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Indian federalism UPSC NOTE

 New coalition govt & hope

  • On June 4, 2024, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tripped up short of the majority mark in the Lok Sabha, compelling it to hobble towards power by leaning heavily on its partners in the National Democratic Alliance, all of which are regional parties

  • Return to New Delhi of coalition governance offers another hope: that of revitalising India’s beleaguered federal structure, which has sustained countless death blows over the past decade

  • What we have repeatedly seen since 2014 is an insidious, inexorable effort to curtail the autonomy of our States

  • Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rhetoric of cooperative federalism, all we have seen is the rise of a coercive and combative brand of federalism that seeks to centralise power at the expense of the States.

  • This Modi-fied brand of federalism has been manifest in seeking to 

    • foist Hindi upon our southern States

  • deploying independent regulatory and investigative agencies (such as the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation and Income-Tax agencies) to clamp down on political opponents from regional parties

  • using an obscure provision of the Disaster Management Act to impose a nationwide lockdown without consulting the Chief Ministers who had to implement it; 

  • creating and misusing the ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund, which limited the flow of cash to State-run Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Funds; 

  • and robbing Jammu and Kashmir of Statehood and abrogating Article 370 in a manner that sets an ominous precedent for all other States.

  • The BJP’s hyper-nationalist desire for uniformity was already evident in its decision in 2017 to change the terms of reference of the Fifteenth Finance Commission to base allocations on the 2011 Census, instead of 1971’s (following the same rationale) This proved pernicious, sending even more tax money from the south to the north than previously

  • The major concern of many federalists is that this could lead — given both demographic realities and the BJP’s own inclinations — to the Hindi-speaking States of the “cow belt” acquiring a two-thirds majority by themselves, in effect disenfranchising the southern States

  • This would give the BJP a permanent stranglehold on our Parliament and would lead to a severe crisis of our democracy as well as our federalism.

Concerns of Southern States

  • For, unlike most federal systems, India’s revenues are going disproportionately to its worst-performing States, those with rampant illiteracy, high rates of fertility and population growth, while the high-performing southern States get short shrift

  • On June 10, 2024, Uttar Pradesh received a whopping ₹25,069 crore of tax devolution, a figure greater than all our five southern States collectively received.

  • The concerns of our southern States about delimitation are not unfounded: Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are likely to together outweigh them all combined

Inter-State Council

  • Can Opposition-ruled States, especially in the south, leverage the BJP’s reduced majority to the benefit of cooperative federalism? 

  • The abolition of the Planning Commission has deprived them of a vital forum. 

  • If that cannot be undone, a good starting point would be extracting the Inter-State Council from the throes of desuetude.

  • Though its rationale had long been outlined in Article 263 of the Constitution, it was convened only in the 1990s on the recommendation of the Sarkaria Commission

  • But, despite having the potential to become a formidable forum of deliberation, the Council has degenerated into a mere appendage of the Ministry of Home Affairs, in whose shadow it scarcely has any authority

  • So the Inter-State Council must be overhauled and revived to serve as an independent arena for consultation, decision-making, dispute resolution, and coordination between States and various governmental departments and levels of government on issues that affect the States

Article 263 

  • The Constitution of India in Article 263, provided that an Inter-State Council (ISC) may be established "if at any time it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of a Council".


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Indian federalism UPSC NOTE
Indian federalism UPSC NOTE
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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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