A Research Agenda for Federalism Studies
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A Research Agenda for Federalism Studies

Edited by John Kincaid

In this forward-thinking book, fifteen leading scholars set forth cutting-edge agendas for research on significant facets of federalism, including basic theory, comparative studies, national and subnational constitutionalism, courts, self-rule and shared rule, centralization and decentralization, nationalism and diversity, conflict resolution, gender equity, and federalism challenges in Africa, Asia, and the European Union. More than 40 percent of the world’s population lives under federal arrangements, making federalism not only a major research subject but also a vital political issue worldwide.
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Chapter 15: Federalism in Asia: beyond the diversity problematic

Harihar Bhattacharyya

Abstract

Why is socially and culturally diverse Asia still overwhelmingly unfederal? This chapter seeks to answer the question by identifying the factors responsible for the adoption of federalism in some countries as well as its rejection in others, with particular reference to existing research and the practices of federalism in India, Pakistan and Malaysia. The central argument is that the federal discourse in Asia is to be conjoined to democracy discourse in order to assess the democratic effect of federalism, which is an important key to federal success. On the basis of a conceptual distinction between diversity-claims and equality-claims, it is emphasized that federalism in Asia needs to strike a balance between its concern for management of diversity and for the production of some equity in the social and economic realms. Appropriateness of federal designs often in combination with others for power sharing is suggested for areas of exploration.

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