Trade Union Forum


General overview

The head of state and Commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces is the President (Ram Nath Kovind, 2020). The President performs ceremonial functions, while the real powers are exercised by the Indian government, headed by the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi, 2020). The President is elected to a five-year term by an Election Commission that consists of representatives from both houses of Parliament and the lower houses of legislative bodies of states and union territories. A presidential candidate must not represent any political party, or, if one is a member of a party, one must drop the affiliation before taking office.

State power is divided into legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

Constitutional order

India is a federal republic with a parliamentary system. The main legal act of India is the Constitution of 1949. The constitution declares India a sovereign and democratic republic, and justice, equality and liberty for all citizens. The procedure for amending the Constitution in India is quite simple. This is why its text has been supplemented and changed many times over the entire existence of the document.

The head of the executive branch is the President. He appoints the PM and all the other ministers, State governors, judges of the Supreme Court, and the Higher Courts of the States. The President has the right of legislative initiative, the right of veto, and can issue enforceable emergency decrees between parliamentary sessions. The President has the right to declare a state of emergency in case of a war threat or domestic unrest.

The key figure in the executive branch is the PM, who heads the Indian government (the Council of Ministers). He coordinates the government's policy, provides communication between the Council and the President, and assists the President in the performance of his functions. The PM has to be a member of the political party or coalition, having a majority of votes in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Parliament).

The supreme legislative body in India is the Parliament (Bhāratīya Sansad). The Sansad consists of the President and two houses: the lower, Lok Sabha, and the upper, Rajya Sabha. Elections to the lower and upper houses of Parliament are held every 5 years. This is a general election; the voters are adults over the age of 18. For this purpose, the territory of the country is divided into voting districts.

The Lok Sabha consists of 552 members to represent each state and union territory, plus two deputies appointed by the President to represent the interests of Indians of British descent. To become a member of the Lok Sabha, a person must be an Indian citizen, at least 25 years old, mentally healthy, and must not be bankrupt and under criminal prosecution. The members are elected by the general election. All citizens who have reached the age of 18, regardless of age, gender, caste, and religious beliefs participate in this election. The Rajya Sabha consists of 250 members who are elected by representatives of legislative bodies of the states and union territories. Each member is elected to a six-year term. The minimum age to become a member is 30 years. The President appoints twelve members, and they are usually engaged in literature, science, art, or social activities. The House aims at protecting the federal structure of the country. The number of members representing a state depends on the population in that state.

The highest judicial body in the country is the Supreme Court of India. This is the only universal court for all states and union territories. The jurisdiction of other courts, including higher courts, lies within a specific state or union territory. The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice and 17 other judges. The Parliament may increase the number of judges if necessary. The Supreme Court of India is an appellate court where citizens can appeal against judgments made by the High Court of a state.

Labor relations

Several statutes, e.g. the Factories Act, 1948, The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, regulate labor relations in India. However, the management of occupational health and safety in India is very poor. According to Indiastat, an average of 40,000 people die at work in India every year. Now 10% of workers do not have access to health care services. Guarantees of worker's rights are exercised mainly by establishing a six-day working week and wages. Many other rights of workers are ignored because their enforcement requires additional financial expenses.

As of 2020, India has ratified 47 conventions and 1 protocol of ILO. Now, 39 ratified conventions remain in force.

Trade unions

Trade unions in India are regulated by the Trade Unions Act,1926. According to Indiastat (2012), there are more than 16,000 different trade unions in India.

Nationally, there are 7 major trade unions:

  • Indian National Trade Union Congress (Indian National Congress party) – 33,300,000 members;
  • Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (Indian right-wing party Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) – 17,100,000 members;
  • All India Trade Union Congress (Communist Party of India, World Federation of Trade Unions) – 14,200,000 members;
  • Hind Mazdoor Sabha (International Trade Union Confederation) – 9,200,000 members;
  • Centre of Indian Trade Unions (Communist Party of India (Marxist)) – 5,700,000 members;
  • All India United Trade Union Centre (Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist)) – 4,700,000 members;
  • All India Central Council of Trade Unions (Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation) – 2,500,000 members.

Trade unions in India represent the interests of different parties and do not share common politics. However, trade unions try to improve working conditions and safety, increase the income of their members, and upgrade factories.