Indian Central Government: Federalism, Finances and Devolution of Power to States

(Quotes from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram)

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, July 2012 (ID. 2012-07-01)

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1. Introduction

2. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's Speech

3. Discussion

1. Introduction

After swearing in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu State in May 2011, Ms. Jayalalithaa Jeyaram asserted state powers and complained to the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh more than once that the central government (union government, Government of India) is encroaching on state powers. As usual, such complaints fell into deaf ears.

Ms Jayalalithaa made a speech at a conference on internal security in New Delhi on April 16, 2012. Much of that speech dealt with the needs of Tamil Nadu state police and law enforcement agencies and how the central government is reducing monies to Tamil Nadu in these areas instead of increasing it. The speech also contains her thoughts on federalism, finances, devolution and state government powers. Here are some excerpts from her speech.

2. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's Speech

"The constant attempts to reduce States to the level of glorified Municipal Corporations heavily dependent on the Centre for funds is a travesty of the federal nature of our existence. This attitude is disturbing and the implication of such exercises is not conducive to either State or National growth."

"There can be no uniform pattern in policing in the country as each State has its own distinct cultural, communal, social and economic aspects."

"Trying to intimidate and browbeat the States through top down structures particularly when 'Police' is a State subject is not acceptable. In other words, there are continuous veiled attempts by the Centre to weaken the States with too much interference which is detrimental to the national interest."

"Endeavoring to encroach on State powers either by creating parallel authorities monitored from the Centre or vicarious operations of State police powers through creation of Centre monitored caucuses within the States, as was envisaged in the Railway Protection Force, National Counter Terrorism Centre etc., to say the least, are contraventions of the constitutional provisions which accord the 'Police' priority status in the State list."

3. Discussion

We agree with everything that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has said in the above quotes. She has hit the nail right on the head in a single sentence, 

"There can be no uniform pattern in policing in the country as each State has its own distinct cultural, communal, social and economic aspects."

Although she said this in the context of police and law enforcement, the "big point" behind is valid and applicable in a wide range of center-state affairs. For example, education, rural development, industrialization, infrastructure and agriculture policies should be decided at the state level because of the different "cultural, communal, social and economic aspects" of each state. However the Indian government is more and more interfering in these affairs directly or indirectly. Since Hindi politicians set the tone of overall policies of the Indian government because they form the largest group in the Indian parliament, the "uniform patterns" that the Indian government sets are heavily biased towards Hindi people. Here is an example. Indian government issued an order to the pharmaceutical industry (drug industry) that all pharmaceutical labeling should be in English and Hindi from April 1, 2006. Secretary of the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals said that it was one of the customer-friendly measures taken by the department. Only customers who benefit from this "customer-friendly measure" are Hindi belt customers. This is not helping any Bengalis, Tamils, Telugus, etc. This is just one example of how Indian government policies are biased in favor of Hindi people. If the Indian government truly wanted to introduce a customer-friendly measure, pharmaceutical labeling should be in English and the state language.

Indian government is taking more and more power over the years. We should not only stop future "power grab" but also reverse all the grabbing already done. Otherwise, non-Hindi people would be reduced from the current second and third class citizens status to fourth class citizens. This is time to act.


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FIS120621 - 2012-a1d    Thanjai Nalangkilli


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