India is the second most populous country in the world; according to the latest census (2011), it has over 1.2 billion inhabitants.1 It is the seventh largest country in terms of geographical area. The Constitution of India adopts a quasi-federal structure of governance with a strong central (federal) government and relatively weaker sub-national states, each with constitutionally designated spheres of legislative and executive authority. India follows a parliamentary system of democracy with a bicameral legislature at the central level and in some states. An indirectly-elected President2 serves as the constitutional head of state. He is advised by a Prime Minister who is the head of government and the leader of the political party which wins a majority in the lower house of Parliament. Elections to the lower house of Parliament are conducted every five years.
The Indian Constitution envisages a unitary judicial structure with the Supreme Court at the apex and high courts and subordinate courts at the state and sub-state level. Courts may exercise jurisdiction over matters covered by both federal and state laws, and the higher judiciary is empowered to adjudicate constitutional issues. In addition, there is also a range of administrative and quasi-judicial tribunals and special courts with jurisdiction limited to specified subjects - for instance the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal for Income Tax matters, or the Consumer Forums specially constituted to adjudicate consumer disputes.
India has a strong tradition of civil society, NGO and trade union participation in demanding political accountability, and NGOs have been active in pressing for change in all spheres: social, legal, economic and political.
According to the latest figures available (July 2011), India has achieved a teledensity of 74%, with over 892 million subscribers. Of these, wireless subscribers account for 858 million.3
- 1. Chapter 3: Size, Growth Rate and Distribution of Population, in Census of India: Provisional Population Totals 38 (2011), http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011-prov-results/data_files/india/Final%2... (last visited Sep 23, 2011).
- 2. The President of India is elected by an electoral college comprising all elected members of both houses of Parliament and elected members of the state legislative assemblies (Art 54 of the Constitution of India).
- 3. Highlights of Telecom Subscription Data as on 31st July, 2011 (Press Release No. 47/2011), (2011), http://www.trai.gov.in/WriteReadData/trai/upload/PressReleases/837/Press... (last visited Sep 23, 2011).