Contemporary Discourse on Federalism in India

Editorial Analysis for IAS - Contemporary Discourse on Federalism in India

Contemporary Discourse on Federalism in India


  • The debate on the federal feature of Indian Constitution has been prevalent owing to some of the key issues including delayed disbursal of resources and tax proceeds, arguments in the GST Council, etc

Federal Features in Indian Constitution

The constitution contains some of the fundamental features of a federation, they include:

  1. Division of power
  2. Two government
  3. Written constitution
  4. Supremacy of the constitution
  5. Rigidity of the constitution
  6. Independent Judiciary
  7. Bicameralism


What are the Unitary features?
  1. Strong Centre
  2. Single Constitution
  3. Single Citizenship
  4. Flexibility of Constitution
  5. Integrated Judiciary
  6. Appointment of the Governor by the Centre
  7. All India Services
  8. Emergency Provisions
Centralized Federal Structure
  • Apart from this, the term ‘Federation’ has not been used anywhere in the constitution.
  • Article 1 – Describes India as a ‘Union of States’
  • Article 3 – allows the Union to alter the boundaries of a State without the latter’s consent


What are the reasons for a centralized federal structure?
  • Partition of India – The leaders of the constituent assembly who advocated for autonomy of states revised their stand after the partition.
  • Union Powers Committee of the Constituent Assembly took a stand in favour of a strong Union with residuary powers and weaker States, to safeguard the integrity of the nation.
  • Social Challenge – The challenge posed to the makers of the constitution was to overcome the immediate caste and linguistic identities and forge a national civic identity.
  • Economic Challenge – One more strong reason for this centralized nature was to alleviate the inter-regional economic inequality.
  • India’s membership in the International Labour Organization, the Nehru Report (1928), and the Bombay Plan (1944) pushed for a centralised system to foster socio-economic rights and safeguards for the working and entrepreneurial classes.
Way Forward:
  • The effectiveness of the centralized federal feature will be successful only when the intent of the government will be good.
  • So, it is the responsibility of the Union Governments to uphold this spirit in building a strong nation.


        Source The Hindu


For more updates, Click Here