Federalism, mode of political organization that unites separate states or other polities within an overarching political system in a way that allows each to maintain its own integrity. Federal systems do this by requiring that basic policies be made and implemented through negotiation in some form, so that all the members can share in making and executing decisions. The political principles that animate federal systems emphasize the primacy of bargaining and negotiated coordination among several power centres; they stress the virtues of dispersed power centres as a means for safeguarding individual and local liberties.

The various political systems that call themselves federal differ in many ways. Certain characteristics and principles, however, are common to all truly federal system:

Written Constitution

First, the federal relationship must be established or confirmed through a perpetual covenant of union, usually embodied in a written constitution that outlines the terms by which power is divided or shared; the constitution can be altered only by extraordinary procedures. These constitutions are distinctive in being not simply compacts between rulers and ruled but involving the people, the general government, and the states constituting the federal union. The constituent states, moreover, often retain constitution-making rights of their own.


The political system itself must reflect the constitution by actually diffusing power among a number of substantially self-sustaining centres. Such a diffusion of power may be termed dencentralization. Dencentralization is a way of ensuring in practice that the authority to participate in exercising political power cannot be taken away from the general or the state governments without common consent.

Areal Division Of Power

A third element of any federal system is what has been called in the United States territorial democracy. This has two faces: the use of areal divisions to ensure neutrality and equality in the representation of the various groups and interests in the polity and the use of such divisions to secure local autonomy and representation for diverse groups within the same civil society.

Federalism in india

The constitution of India has not described India as a federation. However, Article 1 of Indian constitution describes India as a ‘’Union of States.’’ This means India is a union comprising of various states which are an integral part of it. Here, the states cannot break away from the union. They do not have the power to secede from the union. In a true federation, the constituting units or the states have the freedom to come out of the union. Federal features of Indian federation are as follows:

Two sets of Government

There are 2 sets of government in India and that is union government and central government. Central government looks after the whole country and state government mainly works for the states. Working of both governments are different.

Division of Powers

Powers between central government and state government have been divided by Constitution of India. The seventh schedule of the Indian constitution provides how the division of powers is made between state and central government. Both central and state governments have separate power and responsibilities.  The 7th schedule of Indian constitution consists of union list, state list, and concurrent list.

Written Constitution

India has the one of the largest constitution in the world which consist of 395 articles 22 parts and 12 schedules. Every article of Indian constitution is clearly written down and has been discussed in full detail.



Supremacy of the Constitution

The Constitution of India is regarded as supreme law of land. No law can be made or passed against the constitution of India. The Constitution of India is above all citizens and organizations of the country.


In India, the legislature is bicameral. It has two houses and that are Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The upper house of the parliament which represents the states is Rajya Sabha and the lower house of the parliament which represents the people in general is Lok Sabha.


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