In Times Now interview, PM Modi erred in calling himself "head of state"

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New Delhi, June 28: Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an error while speaking to Times Now Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami in an exclusive interview on Monday (June 27).

Answering Goswami's query on the country's foreign policy in which the PM has taken a proactive stand, Modi said it was important for the world to know the "head of the state" [watch 8.54 in video below] and it would have been baffling had the outsiders banked on the media's feedback and think who the real Modi is. He said it would have caused damage to the country and he didn't want "Modi" to become an obstacle on its way. [What PM Modi told Arnab Goswami]

narendra modi

"I, hence, had to meet those people myself and that's the reason why I became proactive in foreign policy," Modi told Goswami. [Comparison of Modi's interview to Times Now: May 2014 vs June 2016]

Difference between 'head of state' and 'head of government'

However, he erred in saying the "head of the state" for the Prime Minister of India is the head of the government---the de facto political leader---while the President is the head of the state, which is more of a ceremonial position.

Here is what the Constitution of India says about the President and Prime Minister of India:

The executive powers of the Union shall be vested in the president and shall be exercised either directly or through subordinate officers, in accordance with the Constitution.

Article 53(1)

The executive power of the Union shall be vested in the President and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with this Constitution.

Article 74(1)

There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice: Provided that the President may require the council of Ministers to reconsider such advice, either generally or otherwise, and the President shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such reconsideration.

Article 75(1)

The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.

In parliamentary democracies, head of government is the real head while head of state is a nominal head

In parliamentary democracies including constitutional monarchies, the head of government is the real political leader of the state and is answerable to the legislature. Although there exists a formal reporting relationship to a head of state, the latter usually acts as a nominal head who may act only as a chief executive on some occasions. India, which adopted its system from Westminster, has its president or the head of the state as the figurehead as like the monarch while the prime minister, elected by the people, is in the actual control.

In presidential systems, however, the head of the state is also the head of the government. Example: President Barack Obama of the United States.

 

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