Federalism In India

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 20, 2022, 11:51

Federalism in India refers to a system of government that has two levels a central level and a regional level. The power in this kind of structure is divided between the centre and the constituents like provinces.

The two levels of the polity have their distinct powers and duties as well as separate systems. A written constitution generally contains the details of such a dual government system. The constitution is considered to be supremacy and the source of power for both levels.

Two Levels of Federalism in India

Federalism in India consists of two governments - a central government that holds power over the entire nation and is responsible for subjects of national interest and state governments operational at the provincial level that take care of the everyday administration of their respective states.

The two levels of government enjoy their power in their sphere without dependency on each other. In cases of conflicts between the two, the judiciary holds the right to resolve and make a decision.

Federalism In India - Overview

India follows federalism though it is more like a unitary system. It is often called a quasi-federal system as it exhibits the features of both unitary and federal systems.

The constitution of India does not mention the name federalism but instead says India will be a union of states. The 1919 Government of India Act introduced the elements of federalism to the country, separating the powers of provinces and the centre.

Under the federal system of government, there is an independent judiciary responsible for legal and judicial matters in the country.

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Notable Features of Federalism In India

The top level has the Supreme Court while the High Courts operate at the state level. The district courts function at levels lower than this. Some of the notable features of India's federal system are:

A flexible constitution - The constitution allows making changes to provisions through amendments though it is not easy to introduce amendments modifying the aspects related to federalism.

More power to the centre - The Indian constitution guarantees a higher power in the hands of the centre.

The executive comes under the legislature - The executive at the central and state levels is constituted by the legislature in India.

Integrated judiciary - There is no separate judiciary for the states and the centre.

Inequality in-state representation in the upper house - The states are represented in Rajya Sabha based on their populations while states should ideally have equal representation in a federal system.

Single citizenship - Citizens of India cannot be citizens of their state as well. This forges a feeling of unity among cultural and regional differences.

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Federalism In India - Structure of Government

India has a federal structure of government but shows a unitary character in terms of operations. However, it is worth noting that the real nature of a government ultimately depends on the spirit of the government functionaries.

Federalism in India continues to thrive with the effective distribution of duties and responsibilities among the centre and the states, and in the process helps promote fiscal prudence, healthy competition, and a marketplace of ideas.

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FAQs on Federalism In India

Q1. What type of Federalism in India?

Federalism in India follows a model called the quasi-federal as it depicts the characteristics of both unitary and federal systems.

Q2. What is an example of pure Federalism in India?

Canada is the perfect example of a federal system of government. Federalism in India is not a 'Pure Federalism'.

Q3. What are the main features of Federalism in India?

Independent judiciary, Division of power between centre and states, Supremacy of constitution, Dual polity. Federalism in India ticks all these features to varying extents.

Q4. In comparison to Federalism in India, what type of federalism exists in the United States these days?

In comparison to Federalism in India, Presently, a system called progressive federalism exists in the U.S.