Time To Restructure India
When the British left India in 1947, they left two bits of unfinished business. First, they split the country and created Pakistan, which was subsequently split into present-day Bangladesh. The process of partitioning the region can be considered unfinished, with India and Pakistan still fighting over control of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The second unfinished task is that of structuring the government. The country has a quasi-federal structure with power distributed between the central and various state governments. This system has not been completely satisfactory, as many states have demanded more powers from the central government. Conflicts in the state of Punjab in the 1980s and 1990s and the continuing problems in many northeastern states bordering China and Myanmar reflect this.
However, a corollary to the above has made headlines in India in recent days. The Parliament has not been allowed to function in a normal fashion due to agitation by certain members, and life in the important southern state of Andhra Pradesh has come to a halt. The reason is that people within a certain region of the state are demanding that the state be divided and they be given their own new state called “Telangana.”
Presently, India has 28 states and seven union territories. Independent India in 1947 had 16 states and some 10 union territories. But the number of states has increased over time due to the splitting of some big states and the conversion of some union territories into states. The last time cartographers were sent scurrying to redraw India’s boundaries was in 2000, when three new states were added Uttaranchal from the state of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand from the state of Bihar and Chhattisgarh from the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Some newly created states such as Andhra Pradesh, part of the original Madras state; Haryana, part of the original Punjab state; and Maharashtra and Gujarat, originally of the undivided Bombay province, are the creations of protests and hunger strikes by important national leaders.
But many of the new states were formed on the basis of
recommendations by the States Reorganization Commission set up in 1955. Formed in the wake of agitation for the creation of a Telugu language-speaking Andhra Pradesh by breaking up Madras province where Tamil was the other major language the commission devised in 1956 the highly dubious criterion of linguistic commonality as the basis for new states.
Obviously, that formula is not working now, even in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Ironically, the protagonists of Telangana one of whose leader’s declaration of a fast-to-death last week unnerved the central government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh enough that it announced its willingness to create a new state are, like their counterparts in the rest of the state, all Telugu-speaking.
Naturally, the rest of Andhra Pradesh is angry. Its leaders, including those from the ruling Congress Party, are now equally determined to stall any division of the state. The result is chaos everywhere, both in state and central governments.
In fact, this is not all. The Telangana agitation has revived similar demands elsewhere. Last week Mayawati, chief minister of the Hindi-speaking Uttar Pradesh state, India’s most important state politically with 80 members of Parliament, said that she would favor the creation of three more new states Harit Pradesh, Bundelkhand and Poorvanchal out of the present state.
SIZE MATTERS, BUT GOVERNANCE IS THE KEY
There is a fundamental difference between democratic India and autocratic China–the two whales in the global ocean that are at the forefront of the newly emerging global architecture of power. China is a strong state and it cannot deal with peaceful protests by students, Tibetans, Uighurs and others except by rolling out tanks. India is seen as a soft state and it deals with protests and ethnic and sub-national agitations through democratic dialogue. Like a Chinese vase, the state in China is strong but brittle. In contrast, democracy in India is a daily plebiscite. Demand for more power, more autonomy and newer states represents a frequent interrogation of that existence. Democracy has to go through frequent negotiations, compromises, failure of talks and accords. It is through constant churning that democracy matures. Despite the Telangana mess created by
the political class, India is a nation at calm with itself.
Many societies have sought to hide their diversities; India has used its diversities as its strength. Demand for recognition of cultures, languages, ethnic identity as also clamour of statehood have been dealt with through a combination of self-rule and shared-rule. India celebrates its plurality and diversity. Once having dismissed India as a land of million mutinies, the prophets of doom in the West are puzzled how there are no mutinies now in India.
The Centre’s nod to the creation of a separate Telangana state was hasty and haphazard, to say the least. Predictably, it has led to a turmoil forcing the government to change its stand. But this flip-flop has brought Telangana back on the boil with legislators quitting their membership of Parliament and State Assembly and violence spilling on to the streets. The Telangana issue has opened a Pandora’s box of dormant statehood demands being revived throughout the country.
Small, they say, is beautiful. But all that is beautiful doesn’t have to be small. For a continent-size country like India, demand for a separate statehood is only natural, for many of these demands derive their strength from historically accumulated collective grievances, rooted in genuine deprivation and injustice. The NDA government seems to have handled it better in the case of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand though these states haven’t performed extraordinarily well. Jharkhand seems to have done far worse than Bihar. Under the leadership of Nitish Kumar Bihar seems to be doing pretty well.
Seven governments in 10 years, including the new government, tell a sorry tale of Jharkhand where nearly half of the 81 newly elected legislators have criminal cases registered against them. With the creation of Jharkhand in 2000, there was hope–the new entity will help streamline governance and lead it towards faster growth. Its track
record on every front, however, has been dismal. Small wonder, therefore, that Nitish Kumar should suggest a union of the two again. As far as Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand are concerned, there is not much to write home about either. But at least there is a measure of stability.
By creating new states largely on ethno-linguistic grounds, India has exemplified a promising model for diverse and heterogenous societies. In 1956, on the basis of the States’ Reorganisation Commission report, 14 states and 16 union territories were created. Except for Bombay and Punjab, all the new states were formed on linguistic lines. Andhra Pradesh was the first state to be formed purely on linguistic lines.
Telangana’s case is strong by any reckoning. After the accession of Hyderabad with India in 1948, Telangana remained a separate state till 1956 when it merged with Andhra Pradesh. At that time language was a strong bond. Today, it is development, rather lack of it, which is driving many newer demands for statehood. It is not so much the sense that Telangana was indeed a separate entity that merged with Andhra and hence it must become a separate state; it is a sense of getting equitable share in development as also in water resources, job opportunities, career advancement and a voice in decision-making that is propelling this demand. The growth of mass communication and mass media has given rise to a feeling of injustice among the educated classes and there is an increasing awareness about the benefits of economic reforms not reaching all sections of people. Post-reform statehood demands have gathered momentum which has development at its core. That is not to ignore the politics of statehood played out by some groups and leaders for their own personal benefits.
Is the small always beautiful? The examples of Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are often cited by the protagonists of small states. But the experience of the North-East is not exactly happy. No other state in the country has witnessed the kind of vivisection as Assam has. And yet, Assam faces the threats of further fragmentation. First it was the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) which was carved out of Assam in 1948. Later NEFA was named as Arunachal Pradesh. In 1963, Nagaland was created by further dividing Assam. In 1972, Meghalaya and Mizoram were created.
Today, demands for Bodoland, Karbiland, and Dimaraji for Bodos, Karbis and Dimasas respectively are getting strident in Assam. Koch Rajbonshis, an ethnic community in the state, have joined the statehood bandwagon demanding a separate Kamtapur. Meghalaya too has its share of such demands. The ethnicity-based identity has been stretched to its limit in the North-East. The Centre is unlikely to accede to any such demand as statehood demands could be hijacked by rebels and insurgent groups. In any case, insurgency in the region has become the only growth industry.
Practically in all states, movements for separate statehood exist, some dormant, others vigorous. Demands for Bundelkhand, Harit Pradesh and Poorvanchal in UP, Mithilanchal and Seemanchal in Bihar, Vidarbha in Maharashtra, Kaushal in Orissa, Gorkhaland in West Bengal and many others may turn out to be nasty if such demands are not handled judiciously.
But some of these demands are sheer nonsensical, for they make neither political nor economic sense. India of today is very different from the India of yesteryears. It will be suicidal to grant all demands for separate statehood on grounds of separate ethnicity. Neglect and uneven development too cannot be the sole criterion for separate statehood.
Even while creating states on ethnic and linguistic grounds, no territory has been marked exclusively for ethnic or linguistic groups. No language or culture is perfect or represents the best life. It benefits from a critical dialogue with other languages and cultures. There is
nothing like purity. As Salman Rushdie argues: “Let us have no more of it. A little more impurity, please, a little less cleanliness, a little more dirt. We’ll all sleep easier in our beds.”
True, language is a potent symbol of group culture and identity. Ours is a country where the same person uses different languages and dialects for different purposes in different settings. For example, a Khasi woman in Meghalaya uses the women’s dialect among her own sex and switches to the men’s dialect when she speaks to Khasi men. Similarly, a Malayali working in Mysore may use English in office, Malayalam at home, Kannada outside the home, Sanskrit for religious ceremonies and Hindi to converse with a traveller.
Given these complexities, India needs to devise a scientific formula for the creation of new states. While geographical compactness, historical antecedents, cultural commonality should play a role in granting statehood, it is the economic viability of the new state that must matter. It is time to set up the second States Reorganisation Commission. Its report must be debated and discussed and some broad consensus must emerge before such a decision is taken. Given the peculiarities of the North-Eastern states, the same formula need not be followed there. But a word of caution is in order here. We set up a commission and often ignore its recommendations.
What happened with SRC? It had recommended the formation of the separate Hyderabad State consisting of Telangana. It defined consensus as one reached among the Telangana people themselves. The recommendation said that after five years Telangana could be merged with Andhra only if two-thirds of the Telangana legislators opted for it. However, Telangana was merged with Andhra in 1956 without ascertaining the wishes of the people of Telangana through their elected representatives. Nehru had also said that there should be a divorce between Andhra and Telangana if the latter so desired at any future date.
Not only this, the SRC echoed the fears of the Telangana people by saying that “If they join Andhra they will be unequally placed in relation to the people of Andhra and in this partnership the major partner will derive all the advantages immediately while Telangana itself may be converted into a colony by enterprising Andhras.”
As C H Hanumantha Rao of the Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Hyderabad, argues, statehood for Telangana “is a national issue and not just a regional one….This represents the ongoing social change in the country for the empowerment of people through decentralized governance by broadening and deepening the working of our democratic system.”
The repercussions of Telangana go far beyond Andhra Pradesh. Hence the need to handle the issue with utmost care. Despite the hype about India’s rise as a global power and the country being the second fastest growing economy, India-Bharat divide is only widening. The emergence of Maoist movement across the country has not been in a vacuum. The failure of the state to create distributive justice has created a space for these groups that are using the weaknesses of the system to spread their tentacles across the length and breadth of the country. Whether it is Singur or Nandigram in West Bengal or the Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh, Maoists are waiting in the wing to dent the credibility of the Indian state. The political turmoil has rekindled Maoists’ hopes for a comeback in a state where counter-insurgency operation had broken their back a few years ago. A statement issued by Communist Party of India (Maoist) says, “People want Telangana and we support it fully. Our cadres will participate in joint democratic movement a along with other political parties.”
India’s internal security apparatus is already stretched thin, having to battle domestic insurgencies as well as terrorist groups from outside. The country can therefore ill-afford serious internal disorder on statehood front at this stage.
Mayawati too has joined the bandwagon of statehood for Bundelkhand, Purvanchal and Harit Pradesh. On the face of it, the move appears to be politically motivated. At the same time, there may be a feeling that Mayawati will have nothing to lose in this political game. Instead of one, her party may be ruling in four states. But if she is really serious about it, what prevents her from getting the resolution passed
by the state assembly?
It is time to reflect whether we are creating new states to fulfil the aspirations of the people or simply adding more chief ministers, ministers and large bureaucracies. Ultimately it boils down to governance. A small state makes sense only when governance improves. A large state can function perfectly well if the emphasis is on good governance. There is very little empirical evidence to suggest that smaller states lead to better management or development.
In any case we have created institutions of decentralized governance in the form of the panchayati raj which needs to be strengthened. Most states are yet to devolve powers, funds and functionaries to the panchayati raj institutions. Andhra Pradesh has a poor record of implementing the 73rd and 74rth constitutional amendments. Instead, it has created myriads of parallel bodies to undermine genuine devolution of power to the grassroots institutions.
Inclusive growth needs inclusive governance. Politicians see new states, what Meghnad Desai calls as “another cornucopia to amass a fortune.” The challenges that India faces today are vastly different from the ones it faced in the immediate aftermath of independence. The creation of ethno-linguistic states was a masterstroke. It was the only way to integrate the country and to accommodate the varying aspirations of linguistically and culturally diverse groups. It helped create new stakeholders in the Indian polity. The reorganization of the North-Eastern states was equally a wise move as statehood not only recognized their diversities but also stymied many secessionist movements.
Today, there is need to create institutions both for decentralized governance and for ensuring inclusive growth. India cannot grow while Bharat remained mired in poverty, backwardness and marginalization. What good is the expanding list of our dollar billionaires while one third of our population lives below the poverty line?
By Ash Narain Roy
Similarly, in the state of Marathi-speaking Maharashtra, agitators for a new state of Vidarbha have got a fresh lease of life thanks to the Telangana demand. And so has been the demand for Gorkhaland in West Bengal.
If anything, all these demands have nullified the basic rationale for the creation of new states as given by the SRC in 1956 linguistic uniformity. Now we have the same language-speaking people fighting for separate statehood.
This in turn raises the question as to what should have been or what should be the rational criteria for statehood in India. Many experts believe that more than language or ethic affinity, “better governance” should be the key. India needs more decentralisation of power for the public good. That would be possible if it had around 50 smaller states with populations of less than 50 million 25 million being a more favored number and geographical expanses of less than 35,000 square kilometers.
It is being pointed out that India’s relatively smaller states, such as Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Goa and Sikkim, have made all-round progress thanks to their smaller size.
NEW STATES TANGLE
Another State Reorganisation Commission (SRC) is overdue. Its objective should be to recommend sub-division of states with the following points in mind. First, the national interest, secondly, the desire of the local people to separate from their present larger state and thirdly, the entire state’s people, by and large, should be willing for sub-division of their state. Provided a sub-division is economically viable, a small state goes to ensure the integrity of India. The principal reason is that small states would find it virtually impossible to secede and survive. Many of the present states are sizeable enough to be countries by themselves. Many of them are larger than large countries in Europe. It is often mentioned that UP is one of the largest countries in the world. Here is an example what happened to Pakistan in the 1960s. President Ayub Khan brought together all the provinces of the western wing and called the jumbo provinces west Pakistan. His intention was to tilt the balance against the larger population of east Pakistan. The result was what happened at the end of 1971—secession and the birth of Bangladesh. Instead of consolidating the western wing, if Ayub Khan had sub-divided the eastern wing into four provinces, namely Comilla, Rangpur, Dacca and Chittagong, secession would have been unlikely. For, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman would have found it much more difficult to be the leader of four provinces instead of one.
By and large, the Indian experience is that after sub-division, the backward portion of the larger state enjoys comparatively more prosperity. Gujarat did well after it ceased to be the backyard of the composite Bombay state. Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have also made significant progress after their separation from Punjab. The more recent examples are Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand.
While constituting the proposed SRC the central government should ensure that its members are not appointed on political considerations. Experience of the first SRC, which presented its report in 1955, was not a happy one. This partly explains why a second SRC is now necessary. Of the three members of the 1955 SRC, Justice Saiyid Fazl Ali and Pandit Hriday Nath Kunzru were friends of Jawaharlal Nehru and both originally hailed from UP although the former had shifted to Bihar by the time of appointment. Sardar KM Panikkar was a Keralaite. Other than him no non-Hindi-speaking person was included. As the former two were friends of Jawaharlal Nehru, they ensured that the Hindi-speaking states remained large. The third member, Sardar KM Panikkar differed with the majority view and
in his note of dissent proceeded to recommend the sub-division of UP by separating all the districts surrounding Agra.
The Bombay state was already large and yet it was made even larger by adding to it Saurashtra and Kutch on the one hand and Vidarbha and Marathwada on the other hand. The only exclusion from composite Bombay were the Kannada districts like Mangalore. The aspirations of the Marathi and Gujarati-speaking people to have their separate states were well known. Hence, the enlarged composite state did not survive and by 1960 Gujarat went one way and Maharashtra the other. Yet at the end of the SRC it could be claimed that just as UP sends the largest contingent of MPs to the Lok Sabha, the team from composite Bombay was also not smaller. If Bihar was large, so would be Andhdra Pradesh. The SRC had actually recommended a separate Telangana although preferred to call the state Hyderabad.
The Nehru government, however, did not follow its recommendations and made Andhra Padesh one of the largest states of India. All these were attempts to counter the whispering campaign that Nehru wanted UP to be big so that it could send a large contingent of MPs and ensure his primacy in the Congress parliamentary party. The answer to this campaign was that there should be other large states too, namely Bombay and Andhra Pradesh. It was believed that Nehru considered Morarji Desai a potential future rival. It could be attributed back to the fact that his composite Bombay had 71 MPs compared with UP’s 86.
Coming to the current demand and resistance for and against a separate Telangana, the recommendation of the SRC is noteworthy: It seems to us, however, that neither guarantees on the lines of the Sri Baug Pact, nor constitutional devices, such as “Scottish devolution” in the United Kingdom, will prove workable or meet the requirements of Telangana during the period of transition. Anything short of supervision by the Central Government over the measures intended to meet the special needs of Telangana will be found ineffective, and we are not disposed to suggest any such arrangement in regard to Telangana. After taking all these factors into consideration, we have come to the conclusion that it will be in the interests of Andhra as well as Telangana if, for the present, the Telangana area is constituted into a separate state, which may be known as Hyderabad State. The State of Hyderabad (as we would prefer to call this unit), to be constituted for the time being, should consist of the following districts, namely, Mahbubnagar, Nalgonda, Warangal including Khammam, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Nizamabad, Hyderabad, Medak and Bidar and the Munagala enclave in Nalgonda district belonging to the Krishna district of the existing Andhra State.
Important leaders of public opinion in Andhra themselves seem to appreciate that the unification of Telangana with Andhra, though desirable, should be based on a voluntary and willing association of the people and that it is primarily for the people of Telangana to take a decision about their future.
By Prafull Goradia
On the other hand, larger states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have not risen to their potential. In fact, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, India’s largest states, are also its poorest.
These states are tottering on the law-and-order front as well. Their records of governance are dismal and human development is poor. It is in these states that farmers are committing suicide. The only asset these states have is their huge electoral clout.
But there is also a counterview. In a diverse and pluralistic country like India, too much decentralization is not seen as a good thing. In fact, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was not in favour of small states, as he believed they could accentuate the divisiveness in the country. Some of the small states being demanded may not even have enough resources to stand on their own.
TELANGANA WILL IT BE FORMED ?
Having rocked Parliament and forcing early adjournment of the winter session, the Telangana issue dominated the political news in the country and coupled with it the midnight decision of the UPA government to concede to the demands of the fasting Telagana Rajya Samiti (TRS) leader K Chandrashekara Rao only aggravated the situation.
The violence witnessed in Andhra Pradesh over the issue of Telangana was something that was totally uncalled for considering that there were issues like price rise affecting the common man and this could have been done in a better manner.
If there is one thing that the issue of Telangana did was that it has divided all the major political parties in the state and left their leadership groping in the dark a trail of violence leading to death and destruction of public property.
Telangana, which is one of the three major regions of Andhra Pradesh, was part of the Hyderabad state ruled by the Nizam dynasty comprising of 10 districts in Western and Central Andhra Pradesh (Adilabad, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Medak, Warangal, Khammam, Hyderabad, Rangareddy, Nalgonda, and Mahabubnagar).
Rayalseema and Coastal Andhra were parts of the Madras Province of the British empire and were separated from Madras State in 1953 and Telangana was later merged with these two regions in 1956 based on their linguistic affinity, forming the State of Andhra Pradesh.
There was high drama in Parliament after Congress MP YS Jaganmohan Reddy, son of the late Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YSR Reddy, made common cause with his bitter rivals, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), to press for a united Andhra Pradesh, even as he said he stood for a “Golden Telangana”—without specifying what he meant by this. Pressed to explain what exactly he meant by this, Jaganmohan Reddy resorted to semantics. “What I want is to work towards a ‘Golden Telangana’. I want everybody (in Andhra Pradesh) to be together as brothers and sisters. They are all my brothers and sisters. I do not want to lose any of my Telangana brothers and sisters,” he said, adding that he wanted all the people of Andhra Pradesh to live as “one family”. The Kadappa MP said he did so as he felt that if he did not join hands with TDP MPs, they alone would become “champions” of the united Andhra Pradesh movement that strengthened in the state after announcement of Home Minister P Chidambaram that a separate Telangana state would be formed.
The division in the Congress ranks was more than evident as party MPs repeatedly clashed in the Lok Sabha over the Telangana issue and as the disruption continued for about three days, the Speaker Mrs Meira Kumar was forced to adjourn it sine die ahead of schedule which was a truly sad commentary on the parliamentary system of this country as one issue held the institution of Parliament to ransom.
Telangana figured in the Rajya Sabha too, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accusing the government of “playing with the sensitivities of people” on the issue and reiterating its demand for a roadmap on the creation of the separate state.
On his part, Jaganmohan, shook hands with the TDP MPs, took a placard from them and waved it near Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar’s podium to establish the point that “we want a united Andhra Pradesh”.
Jaganmohan also downplayed the complaint against him by Congress MPs from Telangana, and said all of them are brothers and “tomorrow we will patch up”. Earlier in the day, Congress MPs from Telangana region sought action against Jaganmohan for colluding in the Lok Sabha with TDP MPs who opposed a separate state. Raising the Telangana issue during zero hour in the Rajya Sabha, BJP member M Venkaiah Naidu said: “What is happening in Andhra Pradesh is a matter of anguish. The Government of India has complicated the issue. The state is in turmoil, students are on strike. More than 130 MLAs seem to have resigned. The assembly was not able to function and was adjourned sine die.”
“The government is playing with the sensitivities of the people. The Government of India has behaved in a most irresponsible and immature manner. This is not the way to deal with the situation. I want the Government to come out with a roadmap (on the Telangana issue),” he said. Naidu, who belongs to Andhra Pradesh but represents Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha, had made a similar demand even earlier.
The Telangana region has historically
lagged in economic development due to its geography, and more recently due to politics. It has also been a hotbed for Naxalites for over 40 years. The movement for a separate Telangana state has been on and off for the last 50 years, the prominent among them being 1969 (Jai Telangana movement) and 1972 (Jai Andhra movement). This movement received an explicit political angle, with the launch of TRS (Telangana Rashtriya Samiti) party in 2004. This party was headed by KCR (K Chandrasekhar Rao) and later joined by the dynamic leader A Narendra who broke away from the BJP. The current political situation in Andhra Pradesh is very interesting. There is TRS of KCR, which lost heavily in both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections (to the extent that it didn’t even contest in the recent Municipal elections!). It would be the biggest gainer if Telangana state is formed).
There is the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), led by former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, which can make a major comeback on the ‘development’ platform in Telangana state. And not to forgot the Telugu celluloid hero Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) who has now resigned from the state legislature on the issue of Telangana being a strong votary of a “United Andhra Pradesh,” and has no standing in the Telangana region.
The BJP too is treading carefully as its calculations are apparently that there is a possibility of its staging a comeback if it can enter into an alliance with TRS in Telangana. The other minor players like Devender Goud and A Narendra who split from their earlier parties might consolidate back into their parent parties. The MIM (Muslim League) might not want a Telangana state since it has to tie up with either the TRS-BJP combine or the TDP to stay relevant. Both options are quite unpalatable.But, the biggest sufferer in case Telangana gets formed, which apparently now appears unlikely, is the Congress party, for the present Chief Minister K Rosiah does not have the standing of his predecessor YSR. It is now talked about in political circles if he were alive this Telangana furor wouldn’t have come this far.
Telangana has roughly an area of 114,900 sq km with Telugu and Urdu as the major languages. The region is situated at a high altitude in an upland area. Two major rivers Godavari and Krishna flow through the region but most of the land is arid. It would have 10 of the 28 districts currently in Andhra. Till 1956, Telangana was a separate princely state. When AP was carved out of the Madras presidency, Telangana was combined with Andhra in 1956.
In 1969, there was a widespread agitation by students, which led to violence and many deaths. In the 1990s, when BJP came to power, it promised to give a separate state, but was not able to do so due to the opposition it faced. The year 2006 was a watershed for the TRS as it won the by-election to the Karimnagar parliamentary constituency with a record margin. This boosted the party giving it momentum and persuading the major political parties to form a separate state. Congress also claimed that it was committed to forming the new state, but it was deferred from time to time. But now, it seems that Congress has made a head-start.
But the creation of Telangana will not put an end to all the problems. Instead, it is now important to understand how feasible the option is as the majority of the natural resources would lie with Andhra, and not with Telangana. Also this move would give other separatist powers in the country, a false sense of optimism.
By Sri Krishna
In fact, more than the division of the bigger states per se, more important is the factor of governance. Assam for instance has been divided many a time. But the resultant states all over the North East have been trouble-prone. But for the presence of Indian Army, some of them simply would have withered away, to borrow a Marxist phase.
Similarly, it could be argued that despite the rise in the per capia income in the newly created states of Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh, if the criminal and terrorist activities of Maoists have aggravated there, the governance as a factor has not necessarily improved even after the divisions of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.
Viewed thus, it is time for another commission to evolve more acceptable criteria for statehood. Let India have 50 or more states, but they should be restructured taking into account a range of criteria such as administrative issues, socio-economic factors, language, ethnicity and geography. New states should not be formed just on the basis of one or two criteria.
In fact, there would be merit in converting metropolitan cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata into union territories or partial states, delinking them from narrow parochial forces.
But such an exercise would have to be extremely cautious, rising above petty political gains and vested interests, if it were to bond the republic rather than create additional fissures.
By Prakash Nanda