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Issues and Challenges with the Federal Structure

Federal Structure: Issues and Challenges

federal constitution establishes the dual polity with the Union at the Centre and the States at the periphery, each endowed with the sovereign powers to be exercised in the field assigned to them respectively by the constitution.

Challenges of Indian Federalism

1 .Regionalism

  • Regionalism is the practice of prioritizing one’s own region, sometimes even over other regions.
  • India’s diversity and vast geography make it susceptible to regionalism.
  • Factors contributing to regionalism include cultural differences, such as in the Northeast states where residents feel distant culturally from the rest of the country.
  • Southern states also experience regionalism due to perceived inadequate allocation of central funds despite their substantial size.

2. Centralized Amendment Power

  • In typical federations, the power to amend the Constitution is shared by the federation and its units.
  • India centralizes the power to amend the Constitution in the Centre through Article 368 and supplementary clauses.
  • Approval from half of the states is necessary in specific domains, but Indian states hold little influence over this essential governance aspect.

3. Language Conflicts

  • Language diversity in India can strain the federal essence of the Constitution.
  • India officially recognizes 22 languages under its Constitution.
  • Additionally, numerous dialects are spoken throughout the country.
  • Conflict emerges when the dominant federation unit imposes a specific language on others.
  • The debate over the official language in India continues to be a significant concern.
  • The resistance from southern states towards adopting Hindi as the official language has triggered a substantial language predicament within India.

4. Economic Incompatibilities of the units

  • Economic disparities and fiscal incongruities among constituent states challenge the stability of a federation.
  • Imbalances lead to calls for economic planning, development, regional economic parity, and state financial autonomy.
  • Seeking financial equality in a region creates complications within a federation.
  • In India, certain states are designated as economically disadvantaged and receive grants-in-aid to address this.
  • However, adhering strictly to the equalization principle poses a dilemma as it could hinder national and total income growth.

5. Centralised Planning

  • Economic and social planning is include in the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
  • In India, the Union Government wields dominant control over both national and regional planning.
  • Centralized planning, previously carried out by the Planning Commission and now by NITI Aayog, is centered around the Centre.
  • This arrangement confers significant legislative authority to the Union.
  • States’ financial reliance on the Centre and their administrative subordination contribute to their vulnerability and submissiveness.
Federal Structure: Issues and Challenges

Recent Controversies

  • The recent tussle between Governor and Chief Minister in West Bengal highlighted the fragility of the Indian Federal Structure.
  • The protests for Gorkhaland and Bodoland for Statehood.
  • Protests by people in Lakshadweep against the draft legislation like Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (Goonda Act), etc and the doings of Administrator of the Union Territory.
  • The passing of The Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Medical Degree Courses Bill, 2021 reveals that the legislation on subjects in the Concurrent List (Education) has to be meet the aspirations of the states too.
  • Veto Power used by West Bengal Chief Minister in case of Teesta Pact
  • The Teesta River, the fourth largest transboundary river between India and Bangladesh, is actually a tributary of the Brahmaputra which flows through the Indian state of Sikkim and West Bengal to enter Bangladesh. The dispute regardring the sharing the water of the river during dry season assumed importance following the finalisation of the Ganga Water Treaty in 1996. The two countries almost concluded a water-sharing treaty in 2011 under which India would get 42.5 per cent and Bangladesh around 37.5 per cent of the water during the dry season. The West Bengal Chief Minister vetoed the treaty due to state jurisdiction over water supply in India. The problem thus became a complicated one, given the involvement of an Indian state in the matter. Given Bangladesh’s significance in Chinese regional involvement, India must swiftly formulate a deal.

Federal Structure: Issues and Challenges, Federal Structure: Issues and Challenges

Read Also: Emergency Provisions in Indian Constitution

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