NCERT Class 10 Civics Chapter 2 - Federalism

Chapter 2 Federalism

Question and Answer
Question 1: Distinguish between a federal system of government and unitary system of government.

Federal System

Unitary System

In this system power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country.

In this system either there is only one level of government or the sub units are subordinate to the central government.

The central government is usually responsible for a few subjects of common national interest and the state governments look after the day-to-day administering of their state. The central government cannot order the state governments to do something.

The central government can pass on orders to the provincial or the local governments.

State government has powers of its own.

Sub-units do not have any power of their own.

Both these government are separately answerable to the people. Example: India

The governments are not answerable to the people. Example: China

Question 2: What are the key features of federalism?

• There are two or more levels (or tiers) of government.
• Different tiers of government govern the same citizens, but each tier has its own jurisdiction in specific matters of legislation, taxation and administration.
• The jurisdictions of the respective tiers of government are specified in the constitution. So, the existence and authority of each tier of government is constitutionally guaranteed.
• The fundamental provisions of the constitution cannot be unilaterally changed by one level of government.  The highest court acts as an umpire if disputes arise between different levels of government in the exercise of their power.
• Sources of revenue for each level of government are clearly specified to ensure its financial autonomy.
• The federal system thus has dual objectives: to safeguard and promote unity of the country while at the same time accommodate regional diversity.

Question 3: Differentiate between coming together and holding together federations.

Coming Together Federation

Holding Together Federation

When independent states come together on their own to form a bigger unit, so that by pooling sovereignty and retaining identity they can increase their security, it is called coming together federation.

When a large country decides to divide its power between the constituent states and the national government, it is holding together federation.

All states have equal power and are strong vis-à-vis the central government.

The central government tends to be more powerful than states.

Example, USA, Switzerland, Australia

Example: India, Belgium, Spain

Question 4: What makes India a federal country?

In India, we have government functioning at three different levels.
→ National level - Central/Union government
→ State/Provincial level - State government
→ Local level - Panchayat and Municipalities

These different tiers enjoy separate jurisdiction
• The constitution has clearly laid down the legislative power of the union government and state governments.
• The union government alone can make laws on the subjects like currency, banking, communication etc. This is because we need a uniform policy on these matters throughout the country.
• The state government alone can make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in the state list. Example: Police, agriculture etc.
• Any change to the power sharing arrangement needs the assent of both the houses of Parliament and the legislatures of at least half of the total states.
• In case of any disputes about the division of powers, the High Courts and the Supreme Court make a decision.
• The union and state governments have the power to raise resources by levying taxes to carry on the government and the responsibilities assigned to each one of them.

Question 5: How is federalism practiced in India?
Federalism/Federal system of government is a success in India, not merely because of the clearly laid out constitutional provisions but it can be attributed to the nature of democratic politics in our country.

→ Linguistic states/Re-organization of states:
• After independence, several new states have been created to ensure that people who spoke the same language lived in the same state. Example: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka etc.
• Some new states have been created based on culture, ethnicity or geography. Example Nagaland, Jharkhand etc.
• The formation of state based on language or ethnicity has made the country more united and made administration easier.

→ Language policy:
• Our constitution did not give the status of national language to any one language.
• Besides Hindi (spoken by around 40% of Indians) 21 other languages are recognized as scheduled languages by the constitution.
• Hindi along with English are used for official purpose.
• Though promotion of Hindi continues to be the official policy of the government of India, it does not impose Hindi on states where people speak a different language.

→ Centre - state relations:
• For a long time, the same party ruled both at the centre and in most of the states.  So, there was no conflict in the exercising of power.
• As and when the ruling party at the state level was different, the ruling party at the central level often misused the constitution to dismiss the state government.
• This changed after 1990.

→ Reasons:
• Rise of regional political parties.
• Major National political parties needed the help of regional political parties to form the government at the centre (coalition government).
• A major judgement of the Supreme Court (S.R. Bommai case) that made it difficult for the central government to dismiss state government in an arbitrary manner.

Question 6: What is meant by decentralization? What is the basic idea behind it?
When power is taken away from Central and State governments and given to local government, it is called decentralization.
• The basic idea behind decentralization is that there are a large number of problems and issues which are best settled at the local level.
• People have better knowledge of problems in their localities. They also have better idea on where to spend money and how to manage things more efficiently.
• Besides, at the local levels, it is possible for the people to directly participate in decision making.

Question 7: What are the constitutional amendments made to make the third tier of democracy more powerful and effective?
The constitution was amended in 1992 to make the third tier of democracy more powerful and effective.
• Now it is constitutionally mandatory to hold regular elections to local government bodies.
• Seats are reserved in the elected bodies and the executive heads of these institutions for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other Backward classes.
• At least one third of all positions are reserved for women.
• An independent institution called the State Election Commission has been created in each state to conduct Panchayat and Municipal elections.
• The state governments are required to share some powers and revenue with local government bodies. The nature of sharing varies from state to state.

Question 8: What is Panchayat Raj? How is it elected? /What is Gram Panchayat? How is it constituted?
Rural local government is known as Panchayat Raj.
• Each village or a group of villages is known as Gram Panchayat.
• This is a council consisting of several ward members, often called panch and a president or sarpanch.
• They are directly elected by all the adult population living in that ward or village.

Question 9: What is Gram Sabha? What are its functions?
The Gram Panchayat works under the supervision of the gram sabha.
• All the voters in the village are the members of the gram sabha.
• It has to meet twice/thrice in a year to approve the annual budget of the gram panchayat and to review the performance of the gram panchayat.

Question 10: What is Panchayat Samithi?
A few gram panchayats are grouped together to form a Panchayat Samithi or Block or Mandal.
• The members of the Panchayat Samithi are elected by all the panchayat members in that area.
• The Panchayat Samithi is headed by a Chairman.

Question 11: What is Zilla Parishad? Who are its members?
All the Panchayat Samithis in a District together constitute the Zilla Parishad.
• Most members of the Zilla Parishad are elected.
• Members of the Lok Sabha and MLA’s of that district and some other officials of other district level bodies are also its members.
• Zilla Parishad Chairperson is the political head of the Zilla Parishad.

Question 12: What are the local government bodies in the urban areas?

→ Towns: Municipalities are set up in towns.
• They are controlled by elected bodies consisting of people’s representatives.
• They are headed by Municipal Chairpersons.

→ Cities: Municipal corporations are set up in cities.
• They are controlled by elected bodies consisting of people’s representatives.
• They are headed by Mayors.

Question 13: State the achievements and the difficulties of the local self-government in India.
→ Achievements:
• It has deepened democracy (taking it to the grass roots level).
• It has increased women’s representation and voice in our democracy.
• It has made administration easier.

→ Difficulties:
• While elections are held regularly and enthusiastically, gram sabhas are not held regularly.
• Most state governments have not transferred significant power to the local government.
• They have not been given adequate resources.

Question 14: “In India, the Central/Union government is more powerful than the state governments.” Give reasons to justify the statement.

• India comes under holding together federations, wherein, the central government tends to be more powerful than the states.
• Concurrent list includes subjects of common interest to both the Union Government and the State Governments. Example: Education, marriage, forest etc.
• Both the Union government and the State Governments can make laws on these subjects.
• If their laws conflict with each other, the law made by Union Government will prevail.
• There are some subjects which do not come under three lists.  There are called “residuary” subjects. According to our constitution, the Union Government has the power to make laws on the residuary subjects.


  1. Anonymous12 July, 2021

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    Thanks bro

    1. No problem... Make sure to visit our website again! Have a great day:)


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