To prepare for Indian Polity for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about the basics of Federal Governance. It gives an idea of all the topics important for the IAS Exam and the polity syllabus (GS-II). Federal Governance and related topics are extremely important for the UPSC Exam. This is an essential portion of the polity. As IAS aspirants, you should be thorough with the Federal Governance. This article will provide you with relevant details about the Unitary and Federal features of the Indian Government.


Federal features Unitary features
Dual polity – Union at the Centre and the states at the periphery endowed with sovereign powers Strong centre – More and most important subjects are in favour of union list viz a viz state list.
Written constitution – Enumerates org., powers and functions of both Central and state governments and prescribes their jurisdiction. States are destructible– no right to territorial integrity for states. Parliament can change structure of state by unilateral action only with a simple majority.
Division of powers – mentioned 3 lists in Seventh Schedule. Residuary powers (Both legislation and taxation) rests with Union government. Single constitution– Both the Centre and the states must operate within single Indian constitutional setup.
Supremacy of constitution – Legislations of Centre and the States must conform to constitution otherwise, could be strike down by judicial review. Flexibility of constitution- Only centre can initiate constitutional amendment. Majority of which can be amended by either with simple or special majority.
Rigid constitution – Only Joint action of the Central and state governments with special majority could amend federal provisions. Unequal representation to states in RS– Currently seats in RS is according to population of states. (USA has equal representation to all states)
Independent judiciary– Supreme Court at apex. Provisions for judges- E.g. Administrative expenses of judiciary and salaries of judges are charged upon Consolidated fund of India. Emergency provisions– This converts the federal structure into a unitary one without a formal amendment of the Constitution, unique to India.
Bicameralism – RS (Upper House)- represents the states of Indian Federation and LS (Lower House)- represents the people of India as a whole. Integrated judiciary– Single system of courts for adjudication of state and central laws. Supreme Court at apex. USA has double system of courts.
Veto over state bills- Reserve by Governor for presidential assent. No provision in USA.
Integrated institutional and administrative setup– All India Service, Integrated Election Machinery (Unlike USA), Integrated Audit Machinery (USA has no role in state’s accounts)
Parliament’s Authority Over State List and Appointment of Governor by centre.