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Cooperative Federalism vs Competitive Federalism in India



NITI Aayog has been constituted to actualise the important goal of cooperative federalism and to enable good governance in India.

Cooperative federalism, holds the regional and state governments function within a single sphere and actually work in harmony to reach practical solutions for political, financial or social concerns.

Cooperative federalism, which is also identified as marble cake federalism, differs from this outlook as it supports the notion that central governments and regional states essentially engage in power-sharing. The marble cake analogy is used to describe cooperative federalism because it represents a system where there is a mixture of power usage at local and state levels. In cooperative federalism, each governmental entity does not have distinctive power over its jurisdiction.

Naturally, this creates an atmosphere of cooperation.

On the premise that strong states make a strong nation, NITI Aayog acts as the quintessential platform for the Government of India by bringing States together as ‘Team India’ to work towards the national development agenda.

NITI Aayog have been taken a number of steps in this view.


NITI Aayog endeavours to promote competitive federalism by facilitating improved performance of States/UTs.

It encourages healthy competition among states through transparent rankings, in various sectors, along with a hand-holding approach. Some of the indices launched by NITI Aayog are School Education Quality Index, State Health Index, Composite Water Management Index, Sustainable Development Goals Index, India Innovation Index and Export Competitiveness Index. NITI Aayog also releases delta rankings for the performance of Aspirational Districts every month.


Some recent examples citing how far cooperation, competition and confrontation have shaped the nature of federation in India:
The Centre withdrew the special status conferred on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) under Article 370 of the Constitution, divided it into two regions and affirmed them to lead the UT Status.

This stands a historical revision of the inherent feature of federalism. Besides, these the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, where the respective states moved the Supreme Court under Article 131 raising the question: Could the centre-state dispute be premised on political differences?
The Goods and Services Tax (GST), the biggest tax reforms, is the result of extended consensus among states including the GST Council where states contribute to national fiscal policy equally.
An Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Index for the Indian States with annual rankings pointing to the areas they lag introduces the sense of competition among different states to encourage corrective actions and make India a much better and easier destination for investment.
Besides, the SDG India Index and collaboration between states for Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP) show how competitive federalism complements cooperative federalism.

5 MCQs based on Federalism

What is the main goal of NITI Aayog in relation to federalism?
a) Promote centralisation of power
b) Encourage competition among states
c) Advocate for regional autonomy
d) Facilitate confrontation between central and state governments

Answer: b

What does cooperative federalism emphasise in terms of power-sharing?
a) Exclusive power for central government
b) Distinctive power for state governments
c) Mixture of power at local and state levels
d) Complete decentralisation of power

Answer: c

How does NITI Aayog constitutute to cooperative federalism in India?
a) By enforcing strict control over state governments
b) By creating competition among states
c) By encouraging states to confront the central government
d) By promoting collaboration and teamwork among states

Answer: d

Which index is NOT an initiative of NITI Aayog to promote competitive federalism?
a) School Education Quality Index
b) State Health Index
c) Gross Domestic Product Index
d) Composite Water Management Index

Answer: c

What historical change challenges the basic feature of federalism in India?
a) Implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST)
b) Launch of the Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP)
c) Withdrawal of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir
d) Introduction of the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Index

Answer: c


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