In this essay we will discuss about the formation of federation among the states.
Essay # 1. Meaning of Federation:
The term federation is derived from the Greek word fuedus which means a treaty of agreement. When some states of geographical nearness form a union for the purpose of a strong defence and sound economy such a union is called federation.
There are two ways of making a federation. The one way is the surrendering of the sovereign status of the independent states and recognising some central authority as the sovereign for stronger defence and proper maintenance of the administration while keeping with them some amount of autonomy. The federation of the USA, Switzerland and Australia has been formed in this manner.
The second way of creating a federation is by splitting a big unitary state into several component parts and vesting in the units some measures of autonomy. The federation of Canada and India are of the second order.
After the Second World War, Germany was cut into two independent and sovereign states – East Germany and West Germany. After 45 years two Germanys got reunited on 3rd October 1990. This is something unique.
Essay # 2. Essential Conditions for the Formation of a Federation:
The following are prerequisites for the creation of a federation:
1. Desire for Union:
The desire for union, not unity is an essential precondition for establishing a federation. To say in the words of Albert Venn Dicey: “There should be a desire for union rather than unity.” It means that the states seeking a federation must not extinguish their own identity. In the case of unity the states will be totally absorbed in the federation and they will totally lose their former identities. In the case of a union there is an association of different states which retain some autonomy, while the sovereign power is surrendered to a central body.
2. Geographical Vicinity:
The states desiring federation must be those which are geographically contiguous. Thus a lofty mountain like the Himalayas standing in between the states or a vast sheet of water like the Bay of Bengal, separating them are stumbling blocks in the formation of a federation.
These natural barriers are sure handicaps in the political administration and economic behaviour of the states and so no federation is possible. Although modern transport and communication facilities have narrowed down the obstacles to a large extent, these are still big impediments in the creation of a federation.
3. Affinity in Language, Religion, Culture and Economic Interests:
Identity of language, religion, culture, economic outlook is a cementing factor to hold together the states forming the federation. These create a kind of emotional integration and induce the units to live together. But the absence of linguistic and religious affinity is an insurmountable road-blocks for federation. India and Canada with differences in language and religion have established durable federation.
4. Equal Strength of the Federating Units:
It is common knowledge that the units of equal political and cultural strength make for a federation. In other words, if the units are not of equal strength, the federation will not be effective. Thus we find that Pakistan was made into a federation comprising East Bengal and West Punjab.
Because West Punjab was disproportionately stronger than East Bengal, the former overwhelmingly overshadowed East Bengal. Finally it became unbearable for East Bengal to carry the yoke of colonialism of West Punjab. The result was the declaration of independence of East Bengal, that come into the map of independent nations under the name of Bangladesh.
5. Political Competence:
Federation is a difficult concept and it needs efficiency, intelligence and conscience on the part of the federating states. This is true with regard to the people also. In a federation the people should be law-abiding and must have intelligence and political education.
Essay # 3. Basic Features of Federation:
The following are the salient elements for a federation:
1. Division of Powers:
In a federation the governmental functions are distributed between the centre and the units. The power may be given in two different manners. One manner is that the constitution says what powers the centre will have and leaves the remaining powers to the units. The other way is to specify the powers of the units and to leave the remaining powers to the central authority.
The first method is employed in the USA and the second method in Canada. The first has a weaker federation compared with that of the second. But it should be noted that in both cases one power is not subordinate to the other.
2. Written Constitution:
A written constitution be a must in a federation. It being a political partnership there must be distribution of powers as laid down from the words and spirit of the constitution. The distribution of power is a written agreement between the centre and the units.
3. Rigid Constitution:
This is a follow-up measure of the earlier condition, i.e., written constitution. A rigid constitution is one which cannot be easily changed and so also the powers of the two partners. In a flexible constitution the powers given to one can be taken away easily by the simple majority vote in the parliament. To avoid this rigid constitution is suggested for a federation to function successfully.
4. Special Judiciary:
In a federal government there is a possibility of constitutional disputes between the centre and the units or between one unit and the other. To meet this situation a special judiciary like the Supreme Court with wide powers must be there to settle all these disputes. This special judiciary is called the constitutional empire.
5. Supremacy of the Constitution:
In a unitary state like England the sovereignty lies in the Queen-in-parliament and that body is so much supreme that it can do anything and everything. The parliament of England can change any provision of the constitution by a simple majority. But in a federation the supreme authority is the constitution, not the parliament.
6. Double Citizenship:
In a federation a person is the citizen of the state and also the citizen of the province where he resides. Thus a man of Virginia is a citizen of the USA and at the same time of the province of Virginia.
7. Fundamental Rights:
In a federation the citizens are endowed with a bundle of basic rights which are called the fundamental rights. These rights rank higher than the ordinary rights. The ordinary rights can be abolished by a simple majority vote in the parliament. But this cannot happen with regard to the fundamental rights. To change the fundamental rights a very difficult procedure is there.