Cooperative Federalism – Meaning, Features, Examples of Cooperative Federalism UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 22nd, 2023

Cooperative Federalism can be perceived as a collaborative effort between the central and the constituent/state legislature. In cooperative federalism, the Central Government, the state government, and the local Government share power and come together to work on a common problem for the benefit of the people. In cooperative federalism, it is feasible to raise the accessible resources by the Government at various levels in a coordinated manner for use by ordinary individuals to benefit them. This expects a united relationship between the center and the states.

The strengthening of cooperative federalism depends on providing autonomy to the states, and parallelly strengthening of Inter-State council and Intra-State council. This forms an eminent part of the UPSC syllabus. The candidates must be well-versed and completely acquainted with the topic to attain good grades in the exam. The aspirants can download the cooperative federalism notes to get in-depth knowledge of the topic.

What is Cooperative Federalism?

Cooperative Federalism is the combination of cooperation, interdependence, and stabilization between the Centre and the states to ensure the smooth administration of the country (which means solving problems of common interest).

  • In distinction to twin ideology, which sees governments as separate and coordinated entities, cooperative ideology sees 2 tiers of the state as reciprocally complementary components of one federal social group.
  • The system of cooperative ideology is predicated on internal offers and takes between the federal and state governments.

Background of Cooperative Federalism in India

Though, the concept of cooperative federalism, might be considered contemporary by rest of the countries of the world, India has been practicing it for a long. India has enormous diversity, so the central authorities adopted a non-interference policy in provisional issues.

  • Nevertheless, the inclination to centralize influence was somewhat seen at the time of a few Mughal emperors’ rule. However, in followed by the Revolt of 1857, British colonialism dismissed the intervention strategy.
  • Again, Regulating Act 1773 gained the concept of Cooperative Federalism in India. The idea of giving governing authority to local government in India was endorsed by the Crown rule of England, herein, who also administered the East India Company.
  • Later, the idea of dual government in India was estimated under the Government of India Act of 1919, where the governing authority would be segregated among local and British governors. However, it was attained under the Government of India Act of 1935.
  • Furthermore, during the 1980s, the idea of governing authority centralization became prominent. However, the thought of distributing authority from centre to state and panchayat was intensified later.
  • In this way, Cooperative Federalism in India retained the constitution’s objectives of democracy, unity, and social justice.

Cooperative Federalism in Indian Constitution

The Centre is provided with more certain powers to keep the essence of Cooperative Federalism. The articles of the constitution have been listed here which mark the provisions for cooperative federalism in India.

7th Schedule of Indian Constitution

  • The power is distributed between the central and the state. The state has some extra residual power in the centre. In article 249(v) Indian parliament clearly mentioned subjects in the state list. For this state, the council has the majority with ⅔ percent to make a change.
  • According to Article 248 of the constitution, the Union parliament has the exclusive right to make laws regarding any recognized matter. Indian state implements Cooperative Federalism with the help of the following structure in the political-economic framework.

NITI Aayog

  • It was formed to achieve the essential goals of Cooperative Federalism. It acts as a central platform for the Government of India to unite the states as the “India Team” and work towards national development.
  • Niti Aayog has taken numerous strides as a relevant technical advisor to Central and Uts states. It has also developed models and programs for infrastructure development and established public-private partnerships such as the Interstate Partnership and Union Territories.

All India Services

All India Services targets a unified court system to enact central and state laws. Article 312 of the Indian Constitution facilitates the clauses and provisions for integration work within the framework of Cooperative Federalism in India.

Full Faith and Credit Clause

It controls all the faith and credit whole records of a judicial and public act of all the proceedings conducted by the united states of the territory. The Full Faith and Credit clause depicted the value of any particular is the same for every state. Suppose a couple married in a state and they shifted to another state after marriage, then the couple is assumed to be married in another state too.

Zonal Council

To promote coordination, in cumulative 5 zone councils exist for each zone Central, North, South, East, and West. The zonal councils are structured by the state reorganization Act of 1956 when the zonal council of the northeast was made by several acts.

Each and every zonal council has its own committee to resolve the issues which are happening in their respective zones. The Chairman of the zonal council is the union home minister of the countries and the Vice chairman of the zonal council is the chief minister of the state.


A Goods and Services Tax was implemented in India on July 1st, 2017. Firstly, our honourable former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has formed a committee to form GST law. The Finance minister of India revealed the introduction of GST in 2006, and in 2011 constitutional amendment was passed to enable the introduction of Goods and Services Taxes. After the effects of GST, the taxes collected by central and state government is compiled into one instead of they collected tax as different bodies.

Various organizations have tried unsuccessfully to resolve the disputes between the core states that are impeding cooperative federalism in India. Some ways to strengthen Cooperative Federalism may include legislative autonomy for countries, centre-based fiscal support, and decentralization of power.

What is Cooperative Federalism in India?

In India, Federalism is an “indestructible union of destructible states.”On the floor of the Constituent Assembly, it was recognized that the states were an integral part of India and that any right of secession must be denied.

  • Therefore, the need for solid unions was anticipated, and the Constitution gave the central government ruling power. However, states are also given appropriate powers to effectively manage and govern local governments. Accordingly, such orders have been issued on the Union concurrent and state list of the Seventh Schedule.
  • Core country cooperation is paramount to streamlining development and fostering regional progress.
  • In the case of India, this form of Cooperative Federalism becomes increasingly necessary due to its vastness, enormity, and extreme diversity.
  • However, this federalism in India was greatly influenced by the Simon Commission report and its resulting Government of India Act 1935.
  • The Indian Constitution draws heavily on its features from the 1935 Act,  and its resulting Government of India Act, 1935.

Cooperative vs Competitive Federalism

Below, we have differentiated cooperative and competitive federalism. The prime difference between cooperative federalism and competitive federalism is that the former works on the principles of cooperation between Centre and State while the latter brings forth a vertical relation between the Centre and State. The striking differences between cooperative and competitive federalism have been elaborated on and illustrated here.

Cooperative Federalism Competitive Federalism
It proposes a horizontal central and state government relation in which they cooperatively work for the public interest. It proposes a vertical central and state government relation.
It allows the state government to participate in the forming and implementing of national policies. In this, state governments compete against each other and even the centre to attract funds and investment.
The centre and the state government are mended to cooperatively work on the subjects described in Indian Constitution’s Schedule VII. The constitution of India does not have any structure for Competitive Federalism; it is the procurement of executives.

Strengthening Cooperative Federalism

It is of prime essentiality for the candidates to be well-versed with the complete details of cooperative federalism and the ways that it can be strengthened in order to answer the questions rightly in the exam. Cooperative federalism can be strengthened in the following ways:

  • Autonomy to states
  • Strengthening of Inter-State Council
  • Strengthening of Intra-State Council

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cooperative Federalism

There are both advantages and disadvantages of Cooperative Federalism which we have discussed below. The federalism caters to numerous problems, on the other hand, there are certain loopholes and defects that need to be addressed.

Advantages of Cooperative Federalism

  • The biggest benefit of cooperatives is their support through grants. States may not be able to obtain sufficient funding received from local governments to execute required programs. In this case, states can apply for grants and receive funding.
  • Another major benefit of Cooperative Federalism is the upliftment and enhancement of the conservation through upgrading environmental programs and resources.

Disadvantages of Cooperative Federalism

There has been a history stating the dissent between state and federal governments, one might think that Cooperative Federalism restricts the authority powers possessed by the states. In accordance with the circumstances, the federal Government limits the powers of the states. However, this is not the main objective or intention of Cooperative Federalism. Restrictions on rights may result from some specific laws and regulations in force.

Cooperative Federalism Examples

Examples of cooperative federalism can incorporate different projects, laws, and regulations that states and the central Government cooperates in executing. The taxes given to the state government by the Central Government to finance the infrastructural development in the respective state could be one example of Cooperative Federalism.

The states are permitted to oversee the development per the Central Government’s objectives. Apart from the scheme of distribution of power, there have been several steps taken to support/unify the concept of Cooperative Federalism in India, such as the introduction of bodies like Inter-State Councils, Zonal Councils, and the Governing Council of NITI Aayog, National Development Council and the National Integration Council, etc.

Challenges of Cooperative Federalism

There are numerous challenges associated with the concept of federalism. This develops a mistrusting relationship between the State and the Centre. There are blurring lines of the divisible pool, the Centre has increased the shares of States, however, reality presents a different picture.

  • The allotment of funds to social welfare programs has been reduced.
  • The water disputes across the country, for example, the Mahdayi and Mahanadi issues mandate the need for all-party cooperation.
  • All of the States share numerous differences in demography and other factors, some have witnessed developments in recent years, on the other hand, while others states are struggling to make the ends meet.
  • All the states receiving the same amount of funds have been disapproved by certain states. There is a need to allocate more funds to some states to assist them in their development.

Cooperative Federalism UPSC

Cooperative Federalism is an essential topic in the UPSC Exam. It is an important section of the Indian Polity subject and is comprehensively covered in Polity Books and notes. UPSC aspirants must have a robust knowledge of this topic for excellent preparation for both the Prelims and Mains exams.

Candidates can take a look at the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to find out the types of questions asked on this topic. It is highly essential for the candidates to be well-versed with the complete details of the topic to score well in the exam.

UPSC Mains Question: At what pace do you think, the cooperation, confrontation and competition have altered the nature of federalism in India? Justify your answer along with the examples.

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