Hindi Politicians Take Over More Power in India (Negative Devolution)

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, March 2000 (ID. 2000-03-02); Updated 2017-04-01
Click here for MAIN INDEX to archived articles


1. Allocation of Power in India

2. Hindi Politicians Take Over Sales Tax Powers

3. Pseudo-Federal System to Unitary System of Government

4. Concluding Remarks


BJP - Bharatiya Janata Party

DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

TDP - Telugu Desam Party

UK - United Kingdom (Britain)

USA - United States of America

What has happened in nothing short of a political coup. Hindi politicians who dominate and control the Indian Central Government have quietly taken over the power to dictate to state governments even in areas the Indian constitution specifically reserves for state governments. In essence, Hindi politicians have changed India's pseudo-federal system to a virtual unitary system of government thus giving themselves more power over non-Hindi states. Read on...

1. Allocation of Power in India

The Indian constitution divides the various areas of governance into three groups, namely,

(1) The Union List,

(2) The State List, and

(3) The Concurrent List.

Article  246 of the constitution designates the subjects under each list. The Union List, which comes under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Government of India (central government), contains 97 subjects; these are some of the most powerful and financially lucrative areas. The State List, which comes under the exclusive jurisdiction of state governments, contains 66 areas; many of them are of a secondary nature and tax revenues from these subjects are only a small fraction of those from the Union List. The Concurrent List, over which both the central and state governments have jurisdiction, contains 47 areas..

The Indian Central Government has enormous powers through the union and concurrent list subjects (substantially more power than most "central" governments in the world, UK, USA, Canada, for example). The Indian Government is dominated and controlled by politicians from the Hindi belt because they form the largest linguistic group in the Indian parliament. They used that dominance to enact laws and deeds under the Union and Concurrent lists to benefit Hindi regions and Hindi people at the expense of non-Hindi regions and people. Hindi politicians wanted to interfere in even the limited areas under the State List. In a bold move, Hindi politicians who control the Indian government recently paved the way for them to take over power even in subject areas under the State List. Here is what happened.

2. Hindi Politicians Take Over Sales Tax Powers

Levying and collecting sales tax comes under the State List and thus under the exclusive jurisdiction of state governments. In January 2000, the Indian government "recommended" that all states adopt a minimum sales tax structure and issued a "recommended" minimum sales tax structure. Some states did not like this new sales tax structure because it would adversely affect industrial growth in their states. It is beyond the point of this article to delve into the details of how it would stunt industrial growth in some states. (EDITOTS NOTE: See V. P. Govindarajan's article "Indian Government Interferes in State Sales Tax" in this issue of TAMIL TRIBUNE, for details about the unfair nature of the new sales tax structure.)

Thirteen non-Hindi states refused to implement it. "After all, sales tax is under State List. The Indian government (central government) cannot impose a sales tax structure on us", they thought. But the Indian government, dominated and controlled by Hindi politicians, made an unprecedented bold move to force its will on the non-cooperating state governments. It said that it would withhold financial aid and grants to states that do not implement its new sales tax structure by January 15, 2000. The new sales tax structure is no longer an Indian government recommendation but it is now an Indian government dictate to the states although the constitution gives the states exclusive power on sales tax.

State governments cannot afford to lose Indian government aid and grants; after all, much of the revenues (much of the taxes other than sales tax) are collected by the Indian government from the states and then doled out to states as it pleases. Without Indian government grants and aid, state governments could not function. So even the unwilling and hesitant state governments implemented the Indian government dictated sales taxes by January 15, 2000.

Thus Hindi politicians who dominate and control the Indian government used our own tax revenues to threaten the state governments and impose their dictate in even the limited areas that the constitution gave exclusive powers to the states.

3. Pseudo-Federal System to Unitary System of Government

With this bold move in the sales tax structure issue, Hindi politicians have set the stage for them to enforce their dictate in every sphere of life throughout India. Even the limited powers the states have under the State List is now effectively taken over by the Indian government dominated and controlled by Hindi politicians. India used to have a quasi-federal system of government (it was never a federal system; power is tilted heavily in favor of the central government), now it has effectively become a unitary system of government in which the central government controls all aspects of governance.

Another important point to remember is that this shift towards total power to the Indian (central) government happens at a time when a number of regional parties (such as DMK and TDP) are members of the coalition government in charge of the Indian government. While these regional parties profess that they are for more power to states, they did absolutely nothing to stop the Hindi dominated principal partner of the coalition (BJP) from taking over even the limited powers the states have under the State List. These parties are headed by selfish political leaders whose primary concern is coming to power, staying in power and enjoying the personal benefits of being in power rather than working for the party platform of more power to states. Do not expect much from these parties.

4. Concluding Remarks

A uniform sales tax, agreed upon voluntarily between state governments on the basis of give and take, may or may not be a good idea. But what happened here is that the Indian government, dominated and controlled by Hindi politicians, cunningly took the power of sales tax unto themselves, established a sale tax structure that is helpful to Hindi states and detrimental to some non-Hindi states, and forced it on state governments at the threat of withholding Indian government financial grants to states not implementing the dictated sates tax structure. Now that the Indian government had started interfering even in State List subjects such as sales tax, they will do so again when needed to help Hindi states. This bodes badly for non-Hindi states.

Here are the main points:

  1. Hindi politicians who dominate and control the Indian government are taking over more and more power over non-Hindi states' affairs even in areas such as sales tax that comes under State List in the constitution.
  2. Indian government has found a way to impose its dictate even in the limited areas of power allocated to states under the State List.
  3. Regional party leaders like the DMK's Karunanidhi pay lip service for "more power to states" but their primary goal is to stay in power in their respective states and enjoy the fruits of power. They will not challenge the Indian government and face the possibility of being dismissed by the Indian government.
  4. The new sales tax structure imposed by the Indian government is harmful to industrial growth in some states including Tamil Nadu but does not harm the Hindi states [Reference 1].
  5. As long as Tamil Nadu is part of India, Hindi politicians who dominate and control the Indian government will "rule" it and "move wealth" from it to Hindi sates through the authority of the Indian government. "India's growth would have progressed better if it comprised its southern and western parts only...The rest of the country held the South and West back", so said P. Chidamparam, Minister of Finance, India (2004-2008) to the American Ambassador in August 2009. He was at that time the Home Minister of India, a position considered higher than Finance Minister. Remember, Tamil Nadu is one of those Southern States he was referring. Tamil Nadu would be better off economically if it were to become a separate country.


1. Indian Government Interferes in State Sales Tax (by V. P. Govindarajan), TAMIL TRIBUNE, March 2000 (10 KB) (e)


Effect of Devolution and Impact on Non-Hindi States: Economy, Finances, Budget, Taxes, Industries and Standard of Living

Index to Archived Articles

If you would like to translate this article to Tamil for us, please write us. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

This is a "Category B" article.  Free to publish as long as the entire article (or translation), author's name and Tamil Tribune name and URL (http://www.tamiltribune.com) are included (no permission needed). Click here for more details.

FIS000228m - 2017-a1d


Your comments on this article or any other matter relating to Tamil are welcome

(e-mail to: tamiltribuneatasia.com Please replace "at" with the @ sign.)


Copyright © 2017 by TAMIL TRIBUNE..

All rights reserved. http://www.tamiltribune.com/gen/permit.html)