Indian Constitution and Democracy

Home/ Indian Constitution and Democracy
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSUS1FC0324

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr. Ishita Mehrotra and Dr. Priyanka Jha

Email of course coordinator: ishita.mehrotra[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in; priyankajha[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Aim:  The course is about developing a basic understanding of Indian political structures and its interactions with democracy. The Constitution is believed to be a living document so the idea is not to just focus on the legal mechanism of the Constitution rather how it engages with social and political processes. Concepts of federalism, sovereignty, rights, equality, justice and decentralisation are introduced by drawing upon experiences from Indian politics.

Course Outcomes:

  1. To be familiar with basic philosophy of the Constitution of India
  2. To draw linkages between the theory and practice of the Constitution
  3. To expose students to the working of Indian democracy

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  1. The Constituent Assembly and the Constitution - The module talks about the political history of framing the Constitution and the formation of Constituent Assembly. It focuses about how past and present, aims and events, ideals and personalities moved the members of the Constituent Assembly to write the constitution as they did. It shall discuss the Indian model of Constitutionalism.
  2. Features of the Constitution -In this module, the Preamble of the Constitution of India will be taken as the basic text. The fundamental Constitutional principles and concepts like Individual freedom, Justice, Equality etc will be discussed.
  3. Separation of Power -The separation of power is generally the mode of governance of democratic states, in a way to check and balance the Legislature and the Executive. This module shall introduce to concept of Parliamentary Executive. It shall focus on functions, accountability, political relationship and limitations of the Parliament and the Government, including role of Presidency.
  4. Indian Judiciary- The role of the judiciary is also analogous to the separation of power along with the executive and the legislature. The module discusses the independence, uniformity and integrated judicial system of India. The module takes further than formal allocation of power to discuss how the role of judiciary has been evolving and expanding.
  5. Federalism and Centre-State Relations -India’s commitment to federalism strengthened in the wake of demands from States, strong assertion of regional politics and decentralisation needs. The module shall introduce to the students the design and working of the Indian federal system. It shall discuss the political and administrative relation between Centre and states and introduce briefly the third tier of federalism.
  6. Fundamental Rights - Any democracy is strengthened by the charter of rights that it provides to its citizens. India has made historic commitments by expanding its constitutional provision of rights. The module shall discuss the meaning of rights and probe its importance in everyday life, discuss in details the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution and parallel to it debates on its realization and restrictions will be further probed.
  7. Reservation as a Constitutional provision– The Constitutional scheme of compensatory preference was initiated to undo the unequal social structure. Reservation is given as a Constitutional right however the matter doesn’t rest by the very fact that it is given. The module shall introduce to students the idea of reservation and affirmative action; and throw light of its various dimensions of understanding in the present context. The issue of women’s reservation will also feature in this module.
  8. Social Movements- Various movements and struggles have been waged by socio-economic groups like peasants, farmers, women, dalits, workers’, etc since independence. The idea of this module is to explore the social and political context in which the movements arose and how they have been shaped by the push and pull of democratic practices in India. A detailed discussion of any one genre of social movement will be focused.
  9. Grassroots Democracy- The module discusses about history, importance and Acts of local governance. The grassroots aspirations, realities and working of panchayats and Gram Sabha shall be discussed. It shall focus on the renewal of Panchayati Raj with special attention to women’s empowerment in the local self-government.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Class Test (20%)
  • Mid-Sem Exam (40%)
  • End-Sem Exam (40%)

Reading List:

  • Austin, Granville (1999): Selected chapters in Working a Democratic Constitution- A History of the Indian Experience (Oxford: OUP).
  • Chakrabarty, Bidyut and Pandey, Rajendra Kumar (2008): Selected chapters in Indian Government and Politics (New Delhi: Sage)
  • Choudhry, Sujit, Khosa, Madhav and Mehta, Pratap Bhanu ed. (2016): Selected chapters in The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constituion (New Delhi: OUP).
  • Jayaal,, Niraja Gopal and Mehta, Pratap Bhanu ed. (2011): Selected chapters in The Oxford Companion to Politics in India (New Delhi: OUP).
  • Hasan, Zoya, Sreedharan E. and Sudarshan R. ed. (2002): India’s Living Constitution: Ideas, Practices and Controversies (Delhi: Permanent Black).


  • Samvidhan series by Syam Benegal (available on youtube)
  • Kashyap, Subhash C. (1995): Selected Chapters in Perspectives on Constitution (Delhi: Shipra Publishers).
  • Chandoke, Neera and Priyadarshi, Praveen ed.(2009): Contemporary India: Economy, Society, Politics (New Delhi: Pearson Publication)
  • Singh, M.P. and Saxena, Rekha (2008): Indian Politics: Contemporary Issues and Concerns’, (New Delhi: Prentice Hall of India Pvt. Ltd.).