KingMakers IAS Academy logo

Syllabus GS II Development

Syllabus GS II Development

GS II: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein. 

Question 1: What is asymmetrical federalism? Enumerate the political and fiscal features of asymmetrical federalism in India.

Approach: Introduction about Asymmetrical federalism- political framework- fiscal framework- way forward.


India is not the only country with asymmetrical arrangements in its federal setup. Belgium, Germany, Canada and Spain are among other such examples. Thus this normative idea is neither new nor only locally relevant.

Asymmetric Federalism:

  • The term asymmetrical federalism refers to a flexible type of union of states which allows the government to cut different deals with different states in special matters pertaining to them.
  • This method allows the government to grant special status to some units providing them with special powers not enjoyed by other states.
  • Asymmetry involves providing greater autonomy to some states when compared with others.
  • It permits particular states to have greater executive, legislative, and at times, judicial powers than other states.

Political asymmetrical frameworks:

  • Constructing an asymmetrical framework, our founding fathers chose the salad bowl approach instead of the melting pot approach.
  • Recognising the existing pluricultural society in India necessitated such a choice.
  • Recognising the distinctive cultural differences in the country and permitting self-rule within the scheme of a shared rule to territorially concentrated minorities is how asymmetrical federalism works in India.
  • An arrangement only proves that an asymmetrical constitutional setup is indisputably necessary for a multicultural and multinational country such as India to protect the rights of the community and the minorities.
  • It is necessary to understand the distinction made by Ronald Watts between political and constitutional asymmetry, both of which exist in our country.
  • In every federal nation the political asymmetry is based on the territorial and demographic sizes of the constituent units, the constitutional asymmetry characterises the Constitution’s extension of legislative and executive powers to the constituent units.
  • Finding representation of States in the Rajya Sabha based on their population, it is a political asymmetry.
  • That is why States such as Uttar Pradesh have 31 seats in the Rajya Sabha, whereas Meghalaya and Mizoram have just one each.
  • Sixth Schedule also acknowledges the socio-cultural, political and historical rights of the tribes of the Northeast, thereby facilitating the provisions of self-rule within the scheme of shared rule.

Fiscal asymmetrical frameworks:

  • Another significant asymmetry is the fiscal arrangements enshrined in the Constitution. When transferring funds from the Centre to States, statutory transfers are made based on the recommendations of the Finance Commission.
  • The Central government entirely funds specific Central sector development schemes in India, the cost of implementing Centrally sponsored schemes to bring about welfare is co-shared by both the Centre and sub-national units.
  • In the NITI Aayog era, the Centre has considerably reduced the share of its revenue to implement the Centrally sponsored schemes.

Way Forward:

  • The idea and arrangement of asymmetrical power-sharing can be unsettling if not utilised properly. Such features in our Constitution are neither marginal nor merely provisional.
  • Asymmetrical federalism will continue to have its relevance in the future because to pave the way for cooperative federalism we must be able to accommodate various groups and provide them with a share in the governance of the country at the same time.

~Source The Hindu

GS II Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein. 

Question 2: Coalition governments have shown greater allegiance to the constitutional promise than super-majority governments. Analyse.

Approach: Introduction about coalition and majority governments- compare the performances of both the governments including the positives and negatives- conclusion.


Conventional wisdom says that a single-party government with a strong mandate will have the ability to place economics above politics, and pursue the reform agenda that India needs to boost growth. Coalitions are viewed unfavourably – among pundits, financial analysts and armchair economists – as they might let political considerations trump sound economics.

Comparing the performances of majority and minority governments:

  • Average GDP growth rates under single-party majorities have not outperformed coalitions. They are marginally lower than the average growth rates under ruling coalitions. This holds true even when one controls the general macroeconomic environment.
  • Single-party governments, even if they enjoy majority seat support in parliament, are frequently based on only a minority of popular votes and are strongly socially biassed. They are more prone to be captured by minority interest groups and to implement economic and social policies not encompassing broad social preferences.
  • Single-party majorities face no such compulsions to negotiate and build policies, or the prospect of significant political risk if policy measures backfire. This may explain the Indian experience. Historically, single-party governments have had a greater proclivity to expend political capital on policy measures that only hurt the economy.
  • In a coalition government, more rigour would have been applied to the policy to ensure alliance partners’ support before implementation.
  • The government would have faced real political risk in the aftermath. Coalition partners might well have buckled under public pressure and withdrawn support.
  • Apart from economic policy, even on the foreign policy and on the domestic front, this government exhibited much hubris that would have been unlikely in a coalition.
  • India, for the first time in the history of its foreign policy, engaged in military adventurism outside its borders and engaged a policy of appeasement of religious pressure groups that created significant polarisation on the domestic front.

On account of better performance on objective indicators, better representation of the population, and lower proclivity to embark on destructive policies, the Indian experience suggests that coalitions are not necessarily worse than single-party majorities. They may even be better.

~Source The Hindu