Experiments in Devolution
Partha S. Ghosh
VARIETIES OF FEDERAL GOVERNANCE: MAJOR CONTEMPORARY MODELS by Rekha Saxena Foundation Books, 2012, 493 pp., 795
March 2012, volume 36, No 3

The Foreword to the volume by George Anderson, President of the Forum of Federations, informs us that at the end of the Second World War there were only four functioning federations, namely, the United States, Canada, Australia and Switzerland; today, the world has about thirty, and many more are on the path of becoming so. Why this fascination for federalism? The reason is not difficult to find. With the growth of democracy almost everywhere in the world, and people’s ever-increasing awareness about their cultural and ethnic rights, almost every group within a nation state is asking for recognition of its specific identity markers which must be reflected in the constitutional arrangement that the state will have to contrive to make possible. Added to this issue is the question of uneven regional development in any national territory making the discontented regions asking for more autonomy to take care of their development priorities. The fact that India has been constantly acceding to both these sets of demands resulting in an ever-increasing number of states within the Indian Union provides a good example of federalism to serve as the safety valve to prevent territorial disintegration of many nation states.

All those states which could not adequately read the writing on the wall have paid the price through dismemberment, Pakistan being the best example in South Asia.

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