Even six decades after independence, an outsider examining India’s governing structures would be struck by their similarity to many British institutions. The similarity is not accidental. The British slowly developed parliamentary and federal institutions of government in the ways outlined in Chapter 1. These were not fully democratic or fully federal institutions but they were consistent with the logic of a parliamentary system. The elite that wrote the constitution gained their first experience of government in a system designed by British politicians and administrators convinced of the efficiency of their own institutions. Although the 1950 constitution has been amended 94 times since independence, its basic structure remains the same. What has changed more markedly, however, has been the society within which it operates. Contemporary India is a very different country than it was at the time of independence. These changes are discussed in more detail in the following chapters. Many of these changes have affected how the governing structures of India now operate; for example, the presidency, a largely ceremonial post, has grown in importance in recent years. The formal institutions have shown remarkable durability. The informal conventions that shape political behaviour have changed and contributed to a political system that operates rather differently than it did in the 1950s.
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