Q) The erosion of cordial relations between the Centre and states has highlighted the need for a federal coalition that looks beyond the legal constitutional aspects of federalism to preserve the idea of a plural India in terms of both culture and politics. Comment.

Why this Question?

Issue of current importance

Key demand of the Question 

Determine how political situations in Nepal have an adverse impact on India and the approach that should be adopted by India.


Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.


Start with giving an example of the recent encounters between the Centre and states.


In the first part, write about the deteriorating situation of federalism in India and its causes.

In the next part, highlight how a federal coalition can be helpful.


Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answers

India is a federal state where the Centre and the State are the Cooperating units of the polity. Yet India is an asymmetrical federalism, with the balance of power tilting in the favour of the Centre. Article 256 deals with Union-state relations and State’s obligation while Article 365 mandates the state governments to follow and implement the directions of the Central government. Changing dynamics of the party system is shaping the trajectory of Federalism from cooperative to confrontationalist.

Issues in Centre-State relations

  1. There has been increasing centralisation in resource allocations and welfare interventions.
  2. The gap between the revenue that State governments are allowed to generate and the expenditure that they are expected to incur has been widening, particularly with the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  3. The shortfall of GST this year and the Centre’s lackadaisical response to demands for compensation by State governments are again known.
  4. There was no prior consultation with states before the lockdown was imposed on 25th It caused serious supply chains breakdown and importantly migrant workers chaos.
  5. The announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Rs 20-lakh crore Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (Self-reliant India Campaign) package left many scrambling with the fiscal maths.
  6. Institutions such as the Income Tax Department, the Enforcement Directorate and the National Investigation Agency are being used to intimidate opponents.
  7. The Centre is increasingly ignoring elected representatives of State governments, holding meetings with State secretaries and district collectors on issues that are primarily under State control. An example was a recent meeting by the Minister of Education with State Education Secretaries on implementation of the New Education Policy.

Strengthening Federalism

  • Strengthening of Inter-State Council: Over the years multiple committees have recommended strengthening of Interstate Council where the concurrent list subjects can be debated and discussed, balancing Centre state powers. There is far less institutional space to settle inter-state frictions therefore a constitutional institution like ISC can be a way forward.
  • Autonomy to states: Centre should form model laws with enough space for states to maneuver. The Centre should give enough budgetary support to states so as to avoid budgetary burden. There should be least interference in the state subjects.
  • Democratic Decentralization of administration and strengthening governments at all levels in true spirit. Power should be decentralized based on the principle of subsidiarity.

While in certain areas, it might warrant greater powers to the Union (defence, currency etc), on the development front (education, health etc.) the Centre should respect the autonomy of the other two levels of government and consciously avoid the tendency to centralize powers and functions.