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Powers of the Central and State Governments

  • The Indian constitution clearly demarcates the powers of the Centre and that of the State governments.

  • The Constituent Assembly spent many days discussing the sharing of power between the Centre and the States.

  • Some members stated that a Central government had to be very strong so that the interest of the entire Nation could be planned as an entity and taken care of.

  • Some thought that the provinces should have greater autonomy and freedom.

Different views from different States :

  • A member from Mysore feared that under the present system "democracy is centred in Delhi and it is not allowed to work in the same sense and spirit in the rest of the country".

  • A member from Madras insisted that "the initial responsibility for the well-being of the people of the provinces should rest with the Provincial Governments".

The Constitution tried to balance the different views. It provided 3 lists of subjects.

  • A Union List, with subjects such as taxes, defence and foreign affairs, which would be the exclusive responsibility of the Centre.

  • A State List of subjects, such as education and health, which would be taken care of principally by the states.

  • A Concurrent List, under which would come subjects such as forests and agriculture, in which the Centre and the states would have joint responsibility.

Language was another major problem faced by the Constituent Assembly. Many members felt that the English language should leave India with the British rulers. They wanted Hindi to replace English. The non-Hindi speaking people had a different opinion. The people from the south were against Hindi replacing English.

T.T. Krishnamachari

T.T. Krishnamachari conveyed "a warning on behalf of people of the South", some of whom threatened to separate from India if Hindi was imposed on them.

The Constituent Assembly finally decided that Hindi would be the "official language" of India and English would be used in the courts, the services, and communications between one state and another.

  • Many Indians contributed to the framing of the Constitution.

  • The most important role was played by Dr B.R. Ambedkar, who was Chairman of the Drafting Committee.

  • Under the supervision of Dr B.R. Ambedkar the document was finalised.

Dr B.R. Ambedkar


In his final speech to the Constituent Assembly, Dr Ambedkar pointed out that political democracy had to be accompanied by economic and social democracy. He stated that the right to vote did not automatically lead to the removal of inequalities between the rich and poor, or between upper and lower castes.

Jawaharlal Nehru Signing the Constitution of India on January 24, 1950


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