Federalism and Quasi Federalism
- May 3, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Federalism and Quasi Federalism
- Federalism is a system of government in which the power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country. This vertical division of power among different levels of governments is referred to as federalism.
- Quasi-federalism means an intermediate form of state between a unitary state and a federation. It combines the features of a federal government and the features of a unitary government.
- India consciously adopted a version of federalism that made the Union government and State governments interdependent on each other (latter more vis-a-vis the former) thereby violating the primal characteristic of a federal constitution i.e., autonomous spheres of authority for Union and State governments.
|Federal Features of the Indian Constitution
|Unitary Features of the Indian Constitution
|1. Supremacy of the Constitution: Constitution is the supreme law of land in India. A federal state derives its existence from the Constitution.
|1. Single Constitution: In India, there is only one Constitution. It is applicable to both the Union as a whole and the Stares.
|2. Bicameral Legislature: The Constitution of India also provides for a bicameral legislature i.e. Parliament with two houses of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
|2. Rajya Sabha does not represent the States equality: Rajya Sabha, the States do not have equal representation. The populous States have more representatives in the Rajya Sabha than the less populous States.
|3. Dual Government Polity: The Constitution of India has divided powers between the Central government and the state governments through the 7th schedule. Both the governments have their separate powers and responsibilities.
|3. Division of power is not equal: In India, the Central government has been given more powers and made stronger than the State governments.
|4. Written Constitution: The Indian Constitution is a written document containing 395 Articles and 12 schedules, and therefore, fulfils this basic requirement of a federal government.
|4. Existence of States depends on the Centre: In India, the boundary of a State can be changed by created out of the existing States.
|5. Rigid Constitution: The Indian Constitution is largely a rigid Constitution. All the provisions of the Constitution concerning Union-State relations can be amended only by the joint actions of the State Legislatures and the Union Parliament.
|5. Constitution is not strictly rigid: The Constitution of India can be amended by the Indian Parliament easily. On many subjects, the Parliament does not need the approval of the State legislatures to amend the Constitution.
|6. Independent Judiciary: The Supreme Court of India can declare a law as unconstitutional, if it contravenes any provisions of the Constitution.
|6. Unified judiciary: India has a unified or integrated judicial system. The High Courts which work in the States are under the Supreme Court of India.
|7. Proclamation of emergency: When an emergency is declared, the Union or Central governments become all powerful and the State governments come under the total control of it. The State governments lose their autonomy.
Reasons for a centralised federal structure
There are at following reasons that informed India’s choice of a centralised federal structure.
- Partition of India and the concomitant concerns:Union Powers Committee of the Constituent Assembly, in favour of a strong Union with residuary powers and weaker States, to safeguard the integrity of the nation.
- To forge a national civic identity: The centralised structure would unsettle prevalent trends of social dominance, help fight poverty better and therefore yield liberating outcomes.
- Building of a welfare state:In a decentralised federal setup, redistributive policies could be structurally thwarted by organised (small and dominant) groups. Instead, a centralised federal set-up can prevent such issues and further a universal rights-based system.
- Alleviation of inter-regional economic inequality:Provincial interventions seemed to exacerbate inequalities. India’s membership in the International Labour Organization, the Nehru Report (1928), and the Bombay Plan (1944) pushed for a centralised system to foster socio-economic rights and safeguards for the working and entrepreneurial classes.
- Linguistic reorganization: It would not have been possible if India followed a rigid or conventional federal system.
In other words, the current form of federalism in the Indian context is largely a function of the intent of the government of the day and the objectives it seeks to achieve.