Competitive Exams: Political Science Study Material: Glossary P

Political Science Glossary: P

Panchayati-Raj

These are the institutions of local self-Government at village level. In India a three tier structure of the Panchayati Raj-Gram Panchayat Samiti and Gram Sabha at village level, Panchayat at the Block level and Zila Panchayat at District level-has been adopted. The purpose behind establishment of these institutions is to ensure participation of the people at the lower levels in the development process. The suggestions for the establishment of these institutions was made for the first time, in 1957 by the Balwant Rai Mehta Committee. A new system of Panchayati Raj has been enacted and implemented through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992. The new provisions of the Constitution give the Constitutional recognition to these institutions and endow them with more powers and autonomy.

Paramilitary Forces

Paramilitary forces are those uniformed, armed and disciplined bodies that exist in most countries to carry out internal security and policing functions which are beyond the capacity of ordinary police forces. Frequently the boundaries between what would be considered an ordinary police force and a paramilitary force are very blurred. Nevertheless, most countries have found it necessary to retain a force to cope with, for example, serious rioting and disorderly demonstrations, equipped for and allowed to use greater force than even police forces that are normally armed.

Parliamentary System

This is a form of Government in which the executive is responsible for its policies to the Legislature and the former can be removed from the office by passing a vote of no confidence by the popular House of the Legislature. The other features of the Parliamentary form of Government are, provision for two executives-one nominal (President or King) and another real (the Cabinet), collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers to the Parliament, indefinite term of office of the executive, close relations between the executive and the Parliament etc.

Partyless Democracy

It is assumed that the political parties are essential for the functioning of the democracy, but it is also true that the parties are responsible for the evils of the democracy. In a partyless democracy, elections are not contested on the party lines but on the individuals basis. Tai Prakash Narain has propagated the idea of a partyless democracy in order to free the democracy from the evils of the political parties.

Pentagon

This is the name of the building (given as per its design) where the Defence Ministry of the USA is housed. The name Pentagon has become synonymous with the defence department of the USA.

Personal Laws

It refers to those laws which are community specific and are based on the cultural and religious evolution of the people. This law regulates the personal laws of the people e. g. Marriage, divorce, adoption, succession and inheritance of property.

Perestroika

This is a term of Russian language meaning ‘Reconstruction’ The term was popularised by Mikhail Gorbachev, the President of the former Soviet Union, to signify the policy of reconstruction in economic and political system of the country. Perestroika along with ‘Glasnost’ (openness) were the twin principles of the proposed reforms of the Soviet Union. However, the new policy of reform led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Personality Cult

It refers to an unqualified loyalty and faithfulness displayed by the people towards an individual or a leader due to his personal qualities. Gandhi, Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Indira Gandhi, etc. Enjoyed the status of a personality cult among the Indian people. However, personality cult is not considered good for a healthy democracy as it gives an undue attention to the personality of the leaders and diverts attention from the real issues and critical appraisals.

Picketing

It is a form of Gherao in which a group of persons sits on Dharna in front of an office or establishment to prevent normal activities of the establishment in order to press for the acceptance of its demands. During the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930s, Congress workers held picketing before the shops selling foreign goods and demanded their closure.

Ping Pong Diplomacy

It refers to that practice of the Chinese foreign policy in which it invites the Table Tennis'teams

of the foreign countries in order to start the cordial dialogues and develop friendly relations with those countries. In other words, it means using the sports as a tool to achieve the objectives of the foreign policy.

Plebiscite

It means the opinion of the people on an issue, taken by the Government in order to take a decision about an important matter. For example, Pakistan is demanding a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir to decide whether the residents of that State would like to stay with India or with Pakistan.

Plenary Power

This means the absolute, unquestioned and uncontrolled power. Through the 24th Constitutional Amendment, the Parliament tried to assume plenary power but the Supreme Court, under the concept of the ‘Basic Structure’ of the Constitution, has negated the attempt of the Parliament. According to the Supreme Court, all the Legislations of the Parliament are subject to the Judicial review by the Court.

Plebiscitary Democracy

Plebiscites are referendums, a system for allowing the whole of an electorate directly to give their opinion on some political question. The most successful and long-term experience is that of Switzerland, where a host of ordinary policy questions are routinely put to the electorate, following a tradition dating to the 16th centuiy politics. One quite common use has been to hold a plebiscite for the population of a territory over which two countries have rival claims to sovereignty.

Pluralism

Pluralism is both a technical term in political science, and an evaluative word for a form of government, often used as a defence of what might otherwise be called liberal democracy or representative democracy. Technically a pluralist political system is one that has several centres of power and authority, rather than one in which the state is the sole controller of people's actions. Thus medieval society in Europe, where the monarchy and the church were co-equal rulers in their different spheres, and where craft corporations and feudal landlords also had a claim

Point of Order

It is an extra-ordinary process which when raised, has the effect of suspending the business before the House and the member who is on his legs gives way. This is meant to assist the Presiding Officer in enforcing the Rules, Directions and Provisions of the Constitution for regulating the business of the House.

Polarization

The excessive feeling of groupism and unity by some people with respect to some ideology, issue or matter is called the polarization. In politics, political parties, more often, get polarised around some issue or against a political party or ruling party. For example, during the National Emergency, all the opposition parties were polarised against the Congress party and formed a new party known as the Janata party.

Politburo

Technically the Politburo, the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) (or other communist party organized along Soviet lines), was just a committee no more than, for example, the National Executive Committee of the British Labour Party. In practice the Politburo was as near as the USSR came to having a cabinet, a body continuously directing policy and making all urgent, and many day-to-day, decisions. Its exact role and power, as well as its membership, varied enormously over the period from 1917 to 1991.

Political Sabotage

When a political group or the Government tries to harm or finish its opponents through the conspiracies and clandestine activities, it is called a political sabotage.

Power politics

It means the participation in political activities with the sole objective of capturing the political power and showing disregard to public interest or the people's welfare. Mahatma Gandhi was highly critical of the power politics and advocated a politics based on morality. But in terms of the modern political analysis, all politics is essentially a power politics.

Privy Purse

After the independence, many Princely States were merged with the Indian Union on the condition that the Government of India will pay some fixed amount of money on annual basis to the rulers of such Princely States. The payment of this money is called the privy purse. The provision of the privy purse was made in order to compensate the rulers of the Princely States for the loss of revenue suffered by them due to the merger with India. The payment of the privy purse was stopped from 1971 by the Government.

Presidential Government This form of government is just the opposite of the Parliamentary form of government. In this form of government, the executive is not responsible to the Legislature for its policies and programmes. The term of office of the executive is fixed. There is no distinction between the real and the nominal executives and the executive does not enjoy a close relation with the Legislature. The United States of America provides an ideal example of the Presidential form of Government.

Proletariat Class

In Marxist ideology, the Proletariat class means a class of the poor persons (workers, labourers) which is deprived of the ownership of the means of production and distribution. The Proletariat class earns its livelihoods by working as labourers in the factories and industries owned by the Bourgeoise class (capitalists). They are subject to perpetual exploitation by the capitalists. Because of conflict of interest, there is continuous class struggle between the Proletariat class and the Bourgeoisie class.

Proportional Representation

This is a system of electoral representation in which every party wins seats in election in proportion to the votes polled to the party in election. For example, if a party gets 11% of the votes in an election of a Legislature, it would get 11 % of the seats in the Legislature. This system is adopted to eliminate the evils of ‘first past the post’ system (which is prevalent in India) in which the candidate who gets highest number of votes is declared elected and the votes polled to other candidates/parties are wasted. Thus the total seats won by a party in a House are disproportionate to the number of votes polled to it.

Protocol

The code of political conduct adopted by the nations in relations to each other is called the protocol. However, in general terms, protocol refers to any code of conduct adopted with respect to the treatment of the public functionaries.