CBSE NCERT Class X (10th) | Civics

Chapter – 2 Federalism

Types of Federalism

Holding Together Federation is one where a large country decides to divide its power between the constituent states and the national government like India, Belgium and Spain. Coming Together Federation involves independent states coming together to form a bigger unit all constituent units have equal power like in USA.

There are two types of federation: Coming together Federation and Holding together Federation.

Federalism has dual objectives of safeguarding and promoting unity of the country and recognizing regional diversity by way of mutual trust and agreement of living together.

Every level is free in its own way to impose taxes and raise funds through remunerative enterprises. Independent Judiciary is the very essence of federalism where the courts have the power to interpret the constitution and the powers of the different levels of government.

Federalism provides constitutional guarantees for the existence and authority of each tier of government. The jurisdiction of each tier is vividly specified in the Constitution.

In specific matters of legislation, taxation and administration, in federalism each tier has its own jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the legal authority and can be defined in terms of geographical area or subject-matter to which such authority applies. There are two or more tiers or levels of Government: The Central government, The State government and the local self-government.

The key features of Federalism are:
  • In federal system a state government has power of its own and is not answerable to the central government.
  • State governments have no separate powers and are answerable to the central government.
  • There may also be subunits which are under absolute subordination of the central government.
  • Under Unitary system, there is only one level of government.

Federalism is a system in which the governmental power is divided between a central authority and its various constituent units.

What Makes India A Federal Country?

The Indian Union is based on the ideology of ‘Holding Together Federation’ i.e. the union to the unit and not the units to the union. India is a federal system with striking unitary features called a Quasifederal country.

This Quasifederal nature of federalism is due to the power sharing ways in our country. The Constitution provides three fold distribution of legislative power between the central and the state government. Three folds are the Union List, State List and the Concurrent List.

Union List includes subjects of national importance having 97 subjects. Defence, atomic energy, foreign affairs, railways, banking, posts and telegraphs are some of the major Union List subjects. State List consists of subjects of state and local importance and has 66 subjects. Concurrent List includes subjects of common interest to Union and State government and are forests, trade unions, marriage, adoption and succession.

There are some subjects that do not fall under any of the lists or came up after the Constitution was made. These are known as the Residuary.

Indian federation is ‘Holding together federation. It does not give equal powers to its constituent units. It is very difficult to make changes in India’s power sharing arrangement as any change has to be approved by one third majority in both the Houses of the Parliament. Then it has to be approved by the legislatures of half of the total states. The Judiciary administers both Union and State laws. 

Success of Federalism in India

The most important tests for the success of Federalism were the creation of Linguistic States, Language Policy and Centre- State Relations.

Under the State Reorganization Commission in 1956, the states were created on the basis of language. Out of these 114 major languages, our Constitution recognizes 22 languages including Hindi as scheduled languages. Official Language Act provides that English would remain the official language of the country so long as non – Hindi speaking states desire.

The Constitution of India made provisions for division of powers between Centre and States. After 1990 when coalition government was formed at the Centre, Regional parties became more powerful in the states. Since no single party was able to secure majority, different parties formed alliance. Under this arrangement the culture of power sharing and respect for autonomy of state governments spread in India. 

Decentralization in India

Power shared between Central and State governments to local government is called the Decentralization of government. It is also called third tier of the government.

The State governments are required to share some powers and revenue with local government bodies. The nature of sharing however varies from state to state. Rural Local Government is popularly known as the Panchayati Raj. It consists of Zilla Parishad, Panchayat Samiti and Gram Panchayats.

There is a gram panchayat in each village or group of villages. It is a council of several ward members called panch and a president called Sarpanch. It works under the overall supervision of Gram Sabha.

A few gram panchayats are grouped together to form a Panchayat Samiti also known as a Block or Mandal. The members of this body are elected by all the members of the Panchayats in that area. All the Panchayat Samitis or Mandals in a district constitute a body of elected members to form the Zilla Parishad. The political head of Zilla Parishad is called the Chairperson.

Urban Local Government or Nagar Palika comprises the Municipalities or Municipal Committees in towns and Municipal Corporations in big cities. The political head of Municipal committees is the Municipal Chairperson and the chairperson of Municipal Corporation is called a Mayor.

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