Holding India Together: The Role of Institutions of Federalism

40 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2017 Last revised: 20 Sep 2017

See all articles by Nirvikar Singh

Nirvikar Singh

University of California, Santa Cruz

Date Written: March 31, 2017


India is a large, heterogeneous and complex nation, with multiple languages, religions and ethnicities, and over one billion people. It stands out in having held together while sustaining a working democracy for over six decades, at relatively low levels of income. An important institutional aspect of managing heterogeneity to preserve national unity is the structure of Indian federalism. This chapter traces some of the features of Indian federal institutions, focusing on their contribution to this ‘holding together.’ It reviews the conceptual and analytical underpinnings of the role of federal structures in sustaining unity, and summarizes historical developments and current institutional structures of the Indian case. It assesses the role of federal dimensions of political, administrative and judicial structures in the holding together function. It also separately focuses specifically on the special treatment of what may be characterized as India’s periphery.

Keywords: Federalism, political economy, transaction-cost politics

JEL Classification: H11, H50, H77, P26

Suggested Citation

Singh, Nirvikar, Holding India Together: The Role of Institutions of Federalism (March 31, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3037263 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3037263

Nirvikar Singh (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Cruz ( email )

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