Category Archives: Essay

Federalism in India

At the stroke of midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.

India which was fragmented from centuries when various rulers ruled the different parts of the country indeed woke to life and freedom as mentioned by the first prime minister of nation Jawahar Lal Nehru. Our country had never before been united and the kings and their kingdom existed independently. The boundaries of the states constantly changed with the jurisdiction of the emperor in charge. When India arose to freedom, the constituent assembly was well aware of the nuances that may come if we chose to stay a federal state. Knowing this fact they decided to name India as the union of states. States were thus created for administrative convenience and it were not the states which chose to form the nation. The identity of states is inherent in the identity if our nation.

To balance the administrative hurdles when a state and a nation works as a whole, power of distributed among states and the center. Thus maintaining a separate set of list for the state issues, union issues and for the concurrent issues. It is this balance between the power between union and state that determines how cooperative or competitive federalism in our nation is.

The Indian prime minister recently stressed on the need of competitive federalism in order to achieve cooperative federalism. To ensure the competitiveness of the federalism, we have councils where the issues related to the common interest of the states. We have a mechanism to solve the disputes arising, thus, maintaining a healthy competitive spirit between the states. The recent steps by the government of India were in the same direction to encourage the competitive nature of federalism. Whether it is NITI Ayog or the soon to be launched Goods and Services Tax (GST), all the policies will come from the central government as a broader framework and the states can use modify and implement the policies as per their own suitability.  Also, the Smart City initiative, ranking of cleanest cities in the country is again to increase the competitive nature of the states so that each state has gained something. The government is now providing the states to tweak the central government schemes as per the local geopolitical requirement of the state. The states in today’s time are endowed with much more power in financial and political decision making. As the state progress with framing policies to attract more investment, it will definitely be beneficial for the Indian economy.

But along with the spirit of competition, cooperation is needed to achieve a much larger national goal. In today’s  time when we are witnessing more coalition governments at center and regional parties taking dominance to raise the region specific issues, the concept of cooperation between the nation and the states becomes much more important. There is need to be proper communication and coordination between the center and the state as both are driving the same wagon. Individual interest should be shed away in such cases and the national interest should occupy the attention of the forum.

In the process of nation building, we must understand the national goals, objectives and the hurdles that come along our way. Center must understand the needs of the state and the states must utilize the central government policies to take the best out of them. Only then, it would be a win-win for all.

– – The post is written for Blogadda.