[15th June 2024] The Hindu Op-ed: Reimagining Indian federalism

PYQ Relevance:

Q The concept of cooperative federalism has been increasingly emphasised in recent years. Highlight the drawbacks in the existing structure and the extent to which cooperative federalism would answer the shortcomings. (UPSC IAS/2015)
Q How far do you think cooperation, competition and confrontation have shaped the nature of federation in India? Cite some recent examples to validate your answer. (UPSC IAS/2020)

Mentors’ comment: Federalism is crucial as it balances power between national and regional governments, fostering a diverse and inclusive governance structure. It allows regions to address local needs effectively while maintaining national unity. By promoting cooperation and accommodating diversity, federalism enhances democratic participation, prevents centralization of power, and ensures more equitable resource distribution, supporting overall stability and development.

Let’s learn_ _

Why in the news?

On June 4, 2024, the BJP fell short of a Lok Sabha majority, relying on regional partners. This coalition governance could curb the BJP’s dominance and revitalize India’s federal structure, damaged over the past decade.

Undermine the Federalism in last decade before the 2024 election 

  • Centralisation of Power: Under the current administration, there has been a significant shift towards centralising power at the expense of state autonomy, moving away from the principle of cooperative federalism.
  • Use of Investigative Agencies: Regulatory and investigative agencies like the Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation, and Income-Tax agencies have been used to clamp down on political opponents from regional parties, thereby undermining state authority and autonomy.
  • Imposition of Hindi: Efforts to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking southern states have been part of a broader strategy to homogenize the nation, disregarding the linguistic and cultural diversity of states.
  • Unilateral Decision-Making: Key decisions, such as imposing a nationwide lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, were made unilaterally by the central government without consulting the states, exemplifying a top-down approach.
  • Fiscal Manipulation: The financial autonomy of states has been undermined by the central government through mechanisms like levying cesses on various items, which are not shared with states, disrupting the balance of fiscal federalism.

The concerns of the Southern States

  • Financial Disparity: Southern states recognize the necessity of correcting regional imbalances but are concerned about disproportionate financial allocations favoring less-performing northern states. For example, Uttar Pradesh received ₹25,069 crore in tax devolution, more than the combined total for all five southern states.
  • Potential Political Disenfranchisement: There is anxiety over the potential political dominance of northern states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, particularly concerning the upcoming delimitation exercise. These states, with their larger populations, could outweigh the southern states’ influence in the Lok Sabha.

Measures to resolve the concerns of southern States

  • Need for Equitable Redistribution: Southern leaders emphasise the importance of equitable redistribution and representation, advocating for a balanced approach that does not financially persecute the high-performing southern states.
  • Coordination Among Southern Leaders: Southern chief ministers are likely to collaborate to address the threat of political disenfranchisement, recognising that their collective interests are at stake in maintaining a fair federal structure.

Why Need to Revive the Inter-State Council?

  • Potential for Effective Deliberation: Although the Council has the potential to be a formidable forum for decision-making and dispute resolution, it has become ineffective under the control of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Independent Arena for Coordination: Reviving the Council would provide an independent space for consultation, decision-making, and dispute resolution, ensuring better coordination between states and various governmental departments on issues affecting states.
  • Accommodating Diversity: In a diverse country like India, fostering a sense of common belonging while respecting the developmental differences among states is crucial. The Council can help in creating policies that are inclusive and considerate of these differences.
  • Preventing Fragmentation: Ensuring that all states feel that their common nationhood is beneficial helps in maintaining national unity. Without proper forums for dialogue, regional, religious, and linguistic tensions could escalate.
  • Addressing Inequitable Power Dynamics: The statement “We have more people, so we will have more money and power” threatens to disrupt the delicate balance of federalism. The Council can help address these power imbalances and promote equitable development across all states.

Conclusion: To strengthen India’s federalism, revitalizing the Inter-State Council is crucial, ensuring it operates independently for effective consultation and decision-making. Equitable fiscal practices, respect for state autonomy, and promotion of cultural diversity will foster cooperative governance and prevent centralization, thereby balancing regional needs with national unity.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/reimagining-indian-federalism/article68290374.ece#:~:text=This%20Modi%2Dfied%20brand%20of,on%20political%20opponents%20from%20regional

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch