FEDERAL GOVERNANCE

FEDERAL GOVERNANCE

To prepare for INDIAN POLITY for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about Federal Governance. It gives an idea of all the important topics for IAS Exam and the polity syllabus (GS-II.). This is an essential portion of the polity.  As IAS aspirants, you should be thorough with the Federal Governance. In this article, you can read all about the Federal Governance for the polity and governance segments of the UPSC syllabus.

Federalism is an institutional mechanism to accommodate two sets of polities– At regional level and at the national level. Each government is autonomous in its own sphere. Our constitution divides Powers between National (Also known as Central or Union) and State governments. States are not subordinate to the Union Government. Both operate in their respective jurisdictions independently.

“FEDERALISM IS LIKE A RAINBOW, WHERE EACH COLOUR IS SEPARATE, YET TOGETHER THEY MAKE A HARMONIOUS PATTERN”

MEANING OF FEDERALISM
  • Federalism is an institutional mechanism to accommodate two sets of polities– At regional level and at the national level. Each government is autonomous in its own sphere.
  • Federalism is derived from the Latin world “foedus” which means agreement.
  • Federation is an agreement between two types of governments sharing power and controlling their respective spheres. Thus a federation is a system of national and local governments, combined under a common sovereignty with both national as well as federating units having autonomous spheres assigned to them by the constitution.
  • Constitutional division of powers between the national & regional governments and both operate in their respective jurisdictions independently.
  • Federation is a new state (political system) which is formed through a treaty or an agreement between the various units and known by different names- provinces (In Canada), states (in USA), and republics (in Russia).
  • 1 (1) – India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.
  • First Schedule – States and the territories.

 

EVOLUTION OF INDIAN FEDERALISM
  • American constitution is the oldest federation- 1787 (Post American revolution)
  • Canadian constitution is federal in nature with strong centre.
  • Taking healthy part of both USA and Canadian constitution, Indian constitution is “federal in nature but unitary in spirit”
  • Residuary subject rests with centre, a model adopted by India from Canada
  • Indian federation system is based on Canadian model on account of
    • Formation – By way of disintegration.
    • Preferences – Preferred the term ‘Union’.
    • Centralising tendencies – Vesting more powers in the centre.
  • ‘Union of States’ has been preferred to ‘Federation of States’ to indicate: –
    • Indian federation is not the result of an agreement among the states.
    • States have no right to secede from the federation.
  • Indian constitution – “Indestructible union of destructible states”
  • USA constitution – “Indestructible union of indestructible states”
  • Phrase “federation” is nowhere been mentioned in constitution.
  • “India federation is a case sui generis” (i.e. unique in character).
  • “Federal character of Indian constitution” is basic feature of constitution.
  • The Indian Constitution is mainly federal with unique safeguards for enforcing national unity and growth.

“Indian Constitution avoids the tight mould of federalism and could be both unitary as well as federal according to the requirements of time and circumstances”- B. R. Ambedkar

 

CONSTITUTIONAL POSITION ON FEDERATION

 

S.R. Bommai case (1994) – SC laid down that the Indian Constitution is federal and characterized federalism as its ‘basic feature’.
  • 1 of the Constitution states, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”. While the Constitution doesn’t mention the term “federal”, it does provide for a governance structure primarily federal in nature.
  • It provides for separate governments at the Union and in the states.
  • Further, it specifies and demarcates the powers, functions and jurisdictions of the two governments.
  • Lastly, it details the legislative, administrative and financial relations between the Union and the states.
  • The distribution of legislative powers has been divided into three lists: the Union List, the State List and the Concurrent List.
  • On the Union List, Parliament has exclusive powers to legislate. While the state has exclusive powers to legislate on the State List, in certain situations, Parliament can also do so.
  • As per the Concurrent List, the issue is more complex.
    • In case of a conflict between a state and Central legislation, the parliamentary legislation shall prevail.
    • This, coupled with the fact that residuary powers of legislation are vested in the Union, gives a “unitary” tilt to federalism in India.
  • A disconcerting trend has been observed since 1950. While the Union and Concurrent Lists have expanded, the State List seems to have shrunk.This has led many to question the structure of Indian federalism and to propose its remodelling.

 

 

FEATURES OF UNITARY GOVERNMENT AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
Unitary government Federal government
Single government – National government which may create regional governments. Dual Government– National government and regional government (for instance, union government and state government)
Constitution may be written (France) or unwritten (Britain) Written nature of the Constitution E.g. Indian Constitution.
No division of powers – All powers are vested in the national government Division of powers – Between the national and regional government. (Example – three list India)
Constitution may be supreme (Japan) or may not be supreme (Britain) Supremacy of the Constitution – Constitution is considered as supreme and fundamental law of land
Constitution may be rigid (France) or flexible (Britain) Rigid Constitution – difficult to amend and less adaptable to contemporary situations
Judiciary may be independent or may not be independent. Independent judiciary – consist federal courts and state courts
Legislature may be bicameral (Britain) or unicameral (China) Bicameral legislature – consist of upper house and lower house.

 

 

UNITARY AND FEDERAL FEATURES OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
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.

 

 

COMPETITIVE FEDERALISM
  • In Competitive federalism the relationship between the Central and state governments is vertical and between state governments is horizontal.
  • This idea of Competitive federalism gained significance in India post 1990s economic reforms.
  • In a free-market economy, the endowments of states, available resource base and their comparative advantages all foster a spirit of competition. Increasing globalisation, however, increased the existing inequalities and imbalances between states.
  • In Competitive federalism States need to compete among themselves and also with the Centre for benefits.
  • Healthy competition strives to improve physical and social infrastructure within the state.

 

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COOPERATIVE AND COMPETITIVE FEDERALISM
  • India opted for quasi-federal structure after independence. The term “federal” has not been mentioned in the constitution but the working of Indian democracy is essentially federal in structure.
  • However, it is the practical working style of federalism, which brought the concept of cooperative federalism and competitive federalism in India.
  • The present government is stressing on the need to leverage the potential of cooperative and competitive federalism for achieving all round inclusive development in India.
  • Both cooperative and competitive federalism are complementary to each other.
  • In this context there is a need to examine the concepts of cooperative and competitive federalism.
  • Based on the relationship between the central and state government–the concept of federalism is divided into- Co-operative federalism and Competitive federalism.
Cooperative federalism Competitive federalism
In Cooperative federalism the Centre and states share a horizontal relationship, where they “cooperate” in the larger public interest. In Competitive federalism the relationship between the Central and state governments is vertical and between state governments is horizontal.
It is an important tool to enable states’ participation in the formulation and implementation of national policies. States compete with each other to attract funds and investment, which facilitates efficiency in administration and enhances developmental activities.
Union and the states are constitutionally obliged to cooperate with each other on the matters specified in Schedule VII of the constitution. Union and the states are not constitutionally obliged to cooperate with each other on the matters specified in Schedule VII of the constitution. It is the decision of executives.
This entails cooperation amongst centre and federal units and even local bodies which act collectively to achieve a Common Goal. This entails states compete with each other at various social and development indicators in a healthy manner.
Vertical component– Policy framework and inputs provided by centre and implementation left to states – Top Down Approach Horizontal component – The policy of “one-size fits all” is diluted to let states develop as per their priorities and according to local aspects – Bottom Up Approach
Cooperative federalism is part of the basic structure of Indian constitution. Competitive federalism is not part of the basic structure of Indian constitution.
E.g.- GST, NAM, land reforms, model APMCs act, 73rd and 74th CAA 1992, Centre-State Investment Agreement (CSIA), 42% devolution by 14th Finance commission. E.g.– “Vibrant Gujarat”, “Resurgent Rajasthan” and various indexes evolved by NITI – Composite water management index, EoDB (Ease of Doing Business) index, labour and land reforms by states.

 

CHALLENGES TO COMPETITIVE FEDERALISM IN INDIA
  • Several issues such as widening trust deficit and shrinkage of divisible poolsplague Centre-State relations. Together, they make total cooperation difficult
  • Most state governments believe the thrust on federalism is limited to lofty ideas and big talks.
  • In letter, the Centre has increased the States’ share of the divisible pool but in sprit, reality States are getting a lesser share. The allocation towards various social welfare schemes has also come down, affecting the States’ health in turn.
  • The present inter-state competitionin attracting investment is too early to determine whether it will really encourage competitive patterns of investment on a continuous basis.
  • The socio-economic parameters and development of each State in India is differentand while a few have made substantial progress in terms of employment, literacy and creating a conducive environment for doing business and investments, there are a few which are lagging.
  • There are varied economic patternsin different states. There are deficit states or the backward regions or the states under debt. Those states should not be treated on par with the well-off states.
  • The states like West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, and Assam have protested against the uniform approach in funding because of their special situations in which the central government has to provide special funds to these states. Without special funding these states cannot participate in competitive federalism.
  • Although the states are provided with financial independence, it is a mistaken belief to assume that all the states would perform uniformly in the process of development because while some states have favourable factors like skilled labour, capital and infrastructure, innovative service industries other states lagging behind.
  • The opposition of few well-off states with respect to revenue loss in implementation of GST systempoints that there is a lack of will in participating in the process of competitive federalism.

 

STEPS TOWARDS STRENGTHENING OF COOPERATIVE AND COMPETITIVE FEDERALISM
  • Reactivation of Inter-State council under Art 263.
  • Greater autonomy to states with regards to Concurrent List (like health, education, land, labour, natural resources etc.)
  • NITI Aayog is a great leap forward in this direction. It replaces the role of centre as a ‘facilitator’ and undo “one-size-fits-all” approach.
  • Competitive federalism is not yet embraced by all the states. But a handful of states are clearly taking steps to strengthen their business environments, including initiating difficult reforms on land acquisition and labour flexibility.
  • Federalism is no longer the fault line of Centre-State relations but the definition of a new partnership of team India.
  • The Central government has promised decentralization of power and minimum interference in the State affairs.
  • With the roll out of the GST, this federal structure is further cemented.
  • Government has abolished Planning Commission and replaced it with NITI Aayog. One of the mandates of the NITI Aayog is to develop competitive federalism. Under it:
    • Share of states in central tax revenue has been increased from 32% to 42% after the recommendation of the finance commission.
    • States have freedom to plan their expenditure based on their own priorities.
    • States would work with centre on a shared vision of national objectives.
    • Restructuring of centrally sponsored schemes.
    • Financial sector bailout programme under UDAY
    • Swachh Bharat Ranking
    • State wise Ease of Doing Business rankingto build a huge sense of competition.

 

ROLE OF NITI AAYOG IN CO-OPERATIVE AND COMPETITIVE FEDERALISM IN INDIA
  • In 2017, the NITI Aayog called out for competitive “cooperative federalism” stressing that this formula would redefine the relationship between the Centre and the States.
  • Former vice chairman of NITI Aayog Arvind Panagariya put the onus on the States to reimagine brand India.
  • Chief secretaries of States in one of the meetings even showcased the best practices being incorporated in their respective States, a move aimed at promoting cross fertilisation of ideas.
  • There appears to be a silver lining in the functioning of the Aayog in enabling states competing with each other to promote governance initiatives in the spirit of “co-operative, competitive federalism”.
  • An important objective of NITI Aayog is to establish a dynamic institutional mechanisms where ‘eminent individuals outside the government system’ could contribute to policy making.
  • The priorities for the Aayog are evident with the suggestions for rationalisation of 66 central schemes on skill development and making Clean India a continuous program leading to the formation of three CM sub-committees.
  • In a subtle manner, NITI Aayog not only puts the onus on Chief Ministers to hasten implementation of projects for the betterment of the state, but also make the state an attractive investment destination – a kind of competitive federalism.
  • Given the greater scope for states to work together and learn from each other, it is obvious that for federalism to work well, these states must also fulfil their role in promoting the shared national objectives.

It is true that India cannot advance without all its states advancing in tandem but it may so happen that by not granting the statutory status for the NITI Aayog, government has made it vulnerable to future ambush under a different political dispensation.

 

ROLE OF NITI AAYOG IN CO-OPERATIVE AND COMPETITIVE FEDERALISM IN INDIA
  • There needs to be a mix of competitive and cooperative federalism for India to move ahead.
  • The future for India is cooperative and competitive federalism. Competitive federalism provides the dynamism that needs to be unleashed.
  • We need cooperative federalism to balance competitive federalism.
  • Constitution needed to catch up with economics to “favour integration over granting sovereignty” to promote Indian internal integration.
  • GST which seeks to introduce the concept of one nation-one tax, in order to economically unify the country for the first time, is described this as “pooled sovereignty”, which would bring a big change in the working of federalism in the country.

 

SUGGESTIONS
  • Efforts at cooperative and competitive federalism have commenced but need to be strengthened.
  • NITI Aayog concentrates on the broader policy framework instead of micro resource-allocated functions. So there is a need to take some further steps.
  • Reactivation of the Centre-State Council:Under Article 263, this council is expected to inquire and advice on disputes, discuss subjects common to all states and make recommendations for better policy coordination.
  • The NITI Aayog can’t replace the council’s functions as it is the only recognised constitutional entity for harmonising the actions of the Centre and states. Its effective utilisation would lend legitimacy to cooperative federalism.
  • On contentious issues like land, labour and natural resources, the state should promote best practices.
  • This will enable greater investment and economic activity in states with a favourable regulatory framework. Enactment by states must secure expeditious Central approval.
  • The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index reflected competition between states has generated interest, this must be a continuing exercise.
  • But states not doing well on the index complain of infirmities of process and procedure. These needs to be made more acceptable and transparent.
  • On issues like international treaties, WTO obligations, or the environment an institutional mechanism must be evolved where important decisions are appropriately discussed with states.

 

WAY FORWARD
  • Cooperative and competitive federalism are not mutually exclusive. They have the same basic principle underlyinge. development of the nation as a whole.
  • Cooperative and competitive federalism may be two sides of the same coin as the competition alone cannot give the best results, it is competition with cooperation that will drive the real change.
  • Centre’s support would be required by some states to participate in competitive federalism. Strong states make strong nation and to realise this vision, it requires a “Team India” approach to work for India’s development.
  • The passage of GST Bill does usher in a new era in cooperative fiscal federalism and a growing political consensus for economic reforms.
  • Further, the government’s structural reforms particularly for land and labour, are now widely seen as necessary for realising the potential of the economy.
  • While all policy-makers and economists believe that “true” cooperative federalism is the way forward, they underline the need for the Centre to include states more aggressively in the decision-making process.

Most state finance ministers also feel that the Centre’s fund allocation to States must be done more judiciously.

 

ISSUES WITH INDIAN FEDERALISM
  • Politicization of Governors and imposition of President’s rule – Appointment (Art.155) and Removal (no procedure for impeachment). E.g. appointment of Ex-CJI P Sathasivam as Kerala Governor.
  • Unequal Representation of States in the Rajya Sabha– Many UTs don’t even qualify to get 1 seat. Just 10 big states occupy nearly 70% seats.
  • Demands for New States and assertion of more autonomy – Gorkhaland (WB), Vidarbha (MH)
  • Inter-State Water sharing conflicts– Between Kerala and Tamil Nadu for Cauvery river.
  • Territorial disputes between states – MH and KA over Belgaum region.
  • Demand for Special Category Status (SCS) – E.g. Andhra Pradesh

 

PROVISION FOR IDENTIFICATION OF SCS
  • Initiated in 1969 by 15th Planning Commission based on Gadgil-Mukherjee Formula.
    • Hilly and difficult terrain;
    • Low population density or sizeable share of tribal population;
    • Strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries;
    • Economic and infrastructural backwardness;
    • Non-viability of state finances

 

NOTABLE CRITICISMS OF INDIAN FEDERALISM
  • Quasi-federal” – “Indian Union is a unitary state with subsidiary federal features rather than a federal state with subsidiary unitary features.”- KC Wheare
  • Indian system is “extremely federal” – Paul Appleby
  • Morris Jones termed it as a “bargaining federalism”.
  • “Federation with a strong centralizing tendency”- Ivor Jennings

Indian federalism is “cooperative federalism”– Granville Austin.

 

CHALLENGES OF INDIAN FEDERAL SYSTEM
  1. Regionalism
    • It is considered one of the significant challenges to federalism in India.
    • Federalism best thrives as a democratic system when it mitigates the centralization of power sharing between the centre and the states.
    • The pluralist character of India gives rise to many factors including regionalism. E.g. Northeast peoples feel themselves ignored by New Delhi and people in southern part with bigger states feel neglected having been within larger states.
    • The voice for the demand of more states has become more prominent in recent times, especially after the formation of Telangana in 2014. E.g. like four-fold division of Uttar Pradesh and the creation of Gorkhaland from West Bengal are instances of aggressive regionalism. The agitations for Gorkhaland, Bodoland, and Karbi Anglong have been revived.
    • This is apart from the new demands for a separate Vidarbha State in Maharashtra, and Harit Pradesh and Poorvanchal in Uttar Pradesh. The more the number of states the more the centre will be held hostage to state parties on matters of national importance.
  1. Division of Powers
    • In India, distribution of power is made under Three Lists found in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
    • Powers mentioned in the Concurrent list are enjoyed by the two sets of governments. The residuary powers are vested in the Central
    • All matters of national importance are allotted to the Central government while matters that are primarily of local or regional importance are assigned to regional governments.
    • Some matters which require the involvement of both the centre and states like criminal law, forest, economic and social planning are assigned in the Concurrent List.
    • However, in the case of conflict over the legislation on any of the subjects mentioned in the Concurrent List, the Centre supersedes the States.
    • 200 (reservation of State Bills by the Governor for consideration of the President), emergency provisions under Art. 352, 356 and 360 and Art. 256 and 257 (compulsory compliance by the States with the executive power of the Centre) amount to centralisation of power which has been the major concern among the states.
    • Centralisation is as such a threat to Indian federalism.

 

  1. Absence of Fiscal Federalism
    • The Indian Constitution, while expressly vesting the Centre with greater powers of taxation, also provides for an institutional mechanismthe Finance Commission — to determine the share of the states in the Central tax revenues by way of correcting this imbalance.
    • While deciding the devolution of taxes and the provisions of grants the Finance Commission is required to address both the vertical imbalance between the Centre and the States and the horizontal imbalance between states.
    • At present, about 40 percent of Central revenues (tax and non-tax) is transferred to the States.
    • Despite the enlargement of the shareable pool under the 80th Amendment which includes all central taxes, the revenue accruals of the Centre and the States have not seen any major changes.
    • Asymmetrical sharing of revenue and resource crunch at the periphery results in uneven development across the country.
    • The current GST measure is feared by many states to be against fiscal federalism in India.
    • Many states in India demand for more financial autonomy in India.

 

  1. Unequal Representation of Units
    • With a view to preventing the evil of predominant influence of larger units over smaller units in a federation, most federations in the world have resorted to some constitutional mechanism like an equal representation of units or states in the Second Chamber and ratification of all amendments to the Constitution by states.
    • In India, there is no such provision of an equal representation of states in the Rajya Sabha and nor the states have any substantial say over the amendments done to the Constitution from time to time (equal representation of states in the Rajya Sabha have recommended by Punchhi commission)

 

  1. Centralized Amendment Power
    • In a typical federation, the power of amendment to the Federal Constitution lies on a shared basis between the federation and its units.
    • In India, the power of constitutional amendment lies with the Centre under Art. 368 and other provisions.
    • Although ratification of half of the states is sought for in some limited areas, the states in the Indian Union have virtually no power in this critical area of governance.

 

  1. Office of the governor
    • The office of Governor for each state in India has been a sensitive issue as it sometimes poses a threat to the federal character of Indian Union.
    • Centre’s visible arbitrariness in misusing such constitutional office has been the subject of acrimonious debates and divergent opinions in the country.
    • The overt support of the Central Government to the Governor in this critical matter speak volume of the inbuilt weakness in India’s quasi-federal structure.
    • The abuse of the power under Art. 356 by the Central Government is replete in the political history of the country. This has resulted in cementing of centralized forces and disaffection of constituent states towards the federal character of the Indian Polity.

 

  1. Single Constitution and Citizenship
    • Unlike the Constitution of the USA, the Constitution of India lays down the constitution for the States as well and no state has right to decide its own constitution.
    • The Indian Constitution, unlike the other federal constitutions of the world, introduces single citizenship. It is based upon the idea of ‘one nation one citizenship’. All are citizens of India irrespective of whichever state he/she lives in. The States don’t confer any separate status as a citizen of the State.
  1. Integrated Services
    • The integrated judiciary is a typical feature of Indian federation. Unlike typical federations, in India Supreme Court is the apex court and all other courts are subordinate to it.
    • The States don’t have separate independent courts dealing specially with state matters. Also, the machinery for election, accounts, and audit in India is integrated.
    • The All Indian Services and central services are also considered by many states and critics as anti-federal.
    • However, considering the nature and scope of administration in India, such services are essential as they impart all India character to governance.

 

  1. Centralised Planning
    • Although economic and social planning is found in the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, the Union Government enjoys unbridled authority over national and regional planning in India.
    • NITI Aayog appointed by the Centre, considerable preponderance in legislative power for the Union, the financial dependence of the states on the Centre’s mercy, the administrative inferiority of the states make the states meek and weak.
    • The States only fill the blank spaces meant for in the text for planning. There is no special planning commission for the states in India.

 

  1. Language Conflicts
    • Diversity in languages in India sometimes causes a blow the federal spirit of the Constitution.
    • There are 22 languages constitutionally approved (eighth schedule) in India. Besides, hundreds of dialects are spoken across the country.
    • Trouble arises when the strongest unit of the federation attempts to force a particular language on others.
    • The tussle for official language in India is still a burning issue. The southern states’ opposition to Hindi as the official language of India has led to deep-seated language crisis in India.

 

  1. Issue of Religion
    • India is a fine example of religious heterogeneity that sometimes gives rise to turmoil to weaken the federation.
    • But the religious process need not be always divisive. So long as there is a reasonable tolerance on the part of the people and a genuine secular policy on the part of the government, religion may not cause imbalances in a federation.

 

  1. Economic Incompatibilities of the units
    • Differences economic standards and relative economic and fiscal incompatibilities among the constituent states also pose a threat to a federation.
    • The forces of imbalances in the field are demands for economic planning and development and for regional economic equality and financial autonomy of states.
    • Demand for a financial equality of a region creates problems in a federation.
    • In India, some states are declared as poor and on the principle of equalization, are getting grants-in-aid. But the dilemma in a federation emerges that if the principle of equalization is adhered to, the national income and the total income growth will suffer.

 

  1. External forces
    • The tension in the North Eastern States in India is due to the interference of neighbouring countries.
    • China’s claim on some portion of the territory of Arunachal Pradesh on LAC threats the territorial integrity of India.
    • The Tamil issue in Sri Lanka creates disruptive forces in India.
    • The alleged Pak’s hand in Khalistan movement in the past also has a say in weakening the Indian federation.

 

IS INDIA A TRUE FEDERATION?
  • Federalism is a system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units.
  • Indian model of federalism is called quasi-federal systemas it contains major features of both a federation and union. It can be better phrased as ‘federation sui generis‘ or federation of its own kind.
  • Article 1 of the Constitution of India states that ‘India that is Bharat shall be a union of states’.
  • Indian federation was not a product of coming together of states to form the federal union of India. It was rather a conversion of a unitary system into a federal system.
  • It is a compromise between two conflicting considerations such as autonomy enjoyed by states within the constitutionally prescribed limit (State List) and the need for a strong centre in view of the unity and integrity of the country (Union List).

 

IMPORTANCE OF FEDERALISM AND SHOULD INDIA CONTINUE WITH FEDERAL FORM OF GOVERNMENT?
  • Federalism is the most relevant factor of modern constitutionalism.
  • The core objectives of Indian federalism are unity in diversity, devolution in authority, and decentralization in administration.
  • Through federalism, the State pursues the goal of common welfare in the midst of wide diversity in socio-cultural, economic spheres.
  • Federalism or federal form of government is the most suitable form for a vast and pluralistic country like India.
  • It tries to facilitate the socio-political cooperation between two sets of identities through various structural mechanisms of ‘shared rule’.
  • Because of above reasons, center- state relations and the state autonomy have become the cardinal issues of the Indian federalism.
  • The union government appointed Sarkaria Commission in 1983 to examine and review the working of the Indian Federalism. But many recommendations of this Commission are still to be implemented
  • The Union government also took in a very easy approach some of the recommendations made by this commission.
  • This shows that even though our constitution is said to be federal, but this overemphasis on the power of the federal government makes incapable of dealing effectively with socioeconomic challenges and strengthening national unity.
  • Hence, it is appropriate to restructure and calibrate the Indian Federalism to align it with contemporary realities and make it more effective and promote center – state relation.

 

WAY FORWARD
  • Equal representation to states in RS – Recommended by Punchhi commission
  • Delineation of appointment and removal procedures for Governor.
  • Making Inter-State council as permanent institution.
  • Implementing Sarkaria commission (1983) recommendations on Centre-State relations-
    • The Commission strongly recommended the establishment of permanent Inter-State Council.
    • Whenever, the Union proposes to undertake Legislation on a subject belonging to the Concurrent List, the States’ views must be ascertained through inter-Governmental Councils.
    • Ordinarily, the Union should occupy only that much field of a concurrent subject on which uniformity of Policy and Action is required in the larger interest of the Nation, leaving the rest of the details for State action,
    • The Governor’s report (In the context of president’s rule – Art 356) must be a ‘speaking document’ and it should be given wide publicity.
    • The Governor should be eminent in some walk of life and from outside the state. He should be a detached figure without intense political links or should not have taken part in politics in recent past. Besides, he should not be a member of the ruling party
    • On receipt of a resolution from a State recommending creation or abolition of a Legislative Council, the same will be presented before the Parliament within a reasonable time.
    • Sarkaria made some observation: “Federalism is more a functional arrangement for cooperative action, than a static institutional concept”.
  • Implementing Second ARC recommendations on Centre-State relations – ARC (1969) made 22 recommendations to improve Centre-State relations. It ruled out any constitutional amendment and considered the existing provisions as sufficient to regulate federal tensions.
    • Establishment of an Inter-state Council under Art. 263 of the constitution
    • Delegation of powers to the maximum extent to the states – financial and legislative among others.
    • Augmenting financial resources of the states through fiscal transfers from the centre
    • Appointment of non-partisan persons having long experience in public life and administration as Governor of a state
    • Residuary field other than that of taxation should be placed on the concurrent list.
    • Differences between the Union and the States should be resolved by mutual consultation.
    • It has taken a favourable view on the demand of the States to provide more financial resources at their disposal.
    • In order to improve Centre-State relations in the country, it has suggested economic liberalization and suitable amendments to the Constitution.

 

PHRASES FOR MAINS
  • “Asymmetric federalism” (E.g. Special provisions for some state, 5th and 6th sch.)
  • Cooperative and Competitive federalism (E.g. GST and Indexes by NITI resp.)
  • “3Ss” – Samovar – Samanvay – Samadhan
  • Indian federalism- “Indestructible union of destructible states”
  • Holding together vs Coming together (E.g. India vs USA model)
  • Federalism With “Unitary Bias”
  • Rajya Sabha symbolizes “Federal equilibrium”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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