UPSC Mains General Studies Paper – 2 Mains 2020Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States
Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure
Structure of the Question
- In Introduction,
- Define the concept of Federation and highlight Indian Federalism.
- In Body,
- Discuss the following terms in accordance with federation of India with recent examples:
- Discuss how cooperation, competition and confrontation have shaped Indian Federation.
- Conclude with the suggestive measure to reduce the confrontations among federal units.
A federal government is one in which powers are divided between the national government and the regional governments by the Constitution itself. Indian federalism has a strong unitary bias, but due to unique socio-economic and political conditions, it has evolved to assume the various features of cooperative, competitive, and confrontational federalism.
Cooperative federalism comprises the federal government and state governments cooperating together during the nation’s overall development. The Centre and the states do have horizontal engagement in cooperative federalism, where they “cooperate” in the larger public interest. Cooperative federalism is a top-down approach, whereby the government is providing the policy framework and inputs, but still, the states are responsible for the execution. The Indian constitution has cooperative federalism as part of its basic structure.
- E.g.- GST, NAM, land reforms, model APMCs act, 73rd and 74th CAA 1992, Centre-State Investment Agreement (CSIA), and the 14th Finance Commission’s 42 % devolution.
It envisages competition between the states. When India opened its doors for globalization, there was greater competition for limited resources among the states. As a result, the states are now in a state of imbalance and inequity.
Competitive federalism has recently proven to be an effective technique for boosting individual states’ economic development. The union and the states are not required by the constitution to work together on the issues listed in Schedule VII of the constitution. Executives make the decision. The Indian constitution does not include competitive federalism in its basic structure.
- E.g.– “Vibrant Gujarat”, “Resurgent Rajasthan” and various indexes evolved by NITI Aayog. The SDG India Index, Aspirational Districts Programme, Swachh Bharat Ranking, Ease of Doing Business Ranking incorporates a sense of competition amongst the states for funds from the central government.
It is a result of the central government transgressing into the powers of the state government. The unilateral revocation of the special status conferred on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) under Article 370 of the Constitution has been criticized by many experts as against the spirit of federalism. Many constitutional experts have criticized the central government’s decision of using a concurrent List to make laws on state list subjects.
- Eg– The role of the governor as an agent of the central government (in Maharashtra & Karnataka) whereby governors act in a partisan way, generally against the state government whose views are not in concurrence with the party in power at union level.
- Cooperative and competitive federalism is India’s future. Competitive federalism generates the dynamism that is needed.
- To balance competitive federalism, we need cooperative federalism.
- To foster Indian internal unity, the constitution needed to catch up with economics and “favour integration before preserving sovereignty.”
- Reactivation of the Centre-State Council: According to Article 263, this council is responsible for investigating and advising on disputes, discussing topics that affect all states, and making proposals for improved policy coordination.
- On issues like international treaties, WTO obligations, or the environment an institutional mechanism must be evolved where important decisions are appropriately discussed with states.
In SR Bommai vs Union of India (1994), the Supreme Court held federalism a part of the basic structure of the Constitution. However, due to the strong unitary bias and particularly the way it has evolved over the years, many constitutional experts describe Indian federalism as, “federation without federalism”, “a Union of Unequal States” or “Quasi-Federal In Nature”.
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