● Covid threw several challenges to Centre and State in coordinating the covid-relief measures.
● Experts say that the strengthening of Cooperative Federalism will escalate and accelerate India's fight against Covid-19 and similar events.
1. What do you understand by cooperative federalism? Discuss its importance during disasters in the context of the recent COVID 19 pandemic?
About Cooperative federalism:
Cooperative federalism, also known as marble-cake federalism, is a concept of federalism in which federal, state, and local governments interact cooperatively and collectively to solve common problems, rather than making policies separately.
Importance of cooperative federalism during disasters:
● First Responders to Disaster:-States are first responders for disasters like COVID. They provide food, healthcare, shelter, post-disaster compensation. In the case of COVID, public health is a state subject. Hence states need adequate funds. Devolution of funds by centre must be timely.
● No duplication:-Cooperation ensures no duplication of efforts occur and resources are used efficiently.
● States deal directly with the ground situations and hence have a greater understanding. Hence the clear picture of disaster can emerge only with cooperation between centre and states
● Need autonomy to provide primary services:- Basic services like Health care, Food and nutritional security, shelter are primarily under states domain. Hence state autonomy is crucial in ensuring these services are provided effectively
● Differences in state capabilities– economic, governance, service delivery- require respective different strategies. This needs autonomy with some central assistance. A state like Kerala where a high level of governance capabilities with good public infrastructure needs to have a different strategy than states like UP, Bihar
Laws, policies, institutions which provide for cooperation:
● NDMA-National disaster management act, 2005 provides for:
➢ Preparation of ‘National plan’ after consultation with states
➢ Binding regulations to implement National plan by the centre to states
➢ NDMP – National Disaster Management Plan has a regional approach with clear demarcation of roles and responsibilities of all levels of centre, state and district.
● State Disaster response funds receive contributions from the centre. The Finance Commission provides for these
● Cooperation between the National Disaster Response Force(NDRF) and State response forces. Pre-disaster Cooperation includes training, operational readiness. Post-disaster cooperation includes rescue and rehabilitation.
Issues arising out Centre-State relation in handling disasters:
● Lack of consultation with states: Centre has classified areas into red, orange and green zones through notification. It has also prohibited states from changing such zone classification. States have demanded consultations and more autonomy in such classification. NDMA, 2005 mandates such consultations before such notifications.
● Corporate Social Responsibility: CSR exemption is provided only for donations to PM-CARES funds and not for CM relief funds. This reduces donations to CM relief funds. This is leading to salary, pension and welfare schemes cuts by states to account for the shortfall in funds. States have demanded exemptions for donations to CM relief funds
● Delays in the release of fundsrelating to GST, suspension of the MPLADS scheme reduced available funds with states. Devolution of funds is an important part of cooperative federalism and is needed for funding disaster relief.
● Empowering states: NITI Aayog was formed to further empower and strengthen the states. NITI Aayog needs to act to provide the strategic policy vision for the government as well as deal with contingent issues. For example, the state should be empowered more to work to enable smart cities.
● Relaxation of the norms under FRBM:- The limit imposed by the FRBM Act must be relaxed so that states who are falling short of funds can borrow money to combat the pandemic and revive the economy. This borrowing can be backed by a sovereign guarantee by the Union Government.
● The Union government can provide money to states so that they can take necessary action to deal with the crisis at the state level.
● The Union government should direct FCI to move the grains from the godowns to states.
● A successful approach to tackle the crisis would still need the Centre’s intervention and guidance in a facilitative manner, where the Centre would communicate extensively the best practices across states, address the financial needs effectively, and leverage national expertise for scalable solutions.
● Government should consider making the Inter-State Council a permanent body.
● Management of disasters and emergencies (both natural and manmade) should be included in the List III (Concurrent List) of the Seventh Schedule.
● An Inter-State Trade and Commerce Commission should be established, which will help realise the idea of ‘One India One Market’.
● Arbitrary control of union over states through the institution of the Governor and Article 356 must be checked.