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I was reading about how the Indian parliament works, and after reading some articles, a question arose in my mind: why do we need the Rajya Sabha?

We have the Lok Sabha, whose members are directly elected from the people of India, have the mandate to form a government, and have a legislative state assembly for state rules and working. From this, how do the Rajya Sabha benfit the system of democracy?

Why is the tenure of the Rajya Sabha not three years instead of six years? During those 6 years, the party that sits in the Rajya Sabha may not be the same party with the majority in the current state. I am not a student of political science, but if anyone could answer my question, I will be very happy.

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    I've proposed an edit to substantially improve the spelling and grammar, hopefully I haven't conflicted with your intent or misunderstood anything you said.
    – F1Krazy
    Dec 5, 2019 at 13:51

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Why do we need the Rajya Sabha?

In the basic term, Rajya Sabha protects the interests of their respective states against the Central government. This can happen when a small state does not represent anybody in Lok Sabha, but is ruled by a local party, now that party can represent all Rajya Sabha members from their state.

Rajya Sabha benfit the system of democracy?

Rajya Sabha does benefit the system of democracy as the elected or nominated members are voted in by the respective MLAs of those states, since MLAs are people represented, it leads to democracy. Also every state gets a fair representation of their people based on population. Although there are 12 members directly nominated by President for their contributions in Art, Literature, Science, and Social services.

For each state representations, you can look up here

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Rajya Sabha is important because of three reasons.

First, being "House of the States" - it represents the diverse interests of the states in the union.
Next, since it cannot be dissolved, RS can be summoned anytime - it is a permanent house.
Third, due to the nature of the Rajya Sabha elections, RS's composition doesn't change as abruptly as Lok Sabha - hence, it usually acts as a "restrain" on any reckless decisions by the party in majority in Lok Sabha.


Formation of the Rajya Sabha

Extensive debates took place in the constituent assembly regarding the utility or otherwise of a Second Chamber in Independent India. Ultimately, it was decided to have a bicameral legislature for independent India mainly because a federal system was considered to be most feasible form of Government for such a vast country with immense diversities.
A single directly elected House was considered inadequate to meet the challenges that free India would face.


Special Powers of the Rajya Sabha

  1. The Union government cannot make a law on a matter reserved for the states without an explicit authorization from the Rajya Sabha, with a two-thirds majority.
  2. The Rajya Sabha, by a two-thirds supermajority, can pass a resolution empowering the Indian government to create more all-India services (e.g. IAS) common to both the union and the states.
  3. If a Proclamation of national emergency is issued at a time when Lok Sabha has been dissolved or the dissolution of Lok Sabha takes place within the period allowed for its approval, then the proclamation remains effective, if the resolution approving it is passed by the Rajya Sabha.
  4. Rajya Sabha alone can initiate a move for the removal of the Vice President. This is unlike the President's impeachment.

Rajya Sabha forces consensus

While the Lok Sabha membership denotes short-term interests of the population, the Rajya Sabha makes sure that the long term interests are taken care of. For any party, gaining a significant influence in the Rajya Sabha takes a long amount of time.

Rajya Sabha ensures that "controversial bills" like the JnK re-organization bill are indeed approved by the population, in the long term. It would have been difficult for the Modi government to pass the bill in its first tenure due to insufficient Rajya Sabha numbers. However over the course of multiple state elections and another general election, it was established that the public does indeed favor Modi's policies - which slowly started reflecting in the NDA's improved numbers in the Rajya Sabha - only after this, the bill could be passed.

In fact, for constitutional amendment bills - a joint session cannot be convened. This further reinforces the need for consensus.

This however does not affect money bills which are usually short term.


Source: rajyasabha.nic.in

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Q: What is the purpose of Rajya Sabha?

The Rajya Sabha is what is called an "upper house" within India's federal political system.

An upper house is one of the two houses in a parliament (also called a bicameral parliament). This arrangement exist most commonly in federal political entities such as the United States, Germany, Australia, India, and arguably European Union.

The two houses of the legislature - in theory - ensures internal cohesion of the federation. The lower house represents the interest of the population as a whole, and the upper house represents the interest of individual states.

This is especially important in federations where some states are much bigger than others. If you only have the lower house, then the bigger states can always overrule smaller states, but if you have the upper house, then at least the states can be on somewhat equal footing in the power structure. Some might argue that the absence of upper house could lead to the dissolution of federation since smaller states have no inscentive to remain in the federation.

In most federal parliamentary democracies (e.g. India, Australia), the upper house serves mostly legislative role, in contrast to the lower house which is deeply imbedded in both the legislature and the executive. This means that the upper house does not have the power to remove ministers through vote of no confidence, but the government still need their support to pass legislations. To put it in another way, the government is responsible to the lower hosue (will of the whole population), but the law must be made jointly by the people and the states (lower house + upper house).

With this arrangement, the demcoratic system benefits from being responsive to the popular will, but also mindful of maintaining inter-state cohesion within the federation.

Hope this is a satisfactory answer.

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This system of legislature division is known as a Bicameral system or Bicameralism and is contrasted by a unicameral system, which only has one house in a Legislature. In Bicameralism, the legislature has two separate bodies that both must pass a bill if it is to become law. Generally, there is a "Lower House" that have a larger number of seats for members and a shorter term, and an "Upper House" that has a smaller number of Seats and longer terms. This system dates back to 14th century England, which created the two houses to represent to different and general interests. Getting the first out of the way, the "Lower House" or "Commons" represented the Commoners, which always has more members than those represented by the Upper House, hence the size. They also serve shorter terms compared to the Upper House, because the will of the people is frequently changed and often fickle.

The Upper Houses are typically difficult to characterize, but suffice to say, they typically do not represent the common man. When first used by the British, the Upper House was made up by those who had peerage titles (Knights, Barons, Counts, Dukes) which were collectively known as "Lords" hence the UK's name of their Upper House as "The House of Lords". As bicameralism moved to other legislatures, however, many were adopted by nations which had no peerage system OR more likely abolished it, had other methods for naming members to their Upper House. While not always true, (and most relevant to India specifically) came from the Establishment of U.S. Congress... the net effect is that almost all Upper Houses are more permanent and thus act as a check on popular whims by considering the long term impact of legislation of legislation as well as having the experience to know when bills should be killed because they tried it before, it didn't work.

The U.S., following Independence was very markedly against all things Monarchy for propaganda purposes, but in truth many of the changes the U.S. made to their government structure were improvements on the balance of powers that lead to an out of control Legislature. The U.S.' Lower House (House of Representatives) would funciton almost identically to the House of Commons, but since Peerage wasn't popular in the U.S. they couldn't make Peers. At the same time, there was a huge fight among the drafters of the Constitution among the way represntation worked. Since the U.S. was a Federation and States were willingly giving up some but not all self government policy, a "Commons" would benefit the states with higher populations than those with smaller populations. The drafters from smaller states pointed out that this would mean that the House of Reps would run the risk of small states getting rotuinely out voted by large states because they didn't have an even consideration, which was was essentially the problem that led to the whole war for independence in the first place (Tyranny of Majority). Meanwhile the members of the big states argued that giving each state an even number of seats meant their people now had less voting power behind their and gave rise to a Tyranny of Minority (which is traditional tyranny anyway.). Thus came what's known as the Virginia Compromise, which held that the lower house was to represent the people and the Upper House would Represent the states (originally the governments of the states, as they were indirectly elected, but in the Modern U.S. they tend to represent the sates majority vote). Thus in the modern U.S. make up, California, the state with the largest population, is more powerful in the House, where it has 53 votes (Starting with the 2022 elections) compared to one vote afforded to Wyoming, the lowest populated state . Meanwhile, Wyoming is disproportionately more powerful in the Senate, as it's two votes represent far fewer people than California's two votes.

All of this is because in Federal Nations (Which include India and the U.S.) the national government is more concerned with matters that concern two or more states than matters concerning a more local state. As such, states and their people have different needs that means they won't always align. For example, in either the U.S. or India, a bill that will provide additional money to states to purchase new snow plows will get different support from (apologies, I do not know India states) Alaska (Himalayan State) which has frequent Snow than say Florida (Tropical State) which won't get to see much of that money BUT those same States might support funding for protecting endangered animals because both have very endangered animals native to their states(Alaska and the Polar Bear, Florida and the American Alligator. India would have the Snow Leopard in the Himalayas and the Indian Elephant in the tropics).

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