Cooperative Federalism UPSC Notes Pdf

The word ‘Cooperative Federalism’ consists of two words ‘Cooperative’, which denotes cooperation, and ‘Federalism,’ which originates from the Latin word β€˜Foedus’ meaning “pact, covenant or treaty.” Federation in its earlier stage means a treaty among sovereign states that shows inter-government relationships.

This article discusses cooperative federalism in detail, encapsulating all of the details required for the UPSC syllabus. Download the Cooperative Federalism notes pdf from the link provided.

In Federalism, there is dual government, i.e., two seats of power governing their spheres. A Federal Government is different from a Unitary Government in the sense that in a Federal System, the sovereignty is divided accordingly to territorial units (states or provinces) by the Constitution.

Cooperative Federalism Types

Federation, in today’s world, is of two types, they are:

  1. Holding Together Federation – In countries like India, Belgium, and Spain, powers are divided among the states to accommodate diversity. However, the power is generally tilted towards the center.
  2. Coming Together Federation – In countries like the USA, Australia, and Switzerland, separate states come together and form a larger unit. As a result, they enjoy greater autonomy than the Holding Together type of Federation.

Cooperative Federalism in India:

In India, the Federation is not formed by agreement among states. It is more unitary features than federal features. Therefore India is sometimes called a quasi-federal system. The states are divided for the sake of administrative convenience. Hence, cooperation is a must between the central government and state government. Thus, cooperative Federalism emerges, which means the relationship between the center and the states come together and resolve their common political, economic and social issues through cooperation.


  • Due to diversity, the kings exercised non-intervention in local policies in ancient times in the subcontinent. In the Gupta era, the Samanta system is an excellent example in which a neighbor subsidiary ruler was a tributary to the Gupta ruler.
  • The centralization of power was seen partly during the Mughal era and the rule of the English East India Company.
  • The Government of India Act 1919 formulated the dual government system of β€˜Dyarchy’ in which powers are to be shared between the British Governor and local government.
  • The Act of 1935 had a provision for the All India Federation. However Federation did not come into existence.
  • In the 1980s, the power was more tilted towards the center.
  • But later, the division of power between the centre and states and between states and local bodies (panchayats and municipalities ) escalated.

This is how Cooperative Federalism of India came into existence with principles of social justice, unity and democracy.

Provisions for Cooperative Federalism:

  • Niti Aayog – NITI Aayog replaces the erstwhile Planning Commission to attain more cooperative Federalism leading to good governance. It emphasizes on bottom up approach rather than top-down approach followed by the former commission.
  • Schedule 7 – The three types of list (Union, State, Concurrent) distributes power between Union and States giving some residuary power to the centre.
  • All India Services – Article 312 of the Constitution provides this provision which works on Integration.
  • Interstate Council – Article 263 provides an Interstate council to provide a platform for resolving common issues among states and between centers.
  • Zonal council – There are five zonal councils – east, west, north, south, and northeast. They provide coordination under cooperative Federalism.
  • Article 261 – It emphasizes, throughout the Indian territory, full faith and credit to all records, public acts, and judicial proceedings of the Union and states.
  • GST – It is an indirect tax. Under the 101st Constitution Amendment Act, 2016, Article 246A was added to the Constitution. It emphasizes on “One Nation One Tax” policy.

How to strengthen Cooperative Federalism:

  • The Inter-State council should be strengthened. Regular meetings should be held. Balance of power should be maintained by debating and discussing issues.
  • Water disputes Tribunal awards should be revised in fixed intervals of time.
  • Autonomy to states should be increased with proper model laws formation and with enough budgetary allocation.
  • Administration and power should be democratically decentralized based on subsidiarity at all levels of government.

Examples of cooperative Federalism 

  • Many railway stations, metro stations, and airlines are under cooperative Federalism, which are for the people to use efficiently.
  • Nowadays, many Bridges are made, and highways are constructed; they are part of this cooperative Federalism.
  • NITI Aayog is cooperative Federalism that runs good governance in India. Many national and state Development projects are under cooperative Federalism for development.

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Better Cooperative federalism implies good governance. Institutions such as NITI Aayog, GST council, Finance Commissions, and Tribunals are playing an important role in fostering the spirit of cooperative Federalism. Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas is possible only when states and centers work in harmony despite different political ideologies and diversity. However, there is much more to be done for cooperative Federalism in the upcoming years.

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