ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Goods and Services Tax

While the union government repeatedly emphasises its commitment to “cooperative federalism,” its role in the destabilisation of, and interference in, opposition-ruled governments in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi suggests otherwise. Apart from these specific instances, the structure of the recently approved Goods and Services Tax Council, far from promoting cooperative federalism, also seems to create the institutional basis for further control of state governments by the union, especially in matters relating to states’ fiscal policies.

The National Democratic Alliance government has repeatedly foregrounded the importance of “cooperative federalism” as a cornerstone of its governance and policy initiatives. It has been called an “article of faith” for the government by the Prime Minister (Chakraborty 2016). While it is a term that has no clearly defined normative aspects, “cooperative federalism” is generally understood as referring to the joint efforts made by the union and the states in a federal polity such as India’s, to attain common development goals (Jain 1968). If this is the definition that the union government also had in mind, it would mean that it intends to direct its energies to work in cooperation with state governments and institutions to meet common goals, while recognising its own constitutional limits and operational limitations.

Events in Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi and Uttarakhand over the last several months suggest otherwise.

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