Competitive Exams: Political Science Study Material: Glossary C

Political Science Glossary: C

Cabinet Government

This is another name of the parliamentary form of Government in which real executive powers lie with the cabinet which is responsible to the popular House of the Parliament. The Government is, however, run in the name of the nominal executive or Head of the state. Since, the ruling party has the majority in the popular House, the cabinet occupies a dominant position in the Government. Hence it is also called the cabinet Government.


At its most simple and value-free, the term capitalism is used to describe any economic system where there is a combination of private property, a relatively free and competitive market, and a general assumption that the bulk of the workforce will be engaged in employment by private (non-governmental) employers engaged in producing whatever goods they can sell at a profit. Capitalism has its own ideology and economic theory, like all politico-economic systems. The original theory of capitalist was essentially that an entirely free market of small-scale entrepreneurs, hiring individual labourers at the minimum possible cost, would produce the maximum output, at the cheapest possible price given the cost of the other inputs necessary for production. This is often called the ‘perfect competition model’ of economics.

Casting Vote

In case of equality of votes in a House on a matter, the decisive vote cast by the Chairman or the Speaker, as the case may be, is called, casting vote.

Censure Motion

This is a motion moved by the Opposition against the Government or a Minister criticising its policies and programmes on the floor of the House. In the censure motion, the specific cause of censuring the Government or a Minister has to be mentioned. The passing of censure motion by the House means lack of confidence in the Government and thus the ruling party opposes the passing of such motion in the House.


In the social field, it means a tendency of showing excessive loyalty to other men and prejudice against the women. In political terms it stands for excessive feeling of nationalism or patriotism towards one's nation or a cause. On the other hand it also means showing hatred and bellicose tendency towards other nations and societies.

Civil Disobedience

This refers to the practice of peaceful and nonviolent opposition of laws and policies of the Government by the people and willingly inviting and suffering the punishment attached to such an opposition. This is, actually, the opposition of unjust laws and policies of the Government through moral force. During the National Movement, Mahatma Gandhi launched the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930 to oppose certain laws of the British Government. It is said that Gandhiji was influenced by the ideas of Henry Thoreau on civil disobedience.

Civil Law

Civil law can have two distinct meanings. One meaning, in Anglo-American usage, refers to the continental European tradition of ‘code law’ which is often called civil, or even ‘civilian’ law, as distinct from the common law so important in the Anglo-American tradition. The prime distinction is between the gradual accretion of precedents, statutes, rulings and even traditional legal customs which characterizes common law, and the conception, not entirely accurate, of civil law consisting of formal rules deliberately created, codified and passed by a legislative body.

Civil Liberties

Civil liberties are freedoms or rights which are thought to be especially valuable in themselves and vital to the functioning of a liberal and democratic society. Emphases vary, but most lists of basic civil liberties will include freedom of speech, freedom of religion and of thought, freedom of movement, freedom of association, the right to a fair trial and freedom of the person. These rights and liberties are essential protections against the arbitrary acts of government and are fundamental to free political association.

Civil Rights

Civil rights are those rights which are, or which it is argued should be, protected constitutionally or legally as fundamental rights that everyone should enjoy, irrespective of his or her status.

They fall essentially into two categories: Basic human rights to fair and decent treatment for the individual; and political rights which are seen as vital for a healthy and liberal society, whether or not they are actually desired by many people.

Civil Service

The civil service of a country is its public administration, the body of men and women employed by the state to implement policy and apply the laws and regulations made by the executive and legislature. It usually also includes a small elite group of senior public officers who help the official political leaders to draft laws and translate policies into practical forms. All governments rely on a civil service of some sort, but finding a clear operational definition that distinguishes the public administrators from the politicians is often extremely difficult.

Civil Society

Civil society was central to the work of some of the most important political thinkers from the 17th century onwards. Among others, Hobbes, Locke and even Hegel distinguished between the state and civil society, that is the organized society over which the state rules. Such a distinction is not entirely valid, since the state is itself part of society. However, we are aware that, as well as institutions bound up with formal authority and political control, there exists a set of interlinked and stable social institutions which have much influence on, or control over, our lives.


Coalitions are groupings of rival political units in the face of a common enemy; they occur in situations where protection from that enemy, or the furtherance of some shared goal, overrides differences and potential conflicts between the members of the coalition. Coalitions usually occur in modern parliaments when no single political party can muster a majority of votes. Two or more parties, who have enough elected members between them to form a majority, may then be able to agree on a common programme that does not require too many drastic compromises with their individual policies, and can proceed to form a government.


The concept of co-existence signified the principles of mutual recognition by the nations, of each others identity and existence and the equality of nations in international relations. The idea of peaceful co-existence was one of the five principles called ‘Panchsheel’ which were agreed upon by China and India in 1954 to guide their foreign policies. In fact, the principle of coexistence is the cornerstone of the modern international relations, without which the simultaneous existence of a variety of small and big nations would not be possible in the civilised world.

Cold War

The cold war is a condition of hostility between the two nations or the groups of nations, where both engage in vicious propaganda against each other at various levels. Though the actual military confrontation is absent during the cold war, the relations between the two groups are so much characterised by hostility and mistrust that it may lead to an actual war at anytime. The tension between the capitalist bloc led by the USA. And the communist bloc led by Russia during 1950s and 1960s was the result of ongoing cold war between the two blocs. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the communist bloc in 1991, the cold war had come to an end.


Colonialism is a condition of subjugation and rule of a country by an external colonial country. The subject nation is the colony of the controlling power. Under the condition of the colonialism, the external colonial power holds total control over the polity, economy and culture of the subject nation and exploits the same for its own benefits. For example, India was subject to the British colonialism before 1947 for a long period. As a result of national movements in the subject countries, almost all colonies gained independence after the second world war and thus colonialism in its classical form had come to an end.

Common Law

Common law is the name usually given to the main system of laws and legal practices in England and Wales, most of North America, and other countries that were once part of the British Empire. It is the legal system that developed after the Norman conquest of England, based initially on judicial interpretation of local customs, on judicial and royal decisions in important cases, and on the rare acts of formal legislation contained in royal statutes.


A society characterized by communalism is one in which ethnicity, language group, religion or other identification largely circumscribes the entire life of the subculture in question. In such a society people will not only marry, reside, speak and carry out their entire private life inside their subculture are likely to exist, as in the linguistically-defined Belgian party system. States may provide for separate education and broadcasting structures to mirror the subcultures, as in the Netherlands where the structures are defined by religion. This refers to a strong feeling of belonging to a community as distinct from and superior to other communities and nations. This feeling of community based on religion is made the basis of advancing the economic and political interests. In practical sense, the uses of religion for non-religious objectives is called Communalism. Communalism is the bane of Indian politics as it leads to polarization of different communities and subsequent tensions and conflict among these communities.


Communism can mean one of two things: a theoretical ideal found in the writings of Marx, or the actual governing principles of the self-described communist states in the modern world. When used, for example, in the communist parties of France, Italy, Britain, etc. it has typically referred to a combination of Marxist ideals and support for the communist governments. Clearly the collapse of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1991, hitherto the leading party, must have severe repercussions on communist parties elsewhere. As far as Marxist theory goes, communism is a slightly shadowy state in which private property has been abolished, equality reigns, and the state has ‘withered away’ because all men live in harmony and co-operation, without classes or any social divisions requiring the exercise of authority. This term communism stands for the ideology, propounded by Karl Marx and later modified and practiced by Lenin in Russia and Maotse-tung in China.


Condominium refers to an arrangement where two countries simultaneously exercise sovereignty over a country, which is not independent. For example, sometimes back, Sudan was subject to the condominium of the Britain and Egypt.


A confederacy, or confederation, is a political system originating in an agreement made between several independent entities that wish to retain a high degree of autonomy. The idea of confederacies is usually contrasted with that of federalism, which also involves independent entities but in which the central authority has a considerable degree of power which may be capable of expansion, for example through interpretation of the federal constitution. In a confederacy, by contrast, certain specified powers are surrendered by the component units to the central government, and all other powers remain with the original states.

Calling Attention

It is a notice by which a member, with prior permission of the Speaker, calls the attention of a Minister to any matter of urgent public importance. The Minister may make a brief statement or ask for some time-an hour or a day-for the reply.

The ‘Calling Attention’ procedure does not exist in the Rajya Sabha, which has, instead the ‘Motion of Papers’

Care-taker Government

A Government during the inter-regnum comes as soon as the Council of Ministers goes out of the office. Usually, the outgoing Government is allowed to continue in the office and run the Government. This Care-taker Government lasts till a new Government, after the elections, takes charge. There are certain moral restrictions on the legislative powers of this Government and it is supposed not to take any major policy decisions. However, the President may refuse to accept any such Bills, if passed by a caretaker Government. For example, in 1996 the then President Dr. S. D. Sharma refused to give assent to the Christian Quota Bill passed by the Caretaker Government of P. V. Narasimha Rao.

Coalition Government

The Government formed by two or more political parties, with some common goals to be achieved. It may or may not enjoy the confidence of the Legislature on its own. The present Manmohan Singh Government is a coalition Government.


Conventions are those unwritten practices which are regarded legally binding on the three organs of the State (Legislature, Judiciary and Executive). For example, the President, by convention, invites the largest political party in the Lok Sabha after a fresh election to form a Government at the Centre.

Categories of the citizen who can vote by post

Civil servants on duty. Defence personnel posted in the forward areas. Members of the diplomatic missions and their family members. Persons detained under the preventive detention. Any person authorized so by the Election Commission.

Central Services and All-India Services

The Central Services is an expression referring to certain services under the Union, maintained on an All-India basis. They are Indian Foreign Service, Indian Audit and Accounts Services, Indian Customs and Excise Services and the like:

On the other hand, the expression All-India Services is used in the Constitution to indicate only ‘Indian Administrative Service (IAS),’ Tndian Police Service ‘(IPS) and’ Indian Forest Service' (IFS). The Parliament is empowered to create other such services on the recommendation of the Rajya Sabha (Art. 312).

Countermanding and Repoll

The Countermanding means initiating the whole election afresh, while the Repoll means the reelection for certain specified booths.


In countries where the executive is responsible to a legislature rather than elected for a fixed term (as in the USA), the support of the legislature is necessary to sustain a government in office. Such support may be tested by a formal vote of no confidence. If the vote goes against the government, it will usually be required to resign.

and then one of two consequences will follow. Either there will be an attempt to form a new government which can command the support of the legislature (a course which is particularly likely where no party has an overall majority), or the legislature will be dissolved and new elections held to ascertain the views of the electorate.


The situation of conflict between two groups, countries or parties is called confrontation. In the situation of confrontation, both the parties adopt contradictory stand or position on some issue or problem. This also includes military confrontation between two nations.


Consensus means general consent arrived at by many persons or parties on some principles or issues. In modern democracies, the practice of consensus is often used to reach agreement or consent on some controversial problems.

Constitutional Government

A Constitutional Government is that government in which the exercise of authority is limited by the Constitution and it is run on the basis of provisions of the Constitution.

Constitutional Law

Constitutional law refers to the part of a legal system and legal tradition which is directly concerned with interpreting and applying the fundamental rules that define and delimit the powers, rights and duties of governments, other organs of the state, and the citizens. In some cases constitutional law is based on the interpretation of a fixed, binding and usually written formal constitution.


A diplomatic representative of a country appointed in another country to discharge responsibilities with respect to commercial and economic interest of his country is called consuls. The consuls hold a lower rank and position to that of an ambassador.


It means prevention and check of an ideology or the influence of a nation by other country. For example, the USA deployed the strategy of containment to restrict the influence of the communist Russia and China from spreading to the third world countries.


Violent or illegal change or overthrowing of the Government by a group of people is called coup d'etat. The success of coup depends on as to what extent the Government authority has been captured by the group or the people. This leads to the establishment of a new Government in place of the replaced Government. There are many countries in Asia and Africa where successful coup detats have been organised.

Criminal Law

Criminal law describes the part of a legal system which deals with illegal actions, performed by citizens against other citizens or against the state, which are so serious, or so associated with moral turpitude, as to warrant punishment by the state rather than a civil law judgement involving the resolution of a conflict or some kind of restitution.


Curfew is an extraordinary step taken by the Government to impose restrictions on the movements of the people in order to restore law and order in a place. The curfew is imposed for a fixed time or indefinite period and the same is announced to the affected people.