Asia

Sri Lanka: Devolution, Secession and Current Debates on the “F” Word

Sri Lanka: Devolution, Secession and Current Debates on the “F” Word

Abstract

While in constitutional theory, a unitary state is one in which there is only one ultimate source of state power, for many Sri Lankans ‘unitary’ means ‘oneness’ or ‘one country’. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution introduced limited devolution, but successive governments have been taking back powers to the Centre using all conceivable means. Sinhala nationalists who oppose any devolution equate devolution with federalism and have raised the bogey that more devolution would necessarily result in secession. On the other hand, the Tamil fear is that devolution within a unitary state would lead to rule of the majority and centralization of power. This short contribution examines the development of decentralisation in the context of Sri Lanka, including the recent interim report of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly.

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Posted by Jayampathy Wickramaratne in Case Studies, 0 comments
The Union Model of Indian Federalism

The Union Model of Indian Federalism

Abstract

The Founding Fathers provided India with a Union Constitution and a model of federalism, which is now distinctively know as a ‘union model of federalism’. It distinctively harmonises otherwise opposite processes of (i) centralisation-decentralisation; (ii) autonomy-integration, and unionisation- regionalisation. The degree of federalism varies from Article to Article and from one context to another. One finds a consistency in the relative degrees of centralisation and decentralisation. Powers are distributed in a manner as to promote federal nationalism and regionalism, besides being an ethnically responsive federal polity. With the introduction of Goods and Services Taxes (GST) and the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) and growing salience of subject specific regulatory bodies, Indian federalism is gradually shifting towards a system of national governance, which I have termed ‘National federalism’. This contribution succinctly analyses these aspects of Indian federalism.

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Posted by Ajay Kumar Singh in Case Studies, 0 comments
Divide to rule? Federal Innovation (and its lack) in South Asia

Divide to rule? Federal Innovation (and its lack) in South Asia

Abstract

Ethnofederalism is too readily dismissed as a solution for accommodating territorially concentrated minorities within a state. This contribution demonstrates that although there are real concerns when these groups are not included within central decision making institutions or have their autonomy threatened by the centre, territorial autonomy for these groups increases rather than decreases their affinity with the central state. It is therefore a solution that should not be dismissed out of hand, although care needs to be taken when groups are intermixed and non-territorial autonomy may be necessary in addition.

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Posted by Katharine Adeney in Federalism and Conflict, 0 comments
Federalism: A Tool for Conflict Resolution?

Federalism: A Tool for Conflict Resolution?

Abstract

Federalism has become increasingly used as a tool of conflict resolution in the post-Cold War era. This contribution discusses the rationale in using federalism as a tool of peace-building, conflict resolution and democratisation in deeply divided, ethnically heterogeneous and post-conflict societies. In doing so, it is highlighted how federalism can serve as an acceptable and viable solution for different ethnic groups because of its emphasis on autonomy and territorial integrity. The contribution also demonstrates that federalism is not able to solve all problems in ethnically heterogeneous societies and that further research is needed in order to understand the conditions in which federalism can be used to end conflict and bring peace and democracy to divided countries.

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Posted by Paul Anderson and Soeren Keil in Federalism and Conflict, 0 comments