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Q.1) The India is said to be a federation with a unitary bias. In this context, explain the relationship between the Centre and the States in India. (GS-2)

The Indian nation is said to be a federation with a unitary bias. Part XI of the Indian Constitution (Articles 245 through 263) deals with centre-state relations.

The Centre was made more powerful as is revealed from the following facts:

  • Single Citizenship: The Indian federation is a dual polity with a single citizenship for the whole of India. There is no State citizenship.
  • A Strong Centre: The result of the distribution of powers between the federation and the units is that the State Governments are governments of limited and enumerated powers.
  • Single Constitution for Union and States: Indian Constitution embodies not only the Constitution of the Union but also those of the States. Furthermore, the States of the Indian Union have a uniform Constitution.
  • Centre Can Change Name and Boundaries of States: In India, the Centre has a right to change the boundaries of the States and to carve out one State out of the other.
  • Single Unified Judiciary: In India, the Supreme Court and the High Court’s form a single integrated judicial system. They have jurisdiction over cases arising under the same laws, constitutional, civil and criminal.
  • Unitary in Emergencies: The Indian Constitution is designed to work as a federal government in normal times, but as a unitary government in times of emergency.
  • Common All-India Services: The Constitution has certain special provisions to ensure the uniformity of the administrative system and to maintain minimum common administrative standards without impairing the federal principle.
  • Inequality of Representation in the Council of States: There is bicameralism in India but in the Council of States, States have not been given equal representation.
  • Appointment of Governor by President: The Heads of the State—the Governor—are appointed by the President. They hold office during his pleasure. This enables the Union Government to exercise control over the State administration.
  • Appointment of the High Court Judges by the President: Appointments to the High Courts are made by the President, and the Judges of the High Courts can be transferred by the President from one High Court to another.
  • The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General: The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India has an organisation managed by the officers of the Indian Audit and Account Services, a central service, who are concerned not only with the accounts and auditing of the Union Government but also those of the States.
  • Centralized Electoral Machinery: The Election Commission, a body appointed by the President, is in charge of conducting elections not only to Parliament and to other elective offices of the Union, but also to those of the State Legislature.
  • Flexible Constitution: The Indian Constitution is not very rigid. Many parts of the Constitution can be easily amended.
  • Control over State Laws: Certain laws passed by the State Legislature cannot come into operation unless they have been reserved for the approval of the President of India.
  • Financial Dependence of States: In a federation, as far as possible, States should be financially self-sufficient so that these enjoy maximum autonomy.

Q.2) Discuss the significance of Inter State Council for India’s federalism. (GS-2)

The Inter State Council (ISC) is a constitutional body created under the Article 263 of the Constitution in pursuance of the Sarkaria Commission. It is a forum to discuss problems between center and states.

Relevance of Inter-State Council:

  • The Inter State Council has also become significant in the backdrop of tensions brewing between Centre and some states regarding resource allocation and disputes related to jurisdiction.
  • It can act as a forum for ironing out these disputes in pursuance of cooperative federalism.
  • The Council can also play a role in exerting moral pressure on the executive to implement some recommendations of the Punchii Commission.
  • It can reach a consensus on role of Governor.
  • It can decide upon the use of article 356 and other such constitutional matters.
  • Bridge trust deficit between centre and states.
  • Promote healthy competition between states.

Conclusion:

  • The interstate council should be further strengthened to become the critical forum for not merely administrative but also political and legislative give and take between the centre and states.
  • It should function in such a manner that it reflects the equal status of states and the centre.
  • Even though the ISC’s mandate is very broad, its aspiration has generally been limited to discussing affirmative action, welfare subjects and administrative efficiency and coordination.

Q.3) In a landmark initiative, Centre has promulgated the Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 to exempt bamboo grown in non-forest areas from definition of tree. Discuss the significance of this decision and what is the need for enhancing bamboo sector in India (GS-3)

In a landmark initiative, Centre has promulgated the Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 to exempt bamboo grown in non-forest areas from definition of tree, thereby dispensing with the requirement of felling/transit permit for its economic use.

Significance:

  • Enhancing supply of raw material to the traditional craftsmen of rural India, bamboo based or paper and pulp industries, cottage industries, furniture making units, fabric making units, incense stick making units.
  • Promoting major bamboo applications such as wood substitutes and composites like panels, flooring, furniture and bamboo blind.
  • It shall also help industries such as those dealing with food products (bamboo shoots), constructions and housing, bamboo charcoal etc.
  • The amendment will greatly aid the success of recently constituted National Bamboo Mission.
  • The amendment will unleash the potential of bamboo in terms of rural and national economy apart from ecological benefits such as soil-moisture conservation, landslide prevention and rehabilitation, conserving wildlife habitat, enhancing source of bio-mass, besides serving as a substitute for timber.
  • An enabling environment for the cultivation of bamboo will help in creation of job opportunities in the country.
  • The amendment will therefore, help in harnessing this great potential and enhance the scope to increase the present level of market share and improve the economy of the entire country, particularly the North Eastern region.
  • encourage growth of small and medium industries in the villages and smaller towns also, and reduce our dependence on imports

Need of enhancing Bamboo sector:

  • The current demand of bamboo in India is estimated at 28 million tonnes.
  • Though the country has 19% share of the world’s area under bamboo cultivation, its market share in the sector is only 6%.
  • At present, it imports timber and allied products, such as pulp, paper, and furniture.
  • In 2015, it imported about 18.01 million cubic metres of timber and allied products worth 43,000 crore.
  • Bamboo grows abundantly in areas outside forests with an estimated growing stock of 10.20 million tonnes and about 20 million people are involved in bamboo related activities.
  • The amendment will help in addressing some of these issues, besides meeting the demand from domestic production.
  • As per the assessment of United Nation’s Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO),the bamboo business in the North-East Region alone has a potential of about Rs. 5000 crores in the next ten years.
  • India has the largest area under bamboo cultivation and is the second richest in terms of bamboo genetic resources after China.
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