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Issue Debate #23 Center State Relations : Institutions & Evolution

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Note: There was temporary disruption in Issue debates. In the next 30 days we will cover more than 50 issues that are relevant to Mains 2015. The issues covered will cover all important contemporary issues of Paper 2 & 3 completely and will be posted everyday at about 11 AM. 1 or more Issues will be posted everyday.

Trace the evolution of federalism in Indian Polity. What role do Institutions play in promoting better center state relationship? Elaborate.

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[Hint: This topic is important for GS Paper 2.]

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  • edited November 2015
    India in it's present form, never existed as one political entity till the battle of Plassey - 1757. Yet, national security was much less susceptible to external threats when it had a powerful centre - Ashoka, Chandragupta etc. Autonomous states with huge regional diversities lead to secessionist tendencies. Therefore, India adopted a Constitution with federal structure & a unitary tilt.

    The colonial era had princely states (owing suzerainty to the British Crown under subsidiary alliance) while British India was directly ruled. Maximum administrative coverage was achieved through presidencies, which had Governors. Decentralization of legislative powers started with the Indian Councils Act, 1961. A landmark moment in the evolution of federalism was the adoption of the GOI Act 1935, which introduced provincial autonomy. After Independence, the SR Act 1956, organized Indian states along linguistic lines. The Constitution itself provided for division of legislative & executive powers through the 7th Schedule.

    Some institutions & the role they play in the concept of federalism in India are as follows :

    1.President – to require the Union council of ministers to reconsider any unfair advice to impose President's rule in any State.
    2.Parliament (through the Rajya Sabha) - to protect the interest of the States & to take part in constitutional amendments.
    3.Supreme Court - to hear disputes between the Union & the States.
    4.Governor – to be a link between Union & the States & to ensure (that) the legislative & executive decisions of the States confirm to the constitution.
    5. Finance Commission – to promote fiscal federalism.
    6. Inter State Council – to coordinate between Union & the States.
    7. All India Services – to maintain uniformity & facilitate liasion in administration throughout India.
    8. Zonal councils – to strengthen national integration.
    9. NITI Ayog – to act as a deliberative body for cooperative federalism through administrative, policy discussions.

    Although the office of the Governor & All India Services have been criticized for being pro-Union, the essential purpose of each of these institutions is to strengthen the concept of unity (of the nation) in diversity(of the states).
    Pehle vey aap par dhyan nahi denge, Fir aap par hasenge, Fir aapse ladenge, Aur tab aapki jeet hogi.
  • @all please review

    Evolution of federalism in Indian polity:
    - centralised administration during British
    Revolt of 1857
    - decentralisation with restoration of legislative powers of governors by 1861 act
    freedom struggle
    - federal polity put in place by government of india act 1935
    - Indian constitution - federal in character, unitary in spirit
    financial planning, one party rule, breakdown of rule of law (Governors appointed by spoils system, President’s rule etc)
    - thus, Indian polity worked s unitary
    coalition politics, liberalisation of economy, failure of trickle down theory, belief in ability of locals, popular media etc
    - cooperative and competitive federalism

    Institutions play a significant role in promoting centre state relations.
    - They effect coordination for example, NITI aayog
    - curb unilateral tendencies and establishes and institutionalises rule based regime where each respects the rights and obligations
    - thus, institutions reinforces the norms of federalism.

  • We should lay more focus post independence and that too in past decade...
    From domination of 1 party till 1960s in most of the states, emergency, post emergency to domination of regional parties
    Planning commission, NDC, Niti ayog
    From federalism to cooperative and competitive federalism
    Regional councils, sub group of niti ayog, inter state council...
    PRI- taking federalism to new level
    Centres role has changed from regulator to enabler and facilitator
    Recommendation of FFC which provides for untied grants
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