Centrist bias


The founders of the Indian Constitution cannot be faulted for framing a Constitution with an explicit ‘Centrist bias’, considering the background of Partition (Op-ed page, “The Indian Constitution’s unitary tilt,” Nov. 9). Perhaps they hoped that the democratic process would deepen in the years to come and electoral reforms would follow. This has not happened, as amply revealed by the lack of any meaningful electoral reforms. A single-party dominance would not have occurred had India switched to proportional representation. As a consequence, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which secured 37.36% of votes, is now in a position to initiate changes which have far-reaching implications. The declaration of a few States that they will not implement the Centre’s moves on citizenship is unlikely to have any significant impact. More than legality, it is the fiscal dimension that is going to dampen the activism of States. In India’s fiscal federalism, powers are disproportionately tilted in favour of the Centre. The Goods and Services Tax has further exacerbated this. Part of the problem lies in the unwillingness of the States to tap the potential of the assigned taxes. Kerala, which is in the forefront of the opposition to the Centre, is in deep fiscal stress and mostly dependent on the Centre to meet its committed items of expenditure. The message that comes out of the recent developments seems to be: to fight the centralisation tendencies, the States have to become more fiscally independent.

Jose Sebastian,


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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 4:15:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/centrist-bias/article30527769.ece

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