The Federalism of US and the Federalism of India have a number of similarities and differences between them.However, by and large,they are successful.
The Similarities and Differences between American Federalism and Indian Federalism
Being the largest democratic countries in the world, both United States and India are based on federalism in their political structure. US became a Federal Republic State by promulgating its constitution in the year1789; whereas India became a Socialist, Sovereign, Secular, Democratic Republic by formally launching its constitution only in the year 1950.Thereby both countries had attained dominion status in which a number of smaller states had got affiliated forming a union with a strong central government that came to be called as Federal Government in the US and Central Government in India. Thus both states became Federal Republics.
While framing the Indian constitution, its drafting committee headed by Dr.Ambedkar, had borrowed many salient features from various constitutions in the world including US but adopted them in the Indian context. Hence, both U.S and India, despite being federal in structure have many similarities and differences between them.
Similarities between US and India:-
1) Written constitution:-
Both US and India have a written constitution based on which the federal political structure has been set up and both federal governments are functioning.Both constitutions have provisions for amending the constitution to meet the growing socio, political and economic needs and demands of their respective countries.
2) Bill of Rights and Fundamental Rights:-
The US constitution has ensured the fundamental rights of its citizens like right to equality, freedom, right against exploitation, freedom of religion, cultural and educational rights, right to property, and right to constitutional remedies etc through 'The Bill of Rights',. They became part and parcel of the US constitution through first ten amendments that were carried out and adopted into the US constitution. The Indian constitution has guaranteed the fundamental rights of the people through articles 14 to 34 in Part III.
3) Supremacy of the Federal or Union Government:-
Both countries have federal governments at the centre in which various states have acceeded to. In the US as many as 50 states have joined the federal government and in the Indian Union as many as 29 states and 8 Union territories have acceeded to. Both in US and India, states which have acceeded to the Federal set up have no unilateral power to secede from the Federal Government or the Union Government. While Federal Government or the Union Government as well as the states are empowered to enact laws on a particular subject,(known as concurrent powers),the law enacted by the Federal or Union Government will have overriding effect over the law enacted by the states on the same subject. Thus Federal or Union Government is supreme in the present federal structure.
4) Division of Labor and Separation of Powers:-
Adhering to Montesquieu's theory of division of labor and separation of powers, both US and Indian constitutions have three basic divisions with regard to division of labor and power in their federal set up known as executive, legislature and judiciary with clear cut 'Separation of Powers' Each division has been entrusted with a separate power. The executive governs the country, the legislature enacts laws and the judiciary administers justice. President of US is the chief executive head of US, whereas the Union cabinet headed by the Prime Minister is the real chief executive body in India. Both US and India have a bicameral legislature. US legislature has an upper and lower house known as the House of Senate and the House of Representatives respectively and the Indian Parliament has Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as its Lower and Upper house respectively. Both US and India have a well organized judiciary, having the Supreme Court or the Federal Court as the apex court and a number of other courts in various states to administer original and appellate jurisdictions.
5)Powers of Checks and Balances:-
Though there exists a clear cut division of labor known as separation of powers into executive, legislature and judiciary in both countries, still there is a threat. to democracy. A strong and dynamic leadership at the helm of powers as the executive and acting with unlimited powers may lead to arbitrariness. After all power corrupts power; absolute power corrupts absolutely; in the result democracy may become a laughing stock and virtually unworkable. Hence, in order to prevent unwieldy growth of any one of these three divisions, a fantastic mechanism known as powers of 'checks and balances' has been maintained in both countries. In other words, each division of power is somehow or other checked and controlled by other divisions of power.
In the US, the President as the chief executive power appoints his members of 'Kitchen Cabinet' and he is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of Army,Navy and the Air Force. He appoints the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the US. He enters into treaties with other countries. However, his treaties must be approved by the House of Senate.Otherwise, the treaty will not come into force. Though President Woodrow Wilson was the chief architect of the League of Nations that came into being after the first world war,US could not become a member of it since the House of Senate did not approve it.Thus important policy decisions must be necessarily approved by the House of Senate, which definitely acts as a check on the powers of US President, who is the head of the executive. Similarly laws enacted by both houses may be subjected to the power of Judicial Review and can be declared null and void by the judiciary. The President can be impeached and removed from power on the motion moved by the House of Senate in the presence of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the US.
Similarly in India, the Prime Minister and his cabinet can be removed from power by a successful no confidence motion passed by both houses of parliament.The important policy decisions taken by the cabinet headed by the Prime Minister, if necessary has to be enacted into laws only with the requisite majority of the parliament.The laws enacted by the parliament.are subject to the judicial review of the Supreme Cour of India.The Chief Justice and other Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President as recommended by the cabinet and the Prime Minister.
Thus the powers of checks and balances have been the effective mechanism both in the US and in India in safeguarding the democracy in both countries.