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Indian Federalism: No Modeling

India won’t model – their constitution defines states rights differently and won’t adopt any radical changes

Hindustan Times January 24, 2006

(“Bihar Governor's indictment brings focus back on Sarkaria recommendations” Lexis)

 The foundations of federalism in India were laid down on the grounds of concern for the unity and integrity of a culturally diverse nation. In view of historical experiences of disruptive and disintegrative sectarian forces and the political context of partition prevailing at the time of independence, the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution wanted to strengthen the Union against possible disintegrative pressures. The perceived basis of structuring the federation was "administrative convenience." Unlike the American and the (erstwhile) Soviet constitutions, the states had no inherent, not even notional, right to secede from the Union or demand self-determination. In fact the Union in India was empowered to frustrate any such separatist or secessionist pressures if and when they arose.The devolution of powers between the Central Government and States was laid down in separate lists prepared for this purpose. Accordingly, the list of the states' "exclusive" powers includes: public order; police; education; local government; roads and transport; agriculture; land and land revenue; forests; fisheries; industry and trade (limited); state Public Service Commissions; and Courts (except the Supreme Court). The states can also make laws along with the centre (provided the two do not clash), on subjects included in a "Concurrent List." These subjects include: criminal laws and their administration; economic and social planning; commercial and industrial monopolies; shipping and navigation on the inland waterways; drugs; ports (limited); courts and civil procedures. The arrangement for distribution of powers between the Union and the states has remained generally stable.Over the decades, political developments have necessitated a review of Centre-State relations at intervals, but no concrete or landmark changes has emerged. The preference has been for maintaining existing conventions as explained by the country's founding fathers. 

Indian Federalism is in a looser form than the US
State Times, 2008
[State Times, Naval, , India: the symbol of undeveloped federalism, http://naval-langa.sulekha.com/blog/post/2008/03/india-the-symbol-of-undeveloped-federalism.htm]
The concept of federalism is described in several ways. It can be best defined as a system of governing the nation which sovereignty is constitutionally distributed between a central governing authority and constituent political units. These political units may be like states or provinces in India. One of the good examples of federalism is USA. In USA there is a system of government in which power is divided between the central government and the governments of each state. In spite of being the largest democracy of the world, the federalism is somewhat in a loose form in India. The main problem in India is that most of the states behave like nations in important matters like distribution of river water and other natural resources. These incidences of river-water disputes and share of electricity among the states had played havoc in our country.

India Ignores Federal Structure – Tamil Crisis Proves
THE HINDU, July 14, 2001, p. Lexis
But, the BJP-led Government's moral one-upmanship was not complete. It issued a 'warning' to the Tamil Nadu Government. Both Mr. Jaitley and the Attorney-General, Mr. Soli Sorabji, justified 'warning' on the basis of Paragraph 6.7.08 of the Sarkaria Commission Report. But, the Sarkaria Commission is neither gospel nor scripture. It is randomly invoked by politicians when it suits them. Many of its salutary provisions have never been implemented. In this case, the Sarkaria Commission's invocation is palpably misleading. We can never overlook the fact that President's Rule subverts both federalism and democracy. It does not exist in isolation. India's federalism prescribes 'cooperation' not confrontation between States. The 'warning' mechanism suggested by the Sarkaria Report is an extreme step, to be taken only if the Union Government is convinced that a case for President's Rule is made out. It is a part of the due process of federalism, not a unilateral political punishment. Unfortunately, after Kerala in 1959, breakdown of law and order has been regarded as legitimate ground for imposing President's Rule. But, even the Sarkaria report emphasises that the Union needs to evolve a way of resolving the problem through discussions and directives.

India’s constitution is not set up for federalism – it requires a strong central government
HINDU, 2001 (May 15, p. 1)
that nationalism and devolution of power to states are not self-contradictory. The founding fathers of the Indian Union did recognize the federal destination of India but their vision was blurred by the bleeding Partition and massive migrations, as well as religious and ghastly massacres. Thus these transient traumas made the leaders feel a case for over-centralized polity. What is more, the Constitution made the states weak, holding on to the Raj creed of centrifugalism.

Indian Federalism Good - Kashmir

1) Indian federalism is critical to end the Kashmir conflict

The Hindu ’01 (7-14, Lexis)

It is unfortunate that the BJP has never really understood Indian federalism except as a means to grab power and public attention for itself and its allies. The BJP's stance on abolishing Article 370 which confers a special status on Kashmir reveals its malunderstanding of India's federal structure. Again, the Nagaland ceasefire which has exercised Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam shows an inability to recognise the distinctness of each State. Indian federalism is quite unique - even more so than the Chinese's after Hong Kong and Macao joined their Union. What is at issue in the Indo-Pakistan talks is Indian federalism. India is as, if not more, varied as Europe. But, India has chosen federalism as its vehicle for pulling the subcontinent together. Pakistan and some of the Kashmiri groups are threatening the "balkanisation" of Kashmir. This is not an idle threat. We have witnessed a balkanisation process in the former Yugoslovia regions. A similar gameplan is being pushed for Kashmir by Pakistan and its contrived allies. If this is accepted for Kashmir, it will apply to other regions to put the very concept of India at risk. India's stance at these talks has to be founded on the twin principles of secularism and federalism. The BJP seems to understand both imperfectly. To each group and part of India, India offers autonomy, its sense of uniqueness, democracy, the rule of law and a sensitive and equitable federalism. The fundamental principle is Delhi does not rule India. India rules India. This is the key which unlocks the secret of Indian democracy and governance.

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