Important Polity Terms for UPSC Preparation

Important Polity terms

Important Polity Terms for UPSC Preparation

Political Science is a pervasive subject in UPSC. The topics from this subject are part of many debates, and it is essential to be well versed with the terms of politics to understand the functionality of the government. To help you understand the complex lingo of politics, IAS ke Funde brings you the most important Polity terms for UPSC preparation. Here is the ultimate list of the terms used in Political Science that can enhance your answer writing. Moreover, having a unique vocabulary helps you convey your knowledge better. 

So let’s start our list of the most important polity terms for UPSC preparation. 

Political Science

First and foremost, we need to understand what Political Science is actually. Political science is the study of politics and the method of operation of the government. It is the responsibility of a data scientist to help people understand the formation and policies of the government. 


It is the right of a government to control a particular area. A sovereign government has full authority to make decisions in the area under their political control. In a non-sovereign government, citizens can approach a higher authority to challenge the decisions made by the government.


Autocracy is a type of government in which there is only a single ruler controlling the area. The decision of the ruler is autonomous, and no one can challenge it. An example of autocracy is the rule of Kim-Jong Un in North Korea. 


A government that is controlled by the voice of the people is called Democracy. The citizens elect the government and the elected representative from each area makes all the political decisions. Hence, it is also known as ‘Representative Democracy’. Democracy is the most prevalent form of government in the world right now. All the major countries, including India, are run by democracy.

Direct Democracy

In a direct democracy, citizens are the prime controller of the actions of the government. All the major decisions regarding laws, budget, etc. are all taken by voting of the citizens of the country. Ancient Athens is an example of Direct Democracy. In the modern world, only Switzerland follows direct democracy by giving significant value to the voice of the people.

Economic Equality

In a society that follows economic equality, everyone gets equal access to the resources with no regard to their contribution to society. It is often debated as an unjust system because most people who contribute more to society do not get the real worth of their efforts. Instead of economic equality, it is more important to provide opportunities to those who contribute less so that they can put some effort to improve their financial condition. 

Important Polity terms

False Consensus

More often than not, we overestimate the validity of our views. False Consensus is the tendency to believe that the view they support is prevalent and valid for everyone else too. For example, you go to the store to buy snacks for your friend friends. You bought chips because you believe that this is the most favoured snack. But when you come home, only one of those friends like the idea of bringing chips. Then you realise that chips aren’t the most liked snack and you were affected by the False Consensus Effect. 


Ideology is the beliefs and ideas supported by an individual or a group of people without any concrete evidence or fact to support that belief. In political science, Ideology is used to refer to political belief systems.


The system in which a small group of people rules a country is called Oligarchy. The ruling group might have gained power due to its wealth, nobility, influence over society, etc. 


Following a political party and its ideologies while completely ignoring other parties or beliefs is known as partisanship. The Partisans rigidly follow a party no matter how weak their ideology is. Partisan politics is conventional in most democratic countries.


It is a process in which the legislature of the state presents a bill before the voters, instead of parliamentary houses, to pass. This process is typical in direct democracy. In the US too, some states pass the laws by Referendum.

Social Equality

Removing all the social barriers of class and discrimination is the base of Social Equality. In a perfect society, every person gets equal rights and freedom.

Concurrent Powers

The powers that can be exercised by both central and state government in an area are called concurrent powers. An example of this would be the power to apply tax, maintain law, and elections, separately by central and state government. 


In a confederation, the central government has no direct control over the state governments. The union of sovereign states forms the government, and the central body can only interfere as much as state government allows. The states are more powerful than the central authority in a Confederation. The Soviet Union from 1922 to 1936 is an example of a confederation.


After a state is put under the direct control of the central government, the state government has no say in the matters related to the state. Devolution is the return of the power to the state government by the central government. It is also known as Decentralization.


Federalism is a system in which the government is formed by a coalition of multiple small independent governments. The power is divided structurally between the central and other governmental units. The central government doesn’t control the states, but the states are not as dominant as in the Confederation system. 

Absolute Majority

In a democracy, when a party gets more than 50% of the total seats in the parliamentary house, it is called Absolute Majority. The victory of the BJP in the Indian parliament in 2014 and 2019 are the absolute majority, for instance. 


Forming a government with the most significant number of votes gained without an absolute majority is called plurality. However, in such cases, a coalition with other parties is formed to make a claim to form the government.

Grants in Aid

Subsidies given by the national government to the state government for the development of the social sector are known as Grants in Aid. The state government will bear the expenses with specialised help from the central government. In India, the north-eastern states (Assam, Tripura, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Sikkim) and the upper Himalayan states (J&K, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand) have the status of Special States, and they get grants in aid from the centre.


The right of the state government to cancel any law that they consider illegitimate is called Nullification. 

Civil Disobedience

The refusal by the citizens to follow the laws or orders of the government in a non-violent and collective way is called Civil Disobedience. Throughout history, there have been a lot of instances of Civil Disobedience. Whereas, in our country, the Civil Disobedience Movement started by Mahatma Gandhi played a crucial role in the decolonisation of India. 

These were some of the most important Polity terms for UPSC preparation. Use these words in your answers to leave a strong impression on the examiner. You can also give us suggestions about more important polity terms for UPSC preparation by leaving a comment. We care about your feedback and keep updating our lists accordingly. Moreover, if you feel that we lack something, you can drop us an email and give your valuable feedback. 

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