Federalism: NBSE Class 11 (Arts) Political Science answers, notes

Federalism nbse 11
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Here, you will find summaries, questions, answers, textbook solutions, pdf, extras etc. of (Nagaland Board) NBSE Class 11 Political Science Chapter 16: Federalism. These solutions, however, should be only treated as references and can be modified/changed.


India’s federal constitution is a complex and dynamic system that balances power between the central government and the states. The constitution, originally consisting of 395 articles and eight schedules, has evolved over time to include 22 parts and 12 schedules. It is neither entirely flexible nor rigid, with different parts requiring varying levels of majority for amendments.

The Supreme Court and High Courts serve as the final interpreters of the constitution, ensuring that actions of the Union or State governments align with constitutional provisions. The constitution divides legislative powers among the Union List, State List, and Concurrent List. The Union List covers subjects like defense and foreign affairs, while the State List includes items of local interest such as public health and agriculture. The Concurrent List contains items like criminal law and education, where both Parliament and State Legislatures have the power to make laws.

Despite being a federation, India’s constitution exhibits a pronounced unitary bias, leading some observers to label it a “quasi-federation”. The Parliament has extensive legislative powers, even over State subjects, if deemed necessary in the national interest.

However, the relationship between the Centre and the States is not without its tensions. Issues such as financial relations, the role of Governors, the imposition of President’s Rule, and demands for new states have often led to conflicts. For instance, the dismissal of state governments under Article 356 has been a contentious issue.

The formation of new states based on linguistic and cultural lines has also been a source of tension. The creation of Andhra Pradesh led to similar demands from other regions, resulting in the formation of states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Nagaland, and more recently, Telangana.

Textual questions and answers

A. Long answer questions

1. Explain the features of a Federal Government with reference to the following:

(a) Division of Powers between the National Government and State Governments

Answer: The first important feature is the division of state powers between a federal (national) government and governments of federating units (state governments). The subjects of national importance, such as defence, foreign affairs, currency and coinage, are placed under the control of the national government, while those that are of local or regional importance, such as police, land or public order, are placed under the control of the governments of federating units.

(b) Two Sets of Identities

Answer: A Federation combines the advantage of ‘national unity’ with those of local identity’, i.e. the right of self-government. In a Federation sovereignty is located neither in the Central government, nor in the governments of constituent States. All these have limited powers. Division of powers in a federation is the division of governmental authority and not of sovereignty. In fact, sovereignty resides in the Federation or the Union itself.

(c) A Written Constitution

Answer: Another feature of a federal government is that it has a written, rigid and supreme Constitution. According to Dicey, the Constitution of a Federation has to be a written one. Constitution is in the nature of an agreement, which not only enacts distribution of powers, but also lays down the conditions and processes through which these powers have to be exercised. It is also a Rigid Constitution because no amendment can be affected unless both the National and State governments consent to the change through a well defined procedure. It is the Constitution which is supreme. The central and state legislatures exercise their powers within the limits set by the Constitution.

(d) An Independent Judiciary to decide Inter-State Disputes

Answer: Since a federal government is based on the principle of division of powers, conflicts of jurisdiction are bound to arise between the National government and State governments. Therefore, in every federation there is some institution that has the power to decide disputes between the Central Government and any State or between two States. In most federations such powers are vested in an independent Supreme Court, which acts as the Guardian of the Constitution. 

2. Discuss the Federal features of the Constitution of India.

Answer: The federal features of the Constitution of India are as follows:

Two Sets of Government: A Federal Constitution is marked by the coexistence of two governments, with limited and co-ordinate authority. Article 1 of the Constitution declares that “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.” The word ‘Union’ implied that the component units had no right to secede from the Indian Union. Today India consist of 29 States and 7 Union Territories.

Division of Powers: All subjects of legislation and administration have been classified into three lists-the Union List, the State List and the Concurrent List. Whereas subjects of national importance, such as defence, atomic energy, railways and currency have been placed under the Union List, subjects of local importance like police, agriculture and local government form a part of the State List. The Concurrent List contains matters (marriage, education, etc.) on which both the Parliament and the State Legislature have power to make laws. If some dispute arises between the Union and the States or for that matter between the States themselves, it has to be settled by the Supreme Court.

Written and Rigid Constitution: Another characteristic of a federal constitution is that it is written as well as rigid. Our Constitution originally consisted of 395 Articles and eight Schedules. It has now 395 Articles arranged in twenty two Parts and 12 Schedules. The Indian Constitution is neither very flexible nor very rigid. Certain parts of the Constitution can be amended by simple majority in Parliament, others by a two-thirds majority. Amendments to a third category of provisions have to be approved by at least one-half of the States, after having been passed by the Parliament.

The Supreme Court acts as Final Interpreter of the Constitution: In every federation there is some institution with powers to decide disputes arising out of conflicts of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court and the High Courts in India have power to interpret the Constitution. They can nullify any action of the Union or State governments in case it violates the provisions of the Constitution.

3. Examine those provisions of the Indian Constitution that make the Central Government very powerful. (Or) “The Indian Constitution is Federal in form, but Unitary in spirit.” Comment.

Answer: The provisions of the Indian Constitution that make the Central Government very powerful are as follows:

Parliament has very Wide Scope of Legislation: India’s Parliament has power of legislation over State subjects also. This is possible if the Rajya Sabha declares by a resolution (supported by two-thirds of the Members present and voting) that it is necessary in national interest that Parliament should make laws with respect to any matter enumerated in the State List.

Parliament can alter the Boundaries of States in order to form a New State: The Parliament can increase or diminish the area of any State. It can also alter the boundaries or change the names of the States.

Overwhelming Financial Powers of the Union: The Union Government has also the freedom and authority to decide how much Grant or Loan has to be given to a State in a particular situation.

Role of the Governor: The executive head of the State is the Governor, who is appointed by the President and holds office during the pleasure of the President. The Governor is required to reserve certain specified bills for the Assent of the President.

In an Emergency the Federal Structure may be converted into a Unitary One: Once the President issues a Proclamation of Emergency, the Union Parliament can legislate on any subject enumerated in the State List.

President’s Rule: In case of break-down of the Constitutional machinery of a State, the President may assume to himself all or any of the functions of the Government of the State.

Centre’s Control Over All-India Services: Even during normal circumstances the Union Government may assert much control over State Administration by means of All-India Services i.e. IAS and IPS officers.

4. Discuss the causes of tension and conflict in Centre-State relations with reference to the following:

(a) Demands for Autonomy 

Answer: Demand for Autonomy means that the States should be free to make their own decisions, rather than being politically and financially controlled by the Union Government. The Tamil Nadu Government appointed a Committee (Rajamannar Committee) to look into the question of Centre-State relations. It recommended that major alterations should be made in Constitution’s Seventh Schedule that comprises the Union List, the State List and the Concurrent List. Its another major recommendation was that Article 356 (that provides for President’s Rule in States) should be examined in order to decide what changes are needed in it. 

(b) Financial Relations 

Answer: The Union Government “is financially stabler and stronger than the State governments.” So long as the States do not get their due share of the ‘fiscal cake’, there will be tensions in Centre-State relations. The Chief Ministers are of the view that while the responsibilities of the States have been increasing, their resources remained stagnant. States were required to follow the policies laid down earlier by the Planning Commission and now-a-days by the Niti Ayog. They cannot do so without obtaining sufficient funds from the Union.

(c) Office of the Governor

Answer: The Constitution-makers wanted the Governor to become a coordinating factor between the States and the Centre. Gradually, however, the clashes between the Chief Minister and the Governor became quite common. On February 21, 1998, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh dismissed Kalyan Singh Government on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections. The Allahabad High Court nullified the Governor’s decision. The Goa Governor had dismissed the BJP government early in 2005, despite a Confidence Vote in Chief Minister’s favour. It is but natural that a partisan Governor would be unacceptable to most Chief Ministers. The Governor should be an eminent personality, not connected with the local politics of the State.

5. Examine the main causes of conflict and tension in Centre-State relations on account of the following factors:

(a) Provision of President’s Rule in States

Answer: Kerala was the first victim of an improper use of Article 356 which empowers the Centre to dismiss a State government. Since then this power has been used about a 100 times, though the Founding Fathers of the Constitution hoped that it would only remain a “dead letter”. On 7 October 2005 the Supreme Court held the May 23 Presidential Proclamation dissolving the Bihar State Assembly as “unconstitutional”. Thus, Article 356 was “conditional and not absolute.” It was open for the Supreme Court or the High Courts to know the facts on the basis of which Presidential Proclamation was based. 

(b) Demands for New States

Answer: The demand for new States has also been a cause of tension between Centre-State relations. Soon after the First General Election in 1952 the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee passed a resolution asking for a separate State for the Telugu speaking people of Madras (Tamil Nadu). The Union Government did not concede the demand in the first instance but after Sriramulu’s death, who had gone on fast for the fulfilment of his objective, the State of Andhra Pradesh came into existence on 1 October 1953. The creation of a separate State of Andhra Pradesh led to similar demands from other quarters. In 1960 the State of Bombay was bifurcated into Maharashtra and Gujarat. In 1963 Nagaland formally became a State of the Indian Union and in 1972 many separate States, such as Manipur and Meghalaya, were carved out of the large State of Assam.

B. Short answer questions

6. Mention any five recommendations that were made by the Sarkaria Commission to strengthen federal ties for better cooperation between the Union and States?

Answer: The Sarkaria Commission made the following five recommendations to strengthen federal ties for better cooperation between the Union and States:

  • The Governor should be an eminent person and should not be too intimately connected with the local politics of States.
  • The Chief Minister should be consulted before appointing a particular person as Governor of that State.
  • Power to impose President’s rule in a State should be used very sparingly.
  • Before deploying paramilitary forces into disturbed regions in a State, the concerned Chief Minister should be consulted.
  • According to Article 258, the President may entrust such powers and functions to State Governments that belong to the Union Government. The President should generously give States more powers and responsibilities.

7. What are the Special Provisions for the State of Jammu and Kashmir in Indian Constitution?

Answer: [Note: the answer is outdated now because of recent changes in Jammu and Kashmir] The Constitution of India contains some Special Provisions with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir:

  • Jammu and Kashmir is the only State in the country having a Constitution of its own and a separate Flag.
  • When the President of India proclaims Emergency under Article 352 due to external aggression or armed rebellion, it automatically becomes applicable to the whole of India, except Jammu and Kashmir. It shall not be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir without the concurrence of the State.
  • The President cannot proclaim a Financial Emergency in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Power of Parliament to make laws for Jammu and Kashmir shall be limited to those matters which have been specified in the Instrument of Accession. The Parliament may make laws on other matters also, but that can be done only with the concurrence of the State government.
  • The Union Parliament cannot repeal Article 370 without the concurrence of the State Legislative Assembly.

8. What are the Special Provisions for the Bodos in Assam and hill tribes in Darjeeling and the neighbouring regions?

Answer: The Special Provisions for the Bodos in Assam and hill tribes in Darjeeling and the neighbouring regions are:

Bodoland Territorial Council: The Bodos in Assam had been agitating for the establishment of a separate Bodo State. Both the Union Government and the Assam Government rejected the demand for a separate Bodo State. On 10th February 2003, the Union Government, the Assam Government and the Bodo Liberation Tigers signed a Memorandum of Settlement. They reached a joint decision on the creation of a Bodoland Territorial Council, which is expected to fulfil economic, educational and linguistic aspirations of the Bodos. In 2003 the Bodo language was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

District Councils for Dimasas and Karbis: Autonomy demands of Dimasas and Karbis were satisfied by the formation of the District Councils to look after the social and economic well-being of these communities.

Gorkhaland Territorial Administration: The Gorkha National Liberation Front had waged a fierce agitation under Subhas Ghising’s leadership with the aim of having a separate State out of the Darjeeling and neighbouring regions of West Bengal. In 1988 the GNLF, accepted government’s proposal to form a Hill Development Council with the condition that the proposed Council should include the word ‘Gorkha’ in its nomenclature. In 2007 the demand for Gorkhaland as a separate State was voiced again. This came under the direction of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). In 2011 the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council was replaced by Gokhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) which was vested with a few significant powers towards developing Hill areas.

9. What are the Special Provisions with respect to the State of Nagaland?

Answer: Special Provisions with respect to the State of Nagaland Section are:

Section (a) of this Article provides that no Act of Parliament in respect of:

(i) religious or social practices of the Nagas
(ii) Naga customary law and procedure
(iii) administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law
(iv) ownership and transfer of land and its resources, shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides.

Section (b) of the Article provides that the Governor shall have special responsibility with respect to law and order so long as internal disturbances in the Naga Hills Tuensang Area continue. The Governor shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers, exercise his individual Judgement as to the action to be taken.

C. Very short answer questions

10. Mention any two subjects included in each of the following Lists:

(a) Union List 

Answer: The Union List includes subjects such as defence of India, atomic energy.

(b) State List 

Answer: The State List consists of items which are mainly of local interest such as public order, police.

(c) Concurrent List

Answer: The Concurrent List consists of items such as criminal law, marriage and divorce.

11. Should common language, namely Hindi, be the sole basis for formation of a State? Give reasons for your answer.

Answer: A common language, such as Hindi, should not be the sole basis for the formation of a State because of the following reasons:

Diversity: India is a country known for its diversity. There are numerous languages spoken across different regions. Making a single language the sole basis for state formation could undermine this rich linguistic diversity.

Representation: Each state in India has its unique cultural, historical, and socio-economic context, which is often closely tied to its regional language. Forming a state solely based on a common language might not adequately represent these unique contexts.

Potential for Conflict: Making a single language the basis for state formation could potentially lead to conflicts and tensions among different linguistic communities. It could also marginalize those who do not speak the dominant language.

Administrative and Economic Factors: The formation of a state should also consider administrative convenience and economic viability. These factors are crucial for the effective functioning of a state and the well-being of its residents.

D. Multiple Choice Questions: Tick (✔) the correct answer.

12. Which of the following is not a Federation?

Answer: (c) France

13. Which of the following factors should be taken into account as regards the formation of a new State under the Indian Union?

Answer: (a) A common language of that region

14. Which among the following is the only State in the country having a Constitution of its own and a separate Flag?

Answer: (b) The Jammu and Kashmir State

15. Which Article of the Constitution makes special provision with respect to the State of Nagaland?

Answer: (c) Article 371-A

Additional/extra questions and answers

1. What is the principal characteristic of a Unitary Government? 

Answer: The principal characteristic of a unitary government is concentration of powers in the national government. 

2. How can a Federal government be defined according to Carl J. Friedrich? 

Answer: According to Carl J. Friedrich, a Federation can be defined “as a political organisation in which the activities of government are divided between regional governments and a central government in such a way that each kind of government has some activities on which it makes final decision.” 

3. List the key features of a Federal Government. 


  • Division of Powers, i.e. Two Sets of Polities 
  • Two Sets of Identities 
  • A Written and a Rigid Constitution 
  • An Independent Judiciary 

4. What is the significance of a ‘written and rigid’ Constitution in a Federal Government? 

Answer: A written and rigid Constitution in a federal government is significant as it serves as an agreement that enacts the distribution of powers and also lays down the conditions and processes through which these powers have to be exercised. It is rigid because no amendment can be affected unless both the National and State governments consent to the change through a well-defined procedure. It underscores the supremacy of the Constitution, within whose limits the central and state legislatures exercise their powers. 

5. What does the division of powers mean in a federal government? 

Answer: In a federal government, division of powers means that the state powers are divided between a national (or federal) government and the governments of federating units. Subjects of national importance such as defence, foreign affairs, currency and coinage, are controlled by the national government, whereas subjects of local or regional importance such as police, land, or public order, are controlled by the governments of federating units. 

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44. Discuss the issues and challenges related to the special provisions for the State of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. 

Answer: Article 370, providing special provisions to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, has been subject to severe criticism. It has been seen as creating an impression of Jammu and Kashmir being separate from the rest of India. Presently, there’s a significant disorder in the state, with many leaders advocating for autonomy or even complete independence (‘Azadi’) for the state. External influences, such as the Pakistani military’s alleged support for terrorists in the valley and recent interests shown by groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, have further complicated the issue. Despite these challenges, the Union Government has shown its capacity for taking bold initiatives in recent months. The need of the hour is for peace-loving individuals to resist the manipulative tactics of those exploiting mass sentiments around autonomy, and for the state’s leaders to prioritize peace and order.

Additional/extra MCQs

1. What type of government vests all governmental powers in the national government? 

A. Federal Government B. Unitary Government C. Confederation D. Parliamentary Democracy 

Answer: B. Unitary Government 

2. Which country is known for its tradition of unitary rule? 

A. India B. Switzerland C. USA D. France 

Answer: D. France 

3. What is a Federation according to Carl J. Friedrich? 

A. A political organization with concentrated powers B. A political organization with a single identity C. A political organization dividing government activities D. A political organization with flexible constitution 

Answer: C. A political organization dividing government activities 

4. Which country is not an example of a federal government as of now? 

A. Switzerland B. USA C. India D. United Kingdom 

Answer: D. United Kingdom 

5. What is the first key feature of a Federal Government? 

A. Two sets of identities B. An independent judiciary C. A written and a rigid constitution D. Division of powers 

Answer: D. Division of powers 

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70. Which body of the State of Nagaland can decide if an Act of Parliament should apply to the State? 

A. The High Court of Nagaland B. The Naga Hoho C. The Legislative Assembly of Nagaland D. The Governor of Nagaland 

Answer: C. The Legislative Assembly of Nagaland

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