In today’s era of socio-economic and political development of society and for an overall growth of the country, centre state partnership is of utmost importance.

In Indian democracy where states have been given great powers to regulate its internal affairs, the centre has been provided with enough powers to restrict any state from action taken against the interest of the nation

There are 3 lists on which right to take decision by state and centre is divided. These are union list, state list and concurrent list.

Union list comes under the purview of centre, state list comes under states and concurrent list includes decision of both centre and state and the final decision on such list is taken by the centre like in the case of education (under concurrent list brought by 42nd constitutional amendment act 1976) which has significant central funding.

Moreover, constitutionally our country is the ‘federation of states’ with more powers to centre and with time state dependency on centre has increased. Also, a considerable increase in centralisation of power is seen from centre’s part.

Like during initial phase of covid-19 pandemic centre implemented national lockdown under disaster management act and issued an extensive guideline to state for controlling the pandemic. Although states have independent power under epidemic disease act 1897, state government choose to follow centre’s order and requested centre to continue administration of national lockdown. This shows the greater dependence of states on centre.

In the later phase of pandemic, an excessive decentralisation of power was seen where imposition of localised lockdowns, new vaccination policy (vested 50% of purchasing of vaccines to state government), implementing social security measures etc. was seen.

Here, both centre and state have to ensure the perfect balance between the extreme political centralisation or chaotic political decentralisation. As the right balance will protect the states for threatening the national unity and providing adequate autonomy to states.

Furthermore, in the case of GST the Centre still gets to decide on direct tax rates and GST rates, states ended up losing a larger part of their fiscal autonomy.

Not just states but local government also play very important role when it comes to ground level playing. So, the centre have a great responsibility of decentralising power to these local bodies when states fails to do so. Also, most of the funds that a state receives comes from central fundings.

For central government not just fund transfer and decentralisation of power matters. Professional support for driving reforms is essential. That is why SSA, NRHM and rural development programmes have insisted on establishing institutions that provide handholding, appraisal and technical support to states.

Thus centre, state and local bodies must work together to improve policy outcomes and deepen reforms. Indian federalism has created a lot of interest, research and criticism and it will be fascinating to know the future policies and till what extent this partnership proves beneficial.

BY- Vaishali Mishra


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