to the Indian government on China policy.