The size of the cabinet should be as big as governmental work justifies and as big as the Prime Minister can manage as a team. How far the efficacy of a government then is inversely related to the size of the cabinet? Discuss.

Published: January 22, 2015

Article 72 of the Constitution of India states that the total number of Ministers, including the Prime Minister, in the Council of Ministers must not exceed 15% of the total number of members of the Lok Sabha. Though there is a maximum limit, there is no minimum number of ministers who must be part of the Cabinet.

The size of the Cabinet is dependent on a variety of factors like political compulsions, representation of various factions, mode of functioning of the Prime ministerial candidate, experience and capabilities of ministers etc. In some situations like formation of a coalition government, it is inevitable that the Cabinet be relatively large so that all the parties that form the coalition are represented. While a reasonable sized Cabinet proves effectual due to splitting of and equal sharing of responsibilities, a large Cabinet results in chaos.  There are only a limited number of ministries for the Ministers to oversee, and it would be a classic case of too many cooks spoiling the broth if too many ministers are put in charge of smaller ministries. There would be overlap of duties, and differences between the different ministries, overcoming which will be a challenge in itself. These issues will occur even if there is a very capable Prime Minister, and  hence, must be avoided.

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