Friday, July 21, 2006

Centre-State relations in india

Centre-State relations means the relations between Centre and it's units where there exist Federal System. It is of great importance in a country like India constrained by regionalism,religion,uneven development,demand for autonomy,identity politics, competing political interests ,caste and race. The Centre-State relations in india have always contained the seeds of conflict and this partly follows from the arrangements made in the constitution.
history and politics of the question

Early statement on this question in India can be credited to Gopal Krishna Gokhale.In his evidence before the Decentralisation Commission in 1908 he proposed for devolution of financial authority among Provinces .It implied the schema of Federal System.

First official expression of Indian national Congress(INC) of the desire for a federal govt.came through the report of it's 31 st session in 1916 on the Condress-League Scheme of reform.It stated "Except customs ,post,telegraph ,mint,salt,opium,raiways,army,navy and tributes from indian states , all other sources of revenue should be provincial (sec.7a). "The provincial Council should have full authority to deal with all matters affecting the internal administration of the province"(Sec.7c).The scheme was not for independent India but for a self governing colony within the British Empire .Thereafter INC used to voice the demand for a federation with full provincial autonomy .

Famous Quit India Resolution of Aug 8,1942 demanded the British to quit India and said about the new India's constitution :"The Constitution according to the Congress view should be a federal one ,with the largest meassure of autonomy for the federating units and with the residuary powers resting in the units ".

Nehru's objectives resolution moved on Dec 13 ,1946 in the Constituent Assembly assured that the British Indian provinces "shall possess and retain the status of autonomous units together with residuary powers".

Finally the Union Powers Committee set up with Nehru as Chairman in January 1947 submitted it's first report on April 17,1947,outlining the scheme of distribution of powers between the Union Govt. and the provinces that left the latter a very large meassure of autonomy.
Thus whole history of advocacy for a federal form of govt. with large meassure of autonomy came to an end as soon as Lord Mountbatten ,the last British governer General announced on June 3,1947,that India would be partitioned in to India and Pakistan.The Union Constitution Committee took a decision on June 6,1947,to make the constitution of India "Federal with a strong Centre ".On June 7,1947, the Provincial Constitution Committee and the Union Constitution Committee in a joint session approved the previous day's decision.There after things moved very fast towards the creation of a constitution which provided a "Fedral polity with a strong centre".
There are certain reasons for this sudden and drastic departure of the Consttuent Assembly from the continuous committment of the INC to the principle of federalism with a large meassure of autonomy for the constituent units . The necessity of a strong central govt. for handling the situation arising out of communal riots that preceded and accompanied partition,for meeting the food crisis,for settling the refugees,for maintaining national unity and for promoting social and economic development,which had been thwarted under colonial rule.But this shift is more associated with the changing position of the indian bourgeoisie.