Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States: 7th Schedule, Federal Structure of Government| UPSC

By Aarna Tiwari|Updated : October 26th, 2022

The Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States are also noticeably different. India's union and state governments have been granted constitutional authority over the country's politics. India's legal system may appear to be a federal one. The system, though, tends more toward a unitary one.

The article here discusses the various Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States, along with the federal structure of the Indian government. The topic is relevant and important and is covered under the Indian Polity section of the UPSC Syllabus.

Table of Content

Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States: Overview

Since India's political authority and administration qualify for the unitary and federal government structures, the Indian power system is called the quasi-federal system. The Indian Constitution also declares that "India, that is, Bharat, shall be a union of states."

The constitutional power division between the state and the union was diplomatic. The state governments are never descendants of the central power and do not need the center's approval to exist.

However, the center has been assigned the power to rule the territory by the constitution. Three lists specify the functions and responsibilities of the union and states across the country. 

  • The union list pinpoints the responsibilities of the union government.
  • The state list identifies the state's functions and responsibilities. 
  • The third list is the concurrent list, which applies to both governments.

The Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States have been delegated by the power of the Constitution. The union government's functions and responsibilities include forming and implementing public policies and reviewing their outcome. Union governments also prepare and supervise the policy agenda, which uses statutory enactments to implement the government's policies.

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Functions and Responsibilities of the Union

The union government also establishes coordination among the different ministries, ensuring smooth system flow. Executive control over administration, rule-making to run the country, natural and political crises and disasters, financial management by fiscal supervision, and budget presentation also fall under the union's responsibilities.

Functions of State Government

The state government is entitled to ensure the proper implementation of law and order within the state territory. The police and public order ensure that internal security is run by the state. The state government is in charge of running the educational and agricultural sectors and adopting strategic goals to boost the country's overall growth.

In conclusion, properly executing the Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States is crucial to ensuring the optimal growth of the country.

7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution

The division of powers between the union and the states is addressed in the Seventh Schedule of Article 246 of the constitution. Union List, State List, and Concurrent List are the three lists that are included.

  • The union list outlines the topics that Parliament may legislate on.
  • The individuals covered by state legislatures are listed by state.
  • On the other hand, the concurrent list includes topics within the purview of the state legislatures and the Parliament. However, in a conflict, the Constitution grants federal supremacy to Parliament on concurrent list items.

It is evident from the preceding system that the Union List includes matters of national importance and those that call for national legislation to be uniform. In the State List, issues of regional and local significance are mentioned and issues that allow for diverse interests. The concurrent list includes the topics where having uniform laws across the nation is desired but unnecessary. As a result, it supports both consistency and diversity.

Federal System of Government

A federal government is one in which the Constitution divides the Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States, each of which is in charge of its territory. The Dual Polity, Division of Powers, Written Constitution, Independent Judiciary, and Supremacy of the Constitution are the federal elements of the Indian Constitution.

However, because of a power lean toward the center in the India federal form of government. 

Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States UPSC

The role and responsibilities of the Union and the States are covered under the Indian Polity section of the UPSC Syllabus. The topic is important, specifically for the UPSC Prelims. One can refer to the Polity Books for UPSC to study more about the topic.

Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States UPSC Questions

Question: In a Unitary form of government:

  1. All the power is divided between the center/union and the state provincial government. 
  2. All the power is with the citizens.
  3. State Government has all the powers 
  4. Power is concentrated with the Central Government.

Answer: Option D

Question: Who has special power in administering the Union Territories in India?

  1. Central Government
  2. Chief Minister 
  3. President 
  4. Governor

Answer: Option A


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Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States FAQs

  • The Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the State Governments towards their citizens include providing benefits to the citizens to earn a better livelihood, safeguarding the citizens, and protecting laws and order and fundamental rights of the citizens. The citizens are also liable to respect the law and orders implemented by the governments, protect the constitutions, pay taxes honestly, etc.

  • National matters that have a pivotal role in establishing sovereignty mostly fall under the responsibilities of the Union government. The country's defense, foreign affairs, communications, and currency are some of the matters that belong to the union list. Adding to that, the union government also functions to fulfill the responsibilities affiliated with the concurrent list.

  • The state government is liable to protect law and order as well as the internal safety of the state territory. Education, agriculture, public health, sanitation, hospitals, and dispensaries are some departments for which the state governments take responsibility.

  • Federalism is a form of government in which two levels of authority share control over the same region. Larger territorial areas are typically governed more broadly by an overarching national government, while local concerns are handled by smaller subdivisions, states, and cities. Download the Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States UPSC Notes here.

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