India is a diverse country. Here many people from different religions, races, castes and beliefs exist together. But for that system to exist in India, we need harmony, cooperation and coordination among us. This cannot be possible without the establishment of a system.
This is a system which is followed by everyone and is capable of representing all our voices. This system is called federalism.
What is federalism?
In India, there are various autonomous units. The central authority coordinates them. The power trickles down the authority as designed in the constitution. This is necessary in a large country like India. Because people of various mindsets need to get representation and voicing of opinions.
Federalism is a system which is actually based on the rights of each one of us. It is not a system but the backbone of our country’s administration. Without a federal structure, things would run out of hand. Also we would not be able to hold any person responsible for their mistakes.
A federal structure
If we delve deep into a federal structure, we see that a multitude of autonomous units affiliated to some political parties come together for the formation of a nation. This nation has a single central government. It oversees the working of the entire nation.
The state governments, exercise their rule over the territories demarcated for them. They do this in coordination with other state governments and the central government. The powers and responsibilities of both the governments can be distributed between each other. Our constitution details the legislative and executive powers held by each government. Also it tells how to exercise these powers.
Characteristics of a federation
The most fascinating characteristic of a federation is equality. Both the central and state government are equal in status and power. Both these governments thrive on the basis of a compromise.
This compromise is understood on the grounds of mutual cooperation and understanding. The Indian federation has been growing over a period of many years.
Origin of federation
The form and the structure of federation that we see now is not the same as before. There have been various significant changes in federalism. But it’s the basic idea that has trickled down the annuls of history. Some forms of loose or incomplete federation were seen in ancient times.
We have come across great rulers like Ashoka, Akbar and Chandragupta Maurya. But these rulers were not able to integrate the complete India in a sovereign nation. Under these rulers, there were small ministers, rajas or princes. They took care of certain areas but they did not share equal power with the king.
The king was above all people. But it was under the Britishers that India actually gained the complete shape. They established their dominance from the west till the east, from the north till the south. They ruled on India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and some other parts in the west.
Development of federalism as we see today
It was due to the efforts of Britishers that there was a system of uniformity introduced in India. This uniformity gave Indians a sense of equality. They established many all-India services, transport systems and uniform educational system.
A system of dual government gained girth in the Indian Council of 1909 Act the (the Morley Minto reforms). This was where the governments at provincial levels were dispersed with more powers. Our constitution makers proposed dual government in Montague Chelmsford Reports in 1918. This was the actual beginning of the dual system of governance in India.
The first round table conference that was held in London. It was here when the Britishers accepted this system of dual governance. This system was to be embraced by independent India.
These recommendations of Joint Select Committee gave way to the government of India Act 1935. This act is the guardian of the federal structure of India. Under the act, issues of the subjects were divided into heads. These heads were further divided between state and central governments.
Division of powers
According to this act, 59 subjects were classified under the central list. And 54 subjects were given recognition under the matters handled by the state. But there were some issues which need the guidance of both the governments. Hence they have been placed under the concurrent list.
The concurrent list has about 36 subjects under it. These subjects are dealt under the concurrent list. Here both the governments collectively take decisions regarding those issues. Also there are some matters that are not included in the three lists. They are thus dealt by the central government.
The Indian Federation System was designed to show a clear cut division of powers. But the constitution makers did not construct the Indian federation as a tight federation with no slack. They wanted to centralize the powers more in the hands of central government.
This was done so that states instead of competing with each other, nurture each other. They wanted all the states to develop together to keep up with the pace of development. Also, the Article 249 gives the Parliament powers to make laws and decisions on state issues.
This is done if deemed by members of Rajya Sabha as matters of national importance. Also the revenue sharing authorities have been distributed in the state and the national government clearly. This is done so that no issues of finances crop up.
A federal structure of the government has been adopted by many countries worldwide. This system also has it’s drawbacks. Sometimes the power sharing on certain decisions is unclear. This results in a dispute arising between the central and the state government.
In the midst of their dispute and argument, it is the public which suffers the most. This is because of the inefficiency of the government to resolve issues well in time. Also sometimes it becomes a complicated and a very lengthy process to make a decision.
This is because of the involvement of so many people. Thus we should always remember that if this system is properly implemented, only then it will be successful. Else it will dash to the ground.