China and India are globally known for their large populations and fast economic growth. However, these two countries are associated with distinct political systems. India is recognized as the largest democracy in the world. It can be described as “a sovereign, secular, democratic republic whose governance is based on a parliamentary system”.
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China on the other hand is a socialist republic. Thus its political framework is based on a single party system. The Communist Party is the ruling party and its mandate is enshrined in the country’s constitution. The state power in China is exercised through the “Communist Party of China, the Central People’s government alongside their provincial and local counterparts”. This paper compares the political system, political culture and policy framework in China and India.
Political System: China
The constitution remains the fundamental law of the state in China. The government is dominated by the Communist Party of China (CPC). During the time of command economy, every enterprise that was owned by the state had to have a party committee. However, with the introduction of market economy, the party now has limited power over economic institutions. CPC has high influence in the offices of the central government, economic, industrial and cultural settings in the urban areas.
However, its influence in the rural areas is relatively weak. The main functions of the party officials include selection and promotion of various personnel. They also ensure that the policy framework as given by the party and the state is followed. Besides, they ensure that autonomous organizations are not formed by the non-party members to challenge the ruling party. The Party Congress is the highest organ of the party.
There is a multiparty system whereby, the various political parties acknowledge the leadership of the Communist Party but works together with it through cooperation and consultations.
The state organs include the “National People’s Congress (NPS), the President and the State Council”. The State Council is composed of the Premier, the vice premiers, and five state councils. The heads of State Council commissions alongside 29 ministers also form part of the state council.
The National People’s Congress (NPC) is recognized by the constitution as the body with the highest state power. It holds annual meetings and its roles include approval of major policies, laws, personnel changes and the budget allocations. The standing committee of the NPC adopts most of the national legislations. It is considered the legislative arm of the government. The country’s People’s Liberation Army was formed and is led by the Communist Party. The army’s role is to protect the people of China and their territory.
The local government is hierarchical and consists of four levels. The village is the lowest level, followed in ascending order by the township, county, municipality and the province. The function of each level involves supervising the work done by lower levels of the administrative hierarchy. At each level, there is a representative of the Communist Party whose main responsibility is policy formulation. There is also the head of the local government whose responsibility is to implement the policies.
Political System: India
In contrast to China’s political system, India’s political system is a democratic one. Its current constitution was enacted in 1950 and it emphases the “trinity of justice, liberty, and the equality for all citizens”. The constitution has since been amended 80 times. Lok Sabha is the lower house and it resembles the British House of commons. India’s federal system borrows from that of the United States.
The President is recognized as the head of the state. The presidency is a ceremonial role meant to advice, encourage or warn the members of the elected government on issues related to the constitution. Thus a Parliamentary Bill can be sent back to the parliament by the President for reconsideration. The President can also declare a state of emergency, thereby allowing the Lok Sabha to extend its life by up to one year. The president is normally elected by members of an electoral college which is made up of about 4500 members.
The members of the electoral collage also elect the vice president. The vice president chairs the proceedings of the upper house, Rajya Sabha. The government is headed by “a Prime Minister who is usually appointed by the president after being nominated by the lower house”. The President appoints the ministers after receiving recommendations from the Premier.
The Lok Sabha is the lower house and it consists of a maximum of 552 members. The various states of India are represented by 530 members, union territories are represented by 20 members while the Anglo-Indian community is represented by 2 members. The Lok Sabha lasts for a term of five years, after which it is dissolved automatically. Its life can however be extended in the event that the President declares a state of emergency. The members are directly elected by the citizens.
The Rajya Sabha is the upper house and is made up of 250 members. 12 of the members are appointed by the President while the rest are indirectly elected by the state and the territorial legislature. The Rajya Sabha has a term of six years and is not subject to dissolution. The legislative power is shared by the two houses. Thus the laws governing the country are enacted by the two houses.
There are several political parties which are either National or State Parties. A party has to be recognized in at least four states for it to be considered a National Party. The parties’ main role is to represent the people and advocate for the members’ interest in parliament.
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The Supreme Court is considered the highest court in India. Its judges and the Chief Justice are appointed by the “President upon receiving recommendations from the Premier”.
From the above discussion it is apparent that China has a socialist political system while India has a democratic political system. Both countries have a President who heads the state but their respective governments are led by Prime Ministers. Multiparty system is allowed in both countries. However, in China the Communist Party is the only one allowed to rule, while the other parties work with it through consultations.
Political Culture: China
Political culture is the “political system as internalized in the cognitions, feelings and evaluations of its population”. The political culture in China can be described as follows.
Rule of Law
The rule of the law as described in the constitution of the country is based on democracy. The citizens believe that the constitution and the country’s laws enhance democracy. The rule of law is considered to enhance a neutral relationship between the state and the citizens. The communist ideology shapes the views of the citizens in regard to various political issues.
Thus the state and the law play a neutral role in shaping the views of the citizens regarding political issues. The law governing the country is widely viewed as a state weapon. This means that it is used to ensure order and harmony in the country. However, it can also be misused by the state officials to fulfill their personal interest at the expense of the citizens.
Rule by Law
The law has since been accepted by the leaders as the basis of leadership. The need to enhance a leadership based on law was necessitated by the chaos of Maoist Era and its aftermath. The existing Chinese laws are recognized by all citizens as specified in the constitution and all citizens are considered equal before the law.
The view of the law has since been depoliticized as transparency and public participation in policy formulation improved in the country. The existing laws are always amended as new ones are promulgated in order to satisfy the needs of the citizens. Legal disputes that might arise at various levels of governance are normally resolved by the mediation committees. Besides, legal reforms have been the priority of the government since 1990s.
Since 1949, political culture in China has been influenced by communist ideology. The government makes deliberate efforts to ensure that the behavior of the citizens is shaped by the “Marxist-Leninist-Mao Zedong thought”. The political culture has been inherited from the dynasty rules of earlier regimes.
Major national policies are discussed and approved by the National People’s Congress. The Communist Party overseas the policy formulation process by ensuring that the policy framework is followed according to the party’s expectations.
Once adopted, the policies are implemented by the various ministers whose work includes interpretation, implementation and overseeing policy goals. At the local government level, the policies are formulated by the representative of the Communist Party and implemented by the head of the local government.
Political socialization is the developmental process by which “children and adolescents acquire political cognition, attitudes and behaviors”. The main agents of political socialization in China include family, schools, media, teachers, religion, political parties and workplace influence.
Political Culture: India
Rule of Law
The national leaders in India fought for liberty and achieved it in 1947 when India attained its independence. India was subsequently established as a democratic government whose leadership is based on the rule of the law, constitution. Immediately after independence, democracy was viewed as a rule of the majority.
Thus it vested the ruling powers on a certain class of rulers or politicians. Democracy was thus viewed as an impediment to Indians’ aspirations for individual freedom.
The government maintained a “closed organized culture of socialism, unjustified egalitarianism and governmental indoctrinations up to 1991”. Following the economic crisis of 1992, a new economic-socio-political change occurred in India in which the economy was liberalized. This led to the development of the culture of liberty, individual freedom and individual rights.
Democracy in India has however stood the test of time and remained the accepted leadership system. Currently, democracy is considered the rule of the mob and this has led to the emergence of a new political culture. India’s democracy is today characterized with riots and demonstrations due to conflicting views on religion, caste system, ideology and communal interests.
The new political culture exploits the under-privileged members of the community such as the women and children who are used by politicians to champion personal interests. There has been a shift in perception as citizens become aware of their worth and the intentions of the opportunistic politicians. Thus the citizens are beginning to realize their rights and role within the democratic system of governance.
The various ministries and ministers are responsible for the formulation of policies in India. Major policies are discussed by the legislative arm of the government. Thus the two houses, Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, play an active role in policy formulation. Once approved, the policies are implemented by the government officials under the direct supervision of the relevant ministry.
The process of policy making in India is characterized by several limitations which include the following. The process of thinking and taking action related to the policy is highly fragmented and this leads to high levels of inefficiency. There is also a lot of time lag between the formulation of the policies and the implementation process. The non-governmental organizations play a passive role in the process thus most policies fail to address the felt needs of the citizens.
The family is considered the most influential agent in developing children’s political orientations. Since India’s political system is based on multi-party system, the political parties play an important role in socializing the citizens on political issues. Other equally important agents of political socialization include schools, religion and mass media.
In conclusion, the political culture of China is based on the Communist ideology which shapes the citizens’ views on political issues such as governance. The rule of the law is widely accepted by the public as a just system of leadership. In India, political culture is highly influenced by the views on democracy.
Various interpretations of democracy shape the citizens’ views concerning the political system and governance. Policy formulation and implementation is similar in both countries since the process involves the participation of the ministries, the legislative branch and the government officials.
However, in China there is higher public participation through the Communist Party alongside other political parties and interest groups. The agents of political socialization are also similar in both countries as discussed above.
Interest Articulation and Aggregation
Interest articulation is the manner in which the members of the society express their views to the government of the day. The members of the society can express their views to the government directly by contacting the government officials or they can be represented by interest groups such as trade unions. Interest aggregation is the process through which the “political demands of groups and individuals are combined into policy programs”.
Interest articulation and aggregation is curried out by the social organizations and the government. The roles of social organizations include “interest aggregation, interest articulation, fostering civic skills and facilitating political participation”. The government through the Communist Party also participates in interest articulation and aggregation.
During the period of Cultural Revolution, 1966-1969, the government allowed citizens to form political organizations which were independent of the Communist Party. The so formed political organizations led to political straggles, turmoil and cases of violence in China. Consequently, the civic associations emerged in the Reform Era to champion the interests of the citizens in a more peaceful and organized manner.
Among the most notable mass organizations included the Leninist-bi-directional organization and the Mao Zedong. The former was considered a ‘transmission belt’ whose responsibility was to link the Communist Party and the citizens. The later was considered a ‘mass line’ and its responsibilities included executing party policies and obtaining feedback information from the public.
The participation of workers, youth and women has also been enhanced in the Communist Party and other political parties. The political parties ensure that the Communist Party and the government address the interests of the citizens. This forms the essence of the cooperation between the Communist Party and other political parties.
In India, interest aggregation and articulation is done by the opposition political parties, non-governmental organizations or interest groups and the government. The opposition political parties play an active role in the formulation of national policies and even foreign policies. They ensure that the interest of the public is taken into account during the formulation and implementation of major national policies.
The government normally takes the recommendations of the opposition parties serious because failure to do so will undermine its credibility. The interests of the citizens of India are also articulated by non-governmental organizations which advocates for equality and protection of human rights.
They basically lobby the government to deliver basic services to the citizens as required by the constitution. Other interest groups such as trade unions represent their members at various levels in policy formulation. They ensure that the interests of their members are taken into account during the process of policy formulation.
Interest articulation and aggregation in both countries is thus the responsibility of interest groups, political parties, non-governmental organizations and the government.
In China, the mass organizations act as a link between the people and their government by informing the government about the expectations of the citizens and also obtain the feedback from the citizens. In India, the opposition political parties are more active in interest articulation than in China. This is attributed to the fact that in India, every political party is allowed to rule. Thus they participate in interest articulation in order to win the support of the citizens.
The process of democratization is expected to continue in India as the citizens become aware of their rights and worth in the country. With the political parties becoming stronger and the need for transparency increasing, the leaders must promote democracy in order to maintain stability in the country.
The political culture is likely to change for the better in the future. India is currently among the fast growing economies and the leaders as well as the citizens are interested in promoting this development. Consequently, they are likely to uphold a political culture characterized by the rule of the law and social harmony. Interest articulation and aggregation is like to involve more public participation as pressures mount on the government to enhance reforms in policy formulation.
In China, democracy is likely to improve but within the framework of a single ruling party. This is because the socialist system and the communist ideology are highly regarded by the citizens and the leaders.
The political culture is likely to change in favor of a more liberalized economy. As an emerging economy, China has to allow some form of capitalism and open market system in order to achieve greater economic growth. The mass organizations will continue to play an active role in interest articulation alongside the various political parties.
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