CBSE Class 10 Civics Chapter 2 Federalism Notes, Explanation with Video


Federalism Notes for NCERT Class 10 Chapter 2 Political Science

CBSE Class 10 Political Science Chapter 2 Federalism – Detailed explanation of the chapter 2 Political Science along with Federalism class 10 question answers. Here is the complete explanation of the lesson along with all the exercises, Important Questions and Answers given at the back of the lesson



Federalism Class 10 Political Science Chapter 2 Notes

What is Federalism

Federalism is the vertical division of power-sharing among different levels of government. It is a system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country. This feature ensures delegation of power and avoids the concentration of power under a single authority.



Federalism Class 10 Video Explanation





Levels in a Federal Government

Usually, a federation has two levels of government.

  1. Government for the entire country that is usually responsible for a few subjects of common national interest.
  1. The others are governments at the level of provinces or states that look after much of the day-to-day administering of their state.

Both these levels enjoy their powers independent of each other and into their own spheres.


Difference between Federal and Unitary System

  1. Under the unitary system, either there is only one level of government while in a Federal system, there exists multiple levels of government.
  2. Under the Unitary system, the sub-units are subordinate to the central government but in a federal setup, they are independent of each other.
  3. Under a Unitary System, the central government can pass on orders to the provincial or the local government but in a federal system, the central government cannot order the state government to do something.


Key Features of Federalism

  1. There exist two or more tiers under a federal system.
  2. Each tier has its own jurisdiction and power of legislation, taxation etc.
  3. The existence and authority of each tier of government is constitutionally guaranteed.
  4. No unilateral changes are allowed. Consent is required to alter fundamental provisions.
  5. Each level enjoys its financial autonomy.


Dual Objectives of Federal System-

  1. To safeguard and promote unity of the country
  2. To accommodate regional diversity.

An ideal federal system has both aspects – mutual trust and agreement to live together.


Different Types of Federations

  1. Coming Together Federations – Under this route, independent States come together on their own to form a bigger unit, so that by pooling sovereignty and retaining identity they can increase their security. Ex- USA, Switzerland and Australia.
  1. Holding Together Federations – Under this, a large country decides to divide its power between the constituent States and the national government. Ex- India, Spain and Belgium. Here, the central government tends to be more powerful vis-à-vis the States. Some special powers are also granted.


What makes India a Federal Country?

The Constitution clearly provided a threefold distribution of legislative powers between the Union Government and the State Governments. Thus, it contains three lists:

1) Union List: Under this are included subjects of national importance. Ex- Defence of the country, Foreign Affairs, Banking, Communications and Currency. The Union Government alone can make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in this list.

2) State List: It contains subjects of State and local importance such as Police, Trade, Commerce, Agriculture and Irrigation. The State Governments alone can make laws relating to the subjects mentioned in this list.

3) Concurrent List: It includes subjects of common interest to both the Union and the State Governments. The list includes Education, Forest, Trade Unions, Marriage, Adoption and Succession. Both the Union as well as the State Governments can make laws on it. If there is a conflict, the Union Government’s decision prevails.




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How is Federalism practiced?

The real success of federalism in India can be attributed to the nature of democratic politics in our country. Federalism in India manifests itself through the following-

  1. Linguistic States- This was the first major test for democratic politics in India. From 1947 to 2017, many old States have disappeared, and new States have been created. This experience has shown that the formation of linguistic States has made the country more united and its administration easier.
  1. Language Policy- This was the second test for Indian federation. Our Constitution did not give the status of national language to any one language. Besides Hindi, there are 21 other languages recognized as Scheduled Languages by the Constitution. There are also various safeguards provided to protect different languages as India is very diverse on this ground. This policy of flexibility reduced insecurity and conflicts in the country, while allowing for usage of regional languages for official purposes.
  1. Centre- State Relations- Restructuring the Centre-State relations is one more way in which federalism has been strengthened in practice. For a long time, State governments did not enjoy much autonomy as federal units. But from 1990, a lot of regional parties emerged. This was also a period of rise of Coalition Governments.


Decentralization in India

By Decentralization, we mean division of authority and responsibility at different levels of hierarchy. India being a vast country could not be administered well with just two tiers. Thus, resulted a third tier of government, called local government. This is the rationale for sharing of power or decentralization in India.
When power is taken away from Central and State governments and given to local government, it is called decentralization. There are issues that are best settled at local level with people’s participation and hence the need for this level of government arises. As a result of this, Panchayats and Municipalities gained ground as local models of self- government. These were added through an amendment to the Constitution but remained ineffective on account of budgetary constraints and less autonomy.


Decentralization since 1992

A major step was taken in 1992 in order to make decentralization more effective. Some changes introduced were as follows-

  1. Mandatory to hold regular elections to local bodies
  2. Seats were reserved for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes as well as Other Backward Classes.
  3. One-third of all positions are reserved for women.
  4. State Election Commission constituted as an independent body to hold elections.
  5. State Governments to share power and other resources with local bodies.


Panchayati Raj System

Gram Panchayat- Each village, or a group of villages in some States, has a gram panchayat. This is a council consisting of several ward members, often called panch, and a president or sarpanch. They are directly elected by all the adult population living in a village or ward. Gram Panchayat is the decision-making body for the entire village.

Gram Sabha- The Panchayat works under the overall supervision of the Gram Sabha. All the voters in the village are its members. It meets at least twice or thrice in a year to approve the annual budget of the gram panchayat and to review its performance.

Panchayat Samiti/ Mandal- When Gram Panchayats are grouped together, they form a Panchayat Samiti or Block or Mandal. The member of Panchayat Samiti representative are elected by all the Panchayat members in that area.

Zila Parishad- All the Panchayat Samitis or Mandals in a district together constitute the Zila (district) Parishad. Members of the Lok Sabha, MLAs of the district, some other officials of other district-level bodies are its members.




As Gram Panchayats exist for Rural areas, similarly we have Municipalities for urban areas. Big cities are constituted into Municipal Corporations. Both Municipalities and Municipal Corporations are controlled by elected bodies consisting of people’s representatives. The Municipal Chairperson is the political head of the Municipality. In a Municipal Corporation such an officer is called the Mayor.

The above system of local government is the largest experiment in democracy conducted anywhere in the world. Constitutional status for local government has helped to deepen democracy in our country. However, there is still room for immense improvement, and we need to step ahead to realize the benefits of federalism in its true form.


Federalism Class 10 NCERT Solutions

Q1. Locate the following States on a blank outline political map of India: Manipur, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh and Goa.


Green – Sikkim
Blue – Manipur
Orange – Chattisgarh
Red – Goa


Q2. Identify and shade three federal countries (other than India) on a blank outline political map of the world.


  1. South Africa
  2. Pakistan
  3. Australia


Q3. Point out one feature in the practice of federalism in India that is similar to and one feature that is different from that of Belgium.


Federalism feature that is similar to Belgium and India–

Power-sharing exists between the Union and State government. They have separation powers yet are not independent of each other.

Federalism feature that is different between Belgium and India–

India has no community government in practice, while Belgium has one.


Q4. What is the main difference between a federal form of government and a unitary one? Explain with an example.


Federal Form
Unitary Form
Under this, power is divided and shared between the union and state government. It is a decentralized system.
Under this, power rests solely with the union government, and there is no role of state governments. It is a centralized system.
Example – India (India is a federal country with union government at the centre and state governments at the state level and Panchayati Raj at the local level.)
Example – Sri Lanka (The national government has all the powers.)


Q5. State any two differences between the local government before and after the Constitutional amendment in 1992.

Answer. The pre and post amendment scenario changed the face of local government by introducing aspects that left them stronger and in a better position to practically achieve what they were set up for.

Local Government Pre-1992
Local Government Post Constitutional Amendment 1992
Prior to 1992, elections to local governments were not held regularly.
Post 1992, it was constitutionally mandated to hold regular elections to local government bodies.
Local governments then did not have any powers or resources of their own.
Now, the State governments were required to share some powers and revenue with local government bodies.


Q6. Fill in the blanks:
Since the United States is a ___________________ type of federation, all the constituent States have equal powers and States are ______________vis-à-vis the federal government. But India is a _____________________ type of federation and some States have more power than others. In India, the ____________ government has more powers.
Since the United States is a coming together type of the federation, all the constituent States have equal powers and States are strong vis-à-vis the federal government. But India is a holding together type of federation and some States have more power than others. In India, the central government has more powers.


Q7. Here are three reactions to the language policy followed in India. Give an argument and an example to support any of these positions.
Sangeeta: The policy of accommodation has strengthened national unity.
Arman: the Language-based States have divided us by making everyone conscious of their language.
Harish: This policy has only helped to consolidate the dominance of English over all other languages.

Taking note of the above reactions, the policy of accommodation mentioned by Sangeeta seems like a correct reaction to the language policy followed in India. Due to this policy, India, despite its linguistic diversity stands in unity with various states having different languages. Had India not adopted an accommodative stance, several states could have proposed separation from the country on account of rising insecurities and a feeling of being alienated could have developed.


Q8. The distinguishing feature of a federal government is:

  1. The national government gives some powers to the provincial governments.
  2. Power is distributed among the legislature, executive and judiciary.
  3. Elected officials exercise supreme power in the government.
  4. Governmental power is divided between different levels of government

Governmental power is divided between different levels of government.


Q9. A few subjects in various Lists of the Indian Constitution are given here. Group them under the Union, State and Concurrent Lists as provided in the table below.

  1. Defence
  2. Police
  3. Agriculture
  4. Education
  5. Banking
  6. Forests
  7. Communications
  8. Trade
  9. Marriages
Union List
State List
Concurrent List


Union List
State List
Concurrent List


Q10. Examine the following pairs that give the level of government in India and the powers of the government at that level to make laws on the subjects mentioned against each. Which of the following pairs is not correctly matched?

State government
State List
Central government
Union List
Central and State governments
Concurrent List
Local governments
Residuary powers


Local governments Residuary powers


Q11.Match List-I with List-II and select the correct answer using the codes given below the lists:

Union of India
Prime Minister
Municipal Corporation
Gram Panchayat


Union of India
Prime Minister
Municipal Corporation
Gram Panchayat


Q12. Consider the following two statements.

  1. In a federation, the powers of the federal and provincial governments are clearly demarcated.
  2. India is a federation because the powers of the Union and State Governments are specified in the Constitution and they have exclusive jurisdiction on their respective subjects.
  3. Sri Lanka is a federation because the country is divided into provinces.
  4. India is no longer a federation because some powers of the States have been devolved to the local government bodies.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

  1. A, B and C
  2. A, C and D
  3. A and B only
  4. B and C only

(c) A and B only




Important Questions and Answers

Also See :
Class 10 Social Science Civics Lessons

Class 10 Social Science History Lessons