Federalism is a system of Government in which the power is divided between central authority and the various constituents units of the country. Federal governance is found to be most successful system of governance.
In a federal system, the central government cannot order the state government to do something. State governments have power of their own. The formation of federal government involve the independent states coming together to form bigger unit, that is central government. This type of federation exists in U.S.A, Australia, and many more countries where all the constituent states have equal powers.
In another system of federalism, the country decides to divide its power between central government and constituent states. This system has been adopted by India. In this system central government has more power and the states may not have equal power.
The Indian constitution declared India as a Union of states which is based on the principles of federalism. Originally Indian Constitution provided two tier systems of government that is Central government and State government. Later a third tier was added in the form of Panchayats, and Municipalities. There are three lists in the distributors of power between the central government and state government.
- Union list which includes subjects of national importance such as defense, foreign affairs, banking, communications and currency. The central government alone can make laws on these matters.
- State list which includes subjects of police, trade, commerce, agriculture, and irrigation. The state governments alone can make the laws relating to these matters.
- Concurrent list which includes the subjects of common interest to both the above governments such as education, forest, trade unions, marriage, adoption, and succession. Both governments can make laws of these matters but if laws conflict the law made by central government will prevail.
All states in the Indian Union do not have identical powers. Jammu Kashmir has its own constitution. Many provisions of the Indian constitution are not applicable for Jammu and Kashmir without the approval of the state assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly special provisions exist for some other states of India also.
This system of governance is very successful in India. This is due to clearly laid our constitution provisions which binding the central and state governments.