Why in news: asymmetric federalism was recently in discussion in relation to thee abrogation of Art. 370 and SC upheld its validity

What is asymmetric federalism?

  • Asymmetric federalism is based on unequal powers and relationships in political, administrative, and fiscal arrangement spheres between the federal units constituting a federation.
  • Asymmetric arrangements need not necessarily be the outcome of constitutional arrangements. They can also result from the way in which administrative, political, and fiscal systems are implemented in a federation.


  • Plurality of Indian society:India has a diverse and pluralistic society with multiple religions and languages.
  • Accommodation and integration: it follows the principle of weighted and differentiated equality.
  • Protection of minorities: by providing autonomy in the regions were marginalized communities are higher.
  • State-specific issues:  asymmetrical federalism can help ensure that the state-specific issues are given the attention and resources they need to be effectively addressed.
  • Strengthening federalism: Asymmetric federalism strengthens federalism by ensuring a balance of power by ensuring decentralization of power and decision-making as per requirements of the federal units. 

 Constitutional Provisions

Vertical asymmetry

The Indian Constitution provided for a federal setup with a strong centre.

  • Article 3- Centre can unilaterally alter the state names and boundaries.
  • Article 352 & 356– Provisions related to imposition of National Emergency and President’s rule.
  • Article 248- Residuary powers of legislation rests with the parliament. 

 Horizontal asymmetry

  • Schedule 4: The states have unequal representation in the Rajya Sabha
  • Part VIII:Part VIII of the Indian constitution has provisions related to the Union territories (UTs)
  • Schedule 5: The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the administration and control of Scheduled Areas as well as of Scheduled Tribes residing in any State other than the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
  • Schedule 6: The Sixth Schedule to the Constitution contains provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.. 
  • Article 371 & others: Ranging from Article 371 A to Article 371J, this Article gives special provisions for the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Nagaland, etc.

Fiscal Asymmetry

Finance Commission

  • The Finance Commission is a constitutional body formed by the President of India to give suggestions on centre-state financial relations. Asymmetry is maintained in tax share of states and between states.

Centrally sponsored schemes

  • The funding is borne by the states in the ratio of 60:40 or 90:10. For UT complete spending by the Central Govt.