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Previous Year Question & Answers | UPSC Mains 2020

Q. How far do you think cooperation, competition and confrontation have shaped the nature of federation in India? Cite some recent examples to validate your answer.  (Answer in 150 words)


A federal government is one in which powers are divided between the national government and the regional governments by the Constitution itself.

India is a federal system but with more tilt towards a unitary system of government. It is sometimes considered a quasi-federal system as it has features of both a federal and a unitary system. Cooperation, competition and confrontation are features of Indian federalism.


Cooperative Features: It envisages that the Centre and states “cooperate” in the formulation and implementation of national policies. Recent instances:

  1. With the formation of the GST Council, both the Centre and states government are having a say in implementing the one country-one tax system
  2. The union government has abolished the Planning Commission and replaced it with NITI Aayog.
  3. Programs for vulnerable groups and Agenda of Inclusive growth, Sustainable development Goals


Competitive Features: It envisages the competition between the states. Recent instances:

  1. One of the mandates of the NITI Aayog is to develop competitive federalism.
  2. The Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS) index, Composite Water Management Index, The SDG India Index, Aspirational Districts Programme, Swachh Bharat Ranking, Ease of Doing Business Ranking incorporates a sense of competition amongst the states for funds from the central government.


Confrontational instances: It is a result of the central government transgressing into the powers of the state government. Recent instances:

  1. The unilateral revocation of the special status conferred on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) under Article 370 of the Constitution has been criticized by many experts as against the spirit of federalism.
  2. The union government has passed three farm laws despite agriculture being the state list subject. This has led to massive farmers’ protests.
  3. Protest against CAA in assemblies, Farmers agitation, the role of governor
  4. Jat, Maratha reservation movements, Issues of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) led to the confrontation of centre and states
  5. Local state reservation in Jobs irritates other states
  6. Also, there are many river-water sharing disputes amongst the states. For example Cauvery river disputes, Mahadayi river dispute.


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