Political system is a social institution which deals with the governance of a state and its relationship with the people. Political system of a country denotes the structure of institutions that constitute the State and its Government.
India is no different and it had also developed government and political institutions to give shape and form to the fundamental principles. The multiple faces and diversity of the country is the most noticeable feature of the subcontinent. The identity and unity of its government belong to the ancient Vedic age. Ancient Indian Political System goes back to about five thousand years or more. India is a land that has been shaping civilizations through settlement patterns. Thus, history of India becomes enriched with the description of the Indus Valley civilisation.
The people formed urban societies with agriculture as an occupation. However, the invasion by the Aryans had changed the whole scenario. Indian civilisation was again predominated by the nomadic culture.
A different concept of society in India developed with the Aryans, in the early Vedic period. The Early Vedic saw the upsurge of kingdom which was tribal in character. Each tribe formed a separate kingdom. The basic unit of the political organisation was family and a number of families formed a Village. A reflection of the Ancient Indian Political System can be traced in the social life of the Aryans. These villages were headed by Gramani. Moreover this pattern gave rise to large units or clans formed by a group of village. The circle continued with several clans forming the tribe and their leader was Rajan or the Vedic king. He protected his people from enemies and was accompanied with a senani or commandant, the Sabha and the Samithi in administration. The Aryans can be identified as the pioneers in introducing the concept of society in Indian culture. This civilisation was subjected to various forms of kingdoms with a flow of political boundaries. In the later Vedic age, the Gangetic Valley or Aryavartha became the centre of political activity. Various Kingdoms like Kosala, Videha, Kuru , Magadha , Kasi, Avanti and Panchala came into existence. The king was the highest authority and his position was considerably supreme. Kingship became hereditary and the he was responsible for defence and maintaining law and order of their kingdoms. Moreover, they had vast empires and tried to extend their territories. In Manu Samhita the history of kingship is described. In Hinduism, Manu is considered to be the first king of the earth. Accordingly, the rulers of medieval India traced their genealogy back to him. . The power of the Indian monarchy prior to Mughal invasion was conceded as King being the representative of the divine power. The king was then only a constitutional monarch and the guardian, executor and the servant of Dharma. Besides, monarchies several republics also evolved. After the Battle of Kurukshetra, large empire began to fade away and several republican states emerged. A number of sixteen republics such as Kashi, Koshal , Magadha , Kuru, Anga, Avanti, Gandhar and Vaishali came into being. In the 1st century with the spread of Christianity, absolute monarchy prevailed as the form of political system. The word of the Kings was law. Many large empires were seen extending almost all over the sub continent. Several empires such as the Muryas, Guptas and the Mughals flourished. The rulers were hereditary kings or sub kings who ruled with the assistance of faithful ministers appointed by them.
During the medieval period, King-in-Ministry became the usual form of government. In addition to that there were no republican states. Furthermore the concept of central government evolved during the period of the Sultanate. The king became an autocrat and he was entitled to the throne on the base might. In the Mughal kingdom, Ancient Indian Political System revolved round the autocracy of the king and he was assisted by councilors or ministers to share the multifarious activities of the state. The council of ministers was given great power and they continued to advice the kings on their day to day handling of administration. One instance of the absolute monarchy ruling the state on the advice of the council of ministers was Emperor Harsha, who was a generous ruler.
Village administration was also a significant part of the Ancient Indian Political System. During the Vedic age, the Aryans had built up small villages and the administration of the area was looked after by the village councils.
Panchayat system is one of the essential democratic institutions which developed in India . This system is an institution of the Local Self Government found at the village level. Panchayat system originated in ancient India and references are found in the age of Mahabharat. It constitutes of a village council consisting of village elders. These local self governments perform administrative and judicial function. The Panchayat system used to serve since ancient times and at present it has become an integral part of Indian Administration. At present Panchayat system is a three tier institution and continues to administer the villages.
Ancient Indian Political System underwent a change with the coming of the British. The scenario of administration changed in the subcontinent. The British took over the whole administration into their own hands. The establishment of East India Company made India a colony. The regions of India included areas directly administered by the United Kingdom . The princely states ruled by individual rulers came under the dominion of the British Crown. British Raj prevailed in the Indian subcontinent, the local self governing bodies were taken over and Panchayati Raj begun. The political union after 1876 was officially called the Indian Empire. In the late 19th century, self-government underwent a change in the British India with the appointment of Indian counselors to advise the British viceroy. The Indian Councils Act of 1892 was passed and Municipal Corporations and District Boards were created for local administration. The Government of India Act of 1909 known as the Morley-Minto Reforms provided limited roles to the Indians in the central and provincial legislatures, known as legislative councils. Through this Morley-Minto Reforms, the elective principle was introduced for membership in Indian legislative councils. These elected members gradually were given the criteria of Opposition to the Official government". The Government of India Act of 1935 was approved by the British Parliament for the establishment of independent legislative assemblies in all provinces of British India . This text has further influenced the development of Constitution of independent India . According to the act bicameral national parliament and an executive branch under the purview of the British government came to into force.
The attainment of independence from the British colonial rule made India a sovereign nation. The constitution came into force on 26th January 1950 and India was made a `sovereign, socialist, democratic, republic,` with a representative parliamentary system of government. It can be rightly identified that the present Indian political system has grown out of a long evolutionary process.