How is the president of the largest democratic nation in the world elected? Let’s examine the whole process, the different layers, and the roles that come together to elect the next president.
The position of a President
The president of India is the head of state of the Republic of India, the nominal head of the executive, and the commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces.
The office of president was created when India became a republic on 26 January 1950 when its constitution came into force.
Electing the president involves both houses of the Parliament of India and the legislative assemblies of each of the states and territories. The president is then indirectly elected by an electoral college.
Ram Nath Kovind is the 14th and current president of India.
The role of a president in the administration of a nation
As per India’s constitution, article 52 states the president can exercise his powers directly. But all executive power vested in the president is, in practice, exercised by the prime minister, which is a subordinate authority working in conjunction with the Council of Ministers.
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Duties of The President
The President is the symbol of the Nation. This position represents the nation but does not rule it, making it the head of state but not the executive. The power and duties of the president in running the nation can be defined as a ceremonial device on a seal by which the nation’s decisions are made known.
The primary duty of the president is to preserve, protect and defend the constitution and the law of India.
The process of electing the President of India
Indian presidents are elected indirectly through an Electoral College using a single transferable vote system and secret ballots.
Here are some concepts of ensuring a balanced election process:
- The formula used to maintain proportionality between vote values – MLA vote value = total number of voters in state/number of elected MLAs of that state divided by 1000.
- For the balance of the State and the Union to be maintained, the total value of the MPs’ votes must equal that of the MLAs’ votes.
- Quotas – The winning quota is calculated by multiplying the number of votes by the number of seats plus one. The candidate who meets or exceeds the winning quota wins.
- Voters’ preference – The voter selects the presidential candidate who most interests him or her, but if the first choice candidate fails to reach the winning threshold, then the vote goes to the second choice.
- Vote transfer – Those votes in favor of the first preferred candidate with the lowest vote count are transferred to the remaining candidates.
Role of proportional representation in electing a President:
Indian presidents are elected using a single transferable vote through proportional representation (Article 55 (3)). This principle of proportional representation gives independents and minorities a chance to be represented.
In proportional representation, coalitions with many voters can be formed under one government for the sake of maintaining democracy and assuring that elected candidates do not represent the majority of the electorate.
Are there any required qualifications to be the President of India?
Yes, there are certain criteria to be fulfilled for a person to be required to be eligible to stand in the election process
- He/she must be an Indian citizen and 35 years of age
- Must qualify to become a member of the Lok Sabha
- Must not hold a government – central or state office of profit. (exception President or Vice-Presiden)
- A person is eligible for election as President if he/she is holding the office of the Governor or Union/ State Minister.
Oath or affirmation
Once elected, as an oath or affirmation to protect, preserve and defend the constitution, the president is required to perform the following in the presence of the Chief Justice of India-or in his absence, the senior-most judge of the supreme court:
“I, (name), do swear in the name of God (or solemnly affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President (or discharge the functions of the President) of the Republic of India, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law, and that I will devote myself to the service and well-being of the people of the Republic of India.”
— Article 60, Constitution of India
Following scenarios result in a vacancy in the office of president:
- On the expiry of their term.
- By reason of death.
- By reason of resignation.
- Removal by the supreme court.
- Removal by impeachment.
And that’s how the first man of the biggest democratic country is elected. The process has been well-thought and executed through the years. This indirect election of the president results in the states maintaining neutrality and minimizing hostility. This is how the leadership of the country flows smoothly and in harmony.
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