Article 1 of the Indian Constitution describes India as a “Union of States” which implies that
I. the Indian federation is not the result of a voluntary agreement by the states. As is well-known, after India’s independence, more than 550 states were integrated into the Union of India by the then Home Minister, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. So their inclusion in India is purely involuntary.
II. the components of the Indian Union have no freedom to secede from it. (This is quite unlike the erstwhile USSR or the present-day USA where such freedom exists / existed)
The Indian federal system is unique in the sense that in spite of its being a federal set-up, it still does not have many features of a typical federal set-up (like the USA). In general, the Indian set-up has been mostly described as quasi-federal or semi-federal due to the fact that the balance of power tilts heavily in favour of the Centre i.e. the states enjoy comparatively lesser powers in most spheres as compared with the Centre. Some of the noteworthy points of difference, which illustrate the predominant role of the Centre Vs. States are as follows.
I. The States in India do not have any separate constitution of their own (except Jammu and Kashmir which has a separate constitution as per the special agreement signed at the time of its accession to India). They derive their authority from the same Constitution of India.
II. The States are dependent on the Centre for grants-in-aid and plan assistance to meet their development expenditures. The taxes collected by the States are not wholly pocketed by them, but are distributed among the States as per the recommendations of the Finance Commission.
III. The States do not have any role in Constitutional amendments (except for a few instances where their consultation may be obtained by the President or in certain special matters where at least half of the States must ratify the legislation after parliamentary approval)
IV. The Centre can alter, modify or change the boundaries, area or name of any state.
V. There is no separate citizenship of a state (Single Citizenship prevails in India whichever state a person is living in India) unlike the US where every state has a separate citizenship apart from the Union Citizenship (Double Citizenship).
VI. The President may assume all executive and legislative powers of any state if he believes that the government of a state cannot be carried out according to the constitutional provisions (Art. 356).