Q.1. Mention three policies that have strengthened federalism is India.
Ans. The real success of federalism in India can be attributed to the nature of democratic politics in our country. This ensured that the spirit of federalism, respect for diversity and desire for living together became a shared ideal in our country. The policies that have strengthened federalism in India are:
(i) The creation of Linguistic States was the first and major test for democratic politics in the country:
Many freedom fighters thought that separating states based on language would make more difference in people. But so far this creation of states based on language was a good decision and had worked good.
Fig: Linguistic division of states
(ii) Language policy: Even though Hindi was identified as the official language by our Constitution, other languages have also been protected. Besides Hindi, there are 21 other languages recognized as scheduled languages by the Constitution. States too have their own official languages. Thus, not declaring Hindi a national language or imposing it on all the states has strengthened federalism.
(iii) By restructuring the centre-state relations, federalism has got strengthened. Earlier, the central government could easily dismiss the state governments which were controlled by the rival parties. But after 1990, there was a rise of regional political parties in many states of the country.
The era of coalition governments which needs an alliance with many parties including several regional parties to form a government at the centre, has led to a new culture of power sharing and respect for the autonomy of the states.
Q.2. In which way does the language policy in India help our country avoid the situation that Sri Lanka is in today? (HOTS)
Ans. Our Constitution did not give the status of national language to any one language. Although Hindi was identified as the official language but there were many safeguards to protect other languages.
According to the Constitution, the use of English for official purpose was to stop in 1965. However, many non-Hindi speaking states demanded that the use of English should continue. The Central government decided to continue the use of English along with Hindi for official purposes. Hindi is not imposed on states where people speak a different language. The flexibility shown by Indian political leaders helped our country avoid the kind of situation that Sri Lanka finds itself in.
In Sri Lanka, the major social groups are the Sinhala-speakers (74%) and the Tamil-speakers (18%).
Fig: Sinhala- official language of Sri Lanka
In 1956, an Act was passed to recognize Sinhala as the only official language, thus disregarding Tamil. Due to this, and other reasons, the relations between the Sinhala and the Tamil communities got strained over time.
Q.3. How can you say that power-sharing is more effective today than it was in the early years after the Constitution came into force? (HOTS)
Ans. In the early years, the same party ruled both at the Centre and in most of the States. But in the states where the rival parties ruled, the central government often misused its power to dismiss the state governments. This undermined the spirit of federalism. But after 1990, there was a rise of regional parties in many states of the country.
It was at this time that since no single party got a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, the major national parties had to enter into an alliance with many parties, including several regional parties to form a government at the Centre. This led to the era of coalition government – a new culture of power sharing and respect for the autonomy of state governments.