Cooperative federalism is mere talk. The trend towards centralization of authority is still continued in India as evident from migration of various subjects from state list to concurrent list and concurrent to union list. Critically discuss this statement.

Co-operative federalism is a concept of federalism in which central and state governments co-operate and collectively to solve issues and work for development of nation.
In India the executive, legislative and administrative powers are divided across federal lines provided in Seventh Schedule with three different lists Union, State and Concurrent. In case of legislation on subjects in concurrent list, the central legislation prevails.
Since 1950, consequent amendments have expanded the Union and Concurrent list while state list has shrunk.

  • 42nd amendment transferred state subjects like education, forest, wildlife etc to concurrent list.
  • Recent a resolution has been passed to transfer sports from state list to concurrent list in National Sports Federation meeting.
  • Such transfers diminish States power to legislate on subjects
  • Centrally Sponsored Schemes on such subjects like Sarva Siksha Abhiyan in education have to be implemented by states restricts need based expenditure, and they are of little significance to states like Kerala.
  • There has been demands to bring health under Concurrent list due to failure of states

Though such transfers have taken place but recent steps by government like:

  • Acceptance of 14th Finance Commission recommendation for greater financial devolution to states, enables them to design and implement need based schemes.
  • Replacement of planning commission with NITI aayog fosters co-operative federalism
  • Re-activation of Inter-state council, its effective legislation would benefit co-operative federalism.
  • Recent involvement of Chief ministers with foreign nations.
  • Passing of GST Act where states and centre both have given by their taxation powers.

Federalism is a concept which needs to be adopted in practice and spirit rather than letter. Changing nature of globalization and implementation of  international treaties like SDG goals requires an active co-operation and co-ordination with states.

Question for UPSC Mains:
"Cooperative federalism is mere talk. The trend towards centralization of authority is still continued in India as evident from migration of various subjects from state list to concurrent list and concurrent to union list." Critically discuss this statement.

Published: September 21, 2017 | Modified:June 22, 2019

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