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FEDERAL INDIA

COALITIONS IN THE CENTRE - INDIA HEADING TOWARDS FEDERALISM


The early man was settled in tribal groups where the fittest man was its head and ruler. There were inter-tribal conflicts, wars and invasions with the motive of plundering the property of the weak groups. This type of tribal governments were even there when Alexander invaded India some 2300 years ago. These tribal governments often collaborated with the neighbouring tribes for their mutual security and this collaboration is called federation which is considered by the political scientists as an ideal form of governance. 

1947 ਵੇਲੇ ਕੋਈ ਅਜਾਦੀ ਵਜਾਦੀ ਨਹੀ ਸੀ ਆਈ। ਸਿਰਫ ਹਕੂਮਤ ਬਦਲੀ (ਟਰਾਂਸਫਰ) ਸੀ। ਏਥੇ ਅੱਜ ਸਹੀ ਲੋਕਤੰਤਰ ਨਹੀ, ਠਗਣਾ ਲੋਕਤੰਤਰ ਹੈ। ਅਸਲੀ ਲੋਕਤੰਤਰ ਉਹ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਹੈ ਜਿਥੇ ਹਕੂਮਤ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਦੀ ਹੋਵੇ। ਪਰ ਭਾਰਤ ਵਿਚ ਤਾਂ ਹਕੂਮਤ ਦਿੱਲੀ ‘ਚ ਚੰਦ ਬੰਦਿਆਂ ਦੀ ਏ। ਭਾਰਤ ਵਿਚ ਪੰਚਾਇਤਾਂ, ਮੁਨਿਸਪਾਲਟੀਆਂ ਕੋਲ ਅਸਲੀ ਤਾਕਤ ਨਹੀ ਹੈ। ਹੋਰ ਤੇ ਹੋਰ ਸੂਬੇ ਵੀ ਤਾਕਤ ਪੱਖੋ ਖੋਖਲੇ ਨੇ। ਹਾਂ ਸੂਬਿਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਪੁਲਿਸ ਜਰੂਰ ਦੇ ਰੱਖੀ ਹੈ ਤਾਂ ਕਿ ਭਰਮ ਭਾਅ ਬਣਿਆਂ ਰਹੇ। ਅਸਲੀ (ਅੰਗਰੇਜ ਵਾਲੀ) ਤਾਕਤ ਕੇਂਦਰ ਕੋਲ ਹੈ। ਹਾਸੇ ਵਾਲੀ ਗਲ ਤੁਹਾਨੂੰ ਦਸੀਏ ਕਿ ਅਮਰੀਕਾ ਦੀ ਕਿਸੇ ਮੁਨਿਸਪਾਲਿਟੀ ਕੋਲ ਜਿੰਨੀ ਤਾਕਤ ਹੈ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਕੋਲ ਓਨੀ ਵੀ ਨਹੀ। ਅਕਾਲੀ ਐਵੇ ਸੁੱਕੀਆਂ ਕੱਛਾਂ ਮਾਰਦੇ ਰਹਿੰਦੇ ਨੇ।ਪ੍ਰੋਫੈਸਰ ਰਸ਼ੀਦਉਦੀਨ ਖਾਂ ਨੇ ਕਿਤਾਬ ਲਿਖੀ ਸੀ (ਫੈਡਰਲ ਇੰਡੀਆ)  ਕਿ ਜੇ ਭਾਰਤ ਨੇ ਸੱਚ ਮੁੱਚ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਦੇ ਹੱਥ ਤਾਕਤ ਦੇਣੀ ਹੈ ਤਾਂ ਇਥੇ ਸੰਘੀ ਰਾਜ ਹੋਵੇ ਭਾਵ ਇਕਾਈਆਂ ਤਾਕਤਵਰ ਹੋਣ ਸੂਬੇ ਤਾਕਤਵਰ ਹੋਣ। ਕੇਂਦਰ ਕੋਲ ਸਿਰਫ ਫੌਜ, ਵਿਦੇਸ਼ ਮਾਮਲੇ, ਕਰੰਸੀ ਤੇ ਸੰਚਾਰ ਦੇ ਮਹਿਕਮੇ ਹੀ ਹੋਣ। ਅਸਾਂ ਉਸ ਦੀ ਕਿਤਾਬ ਦੇ ਅਧਾਰ ਤੇ ਇਹ ਅੰਗਰੇਜੀ ਵਿਚ ਲੇਖ 1998 ਵਿਚ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਸੀ। 

It was the earnest desire of the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution that the country would become a real republic i.e the governance by people themselves. Accordingly the founders gave certain guidelines to the future rulers of the independent India in the form of Directive Principles of State policy. They wished that the real power be transferred to the people themselves through the Panchayat or other local bodies. It is 50 years since India became independent now and the rulers have not moved an inch in this direction. The result is, more and more people are getting disgusted with the rule. Its reflection can be seen in the form of unrest in North-Eastern states, in Gorkhaland, the Caste wars, Uttrakhand, Jharkhand, Khalistan, Jammu and Kashmir, Babri retaliations, Tamils, Shiv Senas, Naxalism etc. The fact is today there is more violence against Delhi than it was before 1947 against the British. Its only reason is that the power has not been transferred to the local level. Governance is becoming more and more centralised and where ever and whenever people raised their voice for more powers these were termed by the rulers as secessionist overtones.
Those whose fathers and grand fathers fought the battle of independence are worried of its sustenance and preservation. Since the Congress which has virtually ruled the State for about half a century never paid any serious attention to the cries from the periphery. It always tried to harp on the subjects which were constitutionally under the jurisdiction of the States. As a result of which people have started preferring regional parties. Political analysts now agree that in future there would never be the single party rule in the centre, of course except in cases where the party or parties project popular personalities like film stars or some  other emotionally appealing personality. ln past two three occasions we have seen how government formation has been a difficult task but good sense prevailed and we found the coalition governments at the Centre. Now again if the Sonia/ Priyanka factor did not work, we will again have the same situation. If something is not done well in time we may witness some hung partiament resulting into a serious deadlock and elections again. But is it certain that even after elections people will return single parly?
The present government is perhaps a record where 13 regional parties joined hands together to form the government. The return of regional parties is a clear indication what the people want. If this country is to survive it will have to allow greater say to the states, and eventually pass on the power to the local bodies. It is an accepted fact that India is a canglomerate of various nations put together, so much so even the Chairman of the constituent Assembly Dr. Rajinder Prasad also admitted it. It is however different that the Assembly in spite of this fact, gave a highly centripetal constitution to India. Scholars agree that it was because of the Pakistan factor that they ignored the federal model of the government. They felt if the Muslim factor can keep many nationalities together under the Pakistani why not a unitary India where again people were bound with a religious factor. The pakistan experiment however could not last long and in 1971 one nation pulled out from it. We surely want that it should not happen to India and if it is to be kept intact, it will have to pass on the power to the people themselves. Religion always is not a sole factor to keep the countries united. Had it been that USSR would not have split or there would not have been many countries in the Middle East where again the religion is common lslam and Europe where the religion is predominantly Christianity.
Ideally it is the nations that voluntarily come together to form federations for reasons of security and trade. For example Switzerland Confederation was formed some 700 years ago when its units were threatened and it has survived for so long now. There are interesting examples when States would voluntarily come under the umbrella of a larger Nation for security reasons and  there are several examples in the Indian history itself. But only such federations have survived the test of time where the federations allowed greater autonomy to  its constituents.
 In India whosoever raised this voice was dubbed as the secessionist and rejected. The Akali agitation of the early Eighties is a glaring example. The Centre instead of loosening its hold on certain subjects rather tightened it further with the result the principle of governance by the people was further betrayed.
Today the States have less subjects in their list as compared with a local body in the US. The whole system is harshly disposed towards the states. Whatever amount of majority a party might have in the State Assembly the Centre has vast powers to dismiss the Provincial Government if it does not like it. It is not only in principle but the Centre has done it on several occasions. It dismissed the Telgu Desam Government of NTR, CPI (M) Government of Namboodripad. In fact there is a long list of such dismissals where the Centre engineered defections for the formation of governments of its own liking. Even if a State Assembly is allowed to complete its term it has very little to do in view of its limited jurisdiction and funds.
Today the Centre has a long list of 144 subjects to legislate upon (Union-97 and Concurrent-47) while the States have only a list of 66 items only, plus the Centre has residuary powers with it. Also there is a Veto in the hand of President in the case of an assembly bill. Except money bills the President can return the bill otherwise passed by the State Assembly. Major part of the taxation is with the Centre and there "no", defined law as to sharing of the taxes ' and the allocations are purely at the whim and fancy of the Centre. Also India has a unified Civil Services and all the officers like those IAS and IPS are recruited by the Centre and it imposes service restrictions as to the All India  Services Iike the Governor in the state capital its agents in the shape of IAS and IPS officers are watching the whole performance of the state government and obviously reporting to the Centre. Plus the centre has authority to impose the Emergency like it did in 1975 and suspend the Fundamental Rights. It has also the authority to impose Emergency in a particular State instead of whole of India. The Planning Commission again is not a statutory body and is under the direct control of the Cabinet. 'All this shows that India is a highly centralised democracy or the unitary system while a Republic has to be essentially a federal structure.
 Even otherwise also India has never been politically one as it is today. On, no occasion in history it was so much centralised as it is today, except for short period like the British rule of 1857 to 1947, or during the rules of Emperor Ashoka (D. 2328C) Sultan Allauddin  Khalji (D. 1316 AD) and Aurangzeb (D. 1707 AD) lt is also noteworthy that the South was never the part of India during the above Islamic rules. Even during the British Raj the local element was comparatively stronger. So much so there were 356 Princely States at the time of independence. The Ancient India was also regionally organised into the 'Janpaddas'. Vedas and Puranas have references to the existence of such Janpadas or the tribal territories. Vayu Purana gives a detailed account of 165 'Janapadas of Bharatvarsha'. Those 165 Janpadas were constituted under seven major regions or the greater provinces like the 1. Udichya -Eastern, 2.North Western region, 3.Madhya Desha-Central region, 4.Apparanta-Western region, 5.Prachya -Eastern, 6.Dakshinapatha Southern, 7.Vindhyan and the 8.Mountain region. In that ancient India even Afghanistan was part of the Greater India what to talk of Bangla Desh and Pakistan. The janapadas were all Republics in themselves yet there was interaction between them. It was perhaps a perfect model of the federal system.
Just for the amusement of our readers some of the janapads of North and western regions were : Kekays, Shudra, Sindhu, Vahlika, Harpurika, Sakadriha. Madarika, Gandhara, Yavana etc. Interestingly those divisions were based on some logic or some common sense.
Even the Indian administration has acknowledged it that the smaller States are better manageable and its managers often cite the case of Haryana. Ironically the Indian Union which is highly centralised is even larger than more than 170 countries of the world with its 15th position-on the Globe. Except China and perhaps Russia rest of the States which are larger than India have the federal 'type of set-up. India which has 25 States and 6 Union Territories out of which 12 of its States or provinces are even larger than 100 Sovereign countries of the world. Uttar Pardesh with a population of 112 million is even bigger than Bangladesh (103.2 million) and Pakistan (100 million) which themselves are the seventh and eighth largest states of the worid. Similarly the position of Bihar (70 million), Maharashtra (63 million), Andhra Pradesh (54 million), Tamilnadu (49 million), have population individually egual to some. of the larger countries of. the world, like ltaly-57 million, U.K-57, France-55, Phillipines-57, Thailand-53,, Egypt-50, lran-45. Turkey-S1 Canada 26,. Thus India should have atleast 200 provinces if 'the country is to be administred properly and if it is to be formed a true Republic for example those 425 districts of India which are presently the administrative and control units of thd Centre and the Sta{es shoulci be.turnddintd some sorl of locit Sdtf governments with much of the planning decentralised.
janapadas in ancient india from Rashiduddin's Federal India: A design for change




An eminent professor Rasheeduddin Khan who is Internationally reputed and was twice nominated to Rajya Sabha and represented India in the UN General Assembly (1969) and a member of ICSSR, after a thorough study of the, Indian social pattern noted that, "India is thus a continental polity constituted into a single territorial sovereignty. These diversities in India based on religion and caste, language and dialects, cultural patterns, regional pulls etc. are as big in their physical distribution and dimensions as also in their distinctiveness as are normally the hallmark of separate nations. "Prof. Rasheeduddin who attributes the cause of too much centralised India to the urgent urge for national unity underlined by the trauma of partition of the country and says that it was because of this reason that there is too much of bias in favour of greater centralisation of power and thus larger jurisdiction to the Centre. The Professor feels that historically it was the Transfer of Power and not essentially a complete independence to form a Republic. Writes he," Historically the Government of India is the successor of the highly centralised and authoritarian Viceregal Govt. Whose grandeur of power was a match to "the much cited Czarist autocracy of imperial Russia." On the day of Independence the highly powerful Centre was transferred to the Congress. He says,"We should remember that the constitution of India is not a basic agreement between federating units that were previously independent in status but on the contrary a fundamentally made and enforced by a central authority, in the name of people which alone had created the units. To i remedy the rot and to save tfris great country from chaos Prof. Khan has enlisted some of the radical suggestions mooted by some political parties and individuals for immediate consideration:
1.    Constitution be amended so that the residuary powers are with the States instead of the Centre (article 248)
2.    Article 249 be deleted which gives the power to parliament to legislate on the subjects which are on the states list.
3.    Provision of 75% of total revenue to the states. (article-280)
4.     Delete article 302 which empowers parliament to impose restrictions on trade and commerce with a state or, between the states.
5.    Delete articles 356 and 357 the  emergency provisions giving right to the Centre to dissolve a Assembly and impose Presidential rule.
6.    Delete article 360 which empowers the President to interfere in a state administration  on grounds of threat of financial emergency.
7.    Delete article 200 and 201 which empowers the Governor to withhold the assent to bill.
8.    Amend article 3 to ensure that the name and area of state cannot be, changed without the consent of the State Assembly.
9.     Article 370 be not touched and, the demand of BJP and its allies be ignored.
10.    Article 368 be amended so that no amendment to the Constitution is possible without 2/3 majority.
The above suggestions are of course in addition to the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission. Prof khan has also enlisted some 6 more, proposals as under:
1.     The centre should retain only such portfolio as Defence, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Currency, Communications, etc.
2.    The States should be adequately represented on the National Development Council,(NDC)
3.    The NDC and Planning Commission should have statutory powers.
4.    All India services like the IAS, lFS, IPS etc. be abolished and only the Union services and the State services should exist.' Further Centre should not have any, jurisdiction over the personal of state governments.
5.    Seventh schedule and the three lists should be suitably amended to give greater autonomy to states.
6.    To ensure the basic federal principle of equality, federating states should have equal representation to Rajya Sabha (and Lok Sabha also) however there could be exception to States and territories with very small population.
7.    Before this, however the following issues and suggestions should also be considered;
 (i) Territorial reorganisation of states on the criterian of providing to states maximum homogeneity within and maximum identity without   on the five principles of
(a) Socio-cultural affinity in terms of language, dialects, beliefs, religious communities and historical memories,
(b) Ethnic similarity, caste, tribe etc,
(c) Administrative manageability in terms of economy and population,
 (d) Distinct patterns of economy,
(e) Size of the State commensurate. with the need for closer contact between the voters and their representatives. In brief the main concern should be to create States which are socioculturally, homogeneous and administratively and politically manageable. ..
 (ii),Activation bf the Punchayati Raj and Nagarpalika system with necessary devolution of authority to build active grass-roots democracy.


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