The spirit of federalism is to accommodate vast diversity present in the Indian society, but the recent instances of tussle between central and state governments are seen as threat to federal nature Indian democracy.
Federalism is a mode of Political organisation that unites separate states within an overarching political system in a way that each entity is allowed to maintain its own integrity.
- The makers of our Constitution envisioned a federal structure of Government in which the states would be treated as equal stakeholders of India’s development
- It is not without reason that the phrase ‘Federal in Structure, Unitary in Spirit’ is used to describe the Indian state
- A vast and diverse country such as ours cannot survive without a vibrant and functional federal structure
- Accommodation of diversity is made possible through the rules of power-sharing between Government at different levels, which eventually trust each other to abide by its part of agreement
The Instances of Tussle between Central and State Government:
- Several south Indian states raised concerns over terms of reference of 15th Finance commission, over allocation of resources based on population, which meant penalising states that had done good demographic management
- Central Government’s proposal of ‘One Nation, One language’ to promote Hindi as country’s common language led to protests by South Indian states
- The revocation of Article 370, by a unilateral decision by Central Government, questioned the ‘Territorial Integrity’ of Indian states in a Federal structure
- Proposal for Simultaneous Elections, was opposed by regional parties in states, arguing that it would go against the Diversity of India
- The Supreme Court’s intervention regarding the conduct of the Governor of Karnataka and the constitutional status of the Lieutenant Governor (L.G.) of Delhi following his tussle with the Delhi government, expose the fissures in federal structure of country
- Differences on GST: Right from the formation of committee, to finalising the tax rates to the present Tax administration
Reasons for tussle between state and central Government:
- Reservation of state bills for the consideration of the President
- The Gujarat Assembly thrice passed the GUJCOC bill but the Centre has kept it waiting for four years
- Discriminatory and Partisan role of Governor Deployment of Central forces in the states to maintain law and order
- Discrimination in financial allocations to the states Management of All-India Services (IAS, IPS, and IFS) Use of electronic media for political purposes
- Either Government thriving on the evil of Vote bank Politics Sharing of finances (between Centre and states)
Solutions to enhance the Federal nature of Indian Democracy:
- Reduce the imbalance between revenue and expenditure in states
- The states implement programmes related to health, education and other public services, but are unable to collect their own revenue for these public services One solution would be for the Central government to allocate more revenues to the states and also allow states to collect more revenue
- States should be encouraged to introduce such innovation and there should be incentives for such knowledge about new initiatives to diffuse across states
- The third solution in developing more productive Centre-state relations is to create linkage institutions
- Though some institutions like the Inter-State Council and the National Development Council have become quite active of late, they lack enforcement power. But their recommendations must be respected.
Thus, it is imperative to improve centre-state relations to achieve India’s development goals, and ensure democratic stability.