top of page

Unit-4 Federalism | DU BA Hons Semester 4 Notes CCPA


  • Government Essentials: Government is an essential institution for the functioning of a state, responsible for making and enforcing laws, shaping policies, and representing the interests of the people.

  • Historical Insights: Ancient thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Leacock provided early classifications and theories of government.

  1. Plato: Classified government into the perfect state (ideal), the imperfect state (deviation from ideal), and the state of ignorance (lack of understanding).

  2. Aristotle: Classified based on the number of rulers with sovereign power and the aim of government.

  3. Polybius: Classified as monarchy (rule by one), aristocracy (rule by a few), and democracy (rule by the people).

  4. Leacock: Classified as despotic (dictatorship) and democratic (people's sovereignty) governments.

  • Modern Forms: The forms of government in the modern world are shaped by various factors, including social, economic, philosophical, and historical influences.

  • Contemporary Democracies: Democracy has evolved differently in various countries, such as Britain, the USA, France, India, Canada, Germany, and South Africa, reflecting the diverse cultural and historical contexts of each nation.


Definition of Government

  • Origin and Description: The term "government" originates from the Latin word "gubernare," which means "to rule, guide, govern, and direct."

  • Common Descriptions: Government is commonly described as monarchy (rule by a king or queen), oligarchy (rule by a small group), and democracy (rule by the people).

  • Scholarly Definitions: There is no universal definition of government, but it is often described as the political system by which a country or community is administered and regulated (Britannica) or as the rulers overseeing the state at a particular time (Blackwell).

  • Essence of Governance: Governance encompasses the processes of ruling, guiding, and directing state affairs and the behavior of individuals within society.

Meaning and Functions

  • System of Control: Government represents the system by which a society controls itself through the establishment and enforcement of laws and regulations.

  • Exercise of Power: It is the means through which power is exercised and state elements are operated.

  • Involvement of Entities: Government involves individuals, institutions, and mechanisms through which the will of the state is formulated, expressed, and realized.

  • Essentiality of Sovereignty: According to Garner, sovereignty is necessary for making and enforcing laws, without which the state could not exist.

  • Diverse Functions: Governance involves a wide range of functions, including lawmaking, policy formulation, administration, and regulation of society.

Government Organs

  • Three Organs: The government is typically divided into three main organs: the Legislature, the Executive, and the Judiciary.

  • Legislature: The legislature is responsible for making laws, representing the will of the people, and overseeing the executive branch.

  • Bicameral vs. Unicameral Legislatures: Some countries have two houses (bicameral) while others have one (unicameral).

  • Executive: The executive branch is responsible for implementing and enforcing laws, making decisions, and formulating policies.

  • Role of the Head of State and Head of Government: In some countries, these roles are separate, while in others, they are combined.

  • Judiciary: The judiciary interprets and applies laws, ensures justice, and resolves disputes.

  • Role of Judiciary in Upholding Constitutional Values: The judiciary plays a crucial role in protecting constitutional rights and ensuring the rule of law.

  • Interconnected Functions: These organs work together to ensure effective governance and the protection of individual rights.

  • Checks and Balances: Mechanisms are in place to ensure that no single organ of government becomes too powerful, thereby preventing abuse of power.

Comparative Analysis of Unitary and Federal Systems

  1. Unitary Government

  • Centralized Power: All powers are concentrated in the central government, which may delegate authority to local or state governments as necessary.

  • Flexible Constitution: Unitary governments may have either a written or unwritten constitution, with many exhibiting flexibility to adapt to changing needs.

  • Centralized Rules: The central government holds all powers and does not need to distribute them among regional entities.

  • Guidelines from Central Government: Local governments adhere to the directives of the central government, which oversees administrative and departmental functions.

  • Flexibility and Adaptability: Centralized power allows for quick decision-making and policy adjustments according to evolving circumstances.

  • Uniform Administration: The central government governs all people and local bodies, ensuring a uniform approach to governance.

  • Example: China's unitary government, established by the 1982 Constitution, where the National People's Congress controls the government and enacts laws for the entire nation.

  • 2. Federal Government

  • Distribution of Power: Federal states have multiple levels of government—central, state, and local—each with distinct powers. Powers are divided and shared between these levels.

  • Written and Rigid Constitution: Federal governments have written constitutions that clearly define the division of powers between central and state governments. Amendments to the constitution require special majorities to maintain stability and the federal nature of the state.

  • Role of Judiciary: The judiciary plays a crucial role in protecting and interpreting the constitution, including resolving disputes between central and state governments, ensuring the federal nature of the state.

  • Dual Administration and Citizenship: Federal states have independent administration at the central and state levels, each serving the people while also supporting national interests.

  • Bicameral Legislature: Federal governments often have a bicameral legislature, with one house representing the people of the central government and the other representing the units. This system ensures that both levels of government have a voice in legislation.

  • Equality among States: Federal governments treat all states equally, regardless of size or population.

Examples of Unitary and Federal States

  • Unitary: France, Japan, Italy.

  • Overview of governance structures and key features.

  • Federal: United States, Canada, Germany.

  • Overview of governance structures and key features.

  • Case Studies: Detailed examination of governance models and their implications.

Modern Trends in Federalism

  • Devolution of Power: Central governments granting more authority to regional bodies to address local issues and promote local governance.

  • Asymmetric Federalism: Different regions within a country have varying levels of autonomy based on their unique historical, cultural, or political circumstances.

  • Fiscal Federalism: Decentralization of financial powers to regional governments, allowing them to manage their own finances and resources.

  • Cooperative Federalism: Greater collaboration between central and regional governments in policymaking and implementation, aiming to achieve common goals and address shared challenges.

  • Relevance in Contemporary Governance: How these trends address modern governance challenges.

  • Impact on Governance: Detailed analysis of how these trends impact governance structures and processes.


  • Government Essentials: Essential for state functions.

  • Various Forms: Historical insights, modern adaptations.

  • Definition and Meaning: Varies across contexts.

  • Government Organs: Legislature, Executive, Judiciary.

  • Comparative Analysis: Unitary and federal systems' dynamics.

  • Modern Trends: Evolving structures.

  • Critical Analysis: Balancing centralization and decentralization, stability and power, constitutional nature, administration and governance, conflict and stability.

  • Future Perspectives: Anticipated changes and challenges in government structures.

2 comentarios

Obtuvo 0 de 5 estrellas.
Aún no hay calificaciones

Agrega una calificación
2 days ago

The content you uploaded is not at all relevant for our syllabus, it's totally different from what is given in our syllabus

Me gusta

Sneha Sharma
Sneha Sharma
5 days ago
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.


Me gusta
bottom of page