Think Learn & Perform (TLP): GS Mains Synopsis [Day 44]

  • October 14, 2015
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Think and Learn-2015, TLP Mains 2015, UPSC, UPSC Mains- Think and Learn-2015
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TLP: GS Mains Synopsis [Day 44]


Q.1) What do you understand by fiscal federalism? Do you concur with the argument that true politic federalism has it’s roots in fiscal federalism.


The Top Answer for this Question is written by – SK

Ans) Fiscal federalism simply meant sharing of finances between the union and the federal units. In India, to oversee this mechanism, Finance Commission is appointed every 5 years under Art. 280.

A true political federalism enables the federal units to function autonomously and will share the political powers effectively between them. But this is dependent upon the fiscal federalism. This is because, enough financial resources will allow the units to realise their political objectives.

For example, lack of financial empowerment of local bodies made them ineffective as political bodies, even though 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments decentralised political power.

Most of the centrally sponsored schemes for North Eastern States have 90:10 sharing ratio. Without central financial support, people would have lost faith in the state polity and demands for secessionism might increase.

Certain states are able to maintain autonomy and independent political power due to financial support and other incentives in the name of Special Category Status. However, this is being removed now.

This shows that a true political federalism has roots in fiscal federalism.

However, in certain fields a true political federalism doesn’t depend on fiscal federalism. For example, division/merging/renaming/altering boundaries of states; appointment of head of the state i.e. Governor. In these areas, states are powerless. To reflect true political federalism, strong political will is required in such areas.

Q.2) Competitive federalism is a double edged sword which will benefit already well placed states to the detriment of others. Explain.


The Top Answer for this Question is written by – Vidhu

Ans) Competition in any field is a booster for development but also develops rival tendencies. The message by the PM for states to develop cooperative and competitive federalism is surely a double edged sword.

The positives of competitive federalism in India are:

  1. It will push the states to perform better in all domains(health, education, etc) or else they would lag behind others in getting financial and political benefits from the centre
  2. It will urge the states to innovate and bring out new ways to attract investments. E.g. online registration of business/easy clearances
  3. 3.There will ensure better and efficient utilization of resources and funds as wastage will bring bad name to the states
  4. Will reduce corruption , enhance standard of living and generate more employment

But all these positives can tilt in favour of well placed states as :

  1. Rich states like Gujarat, Maharashtra,Tamil Nadu are stronger financially, institutionally and with better HDI standards to attract development. This gives disadvantage to other states
  2. Presence of resource disparity in India like iron ,coal will attract industries in those states leaving less for resourcedeficient ones.
  3. Monsoon dependencies and poor irrigation facilities will divert funds for drought mitigation which will affect development in poor states
  4. Inter-state conflicts(river water sharing,migrations, communal issues) will increase leaving bitterness and rivalry for jobs and resources.

Thus competitive federalism though a novel concept can be implemented if the playing ground is level for all states. There is a need for more cooperative federalism than competitive federalism in present times where states come together to help each other develop.

Q.3) What do you understand by “True Federalism”? Do you think India need to overhaul its Federal character to match the spirit of True Federalism? Comment.


The Top Answer for this Question is written by – Deepansh

Ans) Federalism is a system of governance where legislative authority is divided between the Union Government and the State Governments. It is a combination of:

  1. “Shared Rule”- Tasks performed in common by the Union and State
  2. “Self-Rule”- Tasks performed autonomously

The fundamental characteristic of “True Federalism” is that neither the Central nor the State Governments are subordinate to each other, but rather, two are coordinate, autonomous and independent.

Thorough analysis is required before considering changing India’s unique Federal character:

Arguments “For” Change:

  1. India’s federal structure has a lot of unitary or non-federal features like the overriding authority of the Centre, changeable area, boundary or name of the states, etc.
  2. The strong bias towards Centre tends to distort the basic tenets of federalism. Recent appointment of Governor without consulting the Chief Minister (as per Sarkaria Commission) of Bihar is a case in point.

Arguments “Against” Change:

  1. Secessionist tendencies of States can be reined in only with a strong Centre.
  2. Enough flexibility is needed for creation of new states to fulfil regional aspirations.
  3. India’s federal spirit is reflected from exemplary display of cooperative federalism (Eg. West Bengal’s role in the deal with Bangladesh).

India’s federal makeup has so far been successful to meets its peculiar needs. So any change in this “basic feature” would be detrimental to India’s interests.

Q.4) Framing a constitution is seen an essential pre-requisite for a functional nation state. What purpose does a constitution of country serve for its citizens?


The Top Answer for this Question is written by – Vidhu

Ans) A recent political crisis in Nepal regarding the structure and the nature of their constitution, brings forward the importance of the constitution. For the citizens, this is not just another legal document which is used by the politicians, judiciary, bureaucracy to administer the people.

The constitution serves as the backbone of the administrative, judicial, legislative units of the country. It is necessary for the proper working of a nation as it divides the powers and responsibilities of the various units of government. All rules and laws are made on the foundation of the principles of the constitution.

For the citizens it serves the following purposes:

  1. It defines the nature and extent of the state of which he/she is a citizen giving him citizenship rights and duties.
  2. It defines the rules and laws which one need to follow to while being a part of that nation.
  3. It enlists the fundamental rights and privileges which he can get in that nation
  4. The constitution is the ultimate rule book which helps a citizen to approach judiciary if any rule/right of his is violated.
  5. It provides him a framework on which the government will work and provide ideals of equality, justice, liberty, welfare in the nation.
  6. The constitution bestows on the government the responsibility of being the protector of the liberties, lives, property, respect of its citizens.

Thus we can safely say that the constitution is a very important necessity of a good functioning state and forms the heart and soul of any nation.

Q.5) Indian constitution makes clear demarcation between powers and responsibilities of the different arms of government. Illuminate.


The Top Answer for this Question is written by – Machiavelli

Ans) Indian constitution is based on the clear but delicate principle of limited separation of powers and responsibilities between different arms of Government , a precondition for smooth functioning of a government.

Parliament is supreme in making laws , judiciary is supreme in interpreting validity of laws and settling disputes while executive is supreme in implementation of laws. all have their working sphere and thus their reign of influence.

Judiciary is independent in its sphere . right from the appointment of judges (NJAC is highly in favor of judiciary ) to their staff judiciary is independent , their conduct could not be discussed in parliament , they have right to punish for their contempt .

Similarly legislature have privileges , independence from judicial scrutiny in the proceedings of the house , all provide independence to legislature .

Executive essentially have independence in implementation of laws though responsible to legislature .

Despite such clear cut division of power conflict between the arms is recurrent. from right to property to to national judicial appointment commission all have gone through debate over infringement of sphere between judiciary and legislature .

Similarly judicial activism is said to be infringing the legislative sphere by guiding the legislature in framing their policies. Separation of powers is a basic structure of our constitution and it is equally necessary for the smooth functioning of government to respect the authority of other arms.


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