Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Daily Mains Question 13th April 2020

Can we say that cooperative federalism in India has strengthened in the post-liberalization era? Give reasons in support of your answer.


Federalism implies division of administrative, financial and legislative powers between union and states while cooperative federalism implies that they share a horizontal relationship where they cooperate with each other in larger public interest.

Our polity started on a cooperative model after independence but successive governments with strong prime ministers at the center and regional political parties in some state led to confrontational type of relationship.era, various to strengthening of cooperative federalism.

  • End of single party rule at Centre has diluted the Prime-ministerial form of go Thus, union governments are not as powerful as they were earlier.
  • Emergence of coalition government at Centre has made it difficult to misuse constitutional provisions such as 356 etc. for selfish political reasons.
  • Dependence of Union government on support of regional political parties has helped regional leaders to think from all India perspective and union to think from point of view of regional parties. Thus, less confrontation and more cooperatio
  • Presidential activism – since 1990 onwards successive presidents have become proactive in ensuring constitutionalism and unafraid of using discretionary power in case council of minister misuses constitutional provisions for selfish political reasons
  • Judicial activism – since 1990 (for ex- S R Bommai case) has ensured that union government don’t misuse constitutional provisions. This has provided a governme
  • Implementation of 73th and 74th constitutional amendment – has also focused on union, state and local relations unlike union-state relation only earlier. Earlier states were demanding more powers from union without doing same for local government but now states are more accommodative to the complex dynamics of union-state relations
  • Active media – with explosion of electronic media after liberalization and spread of social media in recent times, it has become very difficult for any government to adopt anti- democratic measures like dismissing State governments.
  • Changed political culture – People, with increasing awareness about their rights, are unwilling to accept governments which adopt confrontational approach towards centre for political reasons forcing states to behave in a more responsible manner.

In fact, recent government initiatives affirm the move toward cooperative federalism.

  • Replacement of planning commission with Niti Ayog symbolizes strengthening of cooperation between centre and
  • Implementation of GST is significant movement towards cooperative federalism in taxation. GST council provides the institutional framework in this context
  • The recommendations of Fourteenth Finance Commission and its implications also augur well for Cooperative Federalism by providing more fiscal space and agency to the states.
  • The restructuring of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) is also a move in consonance with the broader developments in this context.

Both union and states have been forced to come together to make economic reforms and social schemes successful.

Further, the forces of liberalization along with Information technology revolution and knowledge revolution are making the diverse and pluricultural society of India even more complex and interdependent.

In fact, we are moving towards competitive federalism where states not only cooperate with centre but also compete with each other for investments and budgetary support based on their performance. Thus, the success of reforms depends on political stability, policy certainty as well as adaptive approach of the governments. It also needs uniform policies between different tiers of governance. This makes the concept of cooperation not optional but necessary.

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