JAC Board Class 10 Social Science Notes Civics Chapter 2 Federalism
→ Federalism is a system of government in which the power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country.
- A federation has two levels of government. One is the government for the entire country that is usually responsible for a few subjects of common national interest.
- The other level includes the governments at the level of provinces or states that look after much of the day-to-day administering of their states.
- Both these levels of governments enjoy their power independent of the other.
→ Key features of federalism:
(a) There are two or more levels (or tiers) of government.
(b) Different tiers of government govern the same citizens, but each tier has its own JURISDICTION in specific matters of legislation, taxation and administration.
(c) The jurisdictions of the respective levels or tiers of government are specified in the constitution. So the existence and authority of each tier of government is constitutionally guaranteed.
(d) The fundamental provisions of the constitution cannot be unilaterally changed by one level of government. Such changes require the consent of both levels of government.
(e) Courts have the local power to interpret the constitution and the powers of different levels of government. The highest court acts as an umpire if disputes arise between different levels of government in the exercise of their respective powers.
(f) Sources of revenue for each level of government are clearly specified to ensure its financial autonomy.
(g) The federal system thus has dual objectives: to safeguard and promote unity of the country, while at the same time accommodate regional diversity.
→ Types of Federation:
- Coming Together Federations: Independent states come together on their own to form a bigger unit, so that by pooling sovereignty and retaining identity they can increase their security, e.g., the USA, Switzerland, and Australia. All the constituent States usually have equal powers vis-a-vis the federal government.
- Holding Together Federations: A large country decides to divide its power between the constituent States and the national government. Very often, different constituent units of the federation have unequal powers. Some units are granted special powers.
Federalism in India
→ The Indian Union is based on the principles of federalism. The Constitution has clearly provided a threefold distribution of legislative powers between the Union government and the State governments.
Thus, it contains three lists:
(a) Union List includes subjects of national importance such as defence of the country, foreign affairs, banking, communications and currency. They are included in this list because we need a uniform policy on these matters throughout the country. The Union government alone can make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in the Union List.
(b) State List contains subjects of State and local importance such as police, trade, commerce, agriculture and irrigation. The State governments alone can make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in the State List.
(c) Concurrent List includes subjects of common interest to both Union government and State governments, such as education, forest, trade unions, marriage, adoption and succession. Both Union and State governments can make laws on the subjects mentioned in this list. If their laws conflict with each other, the law made by the Union government will prevail.
(d) The Union government has the power to make laws for the subjects that are not included in any of the three lists. These are termed as ‘residuary subjects’.
- All States in the Indian Union do not have identical powers. Some States enjoy a special status. Many provisions of the Indian Constitutioh are not applicable to some states without the approval of the State Assembly. Special provisions exist for Assam and the hill states of North-East India.
- Union Territories do not have the powers of a State. The Central government has special powers of governing the Union Territories.
- The power sharing arrangement provided by the Constitution is difficult to change.
- Any change to it has to be first passed by both Houses of Parliament with at least two- thirds majority. Then it has to be ratified by the legislatures of at least half of the total States.
→ Role of Judiciary:
- It plays an important role in overseeing the implementation of constitutional provisions and procedures. In case of any dispute between the Centre and the States regarding the division of powers, the High Courts and the Supreme Court have the right of adjudication.
- The Union and the State governments have the power to raise resources by levying taxes in order to carry on the government and the responsibilities assigned to each of them.
→ Linguistic States
- New States were created on linguistic basis in 1947 for recognizing the linguistic and cultural differences of various parts of the country.
- The formation of linguistic States has united the country and has made administration easier.
→ Language Policy
- Hindi was identified as the official language. But Hindi is the mother tongue of only about 40 per cent of Indians. Therefore, there were many safeguards to protect other languages. Besides Hindi, there are 21 other languages recognised as Scheduled Languages by the Constitution.
- Examinations for the Central government posts may be taken by the candidates in any of the scheduled languages.
- Each State has its own official language.
- According to the Constitution, English as an official language was supposed to be discontinued in 1965. However, due to opposition by non-Hindi speaking States, both English and Hindi are being continued for official purposes.
→ Centre-State Relations
- The Central government in India has the power to dissolve any State government on the grounds of inefficiency and impose the 1 President’s rule in that State.
- Before 1990, the Central government often misused the Constitution to dismiss the State governments that were controlled by the rival parties.
- After 1990, the era of coalition governments at the Centre started. The major National Parties had to enter into alliances with many regional parties to form the government.
This led to a new culture of power sharing and respect for the autonomy of State Governments.
→ Decentralisation in India
- When power is taken away from Central and State governments and given to local government, it is called decentralisation. The basic idea behind decentralisation is to solve a large number of problems and issues at the local level.
- People have better knowledge of problems in their localities. They also have better ideas on where to spend money and how to manage things more efficiently.
- Besides, at the local level it is possible for the people to directly participate in decision making. This helps to inculcate a habit of democratic participation. Local government is the best way to realise one important principle of democracy, viz., local self-government.
- A major step towards decentralization was taken in 1992. The Constitution was amended to make the third-tier of democracy more powerful and effective.
- Now it’s constitutionally mandatory to hold regular elections to local government bodies.
- Seats are reserved in the elected bodies and the executive heads of these institutions for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
- At least one-third of all positions are reserved for women.
- An independent institution called the State Election Commission has been created in each State to conduct panchayat and municipal elections.
- The State governments are required to share some powers and revenue with local government bodies. The nature of sharing varies from State to State.
→ Rural local government is popularly known by the name Panchayati Raj. Each village, or a group of villages in some States, has a Gram Panchayat. This is a council consisting of several ward members, often called Panch, and a President or Sarpanch. They are directly elected by all the adult population living in that ward or village. It is the decision-making body for the entire village.
- The Panchayat works under the overall supervision of the Gram Sabha. All the voters in the village are its members. It has to meet at least twice or thrice in a year to approve the annual budget of the Gram Panchayat and to review its performance. The local government structure goes right up to the district level. A few Gram Panchayats are grouped together to form what is usually called a Panchayat Samiti or Block or Mandal. The members of this representative body are elected by all the Panchayat members in that area.
- All the Panchayat Samitis or Mandals in a district together constitute the Zilla (district) Parishad. Most members of the Zilla Parishad are elected. Members of the Lok Sabha and MLAs of that district and some other officials of other district level bodies are also its members.
- Zilla Parishad chairperson is the political head of the Zilla Parishad. Local government bodies exist for urban areas as well. Municipalities are set up in towns. Big cities are constituted into municipal corporations.
- Both municipalities and municipal corporations are controlled by the elected bodies consisting of people’s representatives.
- Municipal chairperson is the political head of the municipality. In a municipal corporation such an officer is called Mayor.
- Constitutional status for local government has helped to deepen democracy in our country.
- Most State governments have not transferred significant powers to the local governments. Nor have they given adequate resources. We are thus still a long way from realising the ideal of self-government.