1. Federalism is a dynamic theory of nation and state building. Political systems are classified into federal and unitary forms of government based on the distribution or concentration of power between the center and the states or the centre.
  2. But later it was associated with social contract theories and with the desire to build a political society. Thus, federalism is an expression applied to a political system characterized by two levels of government deriving powers and functions of power not controlled by both levels of government.
  3. The highest level of government is the national or central government and the lower level of government may be called a province or state or canton. Federalism requires understanding and negotiation between the central and state governments in formulating and implementing strategies.
  4. Studies recognize that federalism is based on two powers, one regional and the other central. Territorial power refers to a specific territory and has a well-defined list of powers. The central government refers to the entire country and also has its own list of powers, which is more powerful in the case of India. In India, federalism is based on cooperation between the states and the union.
  5. India's political system is very diverse due to the application of the federal principle and is generally considered a strong parliamentary democracy. The idea of ​​a federal state began as early as the Government of India Act of 1935, which sought to curb growing nationalism by giving limited independence to the provinces.
  6. Today, federalism is a principle of understanding two different trends, namely the need for local autonomy and the expansion of common interests, Lord Acton. Indian federalism is unique, unity allowing for diversity, unity offering fragmentation, modern federalism.
  7. Federalism eliminates friction, arrests disintegration, suppresses jealousy, curbs wars and creates strong and peace-loving nations from a heterogeneous mass of people living separately.
  8. In the context of India, the concept of federalism is that each region has its own requirement that must be better fulfilled by the regional government, but there are many regions that are common to the whole country and must be administered by the federal government. The most important feature of the Constitution of India is its federal structure and unitary government with  dual administration and a uniform set of rights and responsibilities. Basu observed that "Indian constitution is partly rigid and mostly flexible".

Challenges to Indian federalism: Issues between the Centre and the States:

The Role of Governor and Discretionary Powers of Governor:

  1. The Governor is appointed by the President of India for a term of five years. But he will remain in office until the pleasure of the President. This means that he can be recalled at any time and his continuation in office depends on the will of the Centre. The Supreme Court ruled that the office of the governor is an independent body and  is not subject to the control or authority of the Government of India.
  2. However, a survey of state governors clearly reveals that most of them worked as politicians before becoming governors and the rest were bureaucrats. They are appointed for political reasons and therefore are not expected to be impartial. The partisan role of the governor was at the center of clashes between the union and the state.
  3. Governors promoted the political interests of the ruling party at the Center in the states. In particular, this happened in the case of appointing prime ministers, convening, proroguing and dissolving parliaments, and recommending presidential rule. A recent example is the Governorship issue of West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  4. In addition to his duties as a constitutional head of state, the governor also has some discretionary authorities. While some of them have been specifically bestowed upon him, others follow by necessary inference.
  5. They are very important in these matters. One is in regards to the appointment of the Chief Minister when neither a single party nor a group of parties wins a decisive majority in the election. In this case, it is debatable whether the Chief Minister should be fired due to a lack of popular support or not.
  6. The second matter is the reporting to President under Article 356 about this satisfaction that a situation has risen in which the Government of the State cannot be carried according to the provisions of the Constitution.
  7. Thereby recommending the imposition of President’s rule, the issue of declaration of President’s rule itself has become a matter of serious tension between union and state governments.

Reservation of Bills for Consideration of President:

  1. Under Article 200 of the Constitution, the Governor can reserve certain types of bills passed by the state legislature for consideration by the President. The president can give his assent or direct the governor to return it with comments to the state legislature for consideration. But even if the state legislature passed the bill a second time, the president does not have to give his assent.
  2. The main purpose of this provision is to enable the Center to implement legislation in the national interest. But the governors and through them the central government used this provision to serve partisan interests. States which have ruled in opposition have from time to time raised their voice and cried out against the abuse of these provisions. This happened especially when the governor reserved the bill against the advice of the State Ministry. Probably under the direction of the central government.
  3. Recent example of Tamil Nadu governor reserving NEET bill for a long time.

Misuse of Article 356:

    1. Article 356 is the most controversial article of the Constitution. It provides for a state of emergency or presidential power if the president finds, by notification of the governor of the state or otherwise that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in the prescribed manner.
    2. The duration of the state of emergency is six months and it can be extended. In the Constituent Assembly, Ambedkar made it clear that  Article 356 would be applied as a last resort. He also hoped that "such articles will never be introduced and will remain a dead letter".
    3. Other federal issues: misuse of central agencies against state political leaders (CBI, ED etc), financial dependence of states on center (GST transfer).

Devolution of Powers and Finances up to Local Levels and Challenges

    1. Local self-governing bodies in rural India play a key role in the implementation of development programs in the current development situation.
    2. These institutions have become key in formulating rural development plans and implementing such programs given the available fiscal and human resources. The 73rd Amendment Act to the Constitution of India has given wide statutory powers to these institutions and the State plans to develop them into autonomous institutions.
    3. The formation of local level self-governance can only be achieved through proper and effective transfer of functions, funds and functionaries (3F) to PRIs. There was progress in this direction in scenes and departures. Inequality was in decentralization between state and within states in development sectors. The transfer of funds and personnel did not correspond to decentralization.

Major Challenges to Local Self Governance

  1. Confusing delivery schedule: A critical factor that has undermined PRI's fiscal autonomy is the incomplete transfer of powers to PRI by various state governments. While states like Kerala, West Bengal, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh have handed over the coveted powers to PRIs, other states like Odisha and Jharkhand have lagged behind in the process.
  2. A survey conducted in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Punjab, Haryana, Assam and Goa also found that most states provided multiple operational responsibilities but lacked administrative oversight over the provision of support of acceptable duties. mandates, personnel and additional funds.
  3. Bad budget point: Decentralization of public finances depends on expenditure commitments and distribution of income to lower levels. However, the experiences of various countries show that the taxes allocated to  PRIs were significantly weakened, which limited their development goals.
  4. Decentralization of Taxation and Role of SFC: In most states, State Finance Commission (SFC) recommendation reports have not been heeded, which is another Gray area in tax decentralization. One economic intellectual argued that PRIs should have the power to collect taxes from private taxpayers, which are not reflected in the countries' fiscal decentralization program.
  5. Fiscal Dependency: It has been argued that decentralization of finance leads to fiscal dependency of PRIs on the central and state hierarchies. This scenario led to  fiscal inadequacy of PRIs, reducing their role to mere implementers of government programs. To implement various programs, PRIs have to wait for "health orders" from higher-level ministries, which hinder timely and effective implementation of development programs.
  6. Coordination Gap: One of the most important requirements of effective fiscal federalism is the clarity of the mandate system. The task system should be as clear  as possible, but when it overlaps, there should be systems and institutions  to resolve it (Rao, 2011).
  7. In the case of PRI, the lack of intra- and inter-institutional coordination is also reflected in the transfer of funds to PRI, which is another challenge of budget decentralization. Transferring money from higher to lower levels has become a burdensome event due to unnecessary delay, technical incompetence and arrogance.

In sum, the structure of the Indian Constitution clearly deals with the executive powers of the Union and the States, but the provisions follow a common pattern between the Union and the States. The system of distribution of administrative power between the Union and the States followed  the Constitution of India in the various branches of government. The Union Government depends on the States implementing their programmes.

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