Federal Structure of India: A Brief Review by Bishal Basak @LexCliq.com

ABSTRACT:

This article describes the features of India’s federal system and process, and seeks to explain their effectiveness in terms of their symbiosis with the projects of nation-building and state-formation in India. This is done through a presentation of the basic structure of federalism in India and its political constraints. Federalism, along with parliamentarism, is axial principle of Government in India. Indian federalism is not a static entity. It has been evolving over the years form a predominantly parliamentary system. The flexibility of the federal process has made it possible for the state in India to accommodate ethno-national movements in the form of new regions, thus gradually increasing both the number of states and the governability of the union. In this article we examine federal Process in India, structure, asymmetric federalism, and the interaction between globalization and India’s federal system, in the context of the country’s past decade of economic reform.

Keywords: federal, India, state

INTRODUCTION:

Even before Independence, most leaders of our national movement were aware that to govern a large country like ours, it would be a necessary to decide the powers between provinces and the central government. There was also awareness that Indian society had regional divergence and linguistic divergence. The diversity needed recognition. People of various regions and languages had to share power and, in each region, people of that region should govern themselves. This was only a logic if we wanted a democratic government. Once the decision of partition of India was taken, the constituent Assembly decided to frame a government that would be based on the principles of unity and cooperation between the Centre and the States and also separate powers to the states. The most important feature of the federal system adapted by the Indian Constitution is the principle that relates between the states and the Centre would be based on cooperation. Thus, while recognizing diversity, the constitution emphasized unity.

The word ‘Federalism’ Originated from the word ‘Foedus’ means ‘treaty’ or ‘covenant’. Federalism is a system of state during which the facility is split between a central authority and various constituent units of the country.

Components:

  • Distribution of powers (duel polity)
  • Written constitution
  • Supremacy of the constitution
  • Rigidity of the constitution (non-unilateral change)
  • Authority of the courts (interpretation of judiciary)

Federalism in India:

India is ‘holding together’ sort of federation during which powers are vested within the state governments that function under the general supervision of the union government.

The three-tier system of government:

  • Union government
  • State government
  • Local self-government in the form of Panchayats and municipalities in the form of local self-government

Distribution of powers between the union and also the states:

  • Union list – Subject of national importance such as defense, foreign affairs, baking, and currency.
  • State list – Subjects of state and local importance such as police, trade, commerce, agriculture and irrigation.
  • Concurrent list – Subjects of general interest in both for instance education and forest, unions, marriage, adoption, and succession

HISTORY OF FEDERALISM IN INDIA:

The genesis of this federal system in India lies within the Simon Report of May 1930 which supported the thought of a federal rule in India. This support for the federal sort of government for the India of the longer was further affirmed within the First Round Table Conference of 1930. Mr. Ramsay Mac Donald, the then Prime Minister of Great Britain, speaking at the ultimate plenary session of that Second Round Table Conference said:

“There is a contrast of opinion, for instance on the configuration and powers of the Federal Legislature, and the regret owing to the absence of a settlement of the key questions of the way to defend the Minorities under a responsible Central Government, the Conference has been unable to debate fruitfully the character of the Federal Executive and its association with the Legislature”.

After the Third Round Table also flopped significantly, the British Government issued a White Book in March 1933, which proposed a new Indian Constitution with an accountable government in the territory and the principle of emirate at the Centre. As a result of the publication of the White Book, a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament was appointed by His Majesty’s Government in April 1933 to gauge and survey the proposals of the White Book. These proposals were enacted into law and received the assent of British Crown and have become ultimately the idea for the Government of India Act of 1935.

The significance of the Act of 1935 lies within the inconvertible fact that the provinces were endowed with a legal personality under a national scheme, and which the character of the national scheme was ultimately a federal system. This meant the abolition of the principle of emirate at the regional level and its confinement at the Centre. But the federal construction that India follows today is different from what the British came to us with. The most important hint of federalism in India lies within the history of its foundation in 1947 when after the Partition of Pakistan from the Indian subcontinent all the provinces, presidencies, and princely states were united under an instrument of accession that signifies that each one previously sovereign or reliant states came together to be called one nation-state.

FEATURES OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION:

The Constitution has adopted federal features which is helpful in developing a strong federal structure in India:

  • Written Constitution: The most important feature of a federation is that its constitution should be a written one, so that both the union and the government as well as the State can ask that as and when needed. The Constitution of India may be a document and is that the most elaborate Constitution of the planet. It establishes supremacy of the Constitution because both the union and the states are given power by the Constitution as to be independent in their spheres of governance.
  • Rigid Constitution – The procedure of amending the Constitution during a federal system is generally rigid. Indian Constitution provides that some amendments has to be passed by majority of total members of each house of parliament as well as by two-thirds majority of members present and voting there in. However, additionally to the present process, some amendments must be approved by a minimum of 50% of the states. After this procedure the amendment is signed by the top of the state i.e. the President. Since in India important amendments are often amended through this procedure. Hence, Indian Constitution has been firmly called a rigid constitution.
  • Division of powers – In our Constitution, there is a transparent division of powers, in order that the States and therefore the Centre are required to enact and legislate within their sphere of activity and none violates its limits and tries to encroach upon the function of others. Our Constitution enumerates 3 lists which are the Union, the State, the Concurrent list. The Union list consists of 97 subjects of national importance like defense, railways, post and telegraphs, etc. The State list consists of 66 subjects of local interests such as Public health. The Concurrent list has 47 subjects important to both the Union and also the State. Such as electricity, union, economic, and social planning etc.
  • Supremacy of Judiciary – Another vital feature of a federation is an independent judiciary to interpret the Constitution and to take care of sanctity. The Supreme Court of India has the first jurisdiction to settle disputes between the Union and also the States. It can declare a law as unconstitutional, if it contravenes any provision of constitution.

THE THREE TIER SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT UNDER FEDERAL STRUCTURE:

The Three Tier Government of India:

  • Central Government – It is chosen by party/group of parties which get quite 50% seats within the parliamentary elections i.e., Lok Sabha elections.
  • State Government – It is chosen by the party/group of parties which get quite 50% seats within the assembly elections of a state i.e., Vidhan Sabha elections.
  • Municipal Corporation/Gram Panchayats – These are a little different. Elections which are held here also but not for one party’s Government.

CONCLUSION:

The motto of “Unity in diversity” has always been very vital to India and a federal help to determine a rustic with mutual tolerance and existence. However, for a rustic like India which is split on the linguistic and communal basis, a pure federal structure would cause disruption and division of states. With too much power given to a state, it will want to shift away from the union and establish its own government. I believe that is the cause why Jammu & Kashmir’s special powers are at issue in the communal time and again. To overcome all this and therefore the aforesaid demerits would like to strike a balance between both unitary and federal features of the country. States should be autonomous within their own sphere but they can’t be wholly independent to avoid a state of tyranny in the nation. People of India need protection and security from such things and which is what the constitution of India with its special provisions provides. It establishes a state which is both a union and a federation at an equivalent time and thus gives India a structure of a quasi-federal government which has united the diversity of India for past 71 years and can do an equivalent the same for the centuries to return.

REFERENCES

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