[Model Answer] UPSC GSM2: American Senate is more powerful than Indian Rajya Sabha. Analyse

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Majid Hussain
  1. Mock Question for UPSC Mains GS2
  2. Introduction (Origin)
    1. Body#1: Upperhouse’s power against Lowerhouse
    2. Body#2: Upperhouse’s power against Executive
  3. Conclusion
  4. Mistakes and Self-Assessment Benchmarks (SAB)

Mock Question for UPSC Mains GS2

"Constitutionally, the American Senate is the more powerful than Indian Rajya Sabha"- Analyze. (150 words, 10 marks.)

“संवेधानिक रूप से अमरीकी सेनेट भारतीय राज्यसभा से ज्यादा शक्तिशाली है.” परिक्षण कीजिए.
GSM2 Syllabus Relevance: Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.

Introduction (Origin)

  • There are three organs of government- judiciary, executive and legislature. (this is too long introduction)
  • Both US and Indian constitution provide for bicameral legislature (द्वि-गृही धारासभा)- their lower houses are known as House of Representatives and Lok Sabha, whereas upper houses are known as Senate and Rajya Sabha respectively. OR
  • In bicameral legislature, the upper house is setup to provide representation to the states and to prevent any hasty decisions by the lower house. In USA, the upper house of Congress is known as Senate, whereas in India such body is called Rajya Sabha.

American Senate

Body#1: Upperhouse’s power against Lowerhouse

US Senate Indian Rajya Sabha
Joint sessions of upper and lower house only for ceremonial purpose for Presidential address. No voting is taken. To resolve deadlock between two houses, joint session can be organized with voting provisions. Since Lok Sabha has more members than Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha’s stand will prevail.
In Joint sessions of both houses, the chairman of Senate (Vice President of USA) will preside. It proves that even in symbolic gesture and protocol, the upper house is ranked higher than lower house. The Speaker of Lok Sabha will preside.
Budget: finance bill, appropriation bill originate in the lower house but must be passed by Senate separately. Rajya Sabha doesn’t have power to reject moneybill, at maximum it can delay the moneybill for 14 days.
2 members from each state x 50 = 100 members. No nominated members. Vice president gets tie breaker vote. So, executive can influence only 1 vote in the Rajya Sabha- that too only during the tie. Rajya Sabha: states representation according to population, 12 nominated by the President. Vice president has tie-break vote. So, executive can influence total 13 votes.  

Body#2: Upperhouse’s power against Executive

US Senate Indian Rajya Sabha
  • Appointment: US Constitution Article II Section2: President shall appoint officers of the United States “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.
  • Therefore, US Secretary of State, Treasury, US Judges, attorneys, ambassadors, chairmen of regulatory bodies such as American RBI (US Federal Reserve), American SEBI (Securities and Exchange CommissionSEC), even military appointments and promotions have to be confirmed by Senate.
  • Senate influences executive by extracting promises from above nominees / future regulators. Hence letter of recommendation from Senator helps getting jobs and admissions both in public and private sector.
  • Rajya Sabha can authorize parliament to create new All India services but it cannot usurp the power of UPSC to hold unpredictable exams for the said jobs.
  • For Judges appointment, there is SCCollegium system. Rajya Sabha plays no role.
  • Foreign Policy: Senate must advise and ratify the treaties negotiated by the President. (US Constitution Article II Section2)
  • Treaties are ratified by the Union Cabinet (Executive). Example, Paris Climate deal, WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
  • Parliament comes into picture, if only a law must be passed to implement the treaty in India.
  • Impeachment: Lower house bring charges and accusations. Senate investigation trial, 2/3rd majority: removal. In other words, only Senate can act as Judge & Jury.
  • India either house can bring charge, and the other house investigates.

These many points more than sufficient. Let’s conclude

Conclusion

  • (for 250 Words answer) American federalism is a result of the agreement among the states. Therefore, to provide adequate strength / effective checks and balances to the states against the Union Executive, their senate is given more powers than any upper house in the world -including Rajya Sabha of India. OR
  • (for 150 words answer) Thus from the above features, it is evident that US Senate is much powerful than any upper house in the world -including the Rajya Sabha of India.

Mistakes and Self-Assessment Benchmarks (SAB)

Parameter Marks Benchmarks
Introduction and Conclusion 0-1-2
  • if both introduction and conclusion written, and introduction contains the word ‘bicameral’ and / or ‘upper house’, then give yourself +2 marks.
Body 0 to 4 marks
  • 4 marks if minimum four powerdifferences are explained.
  • However, in most of the mock papers that I’ve evaluated, candidates can give mostly three points 1) senate has 100 members 2) confirms appointments 3) equal powers in money bill. So, for that much content, give yourself 3 marks.
Logical structure -1 to 0
  • (1) if spent many words in proving how Indian Rajya Sabha is weaker than Indian Lok Sabha, instead of keeping the spotlight on Senate.
  • (1) if mentioned Senate has 2 members from each state, without linking how that makes it powerful than Indian Rajya Sabha.
  • (1) if compared American Constitution with India Constitution instead of comparing their upper houses respectively.
Concise expression -1 to 0
  • N/A
Language -1 to 0
  • N/A
Total Marks out of 10 0 to 6
  • After adding / subtracting above parts, don’t give yourself less than zero and not more than six marks.

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