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What Makes India a Federal Country?

What Makes India a Federal Country?

India’s federal system is unique in that it incorporates characteristics of both a true federation and a unitary state. There are two independent centres of power in a federation system, each with its own jurisdiction. India is considered a quasi-federal system due to the balance between federal and unitary elements. In a federal system, as opposed to a unitary one, sovereignty is constitutionally divided between two territorial levels, allowing each level to act alone in specific circumstances.

Types of Federations

There are two kinds of federations exist:

  • Holding Together Federation: In this kind, authority is distributed among numerous constituent elements to accommodate the diversity of the entire organisation. Powers are typically skewed in favour of the central authority here. Example: Belgium, Spain, and India.
  • Coming Together Federation: Independent states unite under this sort of federation to form a greater entity. Here, states have more freedom than in a federation that holds itself together. USA, Australia, and Switzerland, as an example.

Key Features of Federal System of India

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

Federalism in India

India has a federal system of government, but it leans more toward a unitary one. Given that it has elements of both a federal and a unitary system, it is occasionally referred to as a quasi-federal system. India, or Bharat, must be a union of states, according to Article 1 of the Indian Constitution. The constitution omits using the word “federation.”

The Government of India Act of 1919, which divided powers between the federal government and the province legislatures, introduced elements of federalism into modern India.

India as a Federal State

Due to the separation of powers between the federal and state governments, India is a federal country. There are three lists between the central and state governments in India.

Union List

It includes topics with significant national implications, like the military, foreign affairs, finances, banking, and communications. The union government has the authority to enact laws in the regions listed on the union list.

State List

It covers issues like irrigation, law enforcement, and the economy that are important on a global, regional, and local scale. Only the state government has the power to establish laws on the issues on this list.

Concurrent List

It covers subjects that are of equal concern to the federal and state governments. The judiciary has outlined the supremacy of the constitution as its fundamental structure that cannot be altered. The constitution of India is the top law.

Independent judiciary is something that the constitution guarantees, along with integration. Lower and district courts are located at the lowest levels, state-level high courts are located in the middle, and the Supreme Court of India is located at the very top. The Supreme Court is supreme above all other courts.

Unitary Features of the Indian Union

  • The Constitution’s flexibility: The Constitution combines rigidity and flexibility. The constitution can be simply modified in several cases. If the reforms aim to alter some facets of India’s federalism, it is difficult to implement the necessary changes.
  • With the Center, more power vests: The Union List guarantees additional powers under the constitution. The parliament has the authority to enact legislation on topics on the Concurrent List that may, in some cases, supersede laws passed by state legislatures. The parliament has the authority to enact laws about some of the State List topics.
  • Unfair state representation in the Rajya Sabha: The population of each state is used to determine how each state is represented in the upper chamber. For instance, Goa has one seat while Uttar Pradesh has 31 in the Rajya Sabha. In a perfect federal system, each state would be represented fairly.
  • The legislature includes the executive as well: The legislature in India includes the executive in both the centre and the states. The separation of authority between the several branches of the government is violated by this.
  • The Lok Sabha is more powerful than the Rajya Sabha in our system because giving two houses different levels of authority goes against the federalist principle.
  • Emergency authority: The centre is given emergency authority. The centre has more influence over states when an emergency is declared. The states’ independence is threatened by this.
  • Judiciary integrated: The Indian judicial system is integrated. At the federal and state levels, there is no distinction between the judiciaries.
  • Single citizenship: It is the sole type of citizenship accessible to people in India. They are not also allowed to be state citizens. This fosters togetherness despite regional and cultural diversity, which heightens the sense of nationality. Additionally, it strengthens essential freedoms like the ability to travel and dwell anywhere in the country.
  • Appointment by the governor: The governor of a state represents the centre in the state. The centre appoints the governor, not the state government.
  • Formation of new states: The parliament has the authority to change a state’s territory by enlarging or contracting its size. A state’s name may also be altered.
  • All India Services: The central government interferes with the executive authority of the states through the All India Services, which include the IAS, IPS, and others. Additionally, these services provide national administrative homogeneity.
  • Integrated election machinery: The Election Commission of India is in charge of holding free and impartial elections throughout India, both at the national and state levels. The president appoints the members of the EC.
  • State governors have the power to withhold certain types of legislation from the president’s consideration. On these bills, the president has unrestricted veto power. Even in the second attempt, after the state legislature has sent the law back for reconsideration, he has the option of rejecting it. The Federalist principles are broken by this clause.
  • Integrated auditing system: The country’s president names the CAG, who examines the books of both the centre and the states.
  • Removal of key officials: Even at the state level, the state government or state legislature lacks the power to oust certain key government figures, such as the state’s election commissioner, high court justices, or the head of the state public service commissions.

Federal Features of the Indian Union

The Development of Linguistic States

Several new states have been established in India since its independence. Most of India’s states are made to be populated by people who speak the same language and region. These circumstances are known as linguistic states. Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu are a few examples.

Language Guidelines

In addition to Hindi, there are 21 other languages listed as Scheduled Languages in the Constitution. Even though the Union government acknowledges Hindi as the official language, each state has its own set of official languages. All official state business is conducted in the official language of the state.

Center-State Relationships

If no single party obtains a majority in the Lok Sabha elections, major national parties join forces with regional parties to form the union government. As a result, the central government and the states shared power while state governments’ autonomy was maintained.

Federalism: Fundamental Elements of Decentralization

The core principles of decentralization, which are essential to boosting local government authority, are also explained by federalism. Decentralization is the process of handing over power to local governments from the federal and state governments. Realizing that most issues and problems are best resolved locally is the aim of devolution. Thus, local people can participate in decision-making. A third degree of democracy was made possible in 1992 thanks to changes to the constitution. The constitution lists the following as the main characteristics of the third tier:

  • To fill vacancies in the various local governmental entities, elections must be held frequently.
  • In municipal governance, women are only permitted to hold one-third of the positions.
  • The State Election Commission was constituted in each state to oversee the administration of municipal and Panchayat elections.
  • Local governing bodies and state governments must share resources and power;
  • Members of the SC, ST, and other disadvantaged groups are given preference in local elections for executive positions; and there are distinct revenue-sharing formulas for each state.

Federalism: Principal Elements

The existence of two or more levels (or tiers) of government is one of the federalism system’s distinguishing characteristics. The same population is governed at various levels, but each level has its JURISDICTION over specific legal, fiscal, and administrative issues. Each level of government is guaranteed to exist and have authority under the Constitution.

No level of government may unilaterally alter the fundamental tenets of the Constitution. Both levels of government must agree on such measures. The constitution and the authority of various governmental levels can be interpreted by the courts. Each level of government has access to particular revenue sources to maintain its financial independence. The federal government’s policies are intended to respect and advance national unity while allowing for regional variety.

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India a Federal Country FAQs

What makes India a federal country?

The distribution of powers between the union and state governments is what makes India a federal country. In India, there are three lists divided between the center and state governments, i.e. Union List: It includes areas of national importance like defense, foreign affairs, currency, banking, and communications.

What features make India a federal country?

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

What was the need of federalism in India?

Federalism is part of the basic structure of the Indian constitution which cannot be altered or destroyed through constitutional amendments under the constituent powers of the Parliament without undergoing judicial review by the Supreme Court.

What are the five features of federalism?

• Supremacy of the constitution
• Written constitution
• Rigid constitution
• Judiciary
• Bi-Cameral Legislature

What are the 4 types of federalism?

• 1970 – 1930: Dual Federalism.
• 1930 to 1960: Cooperative Federalism.
• 1960 to 1980: Creative Federalism.
• 1980 to 2001: New Federalism.

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