Attitude Of Centre-State Relations After Independence

The States’ autonomy has undergone both constriction and expansion in particular fields of activity.

Observation of Centre-State relations after Independence under the umbrella of public policy suggests the presence of various degrees of (a) cooperation - for security, economic development, problem solving, political power (b) conflict - over policy, resources, projects, political power etc. (c) competition - for resources, investments, projects, political support (d) dependence - for technical know-how, policy, security, resources, political support (e) autonomy - for political space, economic policy, development, socio-cultural identity (f) innovation - for cooperation, consultation, problem solving.

It is important to specify here that federal setup worked more or less uniformly for almost all states on particular issues, leading to common concerns and demands or resistance. It is obvious that these worked out differently for different states based on their varying conditions, which led to their battle to benefit. In some situations the few states worked hand in hand for their common interests on particular issues. The binding factors emerged from their common security, economic or environmental concerns. Centre-State relations’ variety was also mediated by (a) imperatives of power and party configuration (b) interest configurations and economic conditions (c) public pressures and political mobilisations (d) foreign relations and external factors. These factors worked in support of their position on various other parameters.

(A) imperatives of power and party configuration - Political parties and their position in domains of power at the State and Centre

Dominant politics and confrontation -many issues of concern to centre and state could be negotiated within party framework.

There has been decline in the dominance of congress party in many states and a rise in opposition ruled states , confrontation has came to the fore. An analysis of the use of provision points out that of the 98 times it has been invoked till then ,about 13 cases of possible misuse were such in which defections could have been alleged to be result of political manoeuvre .

Political factors have been responsible for conflict over the appointment and dismissal of governors when a new government took charge at the centre.

The demand for restructuring the centre-state relationship has been gaining the pace since 1967 when congress party lost elections in 9 states as for example :-

  • setting up of the Rajmannar committee by DMK government.
  • memorandum on centre -state relations submitted by Left Front Party of West Bengal in 1977.

The centre did respond to the growing demands by setting Sarkaria committee to look into the issue which gave 247 recommendations out of which 179 have been accepted till date.

Also the second commission on centre Punchhi commission was appointed to examine the persisting and new issues that influenced this relation.

Alliance politics and regional forces -

These relations of centre and state has changed considerably due to multi party coalition government and alliance politics in 1990s ,which made these alliance parties to become more powerful and bargain with centre whereas, leaving the opponents resort to confrontationist approach on issues of common concern.

There has been a rise in the fragmentation of use in regional-cantered groups ,many of them organised around a leader who left the national party-Bihar congress,Trinmool congress, Lok shakti party etc.

It has enhanced the negotiating capacity of states ,and reduced the capacity of centre to ignore the views of state . Also, there is a jump in the scope of policy negotiations on those subjects which do not fall in state or centre jurisdiction.

The era of coalition government has enabled some states to influence foreign policy decisions ,which are on subject of Union for example the opposition for signing of the Teesta water accord between India and Bangladesh by West Bengal CM Mamta Banarjee although the union has treaty signing powers.

The Prominence of issues :-

Occasionally there has been a Issue based support of the parties even during coalition governments,as, for instance ,when parliament unanimously adopted the amendments to the unlawful activities prevention act and voted the National investigation agency act,2008 after the events of 26/11.

(B) Economic Conditions and Interest configurations :-

State has always been critical of the uneven financial position of centre and states since 1950s , 10-12 per cent of the central revenue was of state .By 1990s, it grew to 30 per cent and remained around it. But the memorandum submitted to the Thirteenth finance commission ,the state demanded to increase the share to 50 per cent .The twelfth finance commission raised the share to 18.87 per cent in an effort to advance equalisation.the fourteenth finance commission increased the share of the state from 32 per cent to 42 per cent.

Due to this economic reforms in the country , there has been a shrinking of the share of public sectors investment.State has the right to mobilise foreign private investment and resort market browsing but there has been quantum jump in allocations for centrally sponsored schemes,leaving state with reduced space to address their priorities.

Pleading for special status:-

It is not surprising that state continues for financial and policy battles with the centre and centre is inclined to provide support on its own terms.

Some states has been more interested in increasing their share of resources, and pleaded on grounds of their backwardness that they needed special support from the centre.

All the centrally sponsored states are being funded on 90:10 basis ,in case of North East states but Uttarakhand is denied in funding 38 per cent of centrally sponsored schemes.

Contempt of conditionalities :-

Some states has been more critical for the condition attached to the resources transfers.The large number of central schemes as well as Planning Commission’s discretionary assistance came in for considerable criticism from the states that did not get these ,as also, some others.”The bulk of the outlay on the thirteenth so-called flagship programmes was earlier provided to the States as untied.

Some states have been concerned more about the burden on them to provide matching resources to utilise the central assistance ,as, this led to scarcity of resources for programmes to meet the local aspirations.

States like Arunachal Pradesh wanted resources for providing State government a share in equity for the projects being developed as joint ventures with PSUs or independent power producers ,in which they would otherwise forego State government ownership for lack of resources.

Some CM have been critical of the government’s thrust in the 12th plan on direct cash transfer to target population .this mechanism will not work for certain schemes like the Public Distribution System and fertilisers subsidy ,whereas ensuring availability of food grains and fertiliser is much more crucial than transferring cash . It is almost as if the Central government is trying to abdicate its responsibility and just throw money around,instead of addressing real issues of availability .

Without setting up such a minimum backbone of banking infrastructure ,implementation of direct cash transfer scheme is fraught with serious last mile delivery risks.

Issue of disparities :-

State ha also been vocal about the discriminatory effects of policy on the position of rich and poor states . The challenge of 12th plan is to enhance the regional disparities particularly those of widening gap between more developed and less developed states,and to mobilise adequate resources from various sources .

The discriminatory effect of policies have often been emphasised in the context of natural resource endowed States and the consuming States ,the argument runs that several Central policies and institutional arrangements have adversely impacted, and continue to adversely impact ,the less developed states that have rich natural resource endowment.

The less developed States could not avail the location advantage and thus lag behind rich State.

Royalty delay and distortions:-

All mineral rich states have complained that they have not been completely able to reap the full benefits of their endowments because of distortions in,and delayed implementation of, mineral royalty policies.

Mining companies have run away with super normal profits while the Ministry of Mines have been dithering about revision of royalty structure .

this super normal profit is visible to Ministry of Mines but it is doing nothing.

These royal states are regretting for their dependance on Government of India.they can’t use their own resources for their own equitable uses and have to follow Central Laws.

Compensation matters :-

It is noteworthy that various central legislations like Environment Protection Act,Forest conservation Act, and other national policies enforcement cost is entirely borne by States.

They are not compensated for the cost of compliance and the revenue loss on account of compliance.

This issue was raised by Punchhi commission which demanded that the additional liabilities on States on the various counts should be suitably compensated for which a mechanism needs to be institutionalised .

Economic reforms have often been projected as inclined towards autonomy of States by enabling them to raise private investments and directly negotiate even with foreign capital.

There is ,however ,a greater convergence of concerns on issues like compensation for the loss to be incurred on account of introduction of Goods and Services tax.

03 December 2019
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