India Information >> Polity >> Executive

The President is the constitutional head of the executive of the Union of India. The real executive power vests in a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as head. Article 74(1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President who shall, in exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice. The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha, the House of the People. In the states, the Governor, as the representative of the President, is the head of Executive, but real executive power rests with the Chief Minister who heads the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers of a state is collectively responsible to the elected legislative assembly of the state.

The Union Executive at the Centre consists of the President, the Vice-President and Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President. The President is elected by members of an Electoral College consisting of elected members of both Houses of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of the states, with suitable weightage given to each vote. His/her term of office is five years. Executive power of the Union is vested in the President, and is exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution. Supreme command of defence forces of the Union also vests in him. The President summons, prorogues, addresses, sends messages to Parliament and dissolves the Lok Sabha, promulgates Ordinances at any time, except when both Houses of Parliament are in session, makes recommendations for introducing financial and money bills and gives assent to bills, grants pardons, reprieves, respites or remission of punishment or suspends, and remits or commutes sentences in certain cases. When there is a failure of the constitutional machinery in a state, he can assume to himself all, or any of the functions of the government of that state. The President can proclaim emergency in the country if he is satisfied that a grave emergency exists, whereby security of India or any part of its territory is threatened, whether by war or external aggression or armed rebellion. When there is a failure of the constitutional machinery in a state, he/she can assume to himself all or any of the functions of the government of that state.

More about the institution of the President of India and the current President, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, can be viewed at:

The Vice-President of India is the second highest constitutional office in the country. The Vice-President is elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of members of both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote. He serves for a five-year term. The Vice-President is the ex-officio Chairperson of the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and does not hold any other office of profit. The Vice-President acts as President, during casual vacancy in the office of the President by reason of death, resignation or removal or otherwise, until a new President is elected as soon as practicable and, in no case, later than six months from the date of occurrence of the vacancy. When the President is unable to discharge his functions owing to absence, illness or any other cause, the Vice-President discharges those functions till the President resumes office.

More about the institution of the Vice-President of India and the current Vice-President, Shri Mohammad Hamid Ansari, can be viewed at  :

The Council of Ministers is the supreme executive governing body in the country and is selected from the elected members of the Union Government. The Council of Ministers comprises Cabinet Ministers, Minister of States and Deputy Ministers. Prime Minister heads the Council of Ministers and communicates all decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to administration of affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation to the President. The Council is formed following general elections usually held once every five years to elect the Parliament, and the majority political party or coalition of parties is invited by the President to form the Government. The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are jointly accountable to the Lok Sabha. If there is a policy failure or lapse on the part of the government, all the members of the council are jointly responsible. If a vote of no confidence is passed against the government, then all the ministers headed by the Prime Minister have to resign. Every individual minister is in charge of a specific ministry or ministries (or specific other portfolio). He is responsible for any act of failure in all the policies relating to his department. In case of any lapse, he himself is individually responsible to the Parliament. Generally, each department has an officer (usually a civil servant) designated as secretary to the Government of India to advise the Ministers on policy matters and general administration. The Cabinet Secretariat has an important harmonizing role in decision making at the highest level and operates under the bearing of the Prime Minister.

More about the Prime Minister's Office and the current Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, can be viewed at:

The composition of the current Council of Ministers can be viewed at

Information about the Cabinet Secretariat is available at 

Links to various Ministries and Departments of the Government of India are available at 

The system of government in states closely resembles that of the Union.The Governors and Lieutenant-Governors of the states and territories of India have similar powers and functions at the state level as that of the President of India at Union level. Governors exist in the states while Lieutenant-Governors exist in union territories and in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The Governor acts as the nominal head whereas the real power lies in the hand of the Chief Ministers of the states and the Chief Minister's Council of Ministers. In India, a Lieutenant governor is in charge of a Union Territory. However the rankis present only in the union territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Delhi and Pondicherry. The Governors and Lieutenant-Governors are appointed by the President for a term of 5 years.

On April 24, 1993, the Constitutional (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 came into force to provide constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions, which embody local or grass roots governance. The Act provides for a 3-tier system of Panchayati Raj for all States having population of over 2 million, Panchayat elections every 5 years, reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Women, a State Finance Commission to make recommendations as regards the financial powers of the Panchayats and a District Planning Committee to prepare draft development plan for the district.