Q Fill in the blanks:

Since the United States is a ........... type of federation, all the constituent States have equal powers and States are ........... vis-a-vis the federal government. But India is a ........... type of federation and some States have more power than others. In India, the ........... government has more powers.

  • (i) In Belgium, the Dutch-speaking majority people tried to impose their domination on the minority French-speaking community.
  • (ii) In Sri Lanka, the policies of the government sought to ensure the dominance of the Sinhala-speaking majority.
  • (iii) The Tamils in Sri Lanka demanded a federal arrangement of power sharing to protect their culture, language and equality of opportunity in education and jobs.
  • (iv) The transformation of Belgium from unitary government to a federal one prevented a possible division of the country on linguistic lines.

Ans Coming together, strong, holding together, Central.

Q Point out one feature in the practice of federalism in India that is similar to and one feature that is different from that of Belgium.

Ans One feature in the practice of federalism in India that is similar to Belgium is ‘holding together federation’, where power is divided between the Central government and the constituent units. One feature of Indian federalism that is different from that of Belgium is that in India Centre has more power than the States while in Belgium states are more powerful than the central authority.

Q Examine the following pairs that has 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 correctly matched?

  • (i) State government—State List.
  • (ii) Central government—Union List.
  • (iii) Central and State governments—Concurrent List.
  • (iv) Local governments—Residuary powers.

Ans (iv) Local governments—Residuary powers.

Q Consider the following four statements.

  • (i) In a federation the powers of the federal and provincial governments are clearly demarcated.
  • (ii) 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.x`
  • (iii) Sri Lanka is a federation because the country is divided into provinces.
  • (iv) India is no longer a federation because some powers of the States have been desolved to the local government bodies.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

  • (a) (i), (ii) and (iii)
  • (b) (i), (iii) and (iv)
  • (c) (i) and (ii) only
  • (d) (ii) and (iii) only

Ans (c) (i) and (ii) only.

Q Match List I with List II and select the correct answer using the codes given below the lists:

List-I List-II
(i) Union of India (A) Prime Minister
(ii) State (B) Sarpanch
(iii) Municipal Corporation (C) Governor
(iv) Gram Panchayat (D) Mayor


(i) (ii) (iii) (iv)
(a) D A B C
(b) B C D A
(c) A C D B
(d) C D A B

Ans (c) (i) A, (ii) C, (iii) D, (iv) B.

Q What is the main difference between a federal form of government and a unitary one ? Explain with an example.

Ans Difference between Federal Form of Government and Unitary Form of Government

Federal Form of Government Unitary Form of Government
1. There are two or more levels or tiers of the government. There is only one level or tier of the government.
2. Power is divided between the centre and the constituent units. There is only one central power.
3. India has a federal system where power is divided between the central and states through Union List, State List and Concurrent List. United Kingdom (UK) has only one sole governing power.

Q State any two differences between the local government before and after the Constitutional amendment in 1992.

Ans The constitutional amendment in 1992 helped in making the system decentralised by giving more power to the 3rd tier of panchayats and municipalities. Following are two differences which occurred in the local government after the constitutional amendment in 1992.

Difference between Local Government
before and after the Constitutional Amendment in 1992
Before After
1. Elections were not held regularly for the local government. The amendment helped in establishment of State Election Commission for holding the elections regularly.
2. The marginalised communities previously didn’t have any provision for sharing the power. The amendment kept some seats reserved for schedule castes, scheduled tribes, other backward castes and woman candidates in the elected bodies.

Q Here are three reactions to the language policy followed in India. Give an argument and an example to support any of these positions.

Sangeeta: The policy of accommodation has strengthened national unity.

Arman : Language based States have divided us by making everyone conscious of their language.

Ans The local government at rural level is known as Panchayati Raj. Every village or a group of villages in some states has a Gram Panchayat. It works under the overall supervision of the Gram Sabha. Gram Panchayats are grouped together to form Panchayat samiti. All Panchayat samitis or mandals in a district are grouped to form Zila Parishad. Like wise, for urban region, Municipal corporations are found in big cities and Municipal councils are formed in towns.

Q Though only 25 of the world’s 192 countries have federal political systems, their citizens make up 40 per cent of the world’s population. Most of the large countries of the world are federations. Can you notice an exception to this rule in this map?

Ans Yes, there is an exception to this rule. China is a big country but it has a unitary form of government.

Q If federalism works only in big countries, why did Belgium adopt it?

Ans Though Belgium is a small country, it has diverse population with multilingual groups. All these groups have their own interests, which might lead to social conflicts. For avoiding such a situation, which might lead to political instability, Belgium adopted federalism.

Q Some Nepalese citizens were discussing the proposals on the adoption of federalism in their new constitution. This is what some of them said?

  • Khag Raj : I don’t like federalism. It would lead to reservation of seats for different caste groups as in India.
  • Sarita : Ours in not a very big country. We don’t need federalism.
  • Babu Lal : I am hopeful that the Terai areas will get more autonomy if they get their own state government.
  • Ram Ganesh : I like federalism because it will mean that powers that were earlier enjoyed by the King will now be exercised by our elected representatives.
  • If you were participating in this conversation what would be your response to each of these? Which of these reflect a wrong understanding of what federalism is? What makes India a federal country?

Ans If I were participating in this conversation, my response to each of them would be as follows :

My response to Khag Raj is : You are wrong to say that federalism led to reservations for caste groups in India as our constitution provides provision to backward sections of the society for their upliftment and it is not associated with the federation system in India. Rather federalism in India, made administration of India more efficient by bringing down the democracy to grassroot level which has encouraged participatory democracy and helped in resolving regional issues at the local levels.
My response to Sarita is that : It is wrong to think that federalism in appropriate only for big countries as it helps in better administration of even small countries with diverse groups, like Belgium as Nepal also has diverse groups with different interests, federalism can help in avoiding any kind of social conflict.
My response to Babu Lal is : Yes, you are right to think that the State government will help in adding more autonomy to the Terai region. In fact federalism can add autonomy to all the regions which require more autonomy. However, it is important to note that in federalism, each region can have its own share but, the regions have to dwell together with mutual trust and have to contribute towards the development of the whole nation.
My response to Ram Ganesh is : You are right, as elected representatives do enjoy the powers enjoyed by kings. These elected representatives will be democratic leaders who will work for common welfare.

The responses of Khag Raj and Sarita reflect a wrong understanding of federalism. India has a three-tier system of federalism with a Central authority, and authorities at State and local levels. Each level has its own area of judiciary and their sources of revenue is also fixed. The democratic spirit, supported by decentralisation makes India a federal state.

Q Isn’t that strange? Did our Constitution makers not know about federalism? Or did they wish to avoid talking about it?

Ans It isn’t strange. Our Constitution makers knew very well about federalism and the Indian Union was established on the basis of the principles of federalism with two-tier system. However, they intentionally avoided talking about it as India was passing through a budding stage where they had to unite different Princely States. Offering more autonomy, could have led to division of the  country. The path of federalism was shown but decision about it was left with the future leaders.

Q I am confused. What do we call the Indian Government? Is it Union, Federal or Central?

Ans Indian Government is a Federal system. It has ‘holding together’ federalism with Central or Union government as the centralised authority and State government at the constituent units.

Q If agriculture and commerce are State subjects, why do we have Ministers of agriculture and commerce in the Union Cabinet?

Ans Although, agriculture and commerce are State subjects, yet, we have Ministers of agriculture and commerce in the Union Cabinet as States have to deal with each other in relation to agriculture and commerce. There are chances that States may act arbitrarily, and there can be conflict in relation to price control and taxations. Moreover, country has to deal with other nations also related to these areas.

Q Are you suggesting that regionalism is good for our democracy? Are you serious?

Ans Regionalism is in no way good for our country. India is a multi-religious, multi-lingual country and this adds richness to the country, but it doesn’t mean that any part of the country should be given any special privilege and others should be kept deprived. The growth of the country is possible through the spirit of mutual trust and cooperation.

Q Suppose the Government of Sikkim plans to introduce new textbooks in its schools. But the Union Government does not like the style and content of the new textbooks. In that case, does the State Government need to take permission from the Union Government before these textbooks can be launched?

Ans Yes, the State Government of Sikkim has to take permission from the Union Government before these textbooks can be launched as education is a subject of the concurrent list for which both State and the Central Governments can make laws. Moreover, in case of any conflicting situation, laws of the Centre prevails.

Q Suppose the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha (Orissa) have different policies on how their State Police should respond to the naxalites. Can the Prime Minister of India intervene and pass an order that all the Chief Ministers will have to obey?

Ans No, the Prime Minister of India cannot intervene as police is a subject in the State list about which the states have the autonomy to make laws.

Q Why is Hindi an official language? Why not Bangla or Telugu?

Ans Hindi is an official language and not Bangla or Telugu as 40% of the people in India speak Hindi. However, the Union Government has given liberty to the States in this regard and the States can chose their official language.

Q Prime Minister runs the country. Chief Minister runs the State. Logically, then, the Chairperson of Zila Parishad should run the District. Why does the D.M. or Collector administer the District?

Ans Chairperson is the political head to the District and all decisions are taken under his leadership. However, D.M. is the administrative head and executes it. Hence, it is an example of sharing of power of the executive and legislative. Hence, the D.M. or the Collector administers the District.

Q Pokharan, the place where India conducted its nuclear tests, lies in Rajasthan. Suppose the Government of Rajasthan was opposed to the Central Government’s nuclear policy, could it prevent the Government of India from conducting the nuclear tests?

Ans No, the Government of Rajasthan couldn’t prevent the Government of India from conducting the nuclear tests as the decision by the Centre prevails in case of any conflict. Moreover, the issue was related to the welfare of the whole country.

Q Can you identify three State names in 1947 that have changed later? Identify any three States which have been carved out of a bigger State.

Ans The name of three states in 1947 that have been changed later are:

  • 1. Hyderabad to Andhra Pradesh.
  • 2. Travancore-Cochin to Kerala.
  • 3. Mysore to Karnataka.
  • Three states which have been carved out of bigger states are :
  • 1. Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar.
  • 2. Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh.
  • 3. Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh.