The Indian Federation:
- India had emerged as an independent nation after a painful and bloody partition.
- Soon after Independence, several princely states became a part of the country.
- The Constitution declared India as a Union of States.
- Although it did not use the word federation, the Indian Union is based on the principles of federalism.
- The Constitution originally provided for a two-tier system of government, the Union Government or what we call the Central Government, representing the Union of India and the State governments.
- Later, a third tier of federalism was added in the form of Panchayats and Municipalities.
|Originally, the Indian Constitution, like any other federal Constitution, provided for a dual polity and contained provisions with regard to the organisation and powers of the Centre and the states.
Later, the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts (1992) have added a third-tier of Government (i.e., local) which is not found in any other Constitution of the world.
Threefold distribution of legislative powers between the Union Government and the State Governments.
- Union List includes subjects of national importance such as defence of the country, foreign affairs, banking, communications and currency.
- They are included in this list because we need a uniform policy on these matters throughout the country.
- The Union Government alone can make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in the Union List.
- State List contains subjects of State and local importance such as police, trade, commerce, agriculture and irrigation.
- The State Governments alone can make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in the State List.
- Concurrent List: includes subjects of common interest to both the Union Government as well as the State Governments, such as education, forest, trade unions, marriage, adoption and succession.
- Both the Union as well as the State Governments can make laws on the subjects mentioned in this list.
- If their laws conflict with each other, the law made by the Union Government will prevail.
- Residuary List: Anything out of purview of above mentioned list is taken as residuary subject.
- Union Government has the power to legislate on these subjects.
States with special power
- Special Status: Jammu and Kashmir had its own Constitution.
- Many provisions of the Indian Constitution were not applicable to this State without the approval of the State Assembly.
- Indians who are not permanent residents of this State could not buy land or house here.
- Recently the Indian govt has repealed the special status to Jammu and Kashmir
- Similar special provisions exist for some other States of India as well.
Union Territories :
- There are some units of the Indian Union which enjoy very little power.
- These are areas which are too small to become an independent State but which could not be merged with any of the existing States.
- These areas, like Chandigarh, or Lakshadweep or the capital city of Delhi, are called Union Territories.
- These territories do not have the powers of a State.
- The Central Government has special powers in running these areas.
- This sharing of power between the Union Government and the State governments is basic to the structure of the Constitution.
- It is not easy to make changes to this power sharing arrangement.
- The Parliament cannot on its own change this arrangement.
- Any change to it has to be first passed by both the Houses of Parliament with at least two thirds majority.
- Then it has to be ratified by the legislatures of at least half of the total States.
- The creation of Linguistic States was the first and a major test for democratic politics in our country
- Since independence, many old States have vanished and many new States have been created.
- Areas, boundaries and names of the States have been changed.
- In 1947, the boundaries of several old States of India were changed in order to create new States.
- This was done to ensure that people who spoke the same language lived in the same State.
- Some States were created not on the basis of language but to recognize differences based on culture, ethnicity or geography.
- These include States like Nagaland, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand.
- Experience has shown that the formation of linguistic States has actually made the country, more united.
- It has also made administration easier.
- A second test for Indian federation is the language policy.
- Our Constitution did not give the status of national language to any one language.
- Hindi was identified as the official language.
- But Hindi is the mother tongue of only about 40 per cent of Indians.
- Therefore, there were many safeguards to protect other languages.
- Besides Hindi, there are 21 other languages recognized as Scheduled Languages by the Constitution.
- Promotion of Hindi continues to be the official policy of the Government of India.
- Promotion does not mean that the Central Government can impose Hindi on States where people speak a different language.
- The flexibility shown by Indian political leaders helped our country avoid the kind of situation that Sri Lanka finds itself in.