General topics for preliminary examination

#16 Indian Polity 


Indian Constitution - part 1 


After completing History, Geography and some special topics, now we have come to the very important topic of “Polity” (Constitution). If competitive examination is a vehicle, polity is its wheels, and if competitive examination is a body, polity is its heart. If competitive examinations are “Avengers,” polity is Iron Man! It is very important but not as difficult as some people claim. If we study with focus, we can score well in Polity. 


In previous UPSC examinations, up to 12-15 questions have come from Polity. In 2017, a maximum of 22 questions were asked from Polity. Minimum has been 5-9 questions in some years. In TNPSC approximately 15 questions can be expected. Now let us move on to the lessons. 


First let us look at the major features of our political system. Even though it came as a successor of British administration, instead of fully reflecting the British system, our Constitution has been formed by taking the best features of administrative systems of various countries. It is a completely written system. It started out having 395 articles, 8 schedules and 22 parts but now after many revisions it has 450 articles, 12 schedules and 25 parts. It is important to know which features of our Constitution have been adopted from which other countries. 


Sample question 

Sample Question
Feature Country it was adopted from 
Fundamental Rights USA 
Concurrent list Australia 
Fundamental Duties Russia 
Directive principles of state policy Ireland 

Of this, which are not correctly matched? 


a) 1 only 

b) 2,3,4 

c) 1,3,4

d) None ( answer ) 


Because all are correctly matched. 

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We will now look into the ten main features of our Constitution. 


Parliamentary Democracy 

Federal nature (Powers of Central and state governments have been clearly demarcated)

Unitary nature (single citizenship, single Constitution, special powers of Parliament, etc.)

Flexible and Rigid features

Judicial supremacy - A hierarchical judicial set up with the Supreme Court at the top has been envisaged. Fundamental rights and fundamental duties of each citizen as well as directive principles of state policy have been clearly drawn up


Universal adult franchise 

Emergency provisions - Art. 352, Art. 356, Art. 360, etc. 

Three-tiered governance (Art. 73 and Art. 74) 


As discussed before, there are 12 schedules in our Constitution. Study well about each. 


Sample question


1) Sixth schedule deals with administration of tribal areas of the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

2) Eighth schedule deals with languages. 


Which is incorrect? 


1 only 

2 only 


None ( answer ) 


Next we shall look at the Preamble of our Constitution. This was formed by taking the salient points of the preamble of the American Constitution and introduced in the constituent assembly by Jawaharlal Nehru. The 42nd amendment introduced three words “socialist,” “secular” and “integrity” to the preamble. Learn the features of our preamble well on a word-by-word basis. Also, in Polity major amendments (especially 42nd (1976) and 44th (1978) amendments), landmark judgments, their key points, etc., need to be clearly studied (for example Keshavananda Bharati case, Golaknath case, etc.). 


In Polity, some of us may have a bit of a “starting trouble”.  I had it too. Getting over all that, keeping our goal as our focus, by giving extra attention we can attain victory! 

We will meet in next topic. 

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