Federalism is a political structure in which power is distributed between a central authority and the country’s different constituent units.
Federalism – 7 Key Features
Some of the key features of federalism are given below:
Different Levels of Government
- In Federalism structure, there will be at least 2 tiers or levels of Government.
- In matters of administration, taxation, legislation; each level of Government will work under its own jurisdiction.
- The authority bestowed at each level of Government is guaranteed by the Constitution.
- Constitution will specify the jurisdiction of each tier or levels of Government.
Changing the Provisions
- Without the consensus of different levels of Government, the fundamental provisions of Constitution cannot be altered unilaterally, by a Government at one level.
Power of Courts in Disputes
- If there is a dispute at different levels of Government i.e. if a conflict arises at different levels of Governments while they are exercising their respective powers, then Courts are authorized to interpret the provisions mentioned in the Constitution and accordingly give its verdict on the conflict and resolve the problem.
- In Federalism, for each level of Government, the sources of revenues are mentioned clearly. This is done to ensure financial autonomy.
Unity and Diversity
- Federalism has two main objectives. One objective is that, regional diversity has to be accommodated. The other objective is to promote and safeguard the unity of the country.
Federalism in India
- The word Federation was not used in the Constitution of India, however it is based on principles of Federalism.
- Initially the Constitution of India provided provisions for 2 tier or levels of Government i.e. Central Government and State Governments. However Panchayat and Municipalities were added at a later date, thereby creating third tier in Indian Federalism.
- Constitution of India, demarcated the powers or jurisdiction of Central and State Government with the help of 3 lists named: Union List, State List and Concurrent List.
- Both State Governments and Union Governments can make laws on subjects mentioned in the concurrent list. Some of the subjects which are covered in the concurrent list are adoption and succession, trade unions, marriage, forest, education.
- For the subjects which are covered under State List, only state Governments have the powers to make or change laws. The subjects covered under state list are irrigation, trade, agriculture, commerce, police.
- For the subjects which are mentioned in the Union List, only Union Government has the power to make laws. Some of the subjects covered under Union List are Foreign Affairs, Defence, currrency, banking, communications.