M A I N   N E W S

Vohra: federalism in dynamic state
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News service

Srinagar, August 25
Federalism in the country has been evolving over the past six decades and has entered a dynamic state which has seen the emergence of coalition governments at the national and state levels. With the democracy taking routes in the past century, the 21st century is expectedly to be known as that of federalism.

These observations were made at the inaugural session of the three-day conference, “Indian Federalism at Work”, organised by the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, that began at Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre here this afternoon.

It is being organised in collaboration with the University of Kashmir, University of Jammu and the Centre for Federal Studies, Hamdard University, New Delhi. The conference brings together experts, academics and practitioners to deliberate on the complexities of India’s evolving federalism. More than 300 delegates from universities and research institutions from different parts of the country and some international experts are participating in the conference.

The inaugural session was chaired by Mr N. N. Vohra, Special Representative to the Government of India for Jammu and Kashmir dialogue, while former Chief Justice of India A. M. Ahmadi delivered the inaugural address. The others who participated in the session included Prof A. Wahid, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kashmir, Prof Amitabh Matto, VC, Jammu University, Mr Balraj Puri, eminent writer on Jammu and Kashmir affairs, Prof Akhtar Majeed of Hamdard University and Dr George Mathew, Director of the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi.

Mr N N Vohra laid thrust on the importance of debate, discussion and discourse on the subject of federalism at work. He appreciated the gesture of the Institute of Social Sciences to organise such a conference in Srinagar.

On the basis of his experiences in the civil services, he dwelt in detail over the significance of the federal structure and its evolution. “I do not think we have anything serious to be worried about,” Mr Vohra said.

Referring to the evolution of federalism, he said the number of elected members in the legislatures across the country had reached a record number of three million representatives, including one million women, from a little figure of about 50,000. “Federalism has been evolving,” he said, adding that it was in a dynamic state at present.

He said the past 56 years had been a “dynamic period” in the evolution of Indian federalism. He urged the need to isolate the causes and factors relating to the affairs of governance from federalism.

Justice A. M. Ahmadi in his address said Article 370 that gives a special status to Jammu and Kashmir was possible only because the federal concept was dominating. It is also unique in the sense that by the dint of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, it has allowed the State to retain its own constitution.

He added that Indian federalism had gone through various phases during the past about six decades. “We are in a federal system and, therefore, there is lot of flexibility,” he added. “India is able to withstand pressures and deal with some very uncomfortable situations,” Justice Ahamdi observed.

In his concluding remarks, Prof Akhtar Majeed, Director Centre for Federal Studies, Hamdard University, New Delhi, said federalism had come out as far as the requirements of the society were concerned. He observed that if the 19th century was regarded as the century of liberations, 20th as that of democracy, the 21st century would belong to federalism.




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