Federalism Class 10 Notes Political Science (Civics) Chapter 2

What are Federalism?


Federalism is a system of government in which the power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country.

  • The Central government is for the entire country and is responsible for the subjects of common national interest.
  • The State government is responsible for looking after the day-to-day affairs of their respective states.
  • Both the State and the Central governments enjoy power independent of each other.
  • Originally, the constitution of India provided a two-tier system of government, the Union Government and the State Governments.
  • A third tier was added in the Indian federation; with the formation of Panchayats and Municipalities.

Salient features of federalism

  • There are two or more than two different levels (or tiers) of government.
  • Though, different tiers of government administer the same citizens, but there is specific jurisdiction of each tier in relation to legislation, taxation and administration.
  • As the jurisdiction of each tier is clearly laid in the Constitution, it guarantees for the existence and authority of each tier.
  • It is not possible to change the fundamental provisions of the Constitution by any one level. The change can be brought by mutual consent of both the levels.
  • In case of any dispute regarding exercise of power by the different levels of government, the matter can be resolved by the highest court.
  • There is clear specification regarding the sources of revenue for each level for ensuring its financial autonomy.

The balance of power : two kinds of federations

Coming Together Federation :

  • In this type of federation, several independent states join to form a big union.
  • It helps in ensuring their security and maintaining their sovereignty. Here, the Centre and States have equal powers. For example: Switzerland, the USA, and Australia.

Holding Together Federation :

  • In this type of federation, power is divided between the Central and State Governments. The Central Government is more powerful than the State Governments.
  • Some units may have special powers and the powers of the constituent units may be unequal. For example: Spain, India, Belgium, etc.
  • In this case, power is shared among various social groups to accommodate a huge diversity.
  • In this type of federation, the Central Government is more powerful than the State Government.
  • Different constituents of the federation may have unequal powers. Some units are granted special powers, e.g. the case of Jammu & Kashmir in India.

The reasons for decentralisation in india :

  • In a big country like India, it is utmost essential to bring governance at the local level as the local people are better acquainted with the local problems.
  • It also helps to bring in efficiency in the system as the local people are more familiar with the area and can help in better utilisation of the resources.
  • It helps in involving local people in decision making which helps in planning development as per the local needs.
  • The local government can also solve the problems easily and immediately at minimal expenses.
  • It helps in bringing governance at the grassroot level, hence, ensures healthy, strong and stable democratic system.

Measures for strengthening the local government in the amendment of 1992

  • It has become mandatory to hold regular elections for local government bodies.
  • Some seats are kept reserved for Scheduled Castes, Schedules Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
  • One-third of total positions are kept reserved for women candidates.
  • Out of the subjects included in the State List, 29 subjects were transferred to Panchayati Raj institution by the 11th schedule of the Constitution.
  • A State Election Commission has been established in each State for conducting the elections of Panchayats and Municipalities.
1. Federal: It refers to a system of government where several states form unity but are independent in relation to their internal affairs. 9. Legislative: It refers to the power to make laws.
2. Federalism: It is a form of government in which the power is divided between the centre and several constituent units of the country. 10. Legislature: It refers to legislative body of a country.
3. Constitution: It refers to a body of fundamental principles according to which a state is acknowledged to be governed. 11. Supreme Court: It refers to the highest judicial court of a country.
4. State Government: It refers to a provisional government of a country which is a sub-division of a federal government and shares the powers with the union or national government. 12. High Court: It refers to the second highest judicial court of a country and highest judicial court of a state.
5. Central Government: It refers to the political authority which governs the entire nation. 13. Linguistic State: It refers to defining the states on the basis of languages, culture and ethnicity. For example, West Bengal, Nagaland, Uttarakhand, etc.
6. Jurisdiction: It refers to the legal power of making legal decisions and giving judgements. 14. Decentralisation: Decentralisation refers to taking the powers from Central and State governments and giving it to local government.
7. Coming Together Federation: In ‘coming together’ federations, independent states come together to form a bigger unit. It helps in sharing sovereignty and retaining identity which further increase their security. It is practised in countries like Switzerland, the USA and Australia. 15. Municipal Council: It refers to the local government of a municipality.
8. Holding Together Federation: In ‘holding together’ federations, a large country divides its power between the national government and the constituent states. It is practised in countries like India, Belgium and Spain. The central government is more powerful than states governments. Different constituent units usually have unequal powers and some units may have special powers.