Although the term ‘cooperative federalism’ has been floating about the Indian polity for decades, it has gained new life in the past year. The new Central government is committed to the idea, and several steps, such as the dismantling of the Planning Commission and the increased devolution of taxes to States have been held up as demonstrations of this commitment. So far, the concrete steps taken by the Centre may validly be seen as devolution of greater financial autonomy to States. But is this all that cooperative federalism entails, or are there bigger prescriptions that the idea encapsulates? How does the Centre play a more effective role in ensuring cooperation? What of the concomitant responsibilities of States? Are India’s institutions, at various levels of government, designed to cooperate effectively?
These are some of the questions we address in our Briefing Book, which aims to take a closer look at specific practices of the Indian federation, that are of contemporary relevance, to try and arrive at a normative solutions that take cooperative federalism from rhetoric to reality. The Book looks at 20 contemporary issues of federalism, and proposes solutions under the framework of cooperative federalism, under four themes:
- Statehood and Security
- Institutions and Incentives for Cooperation
- Financial Relations between Centre and State
- The Sharing of Natural Resources