Cooperative Federalism: From Rhetoric to Reality

Towards realisation of the true spirit of cooperative federalism

Summary: By exploring 20 contemporary issues, this briefing book proposes normative solutions for strengthening cooperative federalism, under four themes – Statehood and Security; Institutions and Incentives for Cooperation; Centre-State Financial Relations; Sharing of Natural Resources.

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