Indian Federalism

Federalism is the non-centricity of powers in a state. It means to give varying degrees of autonomy to constituent units of the nation state. India has a quasi federal government. This was rightly analysed by K C Wheare. Article 1 of Indian Constitution states that Bharat shall be a union of states. This implies that India is not formed by agreement between states. Unlike USA, Indian states do not have the power to secede away.

Whereas, Article 3 of the constitution empowers Parliament to create new States. It allows the federation to evolve, grow and respond to regional aspirations. When a new state is formed, schedule 1 and schedule r are to amended. Schedule 1 contains names of states and UTs and schedule 4 contains allocation of seats to rajya Sabha according to population of states.

Article 245 to 254 correspond to legislative powers of the state. Federalism was first introduced in legislature by the Government of India act 1919. Since then the constitution now has three lists in schedule 7 to different the subjects that can be legislated by states, UTs or concurrency of powers.

Eversince the coalition era of politics, India has seen a different face of federalism. In the era of 90s we saw for the first time a government at centre that was not of prevalence in states. This gave rise to politics of state parties and central government. Today, many states have the party of the centre. This has created a centralising tendancy. Bills are passed without much debate and ordinances are on a rise. This has turned attention towards federalism and what it truly means for our democracy.

Cooperative federalism means that states among themselves and with the centre are supposed to create a holistic environment for changes to happen at the ground level for the betterment of the society. A recent example is of the recommendation of the government to the 15th Finance Commission to change the census data to be of the 2011 instead. This created a fear in the hearts of southern states that are doing well in reducing population. The fear is that lesser population will attract lesser incentives to states.

Clearly the finance commission has avoided the political crisis. Collaborative federalism between states is needed and immense maturity at the end of leaders to strengthen our democracy. Immense patience and cooperation is required between states to come to a political consensus and to live up to the principle of quasie federalism not complete unitary power.

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