Published On: Sun, Sep 5th, 2010

Historical, Political, Constitutional and Diplomatic Terms

Amendment : An alteration made in a law or constitution.

By-election : It is an election to a seat in a local body or a legislature, rendered vacant during the normal life of an elected body.

Brain Drain : It is a term applied to the exodus of technicians and scientists to other countries where they get more and better opportunities.

Bicameral System : The form of legislature which has two Chambers or Houses as opposed to unicameral system having only one House of Legislature.

Bureaucracy : The form of government which is conducted by officials, who are specially trained for the services. These officers control the policy of the government; they are responsible only to their chiefs and not to the public.

Buffer State : A smaller state lying between potentially hostile larger states, lessening the risk of direct war between them. Poland was a buffer State between Germany and Russia; Belgium is a buffer State between France and Germany.

Civil Disobedience : Non-cooperation with government, without resorting to violence. This form of agitation was adopted by the Indian National Congress to secure independence.

Collective Security : The principle, formerly laid down in the League of Nations, that all nations should collectively guarantee the security of each individual nation. NATO and the Warsaw Pact are examples of collective security organisations. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved on March 31, 1991.

Communalism : The political theory or trend of thought which insists too much upon the rights and interests of a particular religion, as distinguished from those of the nation at large. The 1991 elections were marked by appeal to communal sentiments.

Communism : It may mean either the type of society in which right to property is vested in the community, every individual receiving what he needs and working according to his capacity, or it may mean the revolutionary movement which seeks to achieve that type of society by overthrowing the capitalist system and establishing a dictatorship of the  proletariat. Modern communism has its basis in Marxism, as developed by the Russian
revolutionary leader, Lenin(1870-1924). Communism now survives only in China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba. However, in India the communists still enjoy a clout.

Carte Blanche : Blank cheque, i.e., to give full powers.

Casting Vote : It is the deciding vote of the Chairman, when there is a tie, i.e., equality of votes.

Constituent Assembly : An assembly of elected representatives convened for the purpose of framing a constitution of the country.

Coup d’etat : A political strategy or action resulting in the change of government, generally initiated by military personnel. A sudden change of government brought about by force. It is different from a revolution which involves the participation of the masses.

Curfew : An order under which people have to be indoors within certain hours. Such restrictive orders are imposed when there is apprehension of breach of peace.

Cabinet Government : The form of government in which the Executive, a Council of Ministers, is responsible to the legislature. It is also called parliamentary system.

Conscription : Compulsory enlistment for the defence services; there can be conscription of labour as well.

Coalition : An alliance of political parties for a special purpose. A coalition or coalition government is formed either to deal with a national crisis or when no party is able to secure an absolute majority in the legislature.

Cold War : A state of apparent peace between two powerful countries or blocs, but they show malice against each other through press, radio, etc. The term was first used by Bernard M. Maruch while addressing the South Carolina Legislative Body, on April 16, 1947. It is often used to describe the relationship that had existed between the Soviet Union and the Western Powers since 1947. The break up and weakening of USSR resulted in virtual end of Cold War and has resulted in a unipolar world dominated by the United States of America. Its writ runs ,large allover the world, in early 1998 Iraq was almost invaded by an American led rag tag alliance.

Democracy : The form of government run by the people or their elected representatives. Abraham Lincoln defined it as “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Deadlock : A situation in which further negotiations are impossible.

Dictatorship : A form of government in which all power rests in a single individual or the system of one-man rule, as the rule of Hitler in pre-war Germany, and that of Mussolini in pre-war Italy.

Doctrine of Lapse : The East India Company laid down a principle that on the death of an Indian ruling prince without a direct descendant, the British Government could refuse to sanction the adoption of an heir and declare the dominions of the deceased as lapsed to the sovereign power. It was initiated and acted upon by Lord Dalhousie. It was one of the causes of the national rising of 1857.

Fourth Estate : It applies to the press, first used by Edmund Burke.

Franchise : The right to vote. It is also called suffrage.

Fascism : A nationalist, anti-communist and authoritarian political system evolved by Mussolini and his followers in Italy after 1922. Italian fascism served as a model to similar movements in other countries including Germany where it assumed the form of Nazism.

Feudalism : Asocial and political system existing in Europe during the Middle Ages, based on the relationship between lord and vassal.

Fifth Column : It applies to those people who work secretly against the interests of their own country by carrying on. false propaganda or by other means; they are sympathisers of the enemy.

Fundamental Rights : The basic rights of the citizen of a state generally embodied in modern constitutions, such as the right to property, the right to freedom of speech, the right to freedom of movement, the right to freedom of religion. etc.

Federal Government : It s a form of government in which regions {called provinces, states, etc.) enjoy autonomy in certain spheres. The regions are not at the mercy of the Centre, as is the case in a unitary government.

Glasnost : A term coined by Mr. Gorbacliev. It implied more openness of the society and freeing the Media from the overwhelming control of the state.

Guillotine : A method adopted in a legislature to cut short discussion on a bill by fixing time for taking votes.

Habeas Corpus : A writ requiring the authorities to produce a person/prisoner before a judge or court in person and state the reasons for his being in prison.

Hegemony : Dominant influence, especially of one State over others.

Hot Line : The direct telephone and teleprinter link set up in August, 1963 between Kremlin (U.S.S.R.) and the Pentagon (Washington) to avoid accidental war. Now, any line of speedy communication ready for an emergencys called as hot line.

Iron Curtain : A term coined by Sir Winston Churchill, applied to such countries as did not give other countries any information concerning their internal affairs. The term was applied to Soviet Russia and her satellites. Similar action by china was termed as “Bamboo Curtain.”

Mandate : A system of coronial administration adopted after World War I by the League of Nations. The mandated territories were the areas taken away from Germany and Turkey after World War I and handed over to the victorious powers for purposes of administration.

Marxism : The system of thought developed by Karl Marx, (1818-83), a German Jew, along with Engels. According to him, the State, throughout history has been advice for the exploitation of the masses by a dominant class; class-struggls has been the main agency of historical change; the capitalist State contains the germs of its own destruction; a revolution is inevitable; and after a transitional. period, known as the dictatorship of the proletariat, a stateless and classless society will come into being.

Manifesto: Declaration of future programme and policy by a political party on the eve of a general election.
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Mid-Term Election : An election held in between the period of general election, when the legislature is dissolved on account of the failure of the constitutional machinery or otherwise the government wants to seek a fresh vote of confidence on its policies. Mid-term elections have now become regular features on account of political instability. Mid-term elections to the Lok Sabha were held in 1970, 1977, 1979,1991, 1997, 1999 and Feb. 2004.

Nationalisation: To convert (land, railways, industries, etc.) into national property or undertakings by the state. All socialist States have resorted to nationalisation to give workers better wages, and to get more revenues for the State. Life lnsurance Companies in India were nationalised in 1955. Major banks were nationalised on July 19, 1969. In 1971, General lnsurance was also nationalised. Coal mines were nationalised in 1973.

Nazism : The doctrine propounded by Hitler in his book Mein Kampf which aimed at aggressive nationalism; it glorified the German race and preached its superiority believed in anti-semetism. It culminated in World War ll.

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