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Inaugural CMF Newsletter


It is with both pride and trepidation that we present this first issue of the Newsletter of a

new Centre devoted to the promotion of federal studies in India. The Centre for Multilevel

Federalism (CMF) is a silver jubilee year initiative of the Institute of Social Sciences. It

seeks to position itself as a primary resource for issues relating to the sharing of powers

and responsibilities between levels of government in India’s federal system. It could

profitably be read in conjunction with the Institute of Social Sciences Panchayati Raj

Update and other regular publications on issues of local self-government.

Given the magnitude of India’s diversity and developmental problems, it has become

increasingly apparent that a multilevel federal framework alone is capable of addressing

these issues. It is in furtherance of this perspective, and with a view to strengthening the

roots of democracy by exploring innovative mechanisms for popular participation, that

the Centre aims to contribute to the development of India’s multilevel federal system.

The CMF will have as its primary focus the interaction between institutions of multilevel

governance, which have grown in significance during the last two decades. It seeks to

promote interdisciplinary studies on different facets of India’s federal democracy, and

would encourage the involvement of sociologists, economists, jurists, journalists, public

policy analysts located in universities and research institutes, as also in think tanks and

non-governmental civil society organisations. It also seeks to provide a platform for

researchers, in India and abroad, who seek an intellectually stimulating environment for

pursuing their research interests in Indian and comparative federalism.

The Centre is based on the premise that studies on the new ways in which India is

governed through its multilevel federal structures are central to the understanding of its

recent resurgence, as well as the contradictions that accompany it. In building upon the

existing research on the third tier of Panchayat institutions at the Institute of Social

Sciences, the Centre would attempt to address issues connected with autonomy and

decentralisation, conflict resolution, the party system and governance through federal

coalitions. It will also strive to contribute to federal theorisation, from the vantage point of

a large and diverse society unified in a single polity.

The Centre would aim at the creation of a network of scholars, affiliated to it at

various levels. Doctoral and postgraduate research scholars, as well as researchers

working in think tanks and civil society organisations, would be encouraged to participate

in the activities of the Centre as research interns.

One of the objectives of this Newsletter is to become an indispensable resource for

researchers seeking to understand Indian federalism as a whole, and we hope to alert

them to significant developments as well as draw their attention to relevant texts and

documents. We plan to have some regular rubrics covering significant areas of federal

functioning. Under the rubric of non-territorial federalism, we intend to deal with issues

relating to the pursuit of unity in diversity, notably with regard to the position of territorially dispersed minorities. We believe that one of the

primary objectives of multilevel federalism is to ensure that all constituents of India’s federal society, find space and voice in the federal


The rubric on economic and financial issues, contributed by our assistant editor Chanchal Sharma, intends to cover developments

which are at the interface of economic growth and federal structures. The political economy of federalism is central to the understanding of

how political institutions adapt to the compelling constraints of resurgent economic growth and participative political processes.

In future issues we also hope to have regular rubrics on developments in the Northeastern and the Southern States. We can only attain

these objectives if we receive the whole-hearted cooperation of our readers, who are invited to send material for inclusion to the Editor,

Mahendra Prasad Singh, ably assisted by Veena Kukreja and Chanchal Sharma. We are indebted to the editorial team for having accepted

to take on the responsibility of bringing out this Newsletter.

This inaugural issue has a wider scope than what we intend for subsequent ones, because it covers significant developments that

occurred during the entire year 2010, reviewed by Mahendra Prasad Singh. We will revert to some of them in greater detail in subsequent

issues as they merit deeper analysis.

Balveer Arora