One-Day National Seminar on Contemporary Challenges to Indian Federalism

Organizer: V.K. Sukumaran Nayar Chair for Parliamentary Affairs, Department of
Political Science, University of Kerala in association with the International Centre for Marxian Studies and Research, University of Kerala

  • When: 12 March 2024
  • Mode: Hybrid Mode
  • Call For Papers

Sub Themes

  • Indian Constitution and Federalism
  • Perspectives on Indian Federalism
  • Changing Dimensions of Indian Federalism
  • Asymmetry in Indian Federalism
  • Federalism and Centre-State Relations
  • Judiciary and Indian Federal Dynamics
  • State Autonomy and Indian Federalism
  • LPG and Fiscal Federalism
  • Inter-State Issues in the Indian Federal System
  • Federalism, Decentralization and Governance
  • Federalism, Democracy and Developmental Concerns
  • Party System and Indian Federalism

Federalism is a constitutional mechanism divides power between different levels of government, granting autonomy to
federated units while sharing power according to agreed rules. In India, the evolution of federal relations is a result of historical events rather than a predetermined federating financial policy.
The framers of the constitution have modified the true nature of Indian federation by incorporating certain non-federal features in it. K.C. Wheare rightly observed that, “Indian Union is a
unitary state with subsidiary federal features rather than a federal state with subsidiary unitary features.”

The foundational aspects of federalism, centering on the relationships between the central government and the states,
are outlined in Part XI and XII of the constitution, covering legislative, administrative, and financial relations. India is characterized by both de jure and de facto asymmetrical federal features.
The Government of India has periodically appointed various commissions, including the Administrative Reform Commission,
to oversee and regulate relations between the center and the states. The judiciary also functions as a crucial safeguard for
federalism, strengthening its jurisprudence particularly since the landmark S R Bommai judgment in 1994. As highlighted by Rekha Saxena (2021), India has established an asymmetrical
arrangement for power-sharing, acknowledging that some states hold a more substantial role than others, in an effort to accommodate the diverse nature of the country. The dynamics of central-state relations in India have undergone fluctuations over time, transitioning from periods of centralization to a more
decentralized structure. In the contemporary scenario, there are
discernible signs of heightened political centralization manifesting in various forms.

Indian fiscal federalism encounters significant challenges arising from economic liberalization and globalization. The relations between the Centre and the states in India have taken various forms, encompassing a range of issues. These include internal security, constitutional arrangements, the evolving dynamics of political parties, misuse of several provisions in the Indian Constitution, such as Article 356 and the governor’s office, interstate disputes, internal threats, economic liberalization, discrimination in financial allocations to states, institutional arrangements, management of All India Services, central intrusion into the State List, controversial decisions by the central government on vital issues, autonomy of states, and inadequate central transfers, among others.

The complexities of these factors
contribute to the multifaceted nature of the relationship between the central and state entities in the Indian federal system.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar pointed out that “our constitution would be both unitary as well as Federal according to the requirement of
time and circumstances.” This assertion holds true in both historical and present contexts, as federalism is not a static
concept but a dynamic one. It is in a constant process of evolution and adjustment to meet contemporary needs and demands. To make Indian federalism more robust and viable, it is imperative to address the differences between the center and the states. This resolution is essential for India to successfully
navigate significant challenges, including those related to external and internal security, as well as socio-economic
development. Exploring contemporary challenges to Indian federalism, this seminar aims to invite students, academicians, scholars and activists to deliberate on divergent dimensions and
issues concerning Indian federalism with reference to the sub-themes mentioned

Important Dates

  • Abstract Submission deadline: 07/03/2024
  • Acceptance Notification: 09/03/2024
  • Seminar Date: 12/03/2024

(An abstract of not more than 500 words must be sent to

The Director, V.K. Sukumaran Nayar
Chair for Parliamentary Affairs, Department of Political Science, University of
Phone: 9496468751, 8157954909, 730614440

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