Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure

The Indian model of federalism can at best be described as a quasi-federal system since it contains a features of both federation and union

Article 1 of the Constitution of India states that ‘India that is Bharat shall be a union of states’.

Indian federation was not a product of coming together of states to form the federal union of India. It was rather a conversion of a unitary system into a federal system.

This article will describe in detail about some of the challenges  and issues that the Federal structure of India faces within the context of the  IAS Exam.

Importance of Federalism in India

Before we go into details about the importance of federalism in India one must examine in brief the features of federalism in order for a better understanding

Article 200 of the Indian Constitutions stipulated that the states must obey the laws made by the Central government and during emergency situations it empowers the Union Government to make it all powerful

  • Single Constitution
  • Single citizenship
  • Flexibility of Constitution
  • Integrated judiciary
  • Appointment of the Centre
  • All India Services
  • Emergency provisions

Thus, federalism becomes a relevant and important factor of modern politics. The core objectives of Indian federalism is unity in diversity, decentralization in administration and devolution in authority. The state will be able to pursue goal of common welfare in the midst of diversity through federalism

But like all political systems it will have its fair share of challenges

Challenges of Indian Federalism

Below are some of the challenges regarding federalism in India

1 .Regionalism

Regionalism is where and individuals region is given preference, at times that of other regions as well.  In a country as diverse and geographically vast as India, regionalism can tends to rear its ugly head from time to time. Some factors can be cultural as in the example of the Northeast states whose denizens feel that they are not culturally close enough to the rest of the country or the case of the southern states who feel they are not given their fair share of central funds despite having large states

2. Centralized Amendment Power

In a typical federation, the power of amendment to the Federal Constitution lies on a shared basis between the federation and its units. In India, the power of constitutional amendment lies with the Centre under Article 368 and other provisions. Although ratification of half of the states is sought for in some limited areas, the states in the Indian Union have virtually no power in this critical area of governance.

3. Language Conflicts

Diversity in languages in India sometimes causes a blow the federal spirit of the Constitution. There are 22 languages constitutionally approved in India. Besides, hundreds of dialects are spoken across the country. Trouble arises when the strongest unit of the federation attempts to force a particular language on others. The tussle for official language in India is still a burning issue. The southern states’ opposition to Hindi as the official language of India has led to deep-seated language crisis in India.

4. Economic Incompatibilities of the units

Differences economic standards and relative economic and fiscal incompatibilities among the constituent states also pose a threat to a federation. The forces of imbalances in the field are demands for economic planning and development and for regional economic equality and financial autonomy of states. Demand for a financial equality of a region creates problems in a federation.

In India, some states are declared as poor and on the principle of equalization, are getting grants-in-aid. But the dilemma in a federation emerges that if the principle of equalization is adhered to, the national income and the total income growth will suffer.

5. Centralised Planning

Although economic and social planning is found in the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, the Union Government enjoys unbridled authority over national and regional planning in India. Centralised planning, through the Planning Commission, now NITI Aayog appointed by the Centre, considerable preponderance in legislative power for the Union, the financial dependence of the states on the Centre’s mercy, the administrative inferiority of the states make the states meek and weak.

FAQ about Issues Challenges Pertaining Federal Structure

What is a federal structure?

Federalism is a system of government in which powers have been divided between the centre and its constituent parts such as states or provinces.

What are the key features of federalism?

(1)There are two or more levels (or tiers) of government.(2) Different tiers of government govern the same citizens, but each tier has its own jurisdictionin specific matters of legislation, taxation and administration.(3)The jurisdictions of the respective levels or tiers of government are specified in the constitution.

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