|National Symbols of India|
|Emblem||Sarnath Lion Capital|
|Anthem||Jana Gana Mana|
|Animal||Royal Bengal Tiger|
India is a federation with a parliamentary system governed under the Constitution of India. It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy, in which "majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law." Federalism in India defines the power distribution between the federal government and the states. The government is regulated by a checks and balances defined by Indian Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document. The Constitution of India, which came into effect on 26 January 1950, states in its preamble that India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. India's form of government, traditionally described as 'quasi-federal' with a strong centre and weak states, has grown increasingly federal since the late 1990s as a result of political, economic and social changes.
The President of India is the head of state elected indirectly by an electoral college for a five-year term. The Prime Minister is the head of government and exercises most executive power. Appointed by the President, the prime minister is by convention supported by the party or political alliance holding the majority of seats in the lower house of parliament. The executive branch of the Indian government consists of the president, the vice-president, and the council of ministers (the cabinet being its executive committee) headed by the prime minister. Any minister holding a portfolio must be a member of one of the houses of parliament. In the Indian parliamentary system, the executive is subordinate to the legislature, with the prime minister and his council directly responsible to the lower house of the parliament.
The legislature of India is the bicameral parliament, operating under a Westminster-style parliamentary system, and comprising the upper house called the Rajya Sabha(Council of States) and the lower called the Lok Sabha (House of People). The Rajya Sabha, a permanent body, has 245 members serving staggered six year terms. Most are elected indirectly by the state and territorial legislatures, their numbers in proportion to their state's population. All but two of the Lok Sabha's 545 members are directly elected by popular vote to represent individual constituencies for five-year terms. The remaining two members are nominated by the president from among the Anglo-Indian community, in case the president decides that the community is not adequately represented.
India has a unitary three-tier judiciary, consisting of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India, 21 High Courts, and a large number of trial courts. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over cases involving fundamental rights and over disputes between states and the Centre, and appellate jurisdiction over the High Courts. It is judicially independent, and has the power both to declare the law and to strike down Union or State laws which contravene the Constitution. The Supreme Court is also the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution, it being one of its most important functions.
India is a federation composed of 28 states and seven Union Territories. All states, as well as the union territories of Puducherry and the National Capital Territory of Delhi, have elected legislatures and governments, both patterned on the Westminster model. The remaining five union territories are directly ruled by the Centre through appointed administrators. In 1956, under the States Reorganisation Act, states were reorganised on a linguistic basis. Since then, their structure has remained largely unchanged. Each state or union territory is further divided into administrative districts. The districts in turn are further divided into tehsils and ultimately into villages.