Federalism Notes Class 10 Notes NCERT and MCQs

14-10-2022 11:57 AM IST Priyanka Chaudhary

This chapter discusses the features and types of federalism, how it has survived in our country and division of powers among the federal units.

Important Terms

  • Federalism: Federalism is a system of government in which the power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country.
  • Jurisdiction: The area over which someone has legal authority. The area may be defined in terms of geographical boundaries or in terms of certain kinds of subjects.
  • Coalition government: A government formed by the coming together of at least two political parties. Usually, partners in a coalition form a political alliance and adopt a common programme.

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 in specific jurisdiction 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.
  • Sources of revenue for each level of government are clearly specified to ensure its financial autonomy.

The federal system thus has dual objectives: to safeguard and promote unity of the country, while at the same time accommodate regional diversity.

An ideal federal system has two aspects: mutual trust and agreement to live together.

There are two ways of forming a federation:

1. ‘Coming together’ federations

  • They involve independent States coming together on their own to form a bigger unit, so that by pooling sovereignty and retaining identity they can increase their security.
  • All the constituent States usually have equal power and are strong vis-à-vis the federal government.
  • These include the USA, Switzerland and Australia.

2. ‘Holding together’ federations

  • In this, a large country decides to divide its power between the constituent States and the national government.
  • The central government tends to be more powerful vis-à-vis the States.
  • Very often different constituent units of the federation have unequal powers. Some units are granted special powers.
  • India, Spain and Belgium are examples of this kind of federation.

Indian Federalism

  • The Constitution declared India as a Union of States. It did not use the word federation but the Indian Union is based on the principles of federalism.
  • The Constitution originally provided for a two-tier system of government, the Union Government or the Central Government, representing the Union of India and the State governments.
  • Later, a third tier of federalism was added in the form of Panchayats and Municipalities through 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts.
  • Constitution divides the legislative powers between the Union Government and the State Governments under three lists:
    • 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 contains subjects like 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.

NOTE: The Union Government has the power to legislate on the ‘residuary’ subjects i.e. subjects not falling under any of the above given three lists.

  • All States in the Indian Union do not have identical powers. Some States enjoy a special status.
  • States such as Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram enjoy special powers under certain provisions of the Constitution of India (Article 371) due to their peculiar social and historical circumstances.
  • These special powers are especially enjoyed in relation to the protection of land rights of indigenous peoples, their culture and also preferential employment in government services. Indians who are not permanent residents of this State cannot buy land or house here.
  • Some units of the Indian Union enjoy very little power like Chandigarh, or Lakshadweep or the capital city of Delhi; these are called Union Territories. These are areas which are too small to become an independent State but which could not be merged with any of the existing States. The Central Government has special powers in running these areas.
  • In case of any dispute about the division of powers, the High Courts and the Supreme Court make a decision.
  • The Union and State governments have the power to raise resources by levying taxes in order to carry on the government and the responsibilities assigned to each of them.

NOTE: The sharing of Power between the Union Government and State governments i.e. federalism is basic to the structure of the Constitution and it can be changed only when both the houses of the Parliament passes the amendment with at least two-third majority and then it has to be ratified by the legislatures of half of the total states.

Reasons for success of Federalism in India

  • The formation of linguistic States has made the country, more united and has also made administration easier. Some states were formed to recognize differences based on culture, ethnicity or geography like Nagaland, Uttarakhand, and Jharkhand.
  • The flexibility in using both English and Hindi as official languages even when the Constitution provided for use of English as official language only until 1965, helped in preventing violent protests in major non-Hindi speaking parts of India. States have their own official languages.
  • The growing importance of regional parties in forming coalition governments at the Centre increased stability in the State governments and the Centre could not arbitrarily dismiss the state governments.

Linguistic Diversity in India

  • Mother tongue is the language spoken in childhood by the person’s mother to the person. 2011 census recorded more than 1300 distinct languages which people mentioned as their mother tongues.
  • On regrouping different dialects of a language, the Census found 121 major languages.
  • There are 22 languages recognized as Scheduled languages under the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution. Languages not included in the Eighth schedule are Non-Scheduled Languages (99 languages).

Scheduled Language

Proportion Speakers (%) (As per 2011 Census)

Hindi

43.63

Bengali

8.03

Marathi

6.86

Telugu

6.70

Tamil

5.70

Gujarati

4.58

Urdu

4.19

Kannada

3.61

Odia

3.10

Malayalam

2.88

Punjabi

2.74

Assamese

1.26

Maithili

1.12

Santhali

0.61

Kashmiri

0.56

Nepali

0.24

Sindhi

0.23

Dogri

0.21

Konkani

0.19

Manipuri

0.15

Bodo

0.12

Sanskrit

Negligible

Third-tier of Government in India- Decentralisation of Power

  • Federal power sharing in India needed another tier of government, below that of the State governments and thus the decentralization of power was done which resulted in a third-tier of government, called local government.
  • Decentralisation: When power is taken away from Central and State governments and given to local government, then it is called decentralisation.
  • Local government is the best way to realize the important principle of democracy, namely local self-government and democratic participation. A large number of problems and issues can be settled easily at the local level.
  • In 1992, the Constitution was amended to make the third-tier of democracy more powerful and effective.
  • It is constitutionally mandated to hold regular elections for 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.

Panchayati Raj

Rural local government is popularly known by the name panchayati raj. Panchayati Raj is a three-tier structure:

Gram Panchayat:

  • Each village, or a group of villages in some States, has a gram panchayat.
  • This is a council consisting of several ward members, often called panch, and a president or sarpanch.
  • They are directly elected by all the adult population living in that ward or village. It is the decision-making body for the entire village.
  • 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.

Panchayat Samiti:

  • 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 panchayat members in that area.

Zilla Parishad:

  • All the panchayat samitis or mandals in a district together constitute the zilla (district) parishad. Most members of the zilla parishad are elected.
  • Members of the Lok Sabha and MLAs of that district and some other officials of other district level bodies are also its members.
  • Zilla parishad chairperson is the political head of the zilla parishad.

Urban Local Bodies

  • Municipalities are set up in towns.
  • Big cities are constituted into municipal corporations.
  • Both are controlled by elected bodies consisting of people’s representatives.
  • Municipal chairperson is the political head of the municipality.
  • In a municipal corporation such an officer is called the mayor.

 

MCQs based on NCERT Class 10 Political Science Chapter 2: Federalism

1. Which of the following subjects is not a part of Union List?

a. Defence

b. Foreign Affairs

c. Education

d. Communication

Ans. c

Explanation:

Subjects of national significance like defence, foreign affairs, banking, currency and communication are included in the Union List.

2. The distinguishing feature of a federal government is:

a. National government gives some powers to the provincial governments.

b. Power is distributed among the legislature, executive and judiciary.

c. Elected officials exercise supreme power in the government.

d. Governmental power is divided between different levels of government

Ans. d

Explanation:

In case of federal government, there are two or more levels (or tiers) of government among which the power is divided. Different tiers of government govern the same citizens, but each tier has its own in specific jurisdiction matters of legislation, taxation and administration.

3. Match List I with List II and select the correct answer using the codes given below the lists.

List I

List II

1. Union of India

A. Prime Minister

2. State

B. Sarpanch

3. Municipal Corporation

C. Governor

4. Gram Panchayat

D. Mayor

 

 

1

2

3

4

a.

D

A

B

C

b.

B

C

D

A

c.

A

C

D

B

d.

C

D

A

B

 

Ans. c

Explanation:

 The correct match is given below:

  • Prime Minister is the head of the government of the Union of India.
  • Governor is the executive head of the state.
  • Sarpanch is the head of the Gram Panchayat.
  • Mayor is the political head of the Municipal Corporation.   

4. Consider the following four statements.

A. In a federation, the powers of the federal and provincial governments are clearly demarcated.

B. India is a federation because the powers of the Union and State Governments are specified in the Constitution and they have exclusive jurisdiction on their respective subjects.

C. Sri Lanka is a federation because the country is divided into provinces.

D. India is no longer a federation because some powers of the States have been devolved to the local government bodies.

Which of the statements given above is correct?

a. A, B and C

b. A, C and D

c. A and B only

d. B and C only

Ans. c

Explanation:

In a federation, the powers of the federal and provincial governments are clearly demarcated. India is a federation because the powers of the Union and State Governments are specified in the Constitution and they have exclusive jurisdiction on their respective subjects. Although, the Constitution of India does not specify the word Federalism.

5. Examine the following pairs that give the level of government in India and the powers of the government at that level to make laws on the subjects mentioned against each. Which of the following pairs is not matched correctly?

a. State government- State list

b. Central Government- Union list

c. Central and State Governments- Concurrent List

d. Local Governments- Residuary powers

Ans. d

Explanation:

State government has the exclusive powers to make laws on the subjects mentioned in the state list. Similarly, only Union government can make laws on the subjects mentioned in the union list. Central and state governments both can make laws on subjects given under the concurrent list. While the residuary powers are vested in the hands of central government.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Federalism

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.

What is Decentralisation of power?

When power is taken away from Central and State governments and given to local government, then it is called decentralisation of power.

What is the main difference between a federal form of government and a unitary one?

In federal system, the central government shares power with the state government while in unitary system, all the power is exercised by the central government.

Which type of federation is the United States?

The United States is a coming together type of federation.
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