[Answered] What do you understand by asymmetric federalism? Discuss the importance of asymmetric federalism in India.

Demand of the question
Introduction. What is asymmetric federalism?
Body. Asymmetric federalism in India. Importance of asymmetric federalism in India.
Conclusion. Contextual conclusion.

Asymmetric federalism means federalism based on unequal powers and relationships in political, administrative and fiscal arrangements between the units constituting a federation.

Asymmetric federalism means different constituent states possess different powers. One or more of the states has considerably more independence than the others, though they have the same constitutional status. The division of powers is not symmetric.

Asymmetric federalism in India:

  1. Special position of Kashmir: During independence majority of population in the Kashmir valley was Muslim. State acceded to the Indian Union under special terms, which were subsequently incorporated in the Article 370 of the Constitution. This article provided the state with a unique position in the Indian Union, with its own constitution. Specifically, the jurisdiction of the Centre was restricted to foreign affairs, defence and communications, with the state’s legislature having residuary powers.
  2. Northeastern hill states: In north-east there is a distinct difference in ethnicity from the rest of India. Several divisions are based on culture and other traditions. Most of these states were upgraded from the status of Union Territories. In Article 371 special powers are accorded to northeastern states. The safeguards provided to these states through these special provisions include respect for customary laws, religious and social practices, restrictions on the ownership and transfer of land, and restrictions on the migration non-residents to the State. State legislatures are typically given final control over changes in these provisions.

Importance of asymmetric federalism in India:

  1. Secure rights: These special provisions in the Constitution help in protecting fundamental rights, and compensate for initial inequalities in the social system.
  2. Social justice: Allowance for separate laws to govern different religious groups, and provisions for various kinds of affirmative action for extremely disadvantaged groups help in ensuring justice to them.
  3. Ensure unity in diversity: These provisions respects and preserve diversity of the country by protecting vulnerable group through special powers. This ensure unity in diversity leading to ‘sabka sath sabka vikas’.
  4. Satisfy different needs: It act as a solution to satisfy different needs of various federal units, as the result of an ethnic, linguistic or cultural difference. Asymmetric federalism has helped in reducing dissatisfaction among various states
  5. Reduce radicalisation: Special powers given to the state of Jammu and Kashmir help in reducing radicalisation. The state of Jammu and Kashmir was given special power because the state though include several diverse population, but the majority of the population of the state is Muslim, and the state was also near the new country “Pakistan’ which is a major ‘Muslim’ country.
  6. Better representation in democracy: It has helped in providing representation to minority areas and areas with less population providing them justice.

The unequal status between various states gives rise to the need for constitutional recognition of inequality, which should be there into the federal polity but in such a way that which protect diversity without sacrificing unity or imposing uniformity. In the Constitution of

In India due to inequality of states and of regions within the state was creating dissatisfaction. Asymmetric federalism and special provisions have helped solving these problems.

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