The Constitution of India provides for a federal system of government in the country. The framers adopted the federal system due to two main reasons – the large size of the country and its sociocultural diversity. They realised that the federal system not only ensures the efficient governance of the country but also reconciles national unity with regional autonomy.
However, the term ‘federation’ has no where been used in the Constitution. Instead, Article 1 of the Constitution describes India as a ‘Union of States’. According to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the phrase ‘Union of States’ has been preferred to ‘Federation of States’ to indicate two things: (i) the Indian federation is not the result of an agreement among the states like the American federation; and (ii) the states have no right to secede from the federation. The federation is union because it is indestructible.
The Indian federal system is based on the ‘Canadian model’ and not on the ‘American model’. The ‘Canadian model’ differs fundamentally from the ‘American model’ in so far as it establishes a very strong centre. The Indian federation resembles the Candian federation (i) in its formation (i.e., by way of disintegration); (ii) in its preference to the term ‘Union’ (the Canadian federation is also called a ‘Union’); and (iii) in its centralising tendency (i.e., vesting more powers in the centre vis-a-vis the states).
The Indian Constitution also contains a large number of unitary or non-federal features, viz., a strong Centre, single Constitution, single citizenship, flexibility of Constitution, integrated judiciary, appointment of state governor by the Centre, all-India services, emergency provisions and so on.
Hence, the Indian Constitution has been variously described as federal in form but, unitary in spirit’, ‘quasi-federal’ by K.C. Wheare, ‘bargaining federalism’ by Morris Jones, ‘co-operative federalism’ by Granville Austin, ‘federation with a centralising tendency’ by Ivor Jennings and so on.
|Paper||APPSC Group 1 Mains 2020 – Paper III: Polity, constitution, Governance, Law, and Ethics|
|Question||2 (a). Why did we adopt federalism with a strong central government? Explain the important provisions that create a strong central government.|
|Source||Indian Polity by M Laxmikanth|