Federalism under strain in India – UPSC GS2

Constitutional provision regarding Federalism:
  • 7th Schedule of the constitution: Three lists i.e. Union, State and Concurrent divides the responsibilities between centre and state. Here, each level of government has its own sphere, enabling context-sensitive decision-making to them.
  • 73rd and 74th amendment Act: It provided the institutions for local self-government, which helps in strengthening grassroots democracy.
  • Article 246 : Power of Parliament to make laws on subjects in State List.  
  • Article 280 : Finance Commission
  • Article 263 : Inter State Council
  • The inter-state tribunals, the National Development Council and other informal bodies also served as vehicles of consultations between the Union, states and UTs.
How Federalism is under strain?
  • Scrapping of Planning Commission
  • Meeting of the Inter-State Council only once in the last seven years
  • No meeting of National Development Council
  • Removal of Article 370 without consulting the state legislature
  • Stripped autonomy of state under GST and
  • Making of indirect tax regime unitary in nature are some of the examples where country’s federal structure is in question.
  • Parliament legislated on “agriculture”, entry no. 14 in the state list, to enact the three contentious farm laws is an example of overstepping its jurisdiction and imposing a law on the states.
  • Extension of BSF jurisdiction in Assam, West Bengal and Punjab without any consultation with the concerned states.
  • Rejection of the Republic Day tableaux of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal by the Centre.
  • Controversial post of governor are some of the examples which disregard the diversity of the country and contempt for constitutional values.
Way Forward:
There is a need to understand that Article 1 of our Constitution declares that “India that is Bharat is a union of states”, and that devolution of powers is necessary for such a setting. So, there is a need to recognize the federal character of our polity to protect the national character.

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