A few decades ago, when we talked of Federal Structure, one generally drew a uni-dimensional picture, in mind, with Centre on the top of all the States. We rarely saw it as a synergy between the States, and a common strategy to develop and grow together. Though, this is the new-age approach of the Federal Structure based on cooperative and competitive federalism defined and re-emphasised with the formation of NITI Aayog. Essentially, federalism is an institutional mechanism to accommodate two sets of polities—one at the regional level and the other at the national level. Each government is autonomous in its sphere. The Indian Constitution provides for a federation with a strong centre. It does not use the word ‘federation’ and has described India as a “Union of States”, which implies the ‘cooperative’ nature with certain unitary features. The Union, State, and Concurrent lists demarcate the responsibilities and functions of the two.
The States of Gujarat and Maharashtra are celebrating their Statehood day on May 1. Parliament passed ‘The Bombay Reorganisation Act, 1960’, which provided that “as from the appointed day (May 1, 1960), there shall be formed a new State to be known as the State of Gujarat comprising the following territories from the State of Bombay, namely… and thereupon, the said territories shall cease to form part of the State of Bombay, and the residuary State of Bombay shall be known as the State of Maharashtra”. Both the States would complete 61 years of their existence on May 1, 2021. In this issue, the articles on these States take the readers to their journey of growth and transformation during the last six decades.
Federalism has to continuously maintain a difficult balance between the Centre and the States with decentralisation of resources, strengthening them all by bringing the weaker leg forward, creating healthy competition among the States in the form of Health, Sanitation Rankings, etc. The idea is to develop a culture and a set of values and virtues like mutual trust, and a spirit of cooperation among the people and policies. It is about acknowledging and celebrating unity as well as diversity, respecting the boundaries as well as transcending the boundaries.
The most common analogy given for such a structure is ‘the brain’ and ‘the body parts’. The way they work in tandem with perfect synchronization is the spirit, mind, and soul of federalism as well. Each organ is dependent on the other for smooth functioning and growth of the entire body.
National unity cannot be built by streamlining differences. Such forced unity only generates greater social strife and alienation and tends finally to destroy unity. A responsive polity sensitive to diversities and the demands for autonomy can alone be the basis of a cooperative federation.
The recent pandemic has taught us many lessons in this regard. All the boundaries and resources have culminated in a collective fight with the virus. The States as well as the Centre have to get through this crisis together, and stronger in seamless harmony, complementing and compensating each other with a constructive consensus.
NITI Aayog: Redefining Federalism
The Planning Commission operated through the lens of Five-Year Plans, using financial resources as the primary lever for guiding development. NITI Aayog, on the other hand, is driven primarily through intellectual firepower as well as the mandate and capability of forging meaningful partnerships with State Governments, civil society organisations, the private sector, and innovators for accelerating the pace of India’s development
In 2015, this mantle was passed onto the NITI Aayog. However, the mandate and approach of the two institutions, with the same overarching goal of developing India, could not be more different. NITI Aayog has endeavored to pursue its twin mandate of promoting cooperative and competitive federalism through partnerships with States for designing and reviewing development plans. It has a key role in helping India undertake reforms and implement policy initiatives in a scalable and impactful manner through partnerships with States.
MCQs for the Month
- Justice N V Ramana is the new Chief Justice of India appointed by the President. This is done by exercising of the powers conferred by ……………. of the Constitution of India.
a) Clause (2), Article 124
b) Clause (3), Article 123
c) Clause (1), Article 121
d) Clause (2), Article 123
- Consider the following statements regarding the Chairman of the Legislative Council of a State in India:
1) He is elected by the members of the concerned State Legislature.
2) He can be removed from his office by a resolution passed by a majority of all those present and voting members of the concerned State Legislature.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2 is correct
- Which one of the following is not a correct statement regarding the provision of Legislative Council in the State Legislature?
a) The States of Bihar and Telangana have Legislative Councils.
b) The total number of members in the Legislative Council of a State shall not exceed one-third of the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly.
c) One-twelfth of all members shall be elected by electorates consisting of local bodies and authorities.
d) One-twelfth of all members shall be elected by graduates’ residing in the State.
- Who is the new revenue secretary appointed in the recent bureaucratic reshuffle?
a) Ajay Bhushan Pandey
b) Tarun Bajaj
c) Gyanesh Kumar
d) Ajay Seth
- Consider the following statements with respect to the powers of the Governor of a State:
1) The Governor can summon, prorogue and dissolve the State Assembly.
2) The Governor can adjourn the sittings of the State Assembly.
3) The Governor addresses the first session of the Legislative Assembly after elections.
4) The Governor causes to lay the annual budget in the State Assembly.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
a) 1 and 2
b) 1, 3 and 4
c) 2 and 3
d) 2 and 4
- Who among the following got an 18 months’ extension as Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Chairman?
a) Ajay Tyagi
b) Surjeet Singh Deswal
c) Arvind Kumar
d) Yogesh Chandra Modi
- Which of the following is not related to the powers of the Governor?
a) Diplomatic and military powers
b) Power to appoint Advocate General
c) Summoning, proroguing and dissolving State Legislature
d) Power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remission of punishments
- Which country has undergone a legislation according to which its President will continue in power until 2036?
d) South Korea
Answer Key [1. (a), 2. (d), 3. (c), 4. (b), 5. (b), 6. (a), 7. (a), 8. (b)]