[Answered] Discuss the role of the Rajya Sabha in representing state interests and propose reforms that could enhance federalism in India’s political system.

Introduction: Give brief context to the question

Body: Role of Rajya Sabha and reforms to improve political system

Conclusion: Way forward

The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha are the two houses of the Indian Parliament. The Rajya Sabha is intended to serve as the states’ and Union territories’ representative, whereas the Lok Sabha represents the people of India. India’s federal system of government heavily relies on the Rajya Sabha’s ability to reflect state interests.

Role of Rajya Sabha in Representing State Interests

  • Representation of States: Members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of States and Union territories. This ensures that states have a direct say in the composition of the Rajya Sabha. Hence, Rajya Sabha maintains the federal equilibrium by protecting the interests of the states against the undue interference of the Centre.
  • Special Powers: The Rajya Sabha possesses specific powers that are indicative of its function in safeguarding the interests of the state. It can propose changes and postpone payment bills for a maximum of 14 days. If a resolution is approved by a two-thirds majority, the Rajya Sabha can also start legislation on topics included in the State List.
  • Diverse representation: The Rajya Sabha has been more like a diverse mix of minds from different streams as writers, economists or even poets political leaders, etc. The second chamber enables a second and reflective expression of representative opinion.

Reforms that could enhance federalism                   

  • Delimitation: The delimitation exercise should be responsible and not biased towards northern states as it would disturb the balance of federalism. To minimize these effects it is essential that the number of seats in Parliament increase significantly (at least around 848 seats to avoid any State losing seats), which can help to enhance democratic representation ratios. Delimitation should not be driven only by factors based on population. Geographical determinism, economic productivity, linguistic history, and a sense of fairness should also play a part in the exercise.
  • Better representation: Federalism needs to be promoted and states be given a better voice and a platform to represent their interests. To ensure that every state has an equal number of Rajya Sabha MPs, constitutional reform can be sought. Simultaneously, it is important to encourage direct elections for Rajya Sabha MPs while making sure that a residence requirement is included and strictly followed.
  • State reorganization: A New State Reorganisation Commission may be set up to evaluate the socio-economic and administrative viability of carving out new states to enhance administrative efficiency and democratic accountability.

Conclusion

A more successful and balanced federal system in India could be achieved by changing the role and makeup of the Rajya Sabha in addition to other changes, guaranteeing that the interests of the union and the states are fairly represented.

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