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Everything about Rajya Sabha : How it works and How are members selected?

The Rajya Sabha, also known as the Council of States, has a prominent role in the Indian parliamentary system.

As the higher chamber of the legislative branch, it functions as a permanent institution that represents the various states and union territories of India.

In 2023, the maximum membership of the organization is 250.

Out of these, 238 members are elected by the legislatures of the states and union territories using single transferable votes through open ballots.

Additionally, the president has the authority to nominate 12 members based on their contributions to art, literature, science, and social service.

As per Article 80 of the Indian Constitution, the maximum authorized capacity is 250, with 238 members elected and 12 members appointed.

The current sitting capacity of the Rajya Sabha is at 245, with 233 seats being elected and 12 seats being appointed.

This number of seats was established after the implementation of the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganization) Act, 2019. The Rajya Sabha has the authority and flexibility to fill up to 250 seats as per its own judgment and needs.

Read the complete Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganization) Act, 2019 here :

The members of the group serve for staggered terms of six years, with approximately one-third of the 238 individuals eligible for election every two years, namely in even-numbered years.

Unlike the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha is a perpetual chamber and therefore not susceptible to dissolution.

Similarly to the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha can also be prorogued by the president.

The Rajya Sabha holds equal legislative authority as the Lok Sabha, except in matters of supply when the Lok Sabha has superior powers.

In situations when there is contradictory legislation, a combined session of the two houses can be convened, with the Lok Sabha having a stronger sway due to its bigger membership.

The vice president of India, now Jagdeep Dhankhar, serves as the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha and presides over its sessions. The deputy chairman, elected from the members of the house, manages the daily affairs of the house while the chairman is not present. The inaugural session of the Rajya Sabha took place on 13 May 1952.

Everything about Rajya Sabha : Key Influencers in Indian Politics & Their Impact - The Hard News Daily
Jagdeep Dhankar – The Hard News Daily

The Rajya Sabha convenes in the chamber named after itself in Parliament House located in New Delhi.

Starting on 18 July 2018, the Rajya Sabha now has the capability to provide simultaneous interpretation in all 22 scheduled languages of India.

The Rajya Sabha sessions are broadcasted in real-time by Sansad TV, which is located within the Parliament premises.

While the Lok Sabha can be dissolved, the Rajya Sabha remains a permanent institution, providing stability and continuity in the process of making laws and governing the country.

The members of the Rajya Sabha have a significant impact on legislation, as well as the political narrative and power relations in the country.

Rajya Sabha members have a significance that goes beyond their legislative duties. They serve as an intermediary between the federal government and the states, upholding a distribution of authority and guaranteeing that local concerns are considered in national decision-making.

Their function is crucial in the federal form of Indian governance, where state representation in national decision-making processes is indispensable.

Let’s get to examine the identity of these members, the process by which they are selected, and the substantial influence they exert on Indian politics.

Structure of the Rajya Sabha

Everything about Rajya Sabha : Key Influencers in Indian Politics & Their Impact - The Hard News Daily
Parliament of India

As already mentioned above, the Rajya Sabha consists of a maximum of 250 members, while the present authorized number is 245.

Out of them, 233 individuals are elected representatives from the states and union territories, which demonstrates the federal organization of the country.

The President of India nominates the remaining 12 members based on their experience and contributions in fields such as science, art, literature, and social service. Some of the well known nominated members by the president of India are – Sachin Tendulkar, Rekha, Lata Mangeshkar, M.S. Swaminathan, Ratan Tata, Javed Akhtar, Mary Kom and many more.

These nominations aim to bring a varied variety of perspectives to the legislative process.

The membership standards for the Rajya Sabha are rigorous. For individuals to be elected as representatives, they must meet certain criteria’s.

Eligibility Criteria for Rajya Sabha Membership

Everything about Rajya Sabha : Key Influencers in Indian Politics & Their Impact - The Hard News Daily

According to Article 84 of the Indian Constitution, the criteria for becoming a member of Parliament, specifically for the Rajya Sabha, are as follows:

  • Must be a citizen of India.
  • Is required to take an oath or make an affirmation as per the format provided in the Third Schedule of the Constitution, overseen by an official designated by the Election Commission.
  • Should be 30 years of age or older.
  • Needs to be elected by the Legislative Assembly of States and Union territories through a single transferable vote system, utilizing proportional representation.
  • Cannot be a declared criminal.
  • Must not be insolvent, meaning they should not be burdened with debts they are unable to repay and should be financially solvent.
  • Should not hold any office of profit under the Government of India.
  • Cannot be declared of unsound mind.
  • Must meet any additional qualifications as prescribed by any law enacted by Parliament.
  • they must be a minimum of 30 years old,
  • have a stable mental state, and
  • not occupy any position that generates income under the government.

This requirement guarantees that the members possess a high level of maturity, expertise, and ability to make valuable contributions to the deliberations and resolutions of the house.

The tenure for Rajya Sabha members is six years, during which one-third of the members retire every two years.

This incremental method enables the Rajya Sabha to maintain an ongoing session, ensuring a constant platform for legislative scrutiny and discussion.

The process of reelecting current members and adding new ones guarantees that the membership of the Rajya Sabha gradually changes, mirroring the dynamic political, social, and economic environment of the nation.

The procedure for electing members 

Everything about Rajya Sabha : Key Influencers in Indian Politics & Their Impact - The Hard News Daily
Rajya Sabha Election 2024: Voting Process, System, And Calculation

The election procedure for Rajya Sabha members differs significantly from that of the Lok Sabha.

The elected members are selected by the elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies and Electoral college of Union Territories using a single transferable vote system, which follows the proportional representation method.

The intricate electoral system is specifically designed to guarantee a just and impartial representation of states in the upper chamber, considering both their population and political alliances.

Nominated members, however, are nominated directly by the President of India.

This procedure does not entail electoral competition but is instead based on the individual’s merit and the President’s discretion.

The combination of elected and nominated members guarantees that the Rajya Sabha is not just a body that represents different groups, but also one that benefits from the expertise and varied perspectives of its members.

The role and powers of Rajya Sabha members

Everything about Rajya Sabha : Key Influencers in Indian Politics & Their Impact - The Hard News Daily

The Rajya Sabha members possess various crucial functions and powers that have a substantial influence on Indian legislation and government.

Regarding legislative functions, they possess the power to propose, modify, and cast votes on laws, with the exception of money bills, which are exclusively under the jurisdiction of the Lok Sabha.

Nevertheless, they have the authority to propose modifications to financial legislation, which the Lok Sabha has the option to either approve or decline.

This authority guarantees that the Rajya Sabha functions as a chamber for reviewing and amending legislation approved by the Lok Sabha, so ensuring a system of checks and balances.

The financial authority of the Rajya Sabha is very restricted in comparison to the Lok Sabha.

Nevertheless, the members of this group play a vital role in examining and analyzing the yearly budget and financial reports provided by the government.

This involves analyzing different expenditures and policies that impact the economic and well-being of the country.

In addition, members of the Rajya Sabha play a crucial role in the establishment and operation of the Central Government.

The individuals engage in the process of selecting the Vice President of India, who concurrently holds the position of the Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha.

In addition, they have the ability to shape the overall political environment of the country by engaging in discussions and addressing a range of national concerns, so making valuable contributions to the formulation of policies and the functioning of the government.

Rajya Sabha Secretariat Functions

Established under the directive of Article 98 of the Indian Constitution, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat is essential for the smooth operation of the Council of States, ensuring each House of Parliament has its dedicated secretarial staff.

This provision also allows for the creation of roles shared between both Houses, with Parliament holding the authority to legislate on recruitment and service conditions for the secretarial personnel.

Guided by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the Secretariat undertakes a multitude of critical activities to facilitate the effective functioning of the House.

These activities include offering secretarial assistance to the Rajya Sabha, providing members with entitled amenities, supporting the work of various Parliamentary Committees, compiling research and reference materials, handling the recruitment and personnel management within the Secretariat, and documenting as well as publishing the daily proceedings and other significant documents related to the Rajya Sabha’s operations.

At the helm of the Secretariat’s administrative hierarchy is the Secretary-General, a position held with a stature akin to the Cabinet Secretary of the Government of India.

This pivotal role is supported by a team of high-ranking officials, including Secretaries, Additional Secretaries, Joint Secretaries, alongside a dedicated cadre of officers and staff.

Pramod Chandra Mody currently serves as the Secretary-General, leading the Secretariat in fulfilling its constitutional and statutory duties.

A noteworthy recent development in the Rajya Sabha was the redesigning of the uniforms for the marshals in the winter session of 2019, transitioning from traditional Indian attire to modern military-style uniforms in dark navy blue and olive green, complete with caps, marking a significant update in the visual representation of the Rajya Sabha’s ceremonial aspects.

Allocation and Current Composition of Rajya Sabha Representation

Everything about Rajya Sabha : Key Influencers in Indian Politics & Their Impact - The Hard News Daily
Composition of Rajya Sabha

The allocation of seats in the Rajya Sabha, which is the Upper House of Parliament in India, is determined by the population of each state and union territory.

Nevertheless, this distribution does not consistently align with the present population statistics.

As of the 2011 census, Tamil Nadu, with a population of 72 million, is assigned 18 seats, which is more than Bihar with 104 million people and West Bengal with 91 million people, both of which are assigned only 16 seats.

This anomaly arises from historical population trends that have impacted previous distributions.

Furthermore, it should be noted that not all regions in India are afforded the opportunity to have representation in the Rajya Sabha.

Union territories, such as Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Ladakh, and Lakshadweep, which do not have their own legislatures, do not have representatives in the Rajya Sabha.

In order to enhance the diversity of the house, the President of India directly nominates twelve members.

At the commencement of the Indian Constitution on January 26, 1950, the Rajya Sabha was originally intended to consist of 216 members, out of which 12 would be nominated by the President and the remaining 204 would be elected to represent the states.

Gradually, the Constitution has been modified to raise the upper limit of the Rajya Sabha’s membership to 250 individuals.

As per the Representation of People Act, 1951, there are currently 245 members in the composition.

This number consists of 233 representatives from states and union territories, as well as 12 distinguished individuals who have been nominated by the President for their notable achievements in several domains.

The makeup of this group can be expanded up to a maximum of 250 members by making changes to the Act.

Officers in Rajya Sabha

The Leader of the House 

Everything about Rajya Sabha : Key Influencers in Indian Politics & Their Impact - The Hard News Daily
Piyush Goyal during a Rajya Sabha Session

The Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha, referred to as “Rājya Sabhā ke Sadana Netā” in Hindi, is the parliamentary leader of the majority party in the Rajya Sabha.

Usually, this significant position is occupied by a cabinet minister or another minister specifically chosen for the responsibility.

The Leader of the House is primarily responsible for coordinating government meetings and overseeing the government’s legislative agenda in the House.

It is important to mention that the post of the Leader of the House, although crucial for the operation of the Rajya Sabha, is not explicitly mandated by the Constitution of India.

However, the Rules of the Rajya Sabha specify the presence and responsibilities of the committee, emphasizing its procedural importance rather than its constitutional nature.

This role is crucial in ensuring the efficient functioning of the legislative process, facilitating effective communication between the government and the Rajya Sabha, and guiding government policies and legislation through the Upper House of Parliament.

The Leader of the Opposition Everything about Rajya Sabha : Key Influencers in Indian Politics & Their Impact - The Hard News Daily

Mallikarjun Kharge during a Rajya Sabha SessionThe Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, referred to as “Rājya Sabhā ke Vipakṣa ke Netā,” holds a crucial position in India’s parliamentary system.

The status of leading the largest party not in government inside the Upper House was informally acknowledged until 1969.

In 1977, a significant change occurred when the Act was introduced to establish explicit eligibility requirements for this function.

These requirements included being a member of the House, belonging to the main opposition party, and being recognized by the Rajya Sabha Chairperson.

Originally designated by the Congress Party (O) under the leadership of Shyam Nandan Mishra, the position has subsequently played a vital role in examining government policies, especially those impacting minority groups, and engaging in discussions on national security and foreign affairs.

The Leader of the Opposition, with legally set rights and remuneration, plays a crucial role in the Indian democracy by criticizing government policies and advocating for development and security, so ensuring a balanced legislative process.

The impact of Rajya Sabha members on Indian politics

The impact of Rajya Sabha members in Indian politics is both overt and nuanced.

By engaging in legislative discussions, conducting policy assessments, and participating in parliamentary committees, they have the ability to shape and exert influence over national policies and laws.

Their capacity to interrogate and enforce the government’s responsibility guarantees transparency and accountability in governance.

Case studies, such as the examination of the involvement of Rajya Sabha members in the successful enactment of important changes and acts, highlight their considerable impact on crucial legislative determinations.

Moreover, their portrayal of local concerns guarantees that state-specific matters be dealt with on a national scale, fostering equitable regional progress and national cohesion.

When comparing Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members, it is evident that Lok Sabha members are elected directly by the public and are perceived as better representatives of the people’s mandate.

On the other hand, Rajya Sabha members serve longer terms, which ensures stability and continuity in governance. This longer tenure also allows for a more experienced viewpoint in legislative matters.

Obstacles Encountered by Members of the Rajya Sabha

Notwithstanding their substantial position, members of the Rajya Sabha encounter problems and critiques.

An often-cited criticism is that, since they are not elected directly by the people, they may not always accurately reflect the current public attitude or mandate.

Moreover, the procedure of political appointments and the distribution of seats according to party influence might give rise to accusations of bias and absence of autonomy.

One additional difficulty is the perceived subordinate position to the Lok Sabha, particularly in subjects related to finances and budget allocations.

This can impede their efficacy in shaping economic policies.

In addition, the efficacy of the Rajya Sabha as a forum for reviewing is occasionally doubted when laws are approved swiftly without meticulous examination.

The future of the Rajya Sabha in Indian politics.

The trajectory of the Rajya Sabha in Indian politics is expected to be shaped by current deliberations and suggested reforms.

These encompass deliberations on augmenting the authority of the Rajya Sabha, strengthening the representation of states, and fostering a more transparent and impartial electoral process.

The implementation of proposed modifications, such as the introduction of a proportional representation system or the provision of increased financial powers, has the potential to greatly influence the function and efficacy of Rajya Sabha members.

Implementing these reforms would provide a more equitable and fair representation of the many interests and regions of India, while reinforcing the federal structure and democratic values of the nation.

Ultimately, members of the Rajya Sabha have a crucial impact on the Indian parliamentary system by exerting influence over legislation, advocating for regional interests, and maintaining checks and balances in governance.

Although they have encountered obstacles, their impact on Indian politics is unquestionable.

As India progresses, the significance of the Rajya Sabha and its members is expected to increase, mirroring the shifting dynamics and intricacies of Indian democracy.

References :

  1. https://www.india.gov.in/my-government/indian-parliament/rajya-sabha#:~:text=The%20Rajya%20Sabha%20should%20consist,is%20not%20subject%20to%20dissolution.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajya_Sabha
  3. https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/the-rajya-sabha/
  4. https://unacademy.com/content/wbpsc/study-material/polity/composition-of-rajya-sabha/
  5. https://knowindia.india.gov.in/profile/the-union/legislature.php
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_current_members_of_the_Rajya_Sabha
  7. https://byjusexamprep.com/upsc-exam/rajya-sabha
  8. https://www.drishtiias.com/printpdf/parliament-part-i
  9. https://www.clearias.com/rajya-sabha/
  10. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Rajya-Sabha
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