General Studies Paper 2 (Indian Polity & Constitution)
Question:- 45. Discuss the various hurdles to cooperative federalism in India. Enumerate the possible solutions for the same. Answer in 250 words.
Aug 22, 2022



 Cooperative federalism means a combination of cooperation and interdependence between the Centre and the States to ensure smooth governance of the country. Cooperative federalism views two levels of government as mutually complementary parts of a single political system. This system is based on the ‘internal give and take’ between the central government and the state governments.

Cooperative federalism allows the needs and concerns of the remotest part of the country to get noticed by the government because of the reach of the decentralized government, which has greater access to the people. Cooperative federalism also allows the Government to formulate policies to cater to the needs of any particular section/group/community which becomes possible because of the decentralized nature of governance.


LINKAGE POINT: The following are the long impending issues with cooperative federalism in India:



  1. 1.Over-centralisation:
  • -India is a quasi-federal state, with powers and resources being highly tilted in favour of the Union.
  • -The Union list has more items than the state list that enables more taxation power to centre.
  • -Excessive central character reduces active participation of states.
  • -States claim that the Centre has been increasingly intruding into state subjects by running numerous Centrally sponsored schemes, shifting subjects from the State List to the Concurrent List and introducing new schemes in State subjects without any prior consultation with states
  1. 2.Ineffective inter-state council:
  • -It is a mechanism that was constituted “to support Centre-State and Inter-State coordination and cooperation through discussions and deliberations in India under Article 263 of the Constitution.
  • -Issues: lack of regular meetings and resolution of problems Since its constitution in 1990, the body has met only 11 times, although its procedure states it should meet at least three times every year.
  1. 3.Presidential rule:
  • -The constitution has provided the President with power to take over state machinery in situations of state failure and emergency.
  • -Unfortunately, it has been misused by political parties to subvert state governments. Between 1947 and 1977, there were 44 instances when the power to impose President’s rule was exercised.
  • -In S.R. Bommai v. Union of India (1994), the limitation laid down by the Supreme Court has placed gentle breaks on exercise of this power, but it had limited effect.
  1. 4.Taxation:
  • -Taxation powers are another contentious issue between state and the Central government especially after the coming in of GST which saw a revenue shortfall for many states.
  1. 5.Under-represented in finance commission:
  • -States are under-represented. Recommendations of the Finance Commission are placed before Parliament and States have no role in the debate.
  • -There is no provision for an aggrieved State to challenge the FC report or seek its enforcement.
  • -Also, the benefits tilt towards states with more population.
  1. 6. Trust deficit:
  • -Trust deficit between Centre and States is widening. This is an issue because the ruling parties at the Centre and in different states are not the same and differ widely in their ideologies and political interests.
  • -A ‘One Size Fits All’ approach had been used for years, not taking into account the heterogeneity of different states and their local requirements. Due to this many states continue to suffer.



  1. 1.Strengthening Inter-State Council through regular meetings can help resolve a lot of inter-state issues and problems between Centre and States through effective discussions.
  2. 2.Competitive Federalism: A spirit of healthy competition amongst states can act as a motivational factor for pushing development. NITI Aayog has played a significant role in promoting healthy competition among states and Union Territories to rank them on various parameters. Some indices launched by the Aayog include the School Education Quality Index, State Health Index, Composite Water Management Index, Sustainable Development Goals Index, India Innovation Index, and Export Competitiveness Index.
  3. 3.Empowering states towards optimum utilization of its resources such as infrastructure, buildings, transportation and the most importantly its human resource. Forums like GST Council which have a majority representation of states can play a key role.
  4. 4.Fostering cooperation: All states should compete with each other regarding policies and its effective implementation. The Union government can include States in how decisions are made and enforced. The Union must develop newer conventions to foster cooperation. Aspirational district initiative has potential to foster cooperation at local level, enabling the states to work with the centre.
  5. 5.Taxation: States must be given more power to tax and more grants should be given to them. One size fits all policy needs to be changed with focus to specific needs of each state.



In a multi-diverse country like India wherein the various states are made on linguistic lines and where each state represents regional interests, cooperative federalism is a very important component of governance for ensuring that the stability of the nation remains intact. To address the broader national concerns of the nation both the Centre and the state need to work together to guide the country towards the road of prosperity and growth in every aspect. India has hundreds of different languages, and thousands of smaller districts spread across the country. To provide effective governance and grievance redressal, cooperative federalism becomes the key. And this coordination between the state and the centre helps in devising solutions to the various problems.