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Saturday, January 16, 2010

United “smaller” States of India— A necessity or a delusion?

The Telengana Rashtra Samiti’s hullabaloo over creation of a separate Telengana state out of the northern districts of Andhra Pradesh and the Centre’s quite approval to its demand is apparently leading India into its largest administrative change since 1950’s State Reorganisation Commission. If regional politicians and political parties like the Telengana Rashtra Samiti, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, Koshal Kranti Dal etc. (whom I shall refer hereby as “regional separatists”), have their way, then the Indian Union is en route to a massive constitutional process of carving out as many as 13 possible states increasing its total tally of states to a whopping 41.

But the question I am trying to find an answer is whether dividing India into smaller states really the best way to govern it better? Are the states of the Indian Union too large to be taken care that now it needs to transit into United “smaller” States of India? Or is it just plain delusionary politics of the regional separatists to fulfill their intentions of grabbing power easily.

Before I proceed to my quest, I have compiled a list of states that are currently in demand for formation which I would like to share with you. The list comprises of as many as 13 states alongwith Telengana and Gorkhaland which have been really in the spotlight ever since last year.


No.

Demanded State

Parent State(s)

1

Telengana

Andhra Pradesh

2

Harit Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh

3

Bundelkhand

Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh

4

Poorvanchal

Uttar Pradesh

5

Vidarbha

Maharashtra

6

Saurashtra

Gujarat

7

Kodagu

Karnataka

8

Gorkhaland

West Bengal

9

Bodoland

Assam

10

Mahakoshal

Odisha

11

Bhojpur

UP, MP and Bihar

12

Mithilanchal

Bihar

13

Gondwana

Madhya Pradesh

Number of states in the Union if the demands are met: 28(existing) + 13(demanded) = 41


The State Reorganisation Commission in 1955 sought for division of Indian Union into linguistic-based states, which was implemented in the States Reorganisation Act of 1956. But in the current political scenario where indentifying and sharing water resources and the concept of inclusive growth becoming inevitable, there seems to be only one viable option: formation of a second State Reorganisation Commission that will look into carving out states based on the current geo-political scenario, to accommodate the regional political and ethnical interests of the people.

One cannot wholly dismiss the idea of creation of smaller states, given the fact that the last such attempt by creating Jharkhand, Uttaranchal (later renamed as Uttarakhand) and Chhattisgarh have yielded positive results. According to the 11th Plan document approved by the National Development Council, these three states have achieved growth rates exceeding the set targets in the 10th Plan, whereas that of their parent states Bihar, UP and MP have declined considerably. Remember, Uttarakhand was once considered the poorest, most backward part of UP. After statehood, it has become a growth champion.


Gross State Domestic Product:

State Expected Achieved
Jharkhand 6.9% 11%
Chhattisgarh 6.1% 9.2%
Uttarakhand 6.8% 8.8%

Courtesy: India Today


Judging by these statistics, the campaign for smaller states articulates the demand for a fair share of the natural resources. The experience also advocates that smaller homogenous states are rather efficiently governed and attention can be focused on the growth and equity issues in the regions.

I base this judgment because the states that the regional separatists have been demanding for years have one thing in common, that despite being rich in natural resources they are struggling with low developmental index. Telengana is a region boasting of coal and other minerals, but monsoon-dependent farming has led the region to remain stuck in poverty. Their demand for Hyderabad can also be justified because this will give them a head-start in the race for development as its perhaps the only developed region in the whole Telengana hinterland. Gorkhaland agitation derives its root because of poor utilisation of resources which has led to pockets of underdeveloped regions. Bundelkhand comprises of 14 natural resources but is hunger-ridden. Vidarbha is another example of a neglected region with farmer suicides making headlines every other day and having a average per capita debt of Rs. 50,000, with people complaining it to the babus sitting at Mumbai. Mahakoshal, demanding to carved out from the resource-rich poverty ridden Western Odisha is yet another instance.

But my the positive vibes I get from this analysis is always disturbed by my personal observation with politics all these years. Whether it is a small state like Sikkim or a big one like Bihar, good governance depends on the extent to which power is devolved. While we boast regarding the GSDP boom of Uttarakhand, we must also acknowledge the fact that this was a result of tax-exemption put forth by the Central Government during its creation, thus attracting industries giving it an artificial boost. Also we cannot ignore the fact that grabbing power is always easy in a smaller state, either on basis of money or muscle. I support this argument on the basis that in Jharkhand, an independent MLA Madhu Koda was able to rule for years just on the basis of his bank balance. This shows that even a vagabond roaming on the streets has a chance to become someone in the political ranks of a smaller state. Creating smaller states also leads to dominance of multiple regional parties in the national level thereby causing political imbalance and making the Central Government lose its national character. This will lead to serious implications, much more than what the UPA government had to face in its first term in office thanks to the now “Fourth Front” leaders.

Despite this fear, we also need to take comfort from the fact that if the other great democracy (USA) can afford to have 50 states and still be a superpower why can’t a United “smaller” States of India?

Although I am unable to find any reasonable conclusion out of this discussion, but a significant part of me believes that division is the road to development, and the way Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand have performed, I find this voice to be gaining ground. For now I can leave with the thought that a United “smaller” States of India is a necessity having its delusions, that some of the “regional separatists” are right in their arguments although they too are driven by greed of power than being moved by the tears of the people concerned. I rest my hope on the Government of India that they will see to every aspect of this case before carving out any state. Jai Hind!

 

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4 comments:

swaruparani sahu said...

well..i'd say that carving out smaller states for easy governance or development(or for any other reason) has pros and cons..but care must be taken that it should not only be based on ethnic and regional interests or else it'll end up being a recipe for disaster!

Prasannajeet™ said...

Carving out stats based on ethnic or regional interests seems viable on the surface but it shall have negative effects once creates, for those who don't belong to the same ethnicity as the majority in the state. In my opinion states are needed to be carved basing purely on the concept of "inclusive growth" wherein the resources and industries get equally/proportionally shared among the states. Dividing India in lines of ethnicity will only enhance communal and ethnic feelings which according to my opinion won't take India very much further in development.

god devil said...

ok so we had about 543 states 'states' before Sardar Vallabh bhai Patel brought us together. Where as the developed world is looking forward to integration for example EU etc. We are looking at disintegration. This can only benefit petty minded politicians & bureaucrats who can wrest more power for themselves once the begin to head new states.
Also for everyone's kind information let us not forget that separating 'profitable' regions (read mining or tourist areas} can lead to a negative impact on the "Mother' state.
Let us not forget that not only those who struggle for a new state but also those living in an already existing state have equal rights.
What we need is transparency & awareness at all levels beginning with us.
Let us not forget that for every penny/rupee we stand to gain from it we are bound to lose it in newer corrupted mouths to feed, more money to spend on election, more still for he umpteen no. of legislative members, still more on the governance.
What we need essentially are more independent (from MP/MLA/Hooligansetc.) & answerable to public committees.
;-)
Let us not forget that the Starr Report is still counted as one of the fastest downloaded document in history... did I forget to mention. the Watergate scandal?? Think about it.
growth also exists in Gujrat..

Rahul Jain said...

Small is beautiful but only for politicians(did someone say Jharkhand, Madhu Koda(read Rs.5000 crores in 700 days as CM)).Again the GDP figures are deceiving, given the fact that these states already had a very low base to begin with and also ample Centre support.For example suppose per capita income(pci) of Jharkhand improved from Rs.10 to Rs.12 in a certain period and that of Gujarat improved from Rs.100 to Rs.110 in the same period. So, Jharkhand had a 20% rise in its pci while Gujarat had only 10% rise(even though actually it had a rise 5 times that of Jharkhand).Also the lower population of Jharkhand makes it easier to cause a higher percentage rise.
Data doesn't tell what you can see, it tells what you cannot see.