India Between Scylla and Charybdis: Negotiating the Cliff of Federalism

  • Patrick Hönig (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


In the past several years, the South Asian sub-continent has been making headlines for what is seen as the challenge of its multiple ‘failing states’, while India, the ‘anchor state’ to which all the dots connect, continues to enjoy the reputation of being the world’s largest democracy and a rising giant in Asia. But India, too, has been showing worrisome signs of disintegration. Persistent ethnic strife, regular outbursts of communal violence, a spade of terrorist attacks, a Maoist movement apparently growing in numbers, widespread corruption and crumbling public services are all manifestations of a system under strain. Constitutional experts and political analysts have begun to portray India as an entity with a reasonably functional brain at the centre but weak nerve lanes and sinews to meaningfully connect to the periphery. This paper will argue that India’s ambiguous stance on the models of self-rule and shared rule has significantly contributed to a governance crisis severe enough to invite characterizations of India as a ‘flailing state’.


India, Federalism, Governance, Failing State, Identity,