Composition of Cabinet
Though the Cabinet is the most important section of the Council of Ministers, it is a small and cohesive group consisting of fifteen to eighteen senior members who hold important portfolios such as Defence, Home Affairs, Finance, Parliamentary Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Steel & Mines, Agriculture, Industries and so on.
The Cabinet is the inner circle of the Council of Ministers.
The Cabinet Ministers meet and formulate policies of the government and modify them from time to time.
All Cabinet ministers are members of the Council of Ministers but all ministers are not the members of the Cabinet. The Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers have no say in the formulation of national policies. They attend the Cabinet meetings only when invited to do so. In the day-to-day working the Council of Ministers as a whole rarely meets.
The rank of a Minister of State is lower than a Cabinet Minister but higher than the Deputy Minister. Both the Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers assist the Cabinet Ministers in the affairs of their departments.
There are also Parliamentary secretaries who are not ministers but assist the ministers to whom they are attached in their Parliamentary work. They have no individual powers.
Role of the Cabinet Ministers
The prime importance of Cabinet Ministers lies in their role as advisors to the President. They help him to exercise his power. In a major boost to the constitutional authority of the Cabinet Ministers, the 42nd amendment made the ministerial advice “expressly binding” on the President. Like England, it is the Cabinet Ministers who “steer the wheel of the government” in collaboration with the Prime Minister.
Among host of other responsibilities, the Cabinet Ministers have to meet some serious expectations such as strengthening the security of the country, improving the nation’s foreign affairs, and keeping its economy in good state. These ministers are regarded as the political heads of the government’s administrative departments who have to take care of the day-to-day progress.
The Kitchen Cabinet was a term applied to an official circle of advisers to President Andrew Jackson of the US.
The term has endured through many decades, and now generally refers to a politician’s informal circle of advisers.
Ministers close to the Prime Minister, such as Ministers without Portfolio, might be considered to be part of the inner circle and so might the Prime Minister’s PPS (Parliamentary Private Secretary). It is often thought that the smaller and more focused policy work of a Kitchen Cabinet provides an antidote to the functionaries.