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Federalism Notes | Class 10 Civics

What is Federalism?

Federalism is a system of government in which the power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country.

Federation has two or more levels of government and all these levels of government enjoy their power independent of the other.

Key features of Federalism

  • There are two or more levels (or tiers) of government.

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

  • The jurisdictions of the respective levels or tiers of government are specified in the constitution. So the existence and authority of each tier of government is constitutionally guaranteed.

  • The fundamental provisions of the constitution cannot be unilaterally changed by one level of government. Such changes require the consent of both the levels of government.

  • Courts have the power to interpret the constitution and the powers of different levels of government. The highest court acts as an umpire if disputes arise between different levels of government in the exercise of their respective powers.

  • Indepedndent sources of revenue for each level of government and these are clearly specified to ensure financial autonomy.

What are the objectives of Federal System?

The federal system thus has dual objectives:

  1. To safeguard and promote unity of the country

  2. Accommodate regional diversity.

Division of Powers : Lists

The Constitution of India clearly provides a threefold distribution of legislative powers between the Union Government and the State Governments as per the Schedule 7 in the following lists: 1. Union List 2. State List 3. Concurrent List

Union List

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

  • They are included in this list because we need a uniform policy on these matters throughout the country.

  • The Union Government alone can make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in the Union List.

State List

  • It contains subjects of State and local importance such as police, trade, commerce, agriculture and irrigation.

  • The State Governments alone can make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in the State List.

Concurrent List

  • It includes subjects of common interest to both the Union Government as well as the State Governments, such as education, forest, trade unions, marriage, adoption and succession.

  • Both the Union as well as the State Governments can make laws on the subjects mentioned in this list.

  • If their laws conflict with each other, the law made by the Union Government will prevail.

Have the linguistic states in India made it more united?

  • The experience has shown that the formation of linguistic States has actually made the country more united.

  • It has also made administration easier.

What is the language policy in India?

  • Besides Hindi, there are 21 other languages recognised as Scheduled Languages by the Constitution.

  • A candidate in an examination conducted for the Central Government positions may opt to take the examination in any of these scheduled languages. States too have their own official languages.

  • The Central Government continues the use of English along with Hindi for official purposes.

What are Coalition Governments?

When no single party gets a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, the major national parties enter into an alliance with other smaller parties including several regional parties to form a government at the Centre. The government thus formed is a coalition government.

How is decentralisation practiced in India? 

The process when power is taken away from Central and State governments and given to local governments is referred to as decentralisation.

  • A major step towards decentralisation was taken in 1992. The Constitution was amended to make the third-tier of democracy more powerful and effective.

  • Now it is constitutionally mandatory to hold regular elections to local government bodies.

  • Seats are reserved in the elected bodies and the executive heads of these institutions for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.

  • At least one-third of all positions are reserved for women.

  • An independent institution called the State Election Commission has been created in each State to conduct panchayat and municipal elections.

  • The State governments are required to share some powers and revenue with local government bodies. The nature of sharing varies from State to State.

How are rural local governments organised? What is the panchayati raj system?

Rural local government is popularly known by the name panchayati raj. Each village, or a group of villages in some States, has a ‘gram panchayat.’

  • Gram Panchayat is a council consisting of several ‘ward members’, often called ‘panch’, and is headed by a president or ‘sarpanch’.

  • They are directly elected by all the adult population living in that ward. 

  • The panchayat works under the overall supervision of the ‘gram sabha’.

  • All the voters in the village are its members. It has to meet at least twice or thrice in a year to approve the annual budget of the gram panchayat and to review the performance of the gram panchayat.

  • A few ‘gram panchayats are grouped together’ to form what is usually called a ‘panchayat samiti or block or mandal’.

  • The members of this representative body are elected by all the panchyat members in that area.

  • All the panchayat samitis or mandals in a district together constitute the ‘zilla (district) parishad’

  • ‘Zilla parishad chairperson’ is the political head of the zilla parishad.

How are urban local governments organised?

Big cities are constituted into municipal corporations. Both municipalities and municipal corporations are controlled by elected bodies consisting of people's representatives.

Municipal chairperson is the political head of the In a municipal corporation such an officer is called the mayor.


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