1] The upcoming crisis in Indian federalism (GS 2 Federalism)

Context –

  • When the Lok Sabha’s composition changes dramatically in 2026, the Indian Constitution may face an unprecedented crisis.
  • Seats in the Lok Sabha have been based on the 1971 census since 1976, and have not taken into account population changes.
  • As a result, the freeze provided an opportunity to ensure that India’s most prosperous states were not penalised politically for their achievements.

Position of states in federation –

  • To understand that States are distinct associative communities within the federal structure of the Indian Union, one only needs to study the history leading up to the linguistic reorganisation of States in 1956, and subsequent movements for Statehood afterward.
  • It couldn’t be any other way in a polity as diverse as ours – linguistically, culturally, and ethnically.

Competition among states –

  • All citizens are equal in a democratic system, and they are thus entitled to equal representation in government.
  • However, this implies that larger states are more likely to dominate national debates than smaller states.
  • Small states are concerned that they will receive a smaller economic share of the pie, have less say in national issues, and be rendered irrelevant in the country’s political governance.
  • To allay this well-founded fear, federal democracies have incorporated various compromises into their governing structures in order to strike a balance between democratic and federal principles. American example is the best one to suit this picture.

Indian Structure –

  • The quasi-federal structure of India has always been unique.
  • Our founders recognised that India’s diversity necessitated federalism, but they also established a strong centre to avoid fissiparous tendencies among States that had never been a single political unit.
  • While history is mixed, fears of severing Indian national unity simply by giving states more power have proven to be unfounded — and, if anything, it has been the other way around.
  • The 1956 linguistic reorganisation of states was a popular recognition of federal principles that did not result in separatist tendencies.
  • Since then, new states have been formed within the Union in response to public demands for greater autonomy.
  • Any conflict between federal principles and democracy in India will inevitably have linguistic, religious, and cultural ramifications, potentially leading to new forms of sub-regional chauvinism.
  • As a result, there is a pressing need to reimagine our national compact; another pause will only push this thorny issue further down the road, perpetuating an increasingly undemocratic system.

Tackling Challenges –

  • To assuage the fear of smaller States being dominated by larger ones, the powers of States vis-à-vis the Centre contained in the Lists and in provisions dealing with changing state boundaries must be increased.
  • There’s no reason to believe that giving our states more power will lead to national disintegration. More localised decision-making, on the other hand, is certain to boost national prosperity.
  • Second, the Rajya Sabha, our House of States, needs to be expanded in terms of its role and composition. This would provide a kind of check on national majoritarian politics that have a negative impact on smaller states.
  • Third, constitutional changes and changes in state financial redistribution must have the approval of all or nearly all states (the fate of the Goods and Services Tax, or GST, serves as a salutary warning in this regard).
  • Language and religious provisions in the constitution must also be unaffected.
  • Fourth, serious consideration should be given to breaking up the largest States into smaller units that will not dominate national discourse on their own.

Conclusion –

  • Devolution of powers will not break national bonds of affection and patriotism, but it will put them under severe strain when one part of the country is given more power than another.
  • The memorable quote “Everything must change for everything to remain the same” can be found in Lampedusa’s Il Gattopardo.
  • This includes the question of how, in the coming years, we will balance the competing claims of democracy and federalism.

2] An unproductive idea (GS 1 Issues of Population)

Context –

  • The measures to control population growth announced by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday include both incentives and penalties.
  • These measures are aimed at lowering U.P.’s total fertility rate (TFR), which was 2.7 in 2016, according to the National Family Health Survey-4, which is only slightly lower than Bihar’s (3.1 as of 2020 in NFHS-5).
  • On the surface, the goals in this direction — increasing the rate of modern contraceptive prevalence, male contraception, and significantly lowering maternal and infant mortality rates by 2026 — appear to be in line with what was stressed at the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development.

Whats the issue?

  • To address what is both a socio-economic and a demographic issue, the government appears to have gone down the well-worn path of a mix of incentives and penalties.
  • The government aims to incentivize one-child families and reward those with two children with perks in government schemes, tax and loan rebates, and cash awards if family planning is done, among other perks, in a draught Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilisation and Welfare) Bill, 2021.
  • Subsidies and welfare benefits are denied to those with more than two children, as well as the ability to apply for government jobs and vote in local elections.

Incentive – Disincentice approach –

  • The National Human Rights Commission has previously condemned the incentives/disincentives strategy, citing Haryana, undivided Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha as examples of states that implemented such policies in the 1990s and 2000s.
  • In 2003, the Supreme Court upheld a Haryana government legislation prohibiting people with more than two children from running for local government elections, although the legality of the measures restricting people’s ability to make informed decisions remained in doubt.
  • Empirical studies of coercive measures have shown that they discriminate against marginalised people in particular and have no discernible effect on population control, whereas more substantive poverty reduction schemes and economic reforms have increased labour productivity and employment opportunities, empowered women, and reduced fertility rates as rational choices.

Conclusion –

  • Rather of pursuing neo-Malthusian techniques to population control, states should address the socio-economic concerns affecting India’s primarily youthful demography to speed the decrease to replacement levels of fertility.


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