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Federalism I CBSE Class 10 I Chapter 2


What is federalism?

Federalism is a form of government in which  power is divided between the central authority and several other units constituting the government. 

Federal countries have two significant government levels, and each level enjoys multiple powers that are independent of one another.  

• The central government is responsible for handling few subjects which are related to entire nation. The central government plans for development of entire nation. 

• The state governments take care the day-to-day administration of individual states/provinces. They are responsible for developing their state or province only. 

Indian constitution don't use federation word in context of country but the Indian Republic was formed on the basis Union of states. Which is similar that of federalism. 

The Indian Constitution originally provided for a two-tier system of government. The Union Government or Central Government and state government only. Later a third tier was introduced in the federation; with the formation of Panchayats and Municipalities in India.

Key Features of Federalism: 

• There are two or more levels of government in federalism. 

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

• The jurisdictions of the respective levels of government are clearly  described in the constitution. 

• The fundamental provisions of the constitution cannot be changed by any level of government. Any changes require the consent of both the levels of government. 

• The judiciary resolves conflict between central and state government in case any disputes  arise  due to the exercise of their powers by the government. 

• Sources of revenue for each level of government are well defined to ensure its financial autonomy. 

• The federal system serve for dual objectives: It safeguard and promote unity of the country, while at the same time accommodate regional diversity. 

• Federalism ensures constitutional guarantees for the existence and authority of each tier of government.  

Distribution of legislative  powers in India 

The Indian constitution clearly defined a threefold distribution of legislative powers between the Union government and state government. They are :- 

• Union List  

• State List  

• Concurrent list

Union List 

• It includes all subjects of national importance such as the defense of the country, foreign affairs, banking, communications and currency. 

• The Union Government has sole right to make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in Union list. 

State List 

• It contains subjects of State and local importance . Example land  related  issue, police, trade, commerce, agriculture and irrigation. 

• The State Governments has  full right to make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in this list. 

Concurrent List 

• It includes all subjects of common interest to both the central Government as well as the State Governments. 

• The list includes subjects relating  to education, forest, trade unions, marriage, adoption and succession. 

• Both Governments can make laws on the subjects mentioned in this list. 

• In the event of  conflict of laws  with each other, the law made by the central Government will be considered. 

Residuary subjects: 

Those subjects which are not described any of the three lists or any other matter that  will arise in future are considered as residuary subjects.

Two Crucial Aspects Of Federalism 

•  Government of different levels should agree to some rules of power sharing i.e. division of power. 

• The central and the state government should also have  mutual trust that each would abide  agreement.

Type of federalism 

There are two kind of federation: Coming together Federation and Holding together Federation. 

Holding Together Federation 

Holding Together Federation is a kind of federalism where a large country decides to divide its power between the constituent states .Examples India, Belgium and Spain. 

Coming Together Federation 

Coming Together Federation is a kind of federalism in which  independent states coming together to form a bigger unit and  all constituent units have equal power Examples  USA , Australia .

What has made India a federal  country? 

1. Indian constitution  declare India as a union  of states.

2. There are three tier of governance system such, central, state and Gram panchayat.

3. Legislative power of central  and state government  are clearly  described in constitution. 

4.All states of Union not have identical powers.

5.Change in constitution  required to pass in parliamentary  from third majority. 

6. Incase of dispute , apex court is the final authority  for resolution  of matter.

How does India practice  federalism? 

Federalism is practiced in India by adopting following strategy:

By organizing the Linguistic States:  

Linguistic States was  formed. This was the first and a major test for democratic politics in India. In 1947, the boundaries of several old States were changed and created new States. This was done to ensure that people who spoke the same language lived together in the same State.

By developing a language policy:  

There is no single language is designated as a national language as per Constitution. Hindi and English  both are treated as officials language. Apart from Hindi, the Constitution recognizes other 21 languages as Scheduled Languages. States  have official languages of their own.

By re-structuring, the Centre-State relations:  

Restructuring the Centre-State relations is the way in which federalism has been strengthened in practice in India . If no single party attains  a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, the major national parties can alliance with many parties including  regional parties to form a government at the Centre. Thus developed to a new culture of power-sharing and respect for the autonomy of State Governments.


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