Temptation On Telangana
The Congress’s decision to allow a new state of Telangana is its own electoral math. If Telangana had not been announced, Congress would have been wiped out in both the Andhra and Telangana regions in 2014. The announcement is a matter of sheer self-preservation.
The moot point is that Telangana is not a solution. The logic of smaller states does not end with their mere creation. Once this is accepted, the nation will have to carry it through. In its demands for smaller states, India could conceivably end up with at least 50 states.
What India needs is not smaller states, but more empowered states. Small states without economic and constitutional empowerment will be a failure. It’s like giving a hungry man a plate with no food on it. Agreed, smaller states will mean key decisions will be taken closer to the ground. Just as Delhi should not take decisions on the food security for Chhattisgarh, Mumbai should not decide why the farmers of Vidharba are so suicide prone.
Administering large and diverse states is complex and inefficient. The economies of scale may be beneficial, but size cuts both ways. It is true that politics can be much more focused when the administrative area and population are of manageable proportions. Smaller states bring the rulers and the ruled closer to one another physically and emotionally, something which is healthy for democracy.
The Indian states are simply too big for their own good. Even after the creation of Telangana as the 29th state, the average Indian state will have 42 million people – though actual sizes vary widely from the 200-and-odd millions of Uttar Pradesh to states such as Arunachal, with just a few thousand people scattered all over. The European Union, with as many states as India currently (28), has an average per-country population of 18 million. The 50-state USA has an average state population of just 6.25 million.
The pending demands for smaller states are spread all over India. Mayawati had even passed a resolution for splitting UP into four states. Demands for splitting Maharashtra and Karnataka into three, Gujarat into two (with Saurashtra and Kutch being sliced off), Tamil Nadu and Kerala into two each, and Kashmir into three (Srinagar Valley, Jammu and Ladakh), West Bengal into two (Gorkhaland), Odisha into two (Koshal), Assam into two (Bodoland) etc. have been made since years.
The data available is at crosscurrents. According to the Planning Commission data, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, all born in 2000, have done well for themselves, often outstripping their parent states. On the flipside, the National Sample Survey Organisation data released last week puts both Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh in the list of worst performers when it came to poverty levels and per capita expenditure.
The States Reorganisation Commission is a body constituted by the Central Government in 1953 to recommend reorganisation of state boundaries. In 1955, after nearly two years of study, the Commission recommended that India’s state boundaries should be reorganised to form 16 states and three Union Territories. Some of its recommendations were implemented in the States Reorganisation Act of 1956.
The Government is unlikely to set up another States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) to look into the growing demands for creation of separate states in different parts of the country. While the Centre has clarified that it is not taking up any other statehood demand at the moment, voices across the political spectrum have already started saying it’s time to have a relook at the re-organisation of Indian states.
While the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha announced indefinite bandh in Darjeeling Hills from Saturday to press for a separate Gorkhaland state, a delegation of Bodo leaders met the Home Minister and urged him to take urgent steps for creation of the new state. Soon others too will join the bandwagon.
The traditional joint family system in India has been rapidly breaking up due to increasing individualistic and independent attitudes. Similarly, regional identities and chauvinism, linguistic pride, religious bias, etc., are now overriding the common concept of pride in nationhood. These are sad times for out rich and glorious past.
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