18 December 2016

Indian Polity - India as a Federal form of government

India satisfies the features as a Federal system of government. But it is not a complete federation. India also has other qualities that deviates from the federal form. Of these some are unitary and some are unique.

America and Canada are two federal governments. Though they are federal, they have two different types of federation. India follows the Canadian model of federation.

The characteristics where India follows the Canadian government are:

  1. India and Canada are formed by integration, which means dividing one big union into small states, whereas America is an integration formed by uniting small states to form one nation.
  2. India and Canada use the term UNION in the pace of FEDERAL. They considered it more applicable for the functioning of their governments. But Americauses the word Federal.
  3. India and Canada gave more powers to the centre than the state. Though the states have their power and independence, they cannot surpass the centre. Thus, the centre is stronger than states in India and Canada. But, in America the powers are equally distributed to the centre and the states.
General Studies for IAS exam, Polity of India and Constitution of India for UPSC Civil Service exams

India satisfying federal features

Dual government

The government is divided between the centre and the states. The centre is assigned some fields to work on as well as the states are given some other functions to work. The division of power is done by the Constitution of India. It kept the Union at the centre and the states in the sides connecting the centre.

The matters of National importance, Defence, Currency, Economy, International Relationships and Communications are handled by the centre. The states handles the matters of regional interest, public order, agriculture, health, government and others.

Written Constitution

The constitution of India is a written constitution. It is also the lengthiest constitution in the world. At the time of adoption, Indian constitution contained a Preamble, 395 articles which are divided into 22 parts and 8 schedules. But at present, it contains a Preamble, 448 articles divided into 25 parts, 12 schedules and 101 amendments. The latest amendment 101 is on 8 September 2016, which is the introduction of Goods and service tax.

The constitution of India contains the structure, organisation, functions, power, implementation of both the central and state governments. It also set limits up to what extent should either the states or the centre should function or operate. It does so, to avoid conflicts and arguments between the centre and the states and to facilitate the smooth functioning of the government.

Division of powers

The division of power between the centre and the states is done by the constitution. The cnstitution divided the powers into three lists. They are the Union list, States list and the Concurrent list. These lists are in the seventh schedule of the constitution. The items in the union list are tackled by the Centre, the items in the States list are handles by the states. Where as the subjects in the Concurrent list are to be handled by both the Centre and the States. While dealing with the matters in the concurrent list, if any disagreement arises between the centre and the states, in this situation the constitution gave power to the centre to take over the situation.

There are also some items that does not all into any of these three lists. Such items are called Residuary subjects. The constitution gave the power over these residuary subjects to be dealt by the centre. Originally, at the time of framing the constitution, the union list consists of 97 subjects, states list consists of 66 subjects and the concurrent list had 47 subjects. At present, there are 100 subjects in union list, 61 subjects in states list and 52 in the concurrent list.

Supremacy of the Constitution

Without any doubt, the constitution is the supreme law of India. Everything works and functions as per the guidelines of the constitution in India. The power of division of power is with the constitution alone. It decides the works and duties that both the centre and the states have to follow. Whatever the centre or the states does they should be within the provisions of the constitution. If, in case of any deviations, those actions or laws will be declared invalid by the Supreme court or the High courts. Again this power of judicial review is given to the courts by the constitution. 

All the crucial components of the government like the Legislature, Administration and Jurisdiction, all function as per the constitutional provisions. This makes clear that the constitution is the Supreme in India.


Rigid Constitution

It is already known that constitution is the supreme in India. To maintain this supremacy, it should be rigid. A rigid constitution means, a constitution that cannot be amended or can be changed easily. it takes the action of both the states and the central governments and a special majority of the parliament and have to get approval from the legislatures to make an amendment. As all these processes are not so easy to implement, they definitely takes time, formation of committees, tons of discussions and reviews to result in intelligent, reliable, admissible and justifiable actions, the constitution os said to be a rigid constitution.

Independent Judiciary

The judiciary in India is independent from the government. It does not need to rely on the government to exercise its powers. In India, supreme court is the head of the judiciary. The constitution made judiciary independent to protect the supremacy of the constitution and to settle the matters involving centre and the states together. If the judiciary is not independent and is depending on the government, it cannot protect the powers of the constitution and also there will be bias in the decisions and the settlements made by the judiciary relationg to the Issues of the Centre and States.

Bicameral Legislature

The constitution provides the legislature of India to be Bicameral. Cameral in English means a judicial or government related, Chamber. Bi means two. Together, Bicameral means two chambers. In India, these two chambers are called Houses. These two house of legislature in India are the Upper house and the Lower house. Upper house is called Rajya Sabha. Lower house is called Lok Sabha. Rajya Sabha represents the states of India and the Lok Sabha represents the people of the country. Of these two, the Lok Sabha is powerful than Rajya sabha. Though less powerful than Lok sabha, there is a need for Rajya sabha. As it represents the states, it protects the states to secure its rights and interests when there is an unnecessary involvement of the centre. t speaks on behalf of the states. 

Indian government satisfies the features of a federal system of government. Still, it is not a complete federation. Because, India also has the features of the Unitary system of government and some other features, that are not federal nor unitary.

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