Santushti Raj Thapar provides a concise introduction to the Indian Polity in A Snapshot an Indian Polity, A Contextual Analysis, providing insight into its history and the political and legal events that shaped its evolution. Santushti recommends this accessible and engrossing book to anyone interested in the constitutional underpinnings of India.
This nutshell edition would, she is confident, enable readers to acquire a complete understanding of the subject. It covers all dimensions (constitutional, non-constitutional, political and administrative) of the subject. Her personal first-hand experience of preparation for the Civil Services Examinations & pursuit of Ph.D. in Indian Politics & Government have been a great source of stimulation and inspiration in the writing of this book.
A conscious effort has been made to make the contents of this book relevant & authentic. Moreover, this book is a nutshell on Indian Polity in notes form (not elaborated vastly) so that it is easy to comprehend or grasp over the topic. She has prepared tabulations on various aspects, for ease of clarity of the presentation.
A Snapshot on Indian Polity, a volume in the 'Indian Polity' series, provides a concise introduction to the Indian Polity and constitutional system, providing insight into its history and the political and legal events that shaped its evolution. The Indian polity and Constitution's role in sustaining one of the world's largest pluralistic democracies and Santushti's expertise in South Asian constitutionalism make this a fascinating read. It takes into account the impact of political bargains and extra-legal developments on the evolution of the Indian Constitution, rather than treating it as a self-contained doctrine. By concentrating on the broader sociopolitical context up to May 2017, the book deviates from the prevalent trend in legal scholarship to focus exclusively on individual cases. Additionally, it addresses the constitutional order's challenges over the course of nearly seven decades of operation.
A Snapshot on Indian Polity is divided into several chapters, each with an introduction and conclusion. The author begins each chapter by outlining the prehistory, colonial experience, and pertinent constitutional provisions pertaining to the chapter's subject. This is followed by an explanation of the subject and the significance of specific events in the Constitution's evolution over time.
Santushti makes a concerted effort throughout the book to ‘ present the Indian polity as a site for ongoing contestations' (4) by emphasising the text's 'living nature' (4). She examines it critically and draws attention to the ambiguities and gaps that exist within.
Additionally, the author draws attention to understudied sections of the Constitution's text, particularly those dealing with governance institutions. Indeed, this is a singular contribution to the existing body of knowledge. The executive and Parliament, federalism and local government, and technocratic constitutional institutions such as the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and the Election Commission of India (EC) are discussed in Chapters Two, Three, and Five, respectively. Santushti refers to the CAG and EC as 'unusual' institutions due to their reputation for 'protecting constitutional and democratic values in contemporary India (137). Her study demonstrates the dynamism of these institutions by examining the effects of successive government tenures on them. Throughout these chapters, she demonstrates how certain transformations can be accomplished informally without amending the Constitution: for example, the prominence gained over time by decentralisation and local governments.
She sheds light on the colonial and postcolonial state's continuities. Additionally, she identifies the rationale for the Constitution's founding principles. The author pays close attention to the relationship between the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary, the three branches of government. While acknowledging the checks and balances of power between the three organs, one of the book's central arguments is the rise of the judiciary's primacy over the last seven decades. Chapters Four and Six devote considerable time to this subject.
Chapter Four discusses fundamental rights (the people's fundamental civil liberties), state policy directive principles, and the judiciary's role as a guardian of fundamental rights. To begin, the decision of the Constitution's framers to distinguish between fundamental rights and directive principles as two distinct categories of rights based on their justiciable nature is explained. The judiciary's unique role in sustaining constitutional democracy is highlighted in comparison to other South Asian countries. Santushti's analysis is novel in that, while she praises the judiciary, she reminds us that this role must be viewed in context, given the backlog and pendency of cases and the slow process by which it operates crippling its effectiveness. She argues that the constitutional structure contributed to the backlog. While the framers invested the judiciary with significant powers, they subordinated it to Parliament and the executive. In post-independence India, Santushti observes a reversal of this vision. This reversal has been so dramatic that the judiciary is now 'perceived as the most powerful political actor in the Indian constitutional landscape' by many political commentators.
One of the book's strengths is that she suggests' further readings at the co