This article is written by Akansha, a student of Gitarattan International Business School, Affiliated to GGSIP University.
Indian Constitution was designed very differently by adopting all the good features of the constitution of other countries. That makes the Indian structure divided into two parts i.e., Unitary Structure and Federal Structure. Though the word federal is missing from the Preamble but by going through the precedents, working, features of the constitution are implied that Indian Constitution is based on Federal Structure.
Dual Government is one of the main features of the Constitution of India which provides the government administration separately at state and central level. And both the governments are required to cope up with each other for the smooth functioning of the country.
So when the country got trapped in a situation like the outbreak of the virus which is declared by the WHO as Pandemic COVID-19. Corona virus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered corona virus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
Then the need of the hour is that both the state and central government go hand in hand without putting blames on each other action.
Today India is in a state where the real examination of Indian Federal Structure is going on and the governments are expected to show the benefits of having Federal Structure in India. But the picture is different from what is written in the constitution when it comes to ground. The central orders have overriding effect over the state policies. Independency of government is there but to control the discretion of powers the central government is there to review the policies made by state governments. There is limit to powers made which defeat the meaning of federal but that’s how the Indian constitution framed and an exception is created.
Basic features of Indian Federal structure
The following are some of the basic features of the Indian Federal Structure:
- Division of Power
- Independence of State
- Dual Government
- Rigid Constitution
- Supremacy of the Constitution
- Written Constitution
- Bicameral Legislature
- Independent Judiciary
Impact of COVID-19 on Indian Federal structure
- MANAGEMENT OF COVID-19
The central and state management was created, PM Narendra Modi conducted the several meetings through video conferencing inviting the suggestions and measures from every states. The lockdown was done with order of the centre. The binding guidelines are issued by the central government as per the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The states were advised to made quarantine centers for the isolation of the people which may be affected by virus.
Several hospitals converted in the covid-19 wards for the treatment of the patients. States were divided into red, green and orange zones. The classification of the zones was criticized by various states as they wanted more autonomy for handling the situation. The containment zones have been created in the states for identifying the areas affected by the virus.
Through Pradhan Mantri Garib kalyan Yojna Package helped the people by giving the sum of amounts in the accounts automatically, free ration services, food facilities, etc included in the package.
The Central government took the steps in reformulation tax imposition laws and a change made in the definition of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises i.e., MSME for providing relief to the small scale industries for surviving in the present scenario. At their level both Central and States are taking initiative for fighting against the virus.
- LACK OF FUNDS
Due to the lockdown induced in the whole country the states and central revenues both collapsed. As in most of states the revenue came from the sales of liquor, stamp duty involved in immovable property, petroleum sales, etc.
The portion of tax also diminished as the relaxations were provided by the Finance minister in many fields. The dates of GST collections were also delayed by the central government. States still doesn’t receive any taxes due to the lockdown.
But the expenditure remained unchanged and even spending is more than the earning as the focus on health care is more and in feeding the large amount of people on streets, hospitals, quarantine centers, etc. continuously for 3 months made the governments rid of the finances.
In Delhi Manish Sisodia, who also holds the finance portfolio, said he has written to Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman for help and added that the Delhi government has not received the fund sanctioned to states under the Disaster Relief Fund.
“We reviewed the Delhi government’s revenue and its minimum expenses. We need around Rs 3,500 crore every month just to pay salaries and bear office expenses. In last two months, GST collection was Rs 500 crore each and combining that with other sources, the government has Rs 1,735 crore,” Sisodia said during a press conference. Delhi government doesn’t have the funds to pay their staff. In these crisis states totally got dependent on the central governments.
Also for the collection of more funds, the PM-CARES Relief Fund created where the contribution can be made by anyone. All the attraction is taken by PM-CARES Relief Fund which makes states empty hand. So the central has to help the states at every level.
- LACK OF COOPERATION BETWEEN STATE AND CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
Cooperation is needed at every level for controlling the crisis occurred due to the outbreak of virus in the country. India is a diverse country with different ruling parties at state and central level and where the central has the overriding power over the state government. In starting after the lockdown in the country, states were following all the guidelines made by the central government. But in between the mismanagement happened due to fewer facilities of the healthcare instruments and PP kits. And also data showed by the states and central varies from each other. The central government was required to review the arrangements made by the states and states were respectively required to provide the true data of the patients, healthcare instruments, schemes and guidelines given in public at large. Lack of communication and check & balance system was missing.
- FEAR IN MIGRANTS
Due to the lockdown induced in the country the fear and anxiety created amongst the migrant workers came from the different states like Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, etc. The huge amount of migrant workers got unemployed as the industries and factories got shutdown. And the daily wage workers become homeless and starve the basic amenities of livelihood. This led to mismanagement in the country at the time of the Pandemic. Migrant workers were so insecure that they wanted to go back to their hometown. The workers came out on the streets that created mess for the state governments as well as for the central government.
Under the pressure the bus and railway facilities started by some of the states for the safe delivery of the migrants.
Standing in large crews and non-registration of the migrant workers again made the worker lost the hopes. Only registered workers were sending back and some started the private management of going back homes.
This shows how the system fails in ensuring their own citizens here the federal system fails, the independency given to the government is left with no use when they can’t provide the basic facilities and hope to the citizens.
- HIGH RATE OF UNEMPLOYMENT
As per CMIE’s data, the monthly unemployment rate in April stood at 23.52%, up from March’s 8.74%.
The corona virus (COVID-19) crisis has led to a spike in the country’s unemployment rate to 27.11% for the week ended May 3, up from the under 7% level before the start of the pandemic in mid-March, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has said. The Mumbai-based think tank said the rate of unemployment was the highest in the urban areas, which constitute the most number of the red zones due to the corona virus cases, at 29.22%, as against 26.69% for the rural areas.
Analysts have been warning about the spectre of unemployment ever since the country was put under a lockdown on March 25 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to arrest the spread of the corona virus infections.
Scenes of migrants fleeing urban centres including Delhi and Mumbai only confirmed the long-held concerns on their employment as the economic activity came to a grinding halt.
And these factors lead to a low rate of GDP. Moody’s Investors Service projected that India’s growth at zero per cent for the current fiscal and the negative outlook on sovereign rating reflects increasing risks that GDP growth will remain significantly lower than in the past. Stating that the negative outlook indicates that an upgrade is unlikely in the near term, Moody’s said high government debt, weak social and physical infrastructure, and a fragile financial sector face further pressures due to the corona virus outbreak.
In India, the central and state government both is in a need to form affirmative relationship and share responsibilities mutually. With the increasing cases of corona virus in the country there is a need to join hands together and take more vigilant actions together with each other help. The Federal Structure created in the country for the vital working of the governments. And the central government provided with more responsibilities to help and organize the states. But that doesn’t mean that they use the discretionary power in suppressing the states.
The more focus should be given on building the faith and believe in the population as the insecurity will definitely lead to more panic situation in a country. Better cooperation and management is needed and health care facilities should be checked by both at their levels for giving the true data of the outbreak the virus that will help in further formulation of the policies and program by the state and central government.
The Indian Federal Structure carries on at every level for the administration function in the country. Therefore, both union and states should work together to tackle the Covid- 19 pandemic and strengthen the spirit of cooperative federalism in the country.
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