SYNOPSIS: IASbaba’s TLP – 2018: UPSC Mains General Studies Questions [28th November 2017]- Day 7

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  • November 29, 2017
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SYNOPSIS: IASbaba’s TLP – 2018: UPSC Mains General Studies Questions [28th November 2017]- Day 7


Q.1) How does India’s federal structure differ from its western counterparts? Examine.


In introduction, mention what is federation and how India adopted it. Then in main part of question, compare Indian federal structure with that of other western nations like USA, UK, Canada etc.


Article 1 of the constitution mentions India as ‘Union of States’, which means it is not a result of agreement between the states and states have no right to secede from the Centre. Indian federal structure has been adopted from Government of India Act, 1935 while also adding certain features from various other countries.

Points to be covered

India West



Written, Mix of flexibility and rigidity, Single constitution for Centre and states USA- Written, More rigid

UK- Unwritten, More flexible

USA, Switzerland- Different constitution for Centre and states

Form of federation Union of states USA- Federation (agreement between states).


Federal structure Unitary bias (Emergency) USA-Equality between

Centre and states.


Canada-Federal with Unitary bias.

Upper house Representation based on population of state USA- Equal representation of states
Form of government Parliamentary USA- Presidential

UK- Parliamentary with Constitutional Monarchy.

Separation of powers Checks and balances USA- Watertight separation.

UK- Parliament is supreme and can overrule other organs of state.

Citizenship Single USA- Dual (State and Centre)

UK- Single

Judiciary Hierarchical USA- Separate federal court.

UK- Hierarchical, House of Lords being the highest court of appeal.

Residuary powers With Centre USA, Australia- With individual states

Note:- Each point have to be explained with comparison. Here more points are covered but 8 to 10 points are enough with a line or two explanations in exam.


India adopted federalism form of government as it had experience with it but with a difference than what it is in USA. It is due to previous and historical experience, the makers of constitution felt the need for strong center during adversaries and unitary bias to preserve Unity and Integrity of country.

Connecting the dots:

  • Emergency
  • Citizenship
  • Borrowed features of Indian Constitution

Best Answer: optimistic



Q.2) How well the existing federal structure has given room to the states to function as independent units? Examine. Also explain the concepts of cooperative and competitive federalism.


The framing of this question is peculiar to confuse the candidates and to emboss the other side of Indian Federalism. In most of the places, you must have seen questions asking about the drawbacks and issues of Indian Federalism and how Center is dominating the states in India. But in this question you have to write just the opposite. In this question you have to write about the independence of the states and their functioning.

In the second part you need to differentiate between cooperative and competitive federalism. These two terms have been in news for quite some time now, so a question is probable.


Granville Austin called the Indian federalism as a “cooperative federalism”.

He said that though the Constitution of India has created a strong Central government, it has not made the state governments weak and has not reduced them to the level of administrative agencies for the execution of policies of the Central government. He described the Indian federation as “a new kind of federation to meet India’s peculiar needs”.

The states have an independent constitutional existence. They are not satellites or agents of the Centre. Within the sphere allotted to them, the states are supreme. Following points prove the independence of states in Indian federal structure –

The Constitution of India, being federal in structure, divides all powers (legislative, executive

and financial) between the Centre and the states.

Legislative independence: Articles 245 to 255 in Part XI of the Constitution deal with the legislative relations between the Centre and the states.

State has exclusive power to legislate on State Subjects. It can also legislate on Concurrent subjects.

Administrative Independence: the executive power of a state extends to its territory in respect of matters on which the state legislature has exclusive power of legislation (i.e., the subjects enumerated in the State List).

Financial Independence: The state legislature has exclusive power to levy taxes on subjects enumerated in the State List (which are 20 in number). Center cannot abruptly change the division of tax amount between center and state. It need special majority in Parliament and ratification of 50% of states.

Note: More points can be added to this part.

Some Tension area in Center – State Relation

Note: This part is not required in this answer but we are providing it here only for your reference.

The issues which created tensions and conflicts between the Centre and states are:

  • Mode of appointment and dismissal of governor;
  • Discriminatory and partisan role of governors;
  • Imposition of President’s Rule for partisan interests;
  • Deployment of Central forces in the states to maintain law and order;
  • Reservation of state bills for the consideration of the President;
  • Discrimination in financial allocations to the states;
  • Role of Planning Commission in approving state projects;
  • Management of All-India Services (IAS, IPS, and IFS);
  • Use of electronic media for political purposes;
  • Appointment of enquiry commissions against the chief ministers;
  • Sharing of finances (between Centre and states); and
  • Encroachment by the Centre on the State List.

While replying to the criticism of over-centralisation in the Constitution, Dr. B R Ambedkar stated: “A serious complaint is made on the ground that there is too much centralisation and the states have been reduced to municipalities. It is clear that this view is not only an exaggeration but is also founded on a misunderstanding of what exactly the Constitution contrives to do. As to the relations between the Centre and the states, it is necessary to bear in mind the fundamental principle on which it rests. The basic principle of federalism is that the legislative and executive authority is partitioned between the Centre and the states not by any law to be made by the Centre but by the Constitution itself. This is what the Constitution does. The states are in no way dependent upon the Centre for their legislative or executive authority. The states and the Centre are co-equal in this matter. It is difficult to see how such a Constitution can be called centralism. It is, therefore, wrong to say that the states have been placed under the Centre. The Centre cannot by its own will alter the boundary of this partition. Nor can the judiciary”.

Competitive and Cooperative Federalism

Cooperative federalism is the idea where the Central Government and State governments or two state Governments do not have conflicts but work in the harmony for the welfare of the citizens. Policies are framed keeping all states in mind and can be customized according to the different needs of the States.

Usually cooperative federalism is seen in socialist economies where most of the resources are controlled by the government. It is being promoted in India through steps like the formation of NITI aayog, passing of GST etc.

Competitive Federalism on the other hand is the idea where states are competing with each other to tap the resources and move ahead in terms of Growth. It is generally seen in developed countries where market economy is prevailing. A type of Competitive federalism is seen in India where states want more funds and perks from the state government for growth. Also states can be involved in International treaties and business deals. They are also trying to woo MNCs to get more FDI. Earlier states could tweak with some local taxes to attract investors which was leading to inefficient production. This is changed with the arrival of GST.

NOTE: In both these parts you can write your own unique examples.

Connecting the dots:

In India development was used for politics. Many states allegedly kept their development level low. Can you think what can be the reason behind that?

Best Answer 1: Citizenultra



Q.3) Devolution of powers to the local governing bodies mean little in the absence of meaningful financial devolution. Elucidate. What steps have been taken to address this issue? Discuss.


National Panchayati Raj Day is celebrated on April 24 every year as it was on this day that the panchayati raj system got constitutional recognition during P.V. Narasimha Rao’s tenure as PM. Seeking to empower rural local bodies financially and politically, the 73rd constitutional amendment stipulated transferring 29 items to local bodies, setting up state election commissions and finance commissions to conduct elections and enhance resources for local bodies, reserving one-third seats for women and, in proportion to their population, for SCs and STs in all three tiers, apart from forming gram sabhas with people’s participation.


  • Devolution of powers to local bodies.
  • How devolution of power is more meaningful when it is financial devolution.
  • Steps taken by the government to devolve finances and power.


A fully functional, responsive grassroots-level system of self-governance is a sine qua non for an effective democracy. The government should work towards making gram swaraj a reality by strengthening local self-governments and the three Ds — Decentralization, Devolution and Development — go hand in hand for better strengthening of local governments.

Devolution of powers to local bodies:

Government’s “Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday” programme underlines the importance of the concept: “Ram rajya would be incomplete without gram rajya”. The 73rd constitutional amendment gave effect to Article 40 of the Constitution, which is actually part of the DPSP. It states that the state shall take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority along with the financial support as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.


  • Even though it has been more than two decades since local bodies have been constitutionally empowered, the devolution of 29 subjects to panchayats is not satisfactory in many states.
  • It appears that a majority of states are showing little interest in devolving power and funds to local bodies and are taking only half-hearted measures.
  • While states are seeking more powers and rightly so, they are not showing the same interest in devolving powers to local bodies along with the three Fs — funds, functions and functionaries.
  • Holding elections to local bodies every five years should be made mandatory and there should be no discretion or scope for the states to either postpone or advance them.

Steps taken by the government:

  • The recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission for providing grants to the tune of Rs 2,00,292 crore between 2015 and 2020 to gram panchayats (GPs) directly, and also released the allocations to rural local bodies has been accepted.
  • .14th FC recommendation of devolving funds to states from 32% to 42% has been accepted.
  • In addition to the funds received from the Centre and the states, the panchayats are also mandated by the 14th Finance Commission to generate their own resources.

Present situation:

In a study conducted by the ministry of Panchayati raj in 2014-15 on the Panchayat Devolution Index, which looked at the devolution of powers to Panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) in terms of the three Fs:

  • Kerala topped the list in all parameters except funds.
  • While Karnataka was best in transferring funds to PRIs.
  • Though Sikkim did well in transferring functions, it was low on other parameters.

Way forward:

With the country’s democratic structure operating at three levels — national, state, and panchayats and nagar palikas — democracy would be more meaningful and robust when people participate in running their own affairs. However, this can be achieved only when states fully empower rural local bodies in terms of devolution of funds, decentralization of powers, and allow people to have a greater say in local area development.

Best answer: sakshi singh https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9a727a147451830970d7fb154fee5b6c596c4e71eb2ef7817a527827a6518afa.jpg

Q.4 The implementation of GST through consensus is a shining example of thriving federalism in India. Do you agree? Do you think the Union and the States must conduct in an atmosphere of cooperative federalism? Give your views.


  • Introduction with 1-2 lines on GST.
  • How GST is a shining example of cooperative federalism.
  • Utility of cooperative fedralism.
  • Conclusion


Though there are certain issues which remains to be resolved when it comes to GST, the central and state governments irrespective of the political party in power, have come together to bring in all the reforms required for successful enactment of GST.

The level of cooperation shown can surly help sort many other issues and challenges across different domains thereby strengthening Indian democracy.


Goods and Services Tax (GST) has replaced all the major indirect taxes levied by center and the states into a single tax.

GST: Shining example of cooperative federalism

The implementation of GST through consensus is an example of cooperative federalism as-

  • In our Federal System both Centre and States have power to impose taxes. The division of such taxation powers is given in Union and State List under 7th Schedule. With the spirit of cooperative federalism, under GST, both Centre and States have given up taxation powers.
  • Under the GST regime, the Centre & States will act on the recommendations of the GST Council. Under GST Council, 2/3rd of voting power is with the States and 1/3rd with the Centre which reflects the accommodative spirit of federalism.
  • Though the Constitution provides for decisions being taken by a 3/4th majority of members present and voting, most of the decisions have been taken unanimously by consensus.
  • Central government was able to convince the states and allay their fears of revenue loss post GST implementation.

Importance/Utility of cooperative federalism:

  • India has multiparty system, therefore for successful delivery of finances, implementation of policies etc, cooperation is needed.
  • Foreign relations and international treaties require unidirectional efforts of states and centers for implementing projects and agreements. (as seen in Teesta water agreement with Bangladesh, where cocers were raise by the West Bengal government).
  • Evolving need of security requires cooperation. Cooperative federalism helps in tackling the separatist tendencies. It helps in accommodating diverse views.
  • The spirit of cooperative federalism is required to solve long standing issues like inter-state water sharing disputes.


Thus, overall GST is indeed a shining example of cooperative federalism. Implementation of GST accompanied with 14th Finance committee recommendation, constituting Niti aayog etc. have marked a conducive environment for co-operative federalism. Changing needs and growing aspirations of India can only be fulfilled in the atmosphere of co-operative federalism.

Best answer: Shobhit



5. The recommendations of the Fourteenth Finance Commission and the implementation of GST have transformed centre-state relations in India. Do you agree? Examine.

Background:  Both being important issues in news, fourteenth finance commission due to increased shift in funds towards states, GST for its impact on fiscal order, centre state financial relations and debates on its effectiveness.


  • Introduce by writing about fourteenth Finance commission and GST combine and their collective impact on federal relationship in the country
  • Write recommendations of Fourteenth Finance commission, Examine positive and negative impact of accepted recommendations.
  • Write changes due to introduction of GST, impact with similar approach taken in case of Fourteenth Finance commission
  • Write contrast and similarity of both and conclude suitably

Introduction: Indian constitution envisaged center state co-operation to ensure success of our federal policy. However increase in complication of the relations between the center and states made this far from reality. Recent initiatives like implementation of Goods and Services tax (GST), recommendations of 14th Finance commission have brought the states into prominence and set them at fore-front in center state relations.


Fourteenth Finance commission recommendations transforming centre state relationship:

  1. Share of 42% of the divisible pool of tax to states, hence it enhanced fiscal autonomy of states
  2. Doing away with the distinction between unconditional and conditional transfers. It provided flexibility to states to use funds as per the needs.
  3. Distinction between planned and unplanned expenditure has been done away with, thus suiting the practical availability of fund devolution.
  4. Reducing the number of central sector enabled the states with more autonomy and decision-making power to spend on most needed initiatives.
  5. No recommendations for sector specific grants which put burden on state to attract more investment hence it put a break on competitive federalism. Funds for local bodies helped in strengthening the concept of federalism.
  6. Distinction between general and special category states has been done away with , but provided grants to 11 revenue deficit states. Overall it led to strengthening of cooperative federalism
  7. Finance commission recommended reducing the combined fiscal deficit of both centre and the states requiring joint efforts from both.

GSTs transforming Centre state relationship:

  1. GST has limited the financial powers of states in its jurisdiction in indirect taxes.

2 States now have to depend on GST council for any change in indirect taxation system.

3 Advantageous position enjoyed by some producing states like Maharashtra, Gujarat will be eroded.

  1. Implementation of GST as one tax for the whole of India integrates the centre and states together.
  2. Proportion of voting rights allotted to states in GST Council (2/3rd) when compared to centre (1/3rd) and other provisions ensure that every decision of the council is taken in consonance with the states.
  3. Center has agreed to compensate the states with the loss in revenue for 5 years; this signifies the mutual understanding of concerns.


The Finance Commission acknowledged that the Centre may have to initially bear an additional fiscal burden and higher devolution of net central taxes arising due to the GST compensation, but this should be treated as an investment that is certain to yield substantial gains to the nation in the medium and long run.

Connecting the dots:

Both issues being important from exam point of view you need to prepare them from GS Paper 2 and GS Paper 3 perspective.UPSC being in habit of asking issues from specific dimension which can be economic, fiscal, federal or empowerment of states.

Best Answer: Nana




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