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The Upcoming Crisis in Indian Federalism

 

Relevance

  • GS 2: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

 

Introduction

  • In 2026, the composition of the Lok Sabha is going to change and this could lead to an issue of concern.
  • It is because the division of Lok Sabha seats is based on the 1971 census, since 1976.
  • The reason for using the census of 1971 was the unequal population growth—while some states were prospering and controlling their population, some were poor and also had more population.
  • The prosperous states were fearing that the states with more population would have more political clout and they will get punished for implementing the population control measures.
  • To drive away from this fear, the Union government decided to freeze the use of census 1971 for delimitation purposes till 2000.
  • The Constitution (Eighty-fourth Amendment) Act, 2001 extended the freeze till 2025.
  • The issue will once again pop up once the amendment expires.

 

Democracy vs Federalism

  • Article 81 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the concept of one-person-one-vote.
  • Abiding by the constitution, however, would mean that we are penalising the developed and prosperous states for implementing the population stabilising measures.
  • On the contrary, freezing the use of census 1971 means violating the democratic principles laid down by the constitution.

 

The Upcoming Crisis in Indian Federalism_40.1

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Experience of the US

  • The US has taken the following steps to ensure a balance between democratic principles and federal principles.
  • They gave fewer powers to the centre over state subjects.
  • Each state, regardless of its size, got 2 seats in the Senate, the Upper House of the Congress.
  • President wins the election not by winning the total national population votes—like in India—but by winning the maximum number of states.
  • These steps ensured that the smaller states are not left behind in the course of development.

 

The Indian Structure

  • India is a quasi-federal country and the Union government has more powers vis-à-vis states
  • The Constitution makers gave fewer powers to the states to ensure that the states do not cede from the country, as envisaged under Article 1 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Many states have been created after the enforcement of the constitution. These fears, however, have proven to be unfounded with time.

 

Legislative Council: A Complete Analysis

 

Steps needed

  • We need to fine-tune a new balance with due regard to Indian realities.
  • The powers of the states given in Schedule VII of the Constitution need to be increased.
  • Article 3 of the Constitution must be amended and more powers should be given to states while dealing with the state boundaries.
  • More localised decision making will increase national prosperity. For example, the goal of the 73rd and the 74th amendment was to empower the local people and improve governance at the ground level.
  • The role and composition of the Rajya Sabha should change and must be expanded. The smaller states should act as a brake over national majoritarian politics.
  • Constitutional provisions regarding language and religion must also give more powers to the states.
  • The financial redistribution must be carried after the consent of all or nearly all states.

 

Office of Governor: Issues and Suggestions

 

Way forward

  • Our country must protect the minority community by creating a list of consensus items that require unanimity—or at least a super-majority—and not just a simple majority.
  • To be a joint venture between majority and minority shareholders, India must act like one.

 

Source: The Hindu

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