Likewise, in Australia a centralising process has been sanctioned by the High Court. “The Australian States,” says W.K. Hancock, “have learned in bitterness that it is not always the residuary legatee who comes off best under a will.
Sometimes the specific legatee takes the hulk of the estate and leaving him nothing but debt.” In Switzerland four important factors have contributed to the process of centralisation: war, economic depression, the demand for ever increasing social services, and the mechanical and technological revolution in transport and industry. These factors are not peculiar to Switzerland. They are as much in the Swiss as in other federations. “Intensive government,” says Sait, “is the reaction against intensive pressure and the pressure may be internal as well as external.” War is always a great centraliser. It increases the control of the State over society, since protection and security become the nation’s paramount concern and these are pre-eminently the primary functions of the State. War demands, in order to win it, a unified command, coordinated plans and prompt action.
It also means mobilising the necessary activity and powers of all institutions of government, central and regional. The obvious result is that the constitutional limits which tend to check the jurisdiction of the various parts of government become unworkable. It is, of course, true of a world that is scared by past wars and scared of new ones. No country can afford to wait for defence until war is declared. It must always be prepared to ward off the probabilities of war and to win it, if it actually comes. It means the ability to man the industrial resources of the country and to apply the nation’s scientific knowledge to the task of defence.
Everything from the physics courses taught in the schools to the conservation of natural resources and the maintenance of economy, affects the war- making potential. The New Deal legislation of President Roosevelt and the Supreme Court’s attitude thereto is clearly indicative of the rapid development of centralisation. The New Deal was devised as the new means of combating a new national emergency, the depression. The world today is as much scared of depressions as it is scared of war and this emphasises the recognition of the need for the reallocation of powers in a new balance, not excluding strong local organs of government. “Since the New Deal,” says Lipson, “the situation has changed almost beyond recognition.
Federal-State relations have become ampler and closer. Federal-local relations have been established. Federal-State local cooperation is now frequent.”45 Much of this is due to the more generous use of the device of the conditional grants-in-aid.
A Committee of the Council of State Governments appointed in the United States, defined federal grants-in-aid as “payment made by the national governments to State and Local governments, subject to certain conditions for the support of activities administered by the States and their political sub-divisions.” As these grants are conditional, it is a matter of common experience that one who gives money must see the fulfillment of those conditions. The conditions that the central government imposes are in respect of the principles and purposes of the service in question, the structure and procedure of administration, the recruitment and management of the personnel, the furnishing of reports, and submission to inspection.
The grant-in-aid, accordingly, “offers a middle ground between direct federal assumption of certain state and local functions and their continuation under exclusive state and local financing, with haphazard coverage and diverse standards. It makes possible the achievement of national minimum standards, yet retains most of the benefits of administration close to the people.” The Indian Constitution makes a wider departure from the traditional theory of federalism.
Since the Constitution became operative in 1950, the bias has increasingly been towards centralization. Even Ministers of the Union Government have from time to time given expression to their feelings decrying the tendency toward the increasing concentration of power, authority and functions. The charge of over-centralization making inroads on State authority is the logical consequence of a single party government both at the Centre and in the States for an uninterruplied period of seventeen years in the latter and thirty years in the former and the importance that national or economic development has assumed since the formation of the Planning Commission in 1950. The undefined position of the Planning Commission, an extra-constitutional body, and its wide terms of reference have gradually led to its growth as the “economic cabinet”, not merely for the Union but also for the States. All federal countries are moving towards a unified economic and social system coexistensive with its whole territory. No problem can be isolated and looked at exclusively from a single point of view. Nor can a local solution be found for all local problems.
As population grows more dense and industry is highly developed, the mechanism of life becomes so complicated, its parts so closely entwined, and the activities in various areas so intimately bound together that local regulation will no longer suffice, If business corporations and trade unions become big, developing into nation-wide organisations and producing goods that will move across State lines, it is evident that labour relations can no longer remain within the exclusive jurisdiction of the states, the component units of a federal polity. If the vagaries of nature are to be counteracted by harnessing nature, then, agriculture can no longer remain a state subject. The authority that is wider and wealthier can only sponsor huge irrigational schemes, like the Damodar Valley, Bhakra- Nangal and Beas projects in India. Health and education, both state subjects in all federations, have likewise assumed national stature. Bad health conditions in one state have an impact on the nation as a whole and the poor educational system in one part of the country affects the prosperity of the country as a whole. But the great centralising factor has been the contrast in the attitude of the people towards the central government and the governments of their states in former times and in our time. At the time of the making of the federations of the United States, of Switzerland, and of Canada there were differences of nationality, but as time went on, a common nationality came to impose itself upon the differences. The citizens of these federal States came to feel that their primary interests and allegiance was in and to the nation as a whole rather than to their particular states.
Thus, there is not only the constantly increasing tendency to look to the central government for action in meeting their problems as they arise, but the growing conviction that only by the action of the central government can their problems be satisfactorily solved. A good part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal policy sought to permanently regulate matters that had hitherto rested with the states. But many Americans justified this “usurpanon” on the ground that the pressure of economic and social problems could be bone effectively only by the Federal Government. The old school of states’ rights, therefore, is steadily losing its hold upon the people, and in its place is arising the tendency to look to the central government for the solution of the more important political, economic and social problems. A Welfare State cannot afford otherwise.
This makes a fundamental change in the theory and practice of a federal government.