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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

The Hindu Editorial : Federalism and fairness

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The Hindu Editorial : Rivers, Floodplains, Cities And Farmers


Title: Federalism and fairness

(Unless the concerns of States are addressed, the fault lines in the Indian federation could deepen)

Federalism is once again the focus of political discourse in India. Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah set the cat among the pigeons when he highlighted Kannada pride by unveiling an official state flag last month. Then in a Facebook post on “Regional Identity & Federalism”, he advocated the need for States to have both financial and cultural autonomy.

  • Since quitting the National Democratic Alliance, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has also been vocal in criticising the Central government for taxing the southern States to spend on the northern States.
  • And also in March, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s working president M.K. Stalin wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chief Ministers of 10 non-Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled States expressing concern over the terms of reference for the 15th Finance Commission.
  • The Centre’s direction to use the 2011 Census instead of the 1971 Census for population data has riled the south. As the population in these States has stabilised, the concern is that their share of tax allocation would reduce.
  • There are principally three distinct yet inter-related strands to the debate — a constitutional claim for autonomy; a demand for fairer distribution of taxes; and an assertion of linguistic and cultural rights.
Constitutional context

  • In his Facebook post, Mr. Siddaramaiah asserted that while India became a “union of states with a strong center” in 1947, now “from a union of states, we are evolving into a federation of states”. This is indeed a strong claim to make as Article 1 of the Constitution declares India as a “Union of States”.
  • On November 4, 1948, while moving the Draft Constitution in the Constituent Assembly, B.R. Ambedkar responded to the question as to why India is a “Union” and not a “Federation of States”:
  • The units of Indian federation have undergone multiple transformations since 1947. This is because Article 3 of the Constitution empowers Parliament to create new States. While such a provision can be seen as giving the Union too much power, it has arguably been central to holding India together since it allows the federation to evolve and respond to sub-national aspirations.
  • After successfully “holding together” as a federation for over 70 years, the larger question is whether there is a need to reconsider the distribution of powers between the Union and the States. 
A viable (workable) federation

  • Over the last couple of decades there has been a shift in political and economic power from the Centre to the States.
  • The 14th Finance Commission, in 2015, recommended raising the share of States in the divisible pool of Central taxes from 32% to 42%. 
  • However, beyond this measure, the Centre has not inspired much confidence regarding its commitment to federalism.
  • States such as Karnataka have asserted their linguistic and cultural rights in the wake of the Centre’s interventions. 
  • Now, the skewed terms of reference for the 15th Finance Commission have brought the south together in making a strong case for fiscal federalism. 
  • While the southern States contribute to the nation economically, they don’t occupy a central space politically and are further marginalised culturally. 
  • Finally, unless the concerns regarding fairness are addressed from constitutional, financial and cultural fronts, the fault lines developing in our federation could deepen further.
Vocabulary words:
Discourse (noun) = Dialogue, conversation(बातचीत)

Autonomy (noun) = Self-government, independence (स्वराज्य)

Vocal (adj) = Uttered, oral (मौखिक) 

Rile (verb) = Make annoyed or irritated (क्रोधित करना)

Indeed (adv) = Really (वास्तव में)

Secede (verb) = Differ (अलग होना)

Indestructible (adj) = Unbreakable (अविनाशी)

Vestige (noun) = Remainder, indication (अवशेष)

Set the cat among the pigeons (idiom) = do something that is likely to cause trouble or controversy 

Skew (verb) = Suddenly change direction 

Prudent (adj) = Judicious, well judged (विवेकी)

Headway (noun) = Progress, advance (उन्नति)

Shard (noun) = Piece, fragment (टुकड़ा)

Cumbersome (adj) = Difficult, unmanageable (कष्टकर)

Workaround (noun) = A method for overcoming a problem in a system or program

Bilateral (adj) = Involving two parties, especially countries (द्विपक्षीय)

Federalism (definition)= It is a type of a government in which the power is divided between the national government and other governmental units.




     


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