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What makes India a Federal Country?

India, a nation with many languages, religions and regions, emerged as an independent nation after a long and painful partition. Several princely states became a part of the country soon after independence. India was declared as a Union of States, by the Constitution. The Indian Union is based on the principles of federalism. When we look at the features mentioned above and if we apply it to the provisions of the Indian Constitution, we can see that almost every aspect is similar.

The Constitution earlier provided a two-tier system of government ....

  • The Union or Central Government representing the Union of India
  • The State governments

Later, Panchayats and Municipalities were added as a third tier of federalism. All these different forms of government enjoy separate jurisdiction.

  • The duties of the Union Government include subjects of national importance such as defence of the country, foreign affairs, banking, communications and currency. This is because, a uniform policy on these matters will be maintained throughout the country. All the laws pertaining to the above duties must be given only by the Union Government.
  • The duties of the State Governments include subjects of the State and local importance such as police, trade, commerce, agriculture and irrigation. All the laws pertaining to the above duties must be given only by the State Governments.
  • Some aspects have to be taken care of, by both, the Union Government as well as the State Governments. They are education, forest, trade unions, marriage, adoption and succession. Both governments can make laws on these subjects. If their laws conflict with each other, the law made by the Union Government will prevail.

We know that all the States in the Indian Union do not have identical powers. Some States enjoy a special status. Jammu and Kashmir has its own Constitution. Many provisions of the Indian Constitution are not applicable to this State without the approval of the State Assembly. Indians who are not permanent residents of this State cannot buy land or house here. Similar special provisions exist for some other States of India as well.

There are some units of the Indian Union which enjoy very little power. There are areas which are too small to become independent States but which could not be merged with any of the existing States also. These areas, like Chandigarh, or Lakshadweep or the capital city of Delhi, Pondicherry, are called Union Territories. These union territories do not have the powers of a State. The Central Government rules these areas. The basic structure of the Constitution is the sharing of power between the Union Government and the State governments.

Union Territories:

A. Andaman and Nicobar Islands

B. Chandigarh

C. Dadra and Nagar Haveli

D. Daman and Diu

E. Lakshadweep

F. National Capital Territory of Delhi

G. Pondicherry

  • The Parliament cannot change any arrangement on its own.
  • Both the Houses of Parliament with at least two-thirds majority have to pass the comment if there is any change.
  • The legislatures of at least half of the total States, have to then ratify it.
  • In the implementation of constitutional provisions and procedures, the judiciary plays an important role of overseeing.
  • The High Courts and the Supreme Court make a decision in case of any dispute about the division of powers.
  • The power to raise resources by levying taxes in order to carry on the government is given to the Union and State governments.

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