Sociology Index


Unlike American federalism, Indian federalism is Federalism Asymmetrical. Federalism asymmetrical or asymmetrical federalism is where a federal system of government does not accord the same legal powers and areas of jurisdiction to all its constituent states or provinces. Federalism Asymmetrical or Asymmetrical Federalism is found in a Federation or Confederation in which different constituent states possess different powers. It explains more than just the legalistic and institutional aspects of this political method. In asymmetrical federalism one or more of the substates will have more autonomy than the other substates, although they have the same constitutional status. Centripetal federalism federal system where there is a strong federal government and weaker provincial governments.

Its opposite is centrifugal federalism, where power would be dispersed from the centre to the provincial governments. Asymmetrical federalism is a system providing for a division of powers that establishes distinctions between governments of the same level based on historical and cultural criteria. Mogi, the Indian scholar of federalism gives the following interesting definition: The federal idea is the formation of harmony between plurality and unity on the basis of pragmatic utilitarianism on the ethical basis'. Mogi thinks that the federal idea is not confined to the political sphere of the state, but is the general basis of human organization.

Asymmetric federalism or asymmetrical federalism is found in a federation in which different constituent states possess different powers. One or more of the states may have more independence and power than the other, although they have the same constitutional status. The term 'federalism' could be called also the federal principle or the federal idea.

This is in contrast to symmetric federalism, where no distinction is made between constituent states. It is frequently proposed as a solution to the dissatisfactions that arise when one or two constituent units feel significantly different needs from the others, as the result of an ethnic, linguistic or cultural difference.

An asymmetric federation, however, has to have a federal constitution, and all states in federation have the same formal status, while in a federacy independent substate has the status "autonomous region."

Asymmetrical federalism can be of two types. The first type resolves differences in legislative powers, representation in central institutions, and rights and obligations that are set in the constitution. The second type reflects agreements which come out of national policy, opting out, bilateral and ad hoc deals with specific provinces, none of which are entrenched in the constitution. The Canadian federation uses a combination of these, which make up its asymmetrical character.