Federal Government

India has a federal form of government which means that the powers are divided between the central and state governments and both are supreme within their respective spheres. Both central and state governments draw their authority from the Constitution of the country.

Importance of the Federal Form of Government

  • Although India has a federal form of Government, it is not possible for the states to break away from the Indian Union. This ensures and maintains the unity and integrity of the country.
  • Because people belonging to various religions, cultures, and linguistic affiliations reside in the country, the federal setup allows them to maintain their cultural and linguistic affiliations.
  • Both union and state governments draw their power and authority from the Constitution. There is a division of administrative and legislative powers between them and none can violate any terms of the Constitution.
  • The states also participate in the functioning of the government. The Upper House (Rajya Sabha) mainly consists of the representatives of the states.
  • The Constitution has provided the central and state governments with adequate financial resources to carry out their duties towards the people.

Unitary Features (Non-Federal)

India has certain unitary features which limit the powers of the state governments. Therefore, it is said that
India is federal in form and unitary in spirit. Some important unitary features of the Constitution are

  • The central government in India is strong and has been vested with power and authority. There exist three lists on which the governments can make laws. These are
    • The Union List: It contains 97 subjects on which only the central government can make laws such as defence and finances.
    • The State List: It consists of 67 subjects on which only the state government can make laws such as education and health.
    • The Concurrent List: It contains 47 subjects on which both central and state governments can make laws such as criminal laws, laws on adulteration etc. In case both governments do not agree on the same matter, the will of the union government prevails. This makes the central government more powerful.
  • There is only one single Constitution for the country from which both central and state governments derive their power and authority.
  • The Constitution of India provides for a single citizenship for the country.
  • The Constitution of the country does not give equal representation to the states in the Rajya Sabha. States get representation based on the population of their states.
  • There exist administrative units known as the Union Territories which are directly administered by the central government. This has further increased the power of the central government.

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The Union Legislature

The Union Parliament consists of the President and two houses—The House of People commonly known as the Lok Sabha and the Council of States known as the Rajya Sabha. The Parliament is a body of people’s representatives who have the supreme power and authority of governance in a democratic country. Read more

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