FEDERALISM: LESSONS FROM INDIA
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 21 Jun 2009
Indian federalism is the simultaneity of two processes – the unionization process and the regionalization process.
– Ajay Kumar Singh
India became independent in 1947. Its parliament, also serving as a Constituent Assembly (CA), drafted the new constitution that came into effect on January 26, 1950, establishing the federal union of India.
India is the 7th largest country by geographic area, 2nd most populous, 4th largest in GDP (Purchasing Power Parity), has the 3rd largest military force, and is the 12th largest economy in the world. India is a republic consisting of 28 states and seven unions with a parliamentary form of democracy. A country the size of a continent, with an area of 13,654,000 sq. miles, India is comprised of 16 percent Dalits, known as scheduled castes.
Around 8 percent of the population belongs to one of 461 indigenous adivasi groups. Many Indians speak more than one language. The Indian census lists 114 languages (22 of which are spoken by one million or more persons) that are further categorized into 216 dialects (mother tongues) spoken by 10,000 or more speakers. There is significant cultural diversity within the nation, as 40% of the population belongs to disadvantaged groups; i.e. the scheduled castes (11.6%) and scheduled tribes (31.8%).
An estimated 850 languages are in daily use, and the Indian Government officially lists 1,652 dialects. The teaching of Hindi and English is compulsory in most states and union territories. Twenty-two languages are legally recognized by the constitution for various political, educational, ethnic-cultural, and regional purposes: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu.
About 80.5 percent of the population is Hindu, 13.4 percent Muslim, 2.3 percent Christian, 1.9 percent Sikh, 0.8 percent Buddhist, and 0.4 percent Jain and others . India’s literacy rate is 65%. The government represents 1.17 billion people comprising 17 percent of the world population.
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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 21 Jun 2009.
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