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“Federalism” chapter of Class 11 Political Science discusses the concept of federalism, federalism in the Indian Constitution, conflict in India’s federal system, federalism with a strong central government, interstate conflict, division of powers, etc.
From the list of following events which ones would you identify with the functioning of federalism ? Why ?
- The Centre on Tuesday announced Sixth Schedule status to GNLF-led Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which would ensure greater autonomy to the governing body in the Hill district of West Bengal. A tripartite Memorandum of Settlement was signed in New Delhi between the Centre, West Bengal government and the Subhas Ghising-led Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) after two days of hectic deliberations.
- Government for action plan for rain-hit states; Centre has asked the rain-ravaged States to submit detailed plans for reconstruction to enable it to respond to their demands for extra relief expeditiously.
- New Commissioner for Delhi: The capital is getting a new Municipal Commissioner. Confirming this, the present MCD Commissioner Rakesh Mehta said, he has received his transfer orders and that he is likely to be replaced by IAS officer Ashok Kumar, who is serving as the Chief Secretary in Arunachal Pradesh. Mehta, a 1975 batch IAS officer, has been heading the MCD for about three-and-a-half years.
- CU Status for Manipur University: Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed a Bill to convert the Manipur University into a Central University with the Human Resource Development Minister promising such institutions in the North Eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Sikkim as well.
- Funds released: The Centre has released ₹ 553 lakh to Arunachal Pradesh under its rural water supply scheme. The first instalment was ₹ 466.81 lakh.
- We will teach the Biharis how to live in Mumbai: Around 100 Shiv Sainik stormed J.J. Hospital, disrupted daily operations, raised slogans and threatened to take matters into their own hands if no action was taken against non- Maharashtrian students.
- Demand for dismissal of Government: The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in a representation submitted to State Governor recently has demanded dismissal of the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government for its alleged financial mismanagement and embezzlement of public money.
- NDA government asks naxalites to surrender arms: Amid a walkout by opposition RJD and its allies Congress and CPI (M), the Bihar government today appealed to the naxalites to shun the path of violence and reaffirmed its pledge to root out unemployment to usher in a new era of development in Bihar.
- To provide Sixth Schedule Status to GNLFled Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council is a federal functioning. By a tripartite agreement among the Centre, state of West Bengal and Gorkha Hill Council, greater autonomy was provided to Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.
- It is a federal function. It is the responsibility of the Centre to provide relief to rain-hit states. (c) Appointment of New Commissioner for Delhi is not a functioning of federalism.
- Central University status for Manipur University is not a functioning of federalism.
- Release of funds by the Centre to Arunachal Pradesh is a functioning of federalism.
- Threatening Biharis in Mumbai is not a functioning of federalism.
- Demand for dismissal of Government is not a functioning of federalism.
- NDA government asking naxalites to surrender arms is a functioning of federalism
Think which of the following statements would be correct. State why.
- Federalism enhances the possibility of people from different regions to interact without the fear of one’s culture being imposed upon them by others.
- Federal system will hinder easier economic transaction between two different regions that have distinct types of resources.
- A federal system will ensure that the powers of those at the Centre will remain limited.
- It is a correct statement because in a federation there is distribution of powers between the Centre and the States.
- It is not a correct statement. No hindrance will be greater in economic transaction between two different regions.
- It is a correct statement. In a federal system there is a division of power between the Centre and the States. Powers of the Centre are limited.
Based on the first few articles of Belgian
Constitution given below, explain how federalism
is visualised in that country. Try and write a
similar Article for the Constitution of India.
Title I : On Federal Belgium, its components and its territory.
Article 1 : Belgium is a Federal State made up of communities and regions.
Article 2 : Belgium is made up of three communities: The French Community, the Flemish Community and the German Community.
Article 3 : Belgium is made up of three regions: The Walloon region, the Flemish region and the Brussels region.
Article 4 : Belgium has four linguistic regions: The French-speaking region, the Dutch-speaking region, the bilingual region of Brussels Capital and the Germanspeaking region. Each commune (county borough) of the Kingdom is a part of one of these linguistic regions.
Article 5 : The Walloon region is made up of the following provinces: The Walloon Brabant, Hainault, Liege, Luxemburg and Namur. The Flemish region is made up of the following provinces: Antwerp, the Flemish Brabant, West Flanders, East Flanders and Limburg.
Federal system is adopted under the Belgium
Constitution. Belgium federation is on the basis of
communities and regions. In Belgium there are three
communities and three regions. It has four linguistic
regions and each community has a right to develop
its own culture, language, etc.
India has also adopted a federal system.
Article 1 of the Indian Constitution states: India shall be a Union of States.
India is not based on religion and caste communities.
Belgium is made of three regions whereas India consists of 29 states and 7 Union territories. In the Eighth Schedule, 22 languages are mentioned.
Article 2 states that the States and the Union Territories thereof shall be as specified in First Schedule.
Imagine that you were to rewrite the provisions regarding federalism. Write an essay of not more than 300 words making your suggestions about:
- division of powers among the Centre and the States,
- distribution of financial resources,
- methods of resolving inter-State disputes, and
- appointment of Governors
Indian Constitution establishes a federal
system of government in India. Indian Constitution
was enforced on 26 January, 1950. Now, need is felt
to revise the federal system. The following suggestions
are given to amend the federal system:
(a) Division of Powers. At present there are three lists of powers in the Union: (1) Union list, (2) State list, (3) Concurrent list. Instead of three lists, there should be two lists: (1) Union list and (2) State list. All subjects included in the Union list should be exclusively under the jurisdiction of the Parliament. Those subjects in the State list should be exclusively with the States. Residuary Powers should be under the jurisdiction of the Union Parliament. In normal times, Union Parliament should have no power to make laws on the State list.
(b) Distribution of Financial Resources. It is an accepted principle of the federation that both the Union and the State Government must have enough sources of revenue to carry out their legislative and administrative business. In India, the financial power has also been distributed between the Centre and the states. There should be a clear-cut demarcation of financial resources between the Centre and the states. (i) Some taxes should be levied by the Central government and should also be collected by it. Revenue from these taxes should be exclusively with the Centre.
(ii) Some taxes should be levied by the state government and should also be collected by it. (iii) Some taxes should be levied and collected by the Centre but income should be distributed between the Centre and the states.
(iv) The resources of the state should be sufficient. The states should not depend upon the Centre for grant-in-aid.
(v) The Union Government may give loan to the states but in accordance with the provisions of the Act passed by the Parliament.
(c) Methods of Resolving the disputes between the States. All inter-state disputes should be decided by the Supreme Court. The decision of the Supreme Court should be binding on the states.
(d) Appointment of Governors. Governors should be appointed by the President. But the President must consult the Chief Minister of that state where Governor is to be appointed. The Governor of a state should be appointed with the concurrence of the Chief Minister.
Which of the following should be the basis for formation of a State? Why?
- Common language
- Common economic interests
- Common religion
- Administrative convenience
Certain conditions favour the formation of federation and are essential for their success and stability. They are as given below:
- Common Language. Common language tends to draw people closer, and forge bonds of unity and fellow feeling. Homogeneity is an essential requisite of a federation and the feeling of homogeneity is stimulated by such factors as common language, race, etc.
- Common Economic Interests. Common Economic Interest is the most important basis for formation of a federation. Common Economic Interest provides a cementing force to a federal system. Community of economic interests is a strong incentive to and a support for federation. An economic union removes inter-state barriers and promotes industries and commerce.
- Common Religion. Another basis of federation is common religion. Common religion promotes the feeling of homogeneity.
- Administrative Convenience. Administrative convenience should be the basis of federation. The pattern of political organisation should be identical both at the Centre and the States.
Majority of people from the States of North India — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar — speak Hindi. If all these States are combined to form one State, would it be in tune with the idea of federalism? Give arguments.
If Hindi speaking states of north India are combined to form one state, it would be not in tune with the idea of federalism. Federalism does not mean that all states of common language should be combined into one state. Very big states are not suitable from administrative point of view. Uttar Pradesh is a big state. Political parties demanded division of Uttar Pradesh and ultimately in 2000 a new state Uttranchal was carve out from U.P. Small states are more suitable from administrative point of view.
List four features of the Indian Constitution that give greater power to the Central government than the State government.
The Constitution of India establishes a federal system of government in the country. The following four features of the Indian Constitution give more powers to the Central government than the State government.
- Division of Powers in favour of Centre. The Indian Constitution has distributed the powers between the Centre and the states in such a way that Centre has become stronger than the states. The Central government gets the lion’s share of the powers. Most important and almost all important subjects have been included in the Union list. If there is a clash over a subject in the concurrent list between the Centre and the states, the will of the Centre will prevail.
- Encroachment over the State list by the Union Government. There are so many provisions in the Constitution with the help of which the Centre can interfere with the powers of the state and can exercise these powers. (1) Rajya Sabha can transfer a state subject in favour of the Centre in the name of national interest. It is to pass such a resolution by 2/3rd majority. Rajya Sabha is a part of Centre. (2) The Central Executive can give directions to the state executive from time to time. The powers of the state executive can be used this way by the Centre. (3) The Parliament can make laws on any subject in order to enforce a treaty or an agreement entered into between India and any other foreign power.
- Change in the Boundaries of States. The Constitution of India empowers the Parliament to change the boundaries of the existing States or create new states or change the name of the States on the recommendation of the President.
- Unitary Government in time of Emergency. During emergency, the federal government can be changed into a unitary government. It is the President of India who proclaims emergency in the State and such an emergency order is to be approved by the Parliament. The states are not consulted in this case. When an emergency is declared because of external aggression, war, armed rebellions or a threat to any of them, the form of government will change from the federal to unitary which implies that the Centre will be empowered to exercise the legislative and executive powers of the States.
Why are many States unhappy about the role of the Governor?
The founding fathers of the Indian
Constitution were very clear about the role of the
Governor. He is to work in dual capacity—as the
constitutional head of the state and as a
representative of the Centre. It implies naturally that
a Governor acts like an effective instrument of the
State government in normal times but as an agent of
his real masters at Delhi in abnormal times.
The role of the Governor has been criticised the
most because Governors have failed to maintain a
balance between their two positions. It is alleged that
Governors have almost always served as agents of
the Centre. As an agent of the Centre, Governors
work an agent of the Union Cabinet rather than of
the President. Whenever, the ministry of a state is to
dissolve, the Governor is expected to help the Centre.
Different Governors of different states and even the
same Governor of the same state adopted different
attitude towards the same kind of constitutional
problem just to help the Congress. After the elections
of 1967, non-Congress ministry in more than half of
the states came into existence with Congress in power
at the Centre. This situation made the position of the
Governor important and controversial as they were
used in toppling non-Congress ministries in some of
G.D. Tapase, the Governor of Haryana, appointed Bhajan Lal as the Chief Minister on 23 May 1982 in the evening, ignoring the fact that he had himself asked Devi Lal to demonstrate his strength on 24th May 1982 in the morning. It is strange that Tapase acted against the very procedure that he had himself laid down.
In case of defection, causing confusion of majority support, a certain Governor asked the Chief Minister to face the Assembly while others, helped the respective Chief Minister by proroguing the Assembly so that a vote of no-confidence may not be passed. The Governor of West Bengal, Dharam Vira, dismissed Ajay Mukerji, the Chief Minister, as he was not calling the session of the Vidhan Sabha. The Governor of Madhya Pradesh abruptly prorogued the House on the advice of the Chief Minister.
The opposition alleged that it was done to save the Congress government. Akali Dal, D.M.K., C.P.M., etc., were not happy with the role of the Governor. Karunanidhi of D.M.K. was of the opinion that there should be no Governor.
President’s rule can be imposed in a State if the government is not being run according to the provisions of the Constitution. State whether any of the following conditions are a fit case for imposition of President’s rule in the State. Give reasons.
- Two members of the State legislative Assembly belonging to the main opposition party have been killed by criminals and the opposition is demanding dismissal of the State government.
- Kidnapping of young children for ransom is on rise. Crimes against women is also increasing.
- No political party has secured majority in the recent election of the State Legislative Assembly. It is feared that some MLAs from the other parties may be lured to support a political party in return for money.
- Different political parties are ruling in the state and at the Centre and they are bitter opponents of each other.
- More than 2000 people have been killed in the communal riots.
- In the water dispute between two States, one State government refused to follow the decision of the Supreme Court.
When no political party has secured majority in the election of the State Legislative Assembly and there are chances that some MLAs from the other parties may be lured to support a political party in return for money, then President’s rule can be imposed in a state. But there should be a substantial proof of horse-trading. After the fourth general election in many states President’s rule was imposed due to the problem of defections and lack of clear majority in the Assembly.
What are the demands raised by states in their quest for greater autonomy?
Centre-State relations worked very smoothly for a number of years, say upto 1966. This was partly due to the rule of the Congress party both at the Centre and the states. Trouble in Centre-State relations arose with the formation of the non-Congress government in the states. D.M.K., Akali Dal and CPI (M) demanded more powers for the states. These parties believe that the Unity of India cannot be maintained without decentralisation of greater powers to the states. These parties raised the following demands:
- D.M.K. wanted maximum powers for the states within the framework of the sovereignty and integrity of India and the Constitution.
- Transfer of residuary powers from the Centre to the states by amending the Constitution.
- Akali Dal led by Prakash Singh Badal demanded financial autonomy for the states assuring more financial power for the states.
- The states should have a certain degree of freedom in negotiating loans, aid, etc., for developmental activities.
- The states should be given more administrative powers. Anandpur Sahib Resolution lays down that Centre should have only four subjects: defence, communication, foreign affairs and currency. All other powers should be given to the states.
Should some states be governed by special provisions? Does this create resentment among other States? Does this help in forging greater unity among the regions of the country?
The salient feature of Indian federation is that many states are governed by special provisions. For example, J & K was governed by special provisions till August 2019. But on 5–6 August 2019, Article 370 related to J & K was abrogated from Indian Constitution. Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram are governed by special status. However special status create some resentment among other states, but special status, on some context are necessary for unity of the country.