Class X Democratic Politics | Federalism Chapter 2 | Notes And Answers

Q. Explain the key features of federalism.

Answer:

1. There are two or more levels of government.

2. Different tiers of government govern the same citizens but each tier has its own jurisdiction in specific matters of legislation, taxation and administration.

3. The jurisdiction of the respective levels or tiers of government are specified in the constitution. So the existence and authority of each tier of government is constitutionally guaranteed.

4. The fundamental provisions of the constitution cannot be unilaterally changed by one level of government. Any change to it has to be proposed by both the levels of government.

5. Courts have the power to interpret the constitution and the powers of different levels of government. The highest court acts as a umpire if disputes arise between different levels of government in the exercise of their respective powers.

6. Sources of revenue for each level of government are clearly specified to ensure its financial autonomy.

7. The federal system thus has dual objectives: to safeguard and promote unity of the country while at the same time accommodate regional diversity. Therefore two aspects are crucial for the institutions and practice of federalism. Government at different levels should agree to some rules of power sharing. They should also trust that each would abide by its part of the agreement. An ideal federal system has both aspects: mutual trust and agreement to live together.

Q. Differentiate between coming together and holding together federations.

A. There are two routes through which federations are formed.

1. One route involves independent states coming together on their own to form a bigger unit so that by pooling sovereignty and retaining identity they can increase their security. This type of federations are called ‘coming together’ federations. In this category all the constituent units have equal power and are more powerful than the central government. Some examples of this kind of coming together federations are U.S.A, Switzerland and Australia.

2. The other route involves a large country deciding to share power between the central government and its constituent units. This type of federations are called ‘holding together’ federations. In this category, the central government tends to be more powerful and the constituent units do not have equal power. Very often, different units of the federation have unequal powers. Some units are granted special powers. Some examples of this kind of holding together federations are India, Spain and Belgium.

Q. Differentiate between federal government and unitary government.

A. Federalism is a system in which power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country. Usually a federation has 2 levels of government. One is the government for the entire nation that looks after a few subjects of common national interest. This government is called the central government and the other is the government at the level of provinces of states that look after much of the day-to-day administration of the state. This government is called the state government. In a federal government the state government is not subordinate to the central government. Both these levels of government enjoy their powers independent of each other.
Under the unitary system either there is only 1 level of government or the sub units are subordinate to the central government. The central government can pass on orders to the state governments. But, in a federal system the central government cannot order the state governments to do something. State governments have power of its own for which it is not answerable to the central government. In this sense federal governments are contrasted with unitary government.

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Q. What was one of the key changes made in the constitution of Belgium?

A. One of the key changes made in the constitution of Belgium was to reduce the power of the central government and give these powers to the state governments. State governments existed in Belgium even earlier. They had their roles and powers. But all these powers were given to these governments and could be withdrawn by the central government. The change that took place in 1993 was that regional governments were given constitutional powers that were no longer dependent on the central government. Thus Belgium shifted from a unitary form of government to a federal government.

Q. ‘India is a federal country.’ Explain.
OR
Explain the threefold distribution of legislative powers between the central government and the state government.
OR
Explain the three lists which make India a federal country.
OR
Explain how law making processes are shared between the state and central governments in India? Mention 3 subjects each of union, state and concurrent list.

A. The constitution provides a threefold distribution of legislative power between the central and the state governments.

Union list:- This list includes subjects of national importance such as defense of the country, foreign affairs, banking, communications and currency. These are included in this list because we need a uniform policy on these issues throughout the country. The Union government alone can make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in the Union list.

State list:- This list includes a few subjects of state and local importance such as police, trade, commerce, agriculture and irrigation. The state government alone can make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in the list.

Concurrent list:- This list includes subjects of common national interest such as the education, trade unions, forest, trade unions, marriage, adoption and succession. Both the union as well the state government can legislate on the matters included in this list. If the laws conflict with each other, the law made by the union government will prevail.

Q. What are residuary subjects?

A. Residuary subjects are those which came after the constitution was made. The union government has the power to legislate on these matters. Some examples of residuary subjects are computer software.

Q. Kashmir has a special constitution. Explain.

A. Jammu and Kashmir has a special constitution. Many provisions of the Indian constitution are not applicable to this state without the approval of the state assembly. Indians who are not permanent residents of this state cannot buy land or house here.

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Q. The sharing of power between the central and state governments ids basic to the structure of the constitution. Explain.

A. The sharing of power between the center and state government is basic to the structure of constitution. It is not easy to make changes ti this power sharing arrangement. Any change to it has to be approved by both the levels of government with at least two-thirds majority. Then it has to be ratified by the legislatures of at least half of the total states.

Q. How is federalism practiced in India?

A. federalism is practiced in India through the following ways:-

Linguistic states:-

The creation of linguistic states was the first and a major test for democratic politics in India.
In the period between 1947 and 2013 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.

Language policy:-

A second test for the 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% 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.

A candidate in an examination conducted to any of the central positions may opt to take the examination in any of these languages.

States too have their own official languages. Much of the government work takes place in the official in the official language of the concerned state.

Unlike Sri Lanka, the leaders of our country adopted a very cautious attitude in spreading the use of Hindi. According to the constitution, the use of English for official purposes was to stop in 1965.
However, many non Hindi speaking states demanded that the use of English continue. In Tamil Nadu this movement took a violent form.
The central government responded by agreeing to continue the use of English along with Hindi for official purposes. Many critics think that this solution favored the Hindi speaking elite.

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 our political leaders helped our country avoid the kind of situation that Sri Lanka finds itself in.

Centre-State relations:-

Restructuring the centre state relationships is one more way in which federalism was strengthened in practice.
For a long time the same party ruled both at the centre and in most of the states.
This means that the state governments did not exercise their rights as autonomous federal units. As and when the ruling parties of the state level are different, the parties that ruled at the centre tried to undermine the power of the states.

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In those days the central government would often misuse the constitution to dismiss the state governments that were controlled by rival parties. This undermined the spirit of federalism. All this changed significantly after 1990. This period saw the rise of regional political parties in many states of the country. This was also the beginning of the era of coalition governments at the centre.

Since no single party got a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, the major national parties had to centre into an alliance with the parties including several regional parties to form a government at the centre. This leads to a new culture of power sharing and respect for the autonomy of state government. This trend was supported by a major judgment of the Supreme Court that made it difficult for the central government to dismiss state governments in n arbitrary manner. Thus, federal power sharing is more effective today than it was in the early years after the constitution came into force.

Q. Critically analyze the centre state relations prior to the 1990 and after.

OR
‘Federal power sharing is more effective today than it was before 1990.’ Explain the statement.

A. Restructuring the centre state relationships is one more way in which federalism was strengthened in practice.
For a long time the same party ruled both at the centre and in most of the states. This means that the state governments did not exercise their rights as autonomous federal units. As and when the ruling parties of the state level are different, the parties that ruled at the centre tried to undermine the power of the states.
In those days the central government would often misuse the constitution to dismiss the state governments that were controlled by rival parties. This undermined the spirit of federalism. All this changed significantly after 1990. This period saw the rise of regional political parties in many states of the country. This was also the beginning of the era of coalition governments at the centre.

Since no single party got a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, the major national parties had to enter into an alliance with the parties including several regional parties to form a government at the centre. This leads to a new culture of power sharing and respect for the autonomy of state government. This trend was supported by a major judgment of the Supreme Court that made it difficult for the central government to dismiss state governments in an arbitrary manner. Thus, federal power sharing is more effective today than it was in the early years after the constitution came into force.

 

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