Is the Indian Federation a True Federation?

The Indian Constitution is a blend of almost all constitutions of the world. It took the parliamentary feature from the British Constitution, and from American Constitution, we have taken the written Constitution as a feature.

About the Indian Constitution

The Indian Constitution is the lengthiest written constitution in the world, it is comprehensive, detailed and currently, it comprises 448 articles which are further divided into 25 parts and 12 schedules. It is a blend of rigidity and flexibility.


From the Canadian Constitution, the Constitution of India has derived the feature of a federal government. 

What does a Federal Government mean?

Federal Government is the form of government in which power is divided among centers and states. These are two governments, i.e., national and regional governments.

The national government governs the Central and International Relations, whereas the regional or state government only governs a particular state or region. In other words, states can’t interfere with the central government, and the central government has no rights over state procedures.


Let us understand the facts which make the Indian government a federal form of government.

Three-tier government

 India has a three-tiered government depicted in the following flow chart.




The union government governs and makes laws on topics of national importance like foreign affairs, defense, communication, etc. In contrast, state government governs and executes the laws on state importance like agriculture, health, etc. The third tier of Government, Panchayati Raj is a local safe governing body. It was constitutionalized in 1992 by the 73rd constitutional amendment act. The purpose of Panchayati- Raj is to govern the people at the basic or local root level.

Written Constitution

Indian constitutional defines the powers, organizations, and functions of the central and state government explicitly.

Rigid and Supreme Constitution

The Indian Constitution is rigid in nature. The laws mentioned under it can’t be modified easily according to an individual’s needs since the Constitution is the highest law in the Indian land. All rules, laws, and judicial decisions are declared, keeping the terms and norms of the Constitution in mind.

Division of Power

The Indian Constitution mentions the concept of three lists, i.e., Union, State, and concurrent lists.

Union list

It consists of 100 subjects related to national importance—such as defense, foreign affairs, etc.

State list

It consists of 61 subjects of state importation importance, like agriculture, etc.

Concurrent list

It consists of 52 subjects; on these subjects, both union and state governments can make laws.


In India, we have a bicameral legislature. There are two houses, i.e., Upper house and lower house.

The upper house or council of states represents the states of India. The lower house or “House of People” or Lok Sabha represents the Indian union government.

With the five points mentioned above, the Indian Constitution is said to be a Federal organization.

Now, let us consider the reasons which doubt’s the origin of Indian federalism. Why is Indian federalism always appearing in debates?

1. No mention of ‘Federal’ in Constitution

In the lengthiest Indian Constitution, the word ‘Federal’ wasn’t used even once. Instead, the Constitution states that Indian or Bharat, is a union of states.

2. Destructible States

India is in the destructive union of destructible states. The Center could alter and reshape the size or boundary of a state.

3. Incapable States

No state has enough power to free itself from India and rule on as an independent nation or ally some other nation.

4. Ultimate power to the union government

Union Government has ultimate power over state government in the following ways.

  1. More important subjects are included in the Union list and of lesser importance in the state list.
  2. The union government can ride the decision of the state government in case of conflict between the two.
  3. The union government has the power to make the decision on residuary subjects.

5. Single Constitution

States don’t have a specific as per of its needs and requirement.

6.Single Citizenship

Unlike Canada, there is no concept of dual citizenship. Two people, one living in Kashmir and the other in Kanyakumari, are defined as Indian citizens and are granted the same rights.

7. All India Services

The central government can appoint its officer (IAS, IPS, IFS) in all states. States don’t have similar power to set its officer in the union.

8. Governor

Each state is assigned a governor, who is not the person from the respective state. The governor is appointed by the president of India and is often referred to as the Central’s Man.

9. Emergency Provisions

The state government goes totally into the control of central under emergencies; this includes all three emergencies- the national emergency, state emergency, and financial emergency.

10. Unequal representation of different states

Different states have different quotas of representation in the upper house. It is not fixed and varies according to the size of the states.

From the above ten points, the Indian federation is not a true form of federalism. But it can be defined as a federal government with a strong Center. It is essential to design and mold our Constitution in such a way to meet the diversity and requirements of our country.