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Federalism in India - Federal Features of Indian Constitution [UPSC Indian Polity Notes]

Federalism is a system of government in which powers have been divided between the centre and its constituent parts such as states or provinces. It is an institutional mechanism to accommodate two sets of politics, one at the central or national level and the second at the regional or provincial level. It makes an important part of Indian Polity syllabus of the IAS Exam . This article will introduce you to Federalism in India notes.

CRM IAS Push Noti

The topic of federalism is an important one concerning Indian polity. It is also in the news nowadays, especially with respect to the spats between the central and the state governments. Hence, the topic of federalism is extremely crucial for the IAS exam.

Federalism Latest in News

In the context of the Supreme Court’s upholding of the government’s abrogation of Article 370, the concept of federalism in India is under discussion once again. According to some critics, the Court’s assertion that the President holds unbridled power to abrogate Article 370 contradicts the principles of federalism and constitutional democracy. Read more about this in CNA dated Dec 14, 2023 .

Federalism in India – UPSC Indian Polity Notes Download PDF Here

Federal System – Two Types of Federations

write an essay on indian federalism

In a federation system, there are two seats of power that are autonomous in their own spheres. A federal system is different from a unitary system in that sovereignty is constitutionally split between two territorial levels so that each level can act independently of each other in some areas.

There are two kinds of federations:

  • Holding Together Federation – In this type, powers are shared between various constituent parts to accommodate the diversity in the whole entity. Here, powers are generally tilted towards the central authority. Example: India, Spain, Belgium.
  • Coming Together Federation – In this type, independent states come together to form a larger unit. Here, states enjoy more autonomy as compared to the holding together kind of federation. Example: USA, Australia, Switzerland.

Read the difference between Indian and the US government in the linked article.

Aspirants reading the topic, ‘Federalism in India,’ are also suggested to read the following topics related to Indian Polity syllabus:

Features of the Federal System of India

  • Dual government polity
  • Division of powers between various levels
  • Rigidity of constitution
  • Independence judiciary
  • Bicameralism

All federations might not have all the above features. Some of them may be incorporated depending on what type of federation it is.

Federalism in India

India is a federal system but with more tilt towards a unitary system of government. It is sometimes considered a quasi-federal system as it has features of both a federal and a unitary system. Article 1 of the Indian Constitution states, ‘India, that is Bharat, shall be a union of states ’. The word federation is not mentioned in the constitution.

Elements of federalism were introduced into modern India by the Government of India Act of 1919 which separated powers between the centre and the provincial legislatures.

Read about Constituent Assembly debates on Federalism in the linked article.

Federal Features of the Indian Union

  • Governments at two levels – centre and states
  • Concurrent List
  • Supremacy of the constitution – the basic structure of the constitution is indestructible as laid out by the judiciary. The constitution is the supreme law in India.
  • Independent judiciary – the constitution provides for an independent and integrated judiciary. The lower and district courts are at the bottom levels, the high courts are at the state levels and at the topmost position is the Supreme Court of India . All courts are subordinate to the Supreme Court.

Also, read the RSTV’s Big Picture’s discussion on challenges to the Federal Structure in the linked article.

Unitary Features of the Indian Union

  • The flexibility of the Constitution – the Constitution is a blend of flexibility and rigidity. Certain provisions of the Constitution can be easily amended. In case the amendments seek to change aspects of federalism in India, the provision to bring about such amendments is not easy. (Read about types of majorities in Indian Parliament using which amendments or certain other provisions are introduced.)
  • More power vests with the Centre – the constitution guarantees more powers with the Union List. On the Concurrent List subjects, the parliament can make laws that can override the laws made by a state legislature on some matters. The parliament can also make laws regarding certain subjects in the State List.
  • Unequal representation of states in the Rajya Sabha – the representation of the states in the upper house is based on the states’ populations. For example, Uttar Pradesh has 31 seats and Goa, 1 in the Rajya Sabha. In an ideal federal system, all the states should have equal representation.
  • The executive is a part of the legislature – in India, the executive in both the centre and the states is a part of the legislature. This goes against the principle of division of powers between the different organs of the government.
  • Lok Sabha is more powerful than the Rajya Sabha – in our system, the Lok Sabha is more powerful than the upper house and unequal powers to two houses is against the principle of federalism.
  • Emergency powers – the centre is provided with emergency powers. When an emergency is imposed, the centre has increased control over states. This undermines the autonomy of the states. (You may also read about President’s rule – Article 356 in the linked article.)
  • Integrated judiciary – the judiciary in India is integrated. There is no separate judiciary at the centre and the state levels. (Gain more information about Indian Judiciary from the notes mentioned in the linked article.)
  • Single citizenship – in India, only single citizenship is available to citizens. They cannot be citizens of the state as well. This helps in increasing the feeling of nationality as it forges unity amidst regional and cultural differences. It also augments fundamental rights such as the freedom of movement and residence in any part of the nation.
  • Governor’s appointment – the governor of a state acts as the centre’s representative in the state. The state government does not appoint the governor, the centre does.
  • New states formation – the parliament has the power to alter the territory of a state by increasing or reducing the area of the state. It can also change the name of a state.
  • All India Services – through the All India Services such as the IAS, IPS, etc. the centre interferes in the executive powers of the states. These services also offer uniformity in administration throughout the nation.
  • Integrated election machinery – the Election Commission of India is responsible for conducting free and fair elections at both the centre and the state levels in India. The members of the EC is appointed by the president.
  • Veto over states bills – The governor of a state can reserve certain kinds of bills for the president’s consideration. The president enjoys absolute veto on these bills. He can even reject the bill at the second instance that is when the bill is sent after reconsideration by the state legislature. This provision is a departure from the principles of federalism. (Read in detail about veto power in the linked article.)
  • Integrated audit machinery – the president of the country appoints the CAG who audits accounts of both the centre and the states.
  • Power to remove key officials – the state government or state legislature does not have the authority to remove certain key government officials even at the state level like the election commissioner of a state, judges of the high courts , or the chairman of the state public service commissions.

Federalism is an important principle and federalism in India is especially relevant for the UPSC exam. It comes under polity and governance in general studies paper II in UPSC Syllabus 2024 .

FAQ about Federalism in India

What are the main features/characteristics of indian federalism, which type of federalism is practised in india, what are the three list of indian federalism, what is the main purpose of federalism, how many types of federations are there.

There are two types of federations:

  • Holding Together Federation  – In this type, powers are shared between various constituent parts to accommodate the diversity in the whole entity. Here, powers are generally tilted towards the central authority. Example: India, Spain, Belgium.
  • Coming Together Federation  – In this type, independent states come together to form a larger unit. Here, states enjoy more autonomy as compared to the holding together kind of federation. Example: USA, Australia, Switzerland.

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Essay on the Indian Federalism System

write an essay on indian federalism

In this essay we will discuss about the Indian Federalism System. After reading this essay you will learn about:- 1. Historical Background of Indian Federalism System 2. Federal Features of Indian Constitution 3. Non-Federal Features of Indian Constitution 4. Evaluation of Federal System 5. India’s Federal Structure and Nation Building 6. Critical Assessment of Indian Federalism and Other Details .

List of Essays on the Indian Federalism System

Essay Contents:

  • Essay on Some Recent Trends in Centre-State Relationship in India

Essay # 1. Historical Background of Indian Federalism System:

India being a vast country administratively it is impossible to rule it from one centre. Even in a unitary form of government with a bureaucratic set up, the British government realised that the country should be a federation. Accordingly Government of India Act of 1935 envisaged a federal polity for India. Nehru Report and All Party Conference also suggested federal set-up for the country.

All subsequent negotiations which followed after 1935, to solve India’s constitutional problems were based on the principle of federal polity for India. Accordingly constitution fathers made India a Union of States, which implies that the states have no right to secede from the centre.

\These will be given some powers and a limited autonomy. According to Dr. Ambedkar, the Constitution of Union and States is a single frame from which neither can get out and within which they must work.

Though all these proposals envisaged to make India a federation, yet there was never a proposal that in the federal system centre will be very strong. Since Muslim League always was trying to get more and more powers, therefore, all attempts made to solve India’s constitutional tangle aimed at making India a federation with weak centre and powerful provinces.

The centre was to deal with only few subjects, while all other subjects were to tie dealt with by the provinces. The provinces were also given right to frame their own constitution and to decide whether they were interested in accepting federal constitution or not.

It was only after the country was partitioned and subsequently the situations so developed that it was felt unavoidable and inescapable to have a very strong centre.

There was thus extreme switch over from a very weak centre to a very strong and powerful centre, making few to comment that Indian states are only glorified municipalities and nothing beyond that. But the idea of a federal set up for the country was adhered to and followed by constitution fathers.

Before discussing Centre-state relations in India it may be clearly understood that India is ‘Union of States’ and in the Constitution term ‘federation’ has nowhere been used. It implies that the Union of India, unlike a federation is not the result of any agreement between the federating units. It also means that federating units have no right to leave the union.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, while explaining the position said, “Though the country and the people can be divided into different states for the convenience of administration, the country is an integrated whole, its people a single living under single imperium derived from a single source.”

At the very introduction Dr. Ambedkar also said that, “Draft Constitution is federal Constitution in as much as it establishes what may be called a Dual Polity. The Dual Polity under the proposed constitution will consist of Union at the Centre and states at the periphery, each endowned with sovereign powers to be assigned to them respectively by the constitution.

One way of constituting a federation is that sovereign independent states may voluntarily agree to come together and form a federation. These states agree to surrender certain subjects of common interest to a newly created centre. The states, however, continue their individual existence. It is on this basis that U.S. federation is based.

Then another way of formation of a federation is when a unitary state is broken into number of units or provinces and certain subjects are allotted to them for smooth running of administration, keeping in view circumstances of the country. Federations in Canada and India have been created on this pattern. In it the federating units by whatever name these may be called have no sovereign independent status.

Essay # 2. Federal Features of Indian Constitution:

Indian federation of today has many such characteristics which are essential for a federal polity but many other characteristics which are missing but are not found in a typical federation. For a federation it is essential that its constitution should be written one, so that both the units as well as the centre can refer to that as and when need be.

Accordingly India has a written constitution and in fact one of the most written constitutions of the world. All powers and authorities flow from the constitution, which is the most sacred national document.

It discusses relations of all the three organs of the government; namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary with each-other on the one hand and that of the individual and the state on the other. It also very clearly specifies centre-state relations.

It is usually considered better that in a federation much should be left to conventions, because federations can work on the principle of trust and good faith. Conventions can, however, develop when not much is written. When everything has already been reduced to writing how can conventions grow? Constitution makers, however, deliberately did not leave much scope for conventions, because they felt that keeping in view political, social and economic conditions of the country it was essential and in the national interest that everything should be reduced in writing.

It was perhaps felt that if much was left to conventions, which might not grow in the desired direction, the spirit with which constitution was being drafted might be defeated. It was felt at that time that it was not desirable to leave much for the conventions to grow.

In a federation the constitution should be supreme and source of strength, both for the centre as well as the federating units. None should be powerful enough to mould the constitution to suit his convenience. Accordingly India’s constitution is also supreme and not hand-maid of either the centre or of the states.

If for any reason any organ of the State dares to violate any provision of the constitution, the courts of law are there to ensure that the sanctity of the constitution is upheld at all costs. During 1975-1977 period an effort was made to give an impression that the Constitution was not a sacrosant document, but that was not accepted by the people of India.

In a federation there should be clear division of subjects so that the units and the centre are required to enact and legislate within their sphere of activity and none trans-gresses its limits and tries to encroach upon the subjects of the other. On the same analogy in India there is clear division of subjects.

In the constitution there is a state list on which states are competent to exclusively enact laws. Then there is central list, on which centre is only competent to legislate. Constitution also has concurrent list and both the centre as well as the states are competent to legislate on the subjects mentioned in the list with the provision that when central and state laws contradict or conflict with each-other, the former shall have preference over the latter.

It means that to the extent to which state law violates or contradicts central law, to that extent that will be ultra vires and provisions of the Central law will prevail over state law. Not only this, but it has been clearly said that residuary powers shall vest with the centre. Thus, on a federal pattern in India there is clear division of powers and functions.

Some of the important subjects mentioned in the central list are:

Atomic Energy and Mineral Resources

Central Bureau of Investigation

Foreign Affairs


Shipping and Navigation Airways

Currency, Coinage and Foreign Loans

Trade and Commerce with Foreign Countries

Regulation of Labour and Safety in Mines and Oil Fields

Higher Education, Scientific Research & Technical Education

Union Public Service Commission

Elections to Parliament and State Legislatures

Audit and Accounts of Union and State Governments

Organisation and Functions, etc., of Supreme Court of India.

Inter-state Migration

In all there are 97 subjects in the central list.

The constitution has also listed subjects on which only states can legislate. These are mentioned in 7th Schedule of the Constitution.

Some such subjects are:

Public Order

Administration of Justice, except Supreme Court

Local Government

Public Health and Sanitation

Intoxicating Liquors

Burials and Burial Grounds


Markets and Fairs

State Public Services

Taxes on Agricultural Income

Rates of Stamp Duties

In all there are 66 items which are included in the state list.

There is also a concurrent list in the Seventh Schedule. On the subjects mentioned in that list both the centre and states can legislate, but the former will always prevail over the latter.

The subjects included in this list are:

Criminal Law

Preventive Detentions for reasons of State Security.

Marriages and Divorces

Transfer of Property

Bankruptcy and Insolvency

Trusts and Trustees

Adulteration of Food Stuffs

Economic and Social Planning

Trade Unions

Social Security

Vocational and Technical Training

Legal, Medical and other Professions

Newspapers, Books

Acquisitioning and Requisitioning of Property.

In this list there are in all 48 subjects.

For a federation it is also essential that the judiciary should be supreme and independent. It should be custodian of the constitution and safeguard the interests of the people. Not only this, but it should have the powers to settle disputes which might arise between the centre and states on any matter.

This is done with a view to avoiding disharmony between the centre and the federating units. In India the constitution has provided for a Supreme Court and every effort has been made to see that judiciary in India is independent and beyond the influence of either the executive or the legislature.

In order to ensure our federating states about the impartiality of judiciary, the judges are not appointed by the executive government but by the head of the state.

They, however, cannot be removed by him unless a request for removal’ is made by the legislature. Their salaries are not voted by the Parliament. These also cannot be reduced to their disadvantage during the tenure of their office. India has, thus, essential character of a federation.

No federation can exist without bicameral system of legislature. This is essential because in the Lower House the representatives are elected on the basis of population and every adult of the country is entitled to cast his vote. Thus, a federating state with more population will definitely have more weightage over the state with less population.

It is in the Upper House that federating units are adjusted and accommodated so that they feel a sense of security and equality. In India there is also bicameral system of legislature consisting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. Whereas in the Lok Sabha direct!) elected representatives of the people sit and deliberate, in the Upper House representatives from states perform their legislative functions.

For a federation another essential characteristic is that the constitution of the country should be rigid. This rigidity is specially desired by the federating units so that the centre subsequently does not change the list of subjects to suit its convenience. A rigid constitution, as we know is one which cannot be easily changed and for amending a constitutional clause a special procedure is desired to be followed.

India’s constitution is accordingly rigid to a great extent and thus is in conformity with a federal set up.

Essay # 3. Non-Federal Features of Indian Constitution:

But as already said India is not a perfect federation. She is a quasi-federal polity and has a powerful and strong centre.

According to Dr. K.P. Mukerjee, “I have come to take the view that whatever might have been the position at the drafting stage or previous to that stage the constitution that emerged out of the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly of India in January 1950 is definitely un-federal or unitary constitution.” Dr. Ambedkar said, “The constitution has not been set in a tight mould of federalism.”

Some of the significant departures from a federal set up are as under:

In Indian federal polity centre is rather too much and too over centralised. From the divisions of subjects it is quite clear that centre has many more subjects than what the states have. Moreover, it can legislate on the subjects mentioned in concurrent list.

No doubt, the states can legislate on the subjects mentioned in the concurrent list, but whenever there is a conflict between a central and a state law on a subject mentioned in this list, it is the former which is to get precedence over the latter.

Thus, the centre can legislate on the subjects mentioned in the central list, concurrent list and also enjoys residuary powers. It has, therefore, rightly been said that in our constitution states have been reduced to the position of glorified municipalities.

In an ideal federation citizens enjoy double citizenship rights. They are the citizens of the state to which they belong and also become the citizens of a federation to which their state has joined. But in India there is only single citizenship. All are the citizens of Indian Union and this practice of single citizenship is against the spirit of an ideal federal system.

Bicameral system is considered essential in a federation because it is in the Upper House alone that the units can be given equal representation. No doubt, in India too there is bicameralism but in the Rajya Sabha, which is Upper House of India’s Parliament, states have not been given equal representation.

Here too population system has been followed and bigger states have been given more representation than the smaller ones.

This is again against the spirit of an ideal federation. As is well known in the USA, Senate, which is Upper House of US Congress, all states have been given equal representation. In this two representatives come from each state, irrespective of the population or area of the state.

In addition to this, the Rajya Sabha has special powers. It can authorise the Parliament to make laws on a subject mentioned in the state list. It can do this by a resolution to be passed by two-thirds majority of the members present and voting.

The Parliament then can make a law on such a subject either for the whole country or a particular state. This provision of the constitution clearly indicates that the centre can interfere in the affairs of the state (s), which is again not in keeping with a federal system

In a federation centre has no right to change the boundaries of the states. It is primarily because, the states which join the federation are sovereign and independent before their joining federal polity. This has become a very essential criteria for a perfect federation.

But in the case of India centre has a right to change the boundaries of any state and to carve out any new state out of the existing states. In fact, this has happened in India, not only once but several times. In early fifties, Andhra Pradesh was created out of then Madras State, thereafter came States Reorganisation Commission and the chain followed.

Today there are very few states boundaries of which have not been changed at some stage or the other. The right of the centre to change the boundaries of the states is against federal set-up.

In the Constitution there is a provision for the appointment of Inter-State Councils for the settlement of inter-state and centre-state disputes. The members of each Council are appointed by the President and its recommendations and findings are also sent to him. The states have been given no powers or say either in the appointment or removal of members of the Council or its chairman.

Under the Constitution of India, the President of the Republic has been given emergency powers. An emergency can arise both in the political and financial fields. In the political field it implies failure to run administrative machinery of state in accordance with the constitution of the country. It means political instability and complete break down of law and order machinery.

In the financial field it implies grave financial crisis which cannot be solved by normal constitutional procedures. Whether such conditions which necessitate the declaration of emergency really exist or not very much depends on the President to decide. He is the sole judge to decide in this regard and his decision is final and binding. Forty-Fourth Constitution Amendment Act has, however, put some restrictions with regard to declaration of emergency. One effect of declaration of emergency is that administration of the state is taken over by the centre, which is not in keeping with the spirit of federal polity at all.

In this connection it may be pointed out that the emergency can be for whole of India or any part thereof.

In Indian states emergency has been declared several times by the President. In 1977, when Janata government came to power it dissolved nine Congress ruled State Assemblies. Similarly in 1980 when Congress (I) came to power in the centre, it dissolved nine Janata ruled states in addition to Delhi Metropolitan Council.

In 1989, State Assembly of Karnataka which had Janata Government under S.R Bomai was dissolved on the plea of political instability, hi the wake of Babri Masjid demolition the central government dissolved BJ.P. ruled state governments of Uttar Pradesh., Madhya Pradesh., Himachal Pardesh, and Rajasthan.

The Central government has been given power to appoint enquiry commissions against Chief Minister or a particular Minister to investigate charges of misuse of power and authority, or corruption or similar other charges. In the past, enquiry commissions were set up against Dev Raj Urs and Partap Singh Kairon, and the states have no say in the composition of such enquiry commissions as its members are appointed and removed by the central government. This power is becoming more effective because opposition everywhere is levying charges against the Chief Ministers of corruption and misuse of power.

In an ideal federation there should be rigid constitution, which implies that the constitution should not be easily amendable. This is done with a view to ensuring the states that the centre shall not easily amend the constitution. One finds that in the USA which is an ideal federation of today, the constitution is very rigid.

It is said that if given an opportunity, the people of the USA will try to enact their constitution which will provide some flexibility. But Indian constitution is not very rigid. Many parts of the constitution can be easily amended. By 1995 the constitution had been amended as many as 80 times. This flexibility of constitution is against the spirit of federal system.

Why a federation at all needs a rigid constitution ? In a federation federating units, which join it, are independent, sovereign states before these become an integral part of the federation. These units come together on certain terms and conditions and agree to surrender minimum subjects and autonomy, whereas these wish to keep maximum with themselves.

These units do not wish that this arrangement should be disturbed in anyway, at any stage after they have agreed to join the federation. Situations can arise in the history of a nation when centre may need more powers to deal with a particular situation on short-or long-term basis and may feel tempted to take away those powers which are not within its jurisdictions. Even otherwise some political party in power at the centre may be interested in a powerful centre, as against the desire of the federating states not to surrender their powers. Such tendencies and desires can only be checked when constitution is rigid and it is not possible to easily amend it. When the constitution is flexible changes in the lists of subjects can easily and conveniently be made. It is why in an ideal federation provision is made for a rigid, rather than a flexible constitution.

In India there is also centralised election machinery which holds election throughout the country. It is the responsibility of the Chief Election Commissioner who is appointed by the central government to make election arrangements for the whole country. All election laws are to be passed by the Parliament. States have no say either in the appointment or removal or changes in the service conditions of Chief Election Commissioner.

In India there is a provision for All India Administrative Services. Those belonging to All India Services (I.A.S., I.P.S. & A and AS ), etc., can be posted in any state. Similarly those belonging to state services are posted at the centre.

There is also a unified judiciary and Supreme Court has powers to listen appeals from the states, both from the individual as well as the organisations.

Similarly according to the constitution the states are required to act as the agents of the centre in such matters as to the collection of income-tax, etc.

Not only is this, but a Governor, who is the head of the state appointed by the President of India on the recommendations of the central government. He is required to report the President on the working of state government. For all his actions of omission and commission he is not accountable to the state legislature.

This single institution of Governorship has created many strains on centre-state relationship. In the appointment of a Governor it is not obligatory for the centre to consult the concerned state Chief Minister. The States have quite often alleged that centrally imposed Governors act as tools of the centre in toppling inconvenient opposition ruled states.

There is a single Union Public Service Commission which makes all appointments. The existence of powerful and unified All India Services is against the spirit of federal system.

In a federation, as far as possible, states should be financially self-sufficient so that these enjoy maximum autonomy. But in Indian federal system the states are to depend on the centre for all developments. They have much less sources of income but many more needs of expenditure. This financial dependency has very much hindered the growth of states on federal lines.

Comptroller and Auditor General, who is an autonomous body is responsible for ensuring that the accounts of all government departments are properly maintained and audited. He appoints State Accounts General. He again is appointed by the President and the states have no say in his appointment or removal.

Units of a federation ordinarily have a right to amend their own constitution. But in India that is not the case. Whole country is governed by one constitution which is applicable to the people all over the country. States in India have no right to amend any part of the constitution. It is left to the centre to amend the constitution in the way it feels desirable and necessary, though approval of state in some cases is needed.

In addition, there are many other fields in which the centre can interfere in the affairs of the states. In peculiar conditions centre can abolish an existing state which is unit of our federation, India has a unified civil and criminal code of laws and the states are supposed to implement these laws.

It is the special responsibility of centre to look after development and growth of scheduled casts, scheduled tribes and other backward classes. One finds that there are certain matters which cannot be introduced in any state legislature without prior approval of the central government. But above all one finds that Union Territories are governed and administered by the central government purely on unitary basis and there is no tinge of federal system in their administration.

Not only this but under certain special circumstances the Centre can send its forces in a state, for maintaining law and order.

Essay # 4. Evaluation of Federal System:

Some of the critics in their zeal to criticise the constitution of India have tried to point out that India is not a true federation. They lay too much stress on its unitary features and under-estimate its federal characteristics.

But is this correct? India is a federation and developing on federal principles. Essence of federal system is division of powers between the centre and the states and existence of independent units which form the federation. Both these essentials are very much there in Indian federation.

The only question is that of degree. Federalism does not mean essential rigidity but merely a political arrangement which can be adjusted to suit national conditions. India’s federal system has too been adjusted accordingly. Emergency provisions of the constitution which have been criticised are intended only for dealing with extra-ordinary situations and have nothing to do with normal times.

After the passing of Constitution Forty-Fourth Amendment Act procedure for the declaration of emergency has been made considerably difficult. It now requires cabinet approval before its declaration. Apprehension of an emergency situation cannot be a cause for declaration of emergency.

In addition, its duration too has been reduced. Provision for unified judiciary and administrative services has been made with a view to giving the people of India a sense and feelings of oneness.

Dr. Ambedkar once remarked, “It is strong enough to hold the country together both in peace time and in war time. Indeed, I may say so, if the things go wrong under the new constitution, the reason will not be that we had a bad constitution, what we will have to say is, that the man was vile.”

Essay # 5. India’s Federal Structure and Nation Building :

In Indian federal system there is a strong centre and in it states are weak partners. Whether such a system is conducive for nation building or not. In India there is plurality of races and languages. Each racial and lingual group is interested in developing that. There is a strong view point that if India’s diversity i f fully allowed to develop, that will more help in nation building process, than a unified strong centre.

India which is panorama of races, with each rare having its own cultural heritage, should be fully allowed to develop and grow. It is, therefore, argued that a loose federation or a federal policy, which has a weak centre, would go a long way in the nation building process.

It is pointed out that before independence every concession was given to the Muslim League and there was always a proposition that after the Britishers leave India, in the Indian federation centre will be weak, whereas the units will be strong. This was done in the hope that under that arrangement alone India will remain as a united nation and will emerge stronger with the passage of time.

But on the other hand, there is another view point. It is said that under the present circumstances and prevailing political, social and economic conditions, it is only a strong central control which can help in nation-building process. Under the arrangement of things, as these exist, a strong centre can portray and forge the image of a nation.

In the states local leaders work under local pressures and influences. In the political field there is quite often political instability and political morality is touching low-ebbs. Coalition governments do not last for a very long time. Moreover, local leaders have internal party feuds and there is no forum on which they can meet to portray the picture of a united India.

It is not unusual that people rush to Delhi from far off places to get their local difficulties redressed because either they have no faith in local leaders or they have failed to solve these. In fact, all state level political issues are solved in Delhi. This has given currency to what is known as ‘Delhi Darbar’. Since states in India are autonomous, therefore, there is no problem for the peoples of the state to develop in its own way.

In view of plural character of the society in which there are minorities everywhere, federal system with a strong centre can go a long way in nation-building process in the country.

Essay # 6. Critical Assessment of Indian Federalism:

Indian federation is based on the philosophy that strong centre can solve the problems of vast India which is faced with serious problems. While justifying the need of a strong Chief Justice Chandra Chud once said, “History holds a lesson that a weak and strife-torn centre makes non-sense of the federal concept. Federalism and high ideas which go with it then become an empty dream and a casualty in the common man’s welfare in the tug of war for power, the din of shouting and counter-shouting downs not merely the norms of ordinary decency but the very desire for a democracy to work for the attainment of democratic ideals.”

KM. Panikar also felt that strong centre was need of the hour in so far as India was concerned.

He said that, “The purpose which the founding fathers had in view was not only to hold in the check the fissiparous tendencies which led to the disruption of former empire and to maintain the unity which had been achieved after so much struggle, but to endow the central government with all powers necessary in the political and economic fields to enable India to undertake a policy of planned development which would raise her to the position of modem nation, unhampered by the statutory rights of state governments.”

As already said the Constitution fathers felt that a strong centre was needed not only for maintaining political unity of the country but also for checking fissiparous tendencies which were raising their ugly head. Not only this but a strong centre was also needed for maintaining effective law and order in the country, the possibility of which could not be ruled out even in the near future.

In addition, it was also felt that serious problems of shortages, inflation, external aggression, political and economic stability could be solved by the centre which had teeth to bite. The Centre was also to deal with forces of disintegration and separation which states could not possibly deal effectively because that needed a national level policy.

And above all there was a trend towards centralisation and India could be no exception to it

But at the same time it may be pointed out that the constitution makers were quite keen to give sufficient autonomy to the state. Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru said in the Constituent Assembly, “We are unanimously of the view that it would be injurious to the interests of the country to provide for a weak central authority …. At the same time we are quite clear in our minds that there are many matters in which the authority must be solely with the units’ and to frame a constitution on the basis of a unitary state would be a retro­grade step both politically and administratively.”

Similarly Dr. B.R. Ambedkar also said that, “The basic principle of federalism is that legislative and executive authority is partitioned between the centre and the states not only by the centre but by the constitution itself.

The states under our constitution are in no way dependent upon the centre for their legislative and executive authority. The centre and the states are co-equal in this matter. It is difficult to see how such a constitution can be called centralist…. The chief mark of federalism as I said lies in the partition of the legislative and the executive authority, between the centre and the units by the constitution. This is the principle embodied in our constitution…. It is, therefore, wrong to say that states have been placed under the centre.

Essay # 7. Some Recent Trends in Centre-State Relationship in India:

All over the world there is a tendency that the centre should be powerful and strong so that it can effectively deal both national and international problems but in India the states are resenting a powerful centre. These are demanding more powers and autonomy. In 1968, West Bengal Government of Shri Ajay Mukerjee forced centre to remove Shri Dharam Vira as State Governor.

It was again because of insistence of that state Government that Prof. Nurul Hassan continued to occupy the position of Governor of West Bengal till his death.

In 1979, after the fall of Janata Government at the centre, Choudhary Charan Singh became Prime Minister of India. He got promulgated Preventive Detention Ordinance. But the state governments of Himachal Pardesh, Haryana, Bihar, Gujarat and several other refused to implement the provisions of the said ordinance. Central Government could not do anything.

It has also found herself helpless in the face of tough resistance from Haryana and Punjab about the future of Chandigarh. Similarly the states have always exerted themselves whenever central government has tried to interfere and settle river water and territorial disputes between the states.

Boundary disputes between Maharashtra and Karnataka, river water disputes between Delhi, U.P., Haryana and Rajasthan about Yamuna water, Haryana and Punjab over distribution of water from Ravi-Beas and Satluj and Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala over the distribution of Narmada river water are the examples to quote.

The Constitution has provided that Hindi, shall be the national language of India and shall replace English but because of rough resistance from some of the states the central government had to assure the states that Hindi will not be imposed on any state and English shall continue as official language as long as these states required.

In fact, as the lime is passing with that the states are making it amply clear to the centre that these are not prepared to tolerate much central affairs in their affairs. This is, of course, a matter of concern because a weak centre and resistant attitude of the states is in no way in the national interests of the country as a whole.

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Essay on Federalism in India

Students are often asked to write an essay on Federalism in India in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Federalism in India


Federalism in India refers to the power distribution between the central government and the states. The Constitution of India established this system to ensure a balanced development.

Features of Federalism

Key features include dual government, written constitution, supremacy of constitution, rigid constitution, and independent judiciary. These ensure a proper division of powers.

Role of Federalism

Federalism plays a crucial role in maintaining unity and diversity. It allows states to manage local affairs while the center handles national issues.

In conclusion, federalism in India is a vital tool for governance, fostering cooperation and coordination between the center and states.

250 Words Essay on Federalism in India

Federalism, a fundamental component of the Indian constitution, is the division of power between the central government and various state governments. It not only allows for a balance of power, but also promotes unity in diversity, a hallmark of the Indian nation.

Origins and Evolution

Indian Federalism, unlike the American model, is not a result of independent units coming together to form a federation. Instead, it’s a unique blend of unitary and federal features, often referred to as quasi-federalism. The evolution of federalism in India can be traced back to the Government of India Act, 1935, which sowed the seeds of shared governance.

Features of Indian Federalism

The Indian Constitution provides a dual polity with a clear division of powers, ensuring the independence of both the levels of government. The Union List, State List, and Concurrent List outline the spheres of influence. However, in case of conflict, the central government holds supremacy, reflecting the unitary bias.

Challenges and Future Prospects

Indian federalism, despite its merits, faces challenges such as regional disparities, inter-state disputes, and the centralizing tendency of the Union government. However, the rise of regional parties and the increasing emphasis on cooperative federalism provide a promising future for the federal structure in India.

In conclusion, federalism in India is a dynamic and evolving concept. It’s a balancing act, maintaining unity while accommodating diversity, and holds the key to India’s democratic success.

500 Words Essay on Federalism in India

Introduction to federalism in india.

Federalism in India refers to the constitutional framework that divides the powers of governance between the central government and the states. This system ensures a balance of power, fostering cooperation and coordination, while preserving the unity and integrity of the nation.

Origins and Evolution of Federalism

The federal structure of India was established by the Constitution of India in 1950. The framers of the Constitution designed a unique blend of federalism, borrowing principles from both unitary and federal forms of government. The intent was to decentralize power, encourage local self-governance, and address the vast diversity of India.

Over time, Indian federalism has evolved, adapting to the changing socio-political landscape. The central government has occasionally exerted more control, particularly during times of national crisis. However, the states have also progressively gained more autonomy, especially with the rise of regional political parties.

Indian federalism is characterized by several unique features. The Constitution delineates the legislative, executive, and financial powers between the center and the states. However, in case of conflict, the central government’s decisions prevail, reflecting the unitary bias of Indian federalism.

The Constitution also provides for a bicameral parliament, with the Rajya Sabha representing the states at the national level. The inter-state council, an institutional mechanism for cooperation and coordination between the center and the states, is another significant feature.

Challenges to Federalism in India

Despite its many strengths, Indian federalism faces several challenges. Regional disparities in economic development, conflicts over resource allocation, and contentious issues of state autonomy often strain the federal structure.

The use of Article 356, which allows the center to take over the governance of a state under certain conditions, has been criticized for undermining federalism. Moreover, the increasing centralization of power and the dominance of national parties raise concerns about the erosion of state autonomy.

Future of Federalism in India

The future of Indian federalism hinges on striking a balance between central authority and state autonomy. The rise of coalition politics, the demand for greater fiscal federalism, and the increasing assertion of regional identities necessitate a re-evaluation of the federal structure.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, which promotes cooperative federalism by giving states a say in tax matters, exemplifies the potential for a more balanced federal structure.

In conclusion, federalism in India is a dynamic and evolving concept. It is an integral part of India’s democratic framework, enabling the country’s diverse regions to coexist and cooperate under a single national identity. It is essential to continually reassess and refine this structure to ensure it serves the best interests of the nation and its people.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

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Centre-State Relations

Last updated on February 7, 2024 by ClearIAS Team

Centre-State Relations

How has authority in India been divided between the Center and the States? How Center controls the Power of States? How is harmony between the Centre and State ensured? Read further to know more about Centre-State Relations in India.

The Indian Constitution’s federal system divides all legislative, executive, and financial powers between the Center and the States.

However, because the Constitution established a unified judicial system to uphold both federal and state laws, there is no division of powers in the judiciary.

Even though the federal government and the states are leaders in their own fields, for the federal system to work effectively, there must be the greatest possible concord and cooperation between them.

Table of Contents

Centre state relations

All legislative, executive and financial powers are divided between the centre and the states according to the Indian constitution in the context of Centre-State Relations.

There are three types of relationships involved in the centre -states relations:

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Legislative Relations

Administrative relations, financial relations.

Also read: Indian Federalism – 15 Issues that Challenge the Federal Structure of India; Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States

Article 245 to 255 of the constitution deals with the legislative relation between the centre and states. Indian constitution also divides the legislative power between the centre and states with respect to both territories and the subjects of legislation.

There are four aspects of the legislative relationships between the union and the states:

  • Territorial extent of central and state legislation
  • Distribution of legislative subjects
  • Parliamentary legislation in the state field
  • Centre’s control over state legislation

Territorial Extent of Central and State Legislation

The ability to pass legislation that covers all or a portion of India’s territory belongs to Parliament (territory includes union, state, UT)

Laws can be passed by the state legislature that is applicable to the entire state or only a portion of it. Unless there is a sufficient connection

between the state and the object, state laws are not applicable outside of the state.

The only body with the power to pass “extraterritorial” legislation is Parliament.

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Situations where parliamentary laws aren’t applicable in the following areas:

  • The President has the authority to enact rules that have the same force and effect as laws passed by parliament for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Ladakh and Lakshadweep.
  • Governor is empowered to direct that an act of Parliament does not apply to scheduled areas in the state or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.

Distribution of Legislative Subjects

The Union List , State List , and Concurrent List are the three divisions established by the constitution.

Parliament is the exclusive authority when it comes to the Union list.

In most cases, the state legislature alone has the power to pass legislation pertaining to the things on the state list.

The state and federal governments can both pass laws on the subjects mentioned in the concurrent list.

The ability to pass laws with a recurring theme rest with Parliament.

The concurrent list is given precedence over the state list, and the union list is given precedence over the state list.

The power to make laws with respect to residuary subjects is vested in the Parliament.

Parliamentary Legislation in the State Field

  • The Constitution permits Parliament to enact laws on any topic included in the state list under the following five exceptional circumstances:
  • When Rajya Sabha approves a resolution with the support of two-thirds of the members present and voting, it will provide parliament with the authority to enact legislation on a state list issue that is best for the nation. Such a resolution lasts for a full year. A resolution like this can be renewed a number of times, but not for more than a year at a time. The laws passed in accordance with the resolution cease to be in force six months after it was adopted. In the event of a disagreement between state and union legislation, the latter prevails. A state may, however, pass legislation on the same issue.
  • When a declaration of a National emergency is in force the Parliament may pass laws on any matter covered by the state list. The legislation passed under this are only valid for six months before they expire. State law may also enact legislation on the matter, but in the event of a conflict, union law will take precedence.
  • When a state makes a request to Parliament to act on a list of issues by passing a resolution to that effect, Parliament is given the power to do so. The state forfeits all rights there once this resolution is approved.  To implement International Agreements , the parliament can make laws on any matter in the state list for implementing International Treaties, agreements and conventions.
  • When President’s Rule is imposed in a state, the parliament becomes empowered to make laws with respect to any matter in the State List.

Centre’s Control Over State Legislation

According to the Constitution, the federal government is authorised to exercise the following influence over state legislative affairs:

  • Specific laws established by the state legislature may be set aside by the governor for presidential consideration. They are entirely under the president’s power.
  • Bills on specified subjects listed in the state list can only be filed in the state legislature with the President’s prior consent. For instance, interstate trade and commerce.
  • The President may ask a state to lay aside money bills and other financial bills for his consideration in the case of a financial emergency.

The distribution of legislative authority has resulted in a shared executive branch between the federal government and the states.

Article 256 to 263 of the constitution deals with the administrative relation between the Centre and States.

Distribution of Executive Powers

The centre’s power encompasses the entire nation when it comes to matters over which it has exclusive jurisdiction (union list), as well as when it exercises any rights, jurisdiction, or authority granted to it by a treaty or agreement.

The subjects listed in the state list fall under the state’s purview.

The states have the executive authority in matters involving the concurrent list.

  • The state’s executive branch must act in a way that ensures the laws established by Parliament are upheld.

A state’s executive power may not be interfered with or affected in any way.

The Obligation of States and the Centre

The constitution has placed two restrictions on the executive power of the states in order to give ample scope to the centre for exercising its executive power in an unrestricted manner.

  • As not to prejudice the executive power of the centre in the state.

In both cases, the executive power of the Centre extends to giving such directions to the state as are necessary for the purpose.

The sanction behind these directions of the Centre is coercive in nature.

Thus, Article 365 says that where any state has failed to comply with any directions given by the Centre, it will be lawful for the President to hold that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. It means that, in such a situation, the President’s rule can be imposed in the state under Article 356 .

Centre’s Direction to the States

In Centre-State Relations, the following circumstances are where the Centre may provide advice to states:

Construction and maintenance of communication systems deemed to be of national or military importance by the government.

Actions to be taken to guarantee the state’s railways are safe.

Provision of enough resources for students from linguistic minority groups to receive elementary school instruction in their home tongue.

The creation and execution of specific initiatives for the ST’s welfare in the various states.

Mutual Delegation of Functions

To decrease rigidity and prevent a deadlock, the constitution permits intergovernmental delegation of executive authorities.

With the state government’s approval, the president may delegate the union’s executive functions to it.

The governor may delegate the executive responsibilities of the state to the union with the approval of the federal government.

This agreement to share authority may be either conditional or unconditional.

The constitution also permits the state to provide the union executive authority without the state’s consent.

But such delegations are made by Parliament, not by the President. The executive authority of a state, however, cannot be transferred in the same manner.

Cooperation Between Centre and States

The following provisions have been included to ensure cooperation and coordination between the centre and the states.

Parliament has the authority to rule on any dispute or grievance involving the use, distribution, and management of any interstate river’s and river valleys’ water resources.

The President has the power to convene an inter-state council to examine and deliberate on subjects of common interest between the centre and the states.

All of India is required to provide full faith and credit to the public actions, records, and judicial proceedings of the federal government and each state.

In order to carry out the constitutional requirements relating to interstate trade, commerce, and intercourse, Parliament has the authority to designate the proper authorities.

All India Services

In 1947, the colonial Indian Civil Service (ICS) and Indian Police (IP) were replaced by the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS).

As the third all-India service in the nation, the Indian Forest Service (IFS) was founded in 1966.

The members of All India Services occupy the top positions under both the Centre and States. But they are recruited and trained by the centre.

The ultimate control lies with the central government while immediate control vests with the state governments.

Article 312 of the Indian constitution gives Parliament the authority to create an all-India service provided the Rajya Sabha passes a resolution to that effect.

With the combination of these three services, a single service is created with uniform pay schedules, rights, and status.

All India Services is required for:

  • Assist in maintaining the federal government and the states’ administrative standards high.
  • Aid in ensuring that the administrative framework is consistent throughout the nation.
  • They enhance communication, collaboration, coordination, and cooperative action between the federal government and the states on issues of shared concern.

Public Service Commission

The centre-state relationships in this area are as follows:

  • The state public service commission’s chairman and members are chosen by the governor, but only the president has the authority to remove them.
  • The President appoints the chairman and members of the state public service commission in cases when two or more states request that Parliament establish a combined public service commission.
  • The President’s approval is required for UPSC to help the state public service commission at the governor’s request.
  • In order to create and implement joint recruiting plans for any services that require candidates with certain qualifications, the UPSC works with the states.

Integrated Judicial System

Despite its dual polity, India has built an integrated judicial system.

This unified judicial system is in charge of enforcing both federal and state laws.

The judges of a high court are appointed by the President of India, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the governor of the state.

The President has the power to transfer or remove them.

Parliament has approved the creation of joint high courts for two or more states.

Relation During Emergency

During a national emergency, The centre has the authority to provide directives to the state on any matter.

The State governments are brought under the complete control of the centre, though, they are not suspended.

When President Rule is imposed in a state, the president may exercise the duties and authority vested in him and powers vested in the governor or any other administrative authority in the state.

During a Financial Emergency, The President may also give other crucial orders, such as lowering the salaries of high court judges and state personnel. The centre may require states to abide by financial propriety canons.

Article 268 to 293 of the constitution deals with Centre-State Financial Relations.

Allocation of Taxing Power

  • Taxation of the subjects on the Union list is the sole responsibility of Parliament.
  • Taxation on the things included in the state list may only be done by the state legislature.
  • The items on the concurrent list are subject to taxation by both the state and the union.
  • The residuary power to tax belongs to the Parliament.

The Constitutional Restriction on The State’s Taxation Power

The power to tax occupations, trades, callings, and professions belongs to the state legislature. However, no one should receive more than Rs 2500 in total compensation each year.

Taxes on the sale or purchase of products can be imposed by a state (other than a newspaper). However, The following factors restrict the state’s capacity to impose a sales tax :

  • Sales and purchases made outside of the states are exempt from taxation
  • Sales or purchases done during the import or export process are exempt from taxation.
  • No tax may be levied on a transaction or purchase made during interstate trade or commerce.
  • A tax imposed on goods sold or bought that the Parliament has determined are of particular importance to interstate trade and commerce is subject to the limitations and specifications set forth by the Parliament.

Electricity used by or sold to the centre, as well as electricity used in the building, upkeep, or operation of any railway by or sold to the railway company for the same purpose, are exempt from state taxes.

A state may charge a price for the water or electricity it sells to an interstate river authority that Parliament established to manage and develop the river. On the other hand, a law that receives the approval of the President may enact such an imposition.

Distribution of Tax Revenues

Taxes are levied by the centre, but they are collected and used by the state ( Article 268 ). The state’s consolidated fund receives the proceeds from this and holds them there. For instance, excise tax and stamp duty.

Article 269). One illustration would be taxes imposed on goods purchased or sold in interstate commerce.

The state’s consolidated fund receives the proceeds from this and holds them there.

Although the federal government imposes and collects taxes, they are divided between the federal government and the states ( Article 270 ). This category includes all taxes, with the exception of the ones mentioned above, surcharges, and cess. Based on the Finance Commission’s recommendations, the President determines how these taxes are divided.

The tax and levies surcharges mentioned in Articles 269 and 270 may be enacted at any time by Parliament. Proceeds from the surcharge are only used for the centre.

State-imposed gathered, and held-back taxes consist of:

  • These are the taxes that fall under the purview of the states only.
  • They are listed on the state list.
  • Agriculture income taxes, Alcohol excise taxes, Profession-specific taxes, Ceilings, etc.

Distribution of Non-Tax Revenues

The centre’s primary non-tax revenue sources are as follows:

  • Postal and telegraph services
  • Broadcasting
  • Coinage and currency
  • Central public sector enterprise
  • Escheat and lapse.

The main sources of non-tax revenue for states are as follows:

  • State public sector enterprise

Grants-in-Aid to the states

State grants-in-aid are permitted by the Constitution to come from the federal government. The two types of grants-in-aid are statutory grants and discretionary grants.

Statutory grants:

The parliament is empowered by Article 275 of the Constitution to provide grants to states that specifically require them rather than to all states.

These amounts may vary for various states. These funds are levied annually to the Consolidated Fund of India.

Depending on the Finance Commission’s recommendations, these are given to the states.

Discretionary grants:

Article 282 gives both the federal government and the states the authority to provide grants for any public purpose, even if it is not within their purview.

The choice is entirely up to the centre, which is under no obligation to offer these subsidies.

Other grants:

A one-time donation for a particular cause was permitted by the Constitution. For the states of Assam, Bihar, Odisha, and West Bengal, grants on jute and jute products could be used in place of export taxes.

These funds were to be given out for ten years starting at the time the constitution was adopted, per the recommendation of the Finance Commission.

Goods and Services Tax Council

The smooth and efficient administration of the goods and services tax ( GST ) requires cooperation and coordination between the Centre and the States.

In order to facilitate this consultation process, the 101st Amendment Act of 2016 provided for the establishment of a Goods and Services Tax Council or the GST Council.

Article 279 – A empowered the President to constitute a GST Council.

The Council is a joint forum of the Centre and the States. It is required to make recommendations to the Centre and the States on the following matters :

  • The taxes, cesses and surcharges levied by the Centre, the States and the local bodies would get merged into GST .
  • The goods and services that may be subjected to GST or exempted from GST.
  • Model GST Laws, principles of levy, apportionment of GST levied on supplies in the course of inter-state trade or commerce and the principles that govern the place of supply.
  • The threshold limit of turnover below which goods and services may be exempted from GST.
  • The rates include floor rates with bands of GST.
  • Any special rate or rates for a specified period to raise additional resources during any natural calamity or disaster.

Read: Fiscal federalism in India

Important Recommendations on Centre-State Relations

Administrative reforms commission.

  •  The creation of an interstate council under Article 263 of the constitution
  • Appointment of governors with substantial expertise in public service and impartial viewpoints
  • The most power has been granted to states.
  • In order to reduce the state’s reliance on the federal government, more financial resources ought to be distributed to them.
  • Federal armed troops are stationed in states at their request or on their own initiative.

Sarkaria Commission Recommendations

  • Setting up a permanent inter-State Council under Article 263
  • Article 356 should only be utilized when necessary.
  • The all-India service institution needs to be strengthened.
  • The residuary power of taxation should belong to the parliament.
  • >The states should be informed of the President’s grounds for his or her vetoes of state legislation.
  • Without the consent of the states, the Center ought to be able to use its military forces. However, it would be ideal if the states were consulted.
  • The centre should consult the states before making law on the subject of concurrent list.
  • Governors should be allowed to complete their five-year terms.
  • The position of Linguistic Minority Commissioner should be filled.

Punchhi Commission Recommendations

  • The impeachment process is used to remove governors after a five-year tenure.
  • The Union should exercise extreme prudence when asserting Parliamentary precedence in matters given to the states.
  • It specified the number of criteria to be taken into account when choosing governors:

               He ought to be well-known in some industries.

              He should not be a state resident.

              He ought to be a neutral figure who stays out of regional politics.

              He shouldn’t have recently become involved in politics.

  • The term limit for the government should be set at five years.
  • Governors could be subject to the same impeachment process as the president.

The interactions between the Center and the States are the primary characteristics of Indian federalism. To safeguard Indian residents’ safety and well-being, the Central Government and State Governments must collaborate with each other. They work together to prevent terrorism, manage families, protect the environment, and prepare for the socioeconomic future. The evolution of the nation has been greatly influenced by these exchanges between the centre and the states. The better Centre-State relations contributed to the improved national government, an improved administrative system, and the integration of disparate communities into society at large.

Article written by: Aryadevi E S

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The Political Economy of Federalism in India

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3 3 A Historical Review of Indian Federalism

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This chapter reviews the history of India’s federal structures. It provides an overview of political developments during the British period and describes the issues concerning federalism as they arose during the drafting of the Indian Constitution and the resolution of those issues in the Constitution. It describes the changes in Centre–state relations after the adoption of the Constitution in 1950 and discusses the history of local government in post-independence India. It also identifies the centripetal bias in India’s federal structures and illustrates how these have played out in practice.

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Federalism in India: An Economic Analysis

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The outcomes of federalism have played out in very different manners in various societies that have chosen to adopt this design of organising themselves. The Indian context is particularly interesting because of how Indian states have formed, evolved or have carved out of one another into existence. In this paper, I explore whether smaller states could perform better on governance outcomes. The measure of governance is legislative activity in Indian state parliaments. The results indicate that as states become smaller units to govern, the legislative in activity in their respective parliaments does increase.

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Making Federalism Work for India’s Development

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Revisiting Taxonomies: Local Governance in Quasi-Federal Systems

For a comprehensive account about splits in all states, refer to Appendix

Given that data is count, I also test this using negative binomial and Poisson results are presented in appendix while being consistent with OLS findings. Refer to Tables  7 and 8 in appendix for output using Poisson and negative binomial methods of estimation.

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Candidate for Master of Science, Political Economy of Development, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, London, UK

Sripriya Srivatsa

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National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), New Delhi, India

N.R. Bhanumurthy

Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, India

K. Shanmugan

Marathwada Mitra Mandal’s Institute of Management Education and Research, Pune, India

Shriram Nerlekar

Sandeep Hegade

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Srivatsa, S. (2018). Federalism in India: An Economic Analysis. In: Bhanumurthy, N., Shanmugan, K., Nerlekar, S., Hegade, S. (eds) Advances in Finance & Applied Economics. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-1696-8_1

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Volume 10 Issue 1 January-2023 eISSN: 2349-5162

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  1. Federalism in India

    Federalism in India. India is a federal system but with more tilt towards a unitary system of government. It is sometimes considered a quasi-federal system as it has features of both a federal and a unitary system. Article 1 of the Indian Constitution states, 'India, that is Bharat, shall be a union of states '.

  2. Federalism in India

    This essay showcases Federalism in India in a twofold modus: The history of Federalism in India and the Federal Scheme under the present-day Constitution of India. The term "federal" is derived from the Latin foedus, which means, "covenant". This embodies ideas of promise, obligation, and undertaking; and consequently, the federal idea ...

  3. Essay on the Indian Federalism System

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  4. Essay on Federalism in India

    Introduction to Federalism in India. Federalism in India refers to the constitutional framework that divides the powers of governance between the central government and the states. This system ensures a balance of power, fostering cooperation and coordination, while preserving the unity and integrity of the nation.

  5. 15 Issues that Challenge the Federal Structure of India

    Is India a true federation? The Indian federalism model is called a quasi-federal system as it contains major features of both a federation and a union. It can be better phrased as 'federation sui generis' or a federation of its 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 the coming ...

  6. PDF Revisiting Indian federalism: An overview of contemporary issues and

    5.2 Rising Demand for the New States. In recent times, conversation on the federal system of India is full of argument. The continuous increase demands for the new states create a threat in the smooth operation of federalism. Self rule and share rule is the prime base of the Indian federalism.

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    The Constitution of India establishes a federal structure to the Indian government, declaring it to be a "Union of States". Indian model of federalism is called quasi-federal system as it contains major features of both a federation and union. 2) Evolution In India, Between 321 and 185 B.C. in Magadha, the Mauryans for the first time assimilated a

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    The Constitution of India establishes the structure of the Indian government, including the relationship between the federal government and state governments. Part XI of the Indian constitution specifies the distribution of legislative, administrative and executive powers between the union government and the States of India. The legislative powers are categorised under a Union List, a State ...

  9. PDF Changing Dimensions of Federalism in India: an Appraisal

    75 Id., para. 127 The court held that: "The concept of pragmatic federalism is self-explanatory. It is a form of federalism which incorporates the traits and attributes of sensibility and realism. Pragmatic federalism, for achieving the constitutional goals, leans on the principle of permissible practicability.".

  10. Understanding Indian Federalism

    Nature Of Indian Federalism: Article 1 of the Indian constitution declares India i.e. Bharat shall be a "union of states". Although the term 'federal' is nowhere used in the constitution of India, the basic structure of the governance is federal in nature. The nature of Indian federalism is different from other federal models. In the ...

  11. The Nature of Indian Federalism

    THE NATURE OF INDIAN FEDERALISM. A Critique. H. M. Rajashekara. Since its adoption in 1787 by U.S. constitution-makers, the federal system has become a popular pattern of governance, and today is a subject of academic study and has practical significance to a far greater extent than ever before. A noted scholar on federalism, Daniel Elazar, has ...

  12. PDF Indian Federalism: in Theory and Practice

    The practice of Indian federalism has evolved through various federal arrangements, encountered conflicts, and witnessed significant interactions between the central government and states. Additionally, recent reforms have aimed to address challenges and enhance the efficacy of the federal structure. Review of Major Federal Arrangements and ...

  13. Current Trends and Issues in Indian Federalism

    Abstract. The article examines the recent trends and issues in Indian federalism. The federal system has become transformedy in the last seven decades—from being dismissed as a full-fledged federal system to a widely acclaimed federal system in the world. Simply put, Indian federalism has become more meaningful and functional post-liberalisation.

  14. Can Federalism Save India's Constitutional Democracy?

    Madhav Khosla's brilliant book, India's Founding Moment, is self-consciously a work on the history of ideas. Nonetheless, the subtitle of India's Founding Moment—The Constitution of a Most Surprising Democracy—implies that Khosla draws a connection between the ideas that shaped the creation of constitutional democracy in India and its endurance. In this review, I pose the question of ...

  15. Complexity of Indian Federalism

    Federalism is a system of government in which powers are divided between two or more levels of government, such as the centre and the states or provinces. Federalism allows for the accommodation of diversity and regional autonomy within a larger political unit. The Indian Constitution establishes a federal system with some unitary features.

  16. PDF Indian Federalism-an Analysis

    Federalism is the distribution of power within an organization or, it is a type of government in which, the power is not only vested in the central government but rather, divided or shared among all the other governmental units. In the Indian system, it shows the relation between the Union and the States. Thus, sovereignty is split between two ...

  17. PDF The Paradox of 'Centralised Federalism': An Analysis of the Challenges

    ABSTRACT. The Indian model of federalism may be one of the most interesting typologies in the world, characterised as it is by a paradox, to begin with: that of being a "centralised federalism". This paper provides a temporal framework in the discourse on Indian federalism by outlining the history of the country's federal structure in ...

  18. Chapter 8. Fiscal federalism in India

    At the core of fiscal federalism in India lie fiscal transfers from the central government to subnational governments. Transfers are predominantly based on the recommendations of the Finance Commission and consist of tax devolution and grants. ... "An essay on fiscal federalism", Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. 37/3, pp. 1120-1149 ...

  19. Centre-State Relations

    Legislative Relations; Administrative Relations; Financial Relations; Also read: Indian Federalism - 15 Issues that Challenge the Federal Structure of India; Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States Legislative Relations. Article 245 to 255 of the constitution deals with the legislative relation between the centre and states. Indian constitution also divides the legislative ...

  20. 3 A Historical Review of Indian Federalism

    Abstract. This chapter reviews the history of India's federal structures. It provides an overview of political developments during the British period and describes the issues concerning federalism as they arose during the drafting of the Indian Constitution and the resolution of those issues in the Constitution.

  21. Center-State Relations

    The framers of the Indian Constitution pointed out that the Indian scheme was one of 'Cooperative Federalism,' which indicates a desire for a federal spirit. Therefore, Indian federalism aims at promoting close cooperation between the Centre and the State(s). The Constitution demarcates the areas that can be exclusively legislated by the Centre, those exclusively legislated by the States ...

  22. Federalism in India: An Economic Analysis

    An important classical argument favouring federalism is laid out by Friedrich Hayek. His thesis is that in a heterogeneous society, apart from for truly national public goods such as defence or energy, the central government does not possess relevant information to frame policies that are suitable for all (Hayek 1948).However, when I observe how federalism has played out in various parts of ...

  23. Nature of Indian Federalism: a Critical Analysis

    Federalism in India is a debatable issue, while some people call it "quasi-federal", "co-operative federalism", "competitive federalism" or the bigger debate underlying is whether India is actually a federal state. Federalism along with parliamentarism, is an axial principle of the Indian Constitution. Indian federalism is dynamic as it has been evolving over the years to form a ...

  24. PDF Federalism in India and Usa: a Comparative Analysis

    The United States and India are two well-known examples of federal nations that have implemented various models of federalism. The federal system in India is founded on the idea of cooperative federalism, in which the federal government and state governments collaborate to accomplish shared objectives. The dual federalism system used in the ...