Posts filed under ‘Do smaller states provide better governance?’
Bhubaneswar, Dec 23 (IANS) More than 1,000 activists of Orissa’s regional party Kosala Kranti Dal Wednesday staged a peaceful demonstration here, demanding a separate statehood comprising the state’s 11 districts, police said.
The activists gathered near the state assembly building and marched on a main street of state capital Bhubaneswar, carrying posters and banners.
“Over 1,000 people staged a peaceful demonstration,” police officer Utkal Keshari Das told IANS.
A public meeting was later held in which dozens of speakers of the regional party described how their regions were continuously neglected by the state and central governments.
“We have separate Kosali language. Our culture and traditions are different. Our regions are the poorest in India despite having huge mineral and forest wealth,” party head Pramod Mishra said in his address.
“Only a separate Kosal state can improve the condition of our people,” he said.
The demand for separate state of Kosal picked momentum in Orissa after the central government decided to carve Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh.
The Kosala Kranti Dal wants a new state comprising the districts of Bargarh, Bolangir, Boudh, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Koraput, Nuapada, Sambalpur, Subarnapur and Sundergarh.
These districts suffer from poverty, malnutrition, high infant mortality rate and backwardness.
The Central Government seems to have taken this decision to create separate Telangana State out of existing Andhra Pradesh, buckling under the pressure caused due to fast unto death undertaken by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao. His 11-day fast obviously compelled the UPA Government at the Centre to act in quick response without considering its full ramifications. Now, confronted with large scale protests, resignations and counter-offensives from Rayalseema and Coastal Andhra regions, the Prime Minister said that the Government has agreed to creation of separate Telangana State ‘in principle’ and no hasty decision would be taken in this regard.
With the Centre conceding to the demand of a separate Telangana State, similar demands from various regions of India have started emerging fast in a stately procession. The Centre has received demands for at least 10 new states including separate Mithilanchal, Saurashtra, and Coorg. As expected the announcement by the Manmohan Singh Government was confronted with strong opposition from the Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh and over 100 MLAs, 20 Ministers have resigned in protest, and now even the Chief Minister K Rossaiah has threatened to quit in revolt against the Centre’s decision on Telangana State.
It is a classic case of ‘marry in haste and repent at later’. The Central Government seems to have taken this decision to create separate Telangana State out of existing Andhra Pradesh, buckling under the pressure caused due to fast unto death undertaken by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao. His 11-day fast obviously compelled the UPA Government at the Centre to act in quick response without considering its full ramifications. Now, confronted with large scale protests, resignations and counter-offensives from Rayalseema and Coastal Andhra regions, the Prime Minister said that the Government has agreed to creation of separate Telangana State ‘in principle’ and no hasty decision would be taken in this regard. That is very much indicative of the Manmohan Singh Government’s vulnerability to pressures.
However, the UPA is caught in its own cobweb over the Telangana now. Endless demands for new smaller states have been raised from various states. Ajit Singh of Rashtriya Lok Dal has demanded creation of Harit Pradesh and Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh; the Bodos in Assam are demanding Bodoland; supported by Jaswant Singh the Gorkhas in West Bengal have already raised their voice for creation of separate Gorkhaland in West Bengal. Besides, popular support is being sought to further the demands for separate Vidarbha in Maharashtra, Coorg in Karnataka, and Gondwana in Madhya Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has given her consent for trifurcation of her state into three smaller political units. Former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma has also favoured smaller states for rapid development and to check regional disparity. The National Federation of Small States and the Indian National Front for New States have decided to forge a national alliance of regional parties to further the reorganisation of states and contest the next Lok Sabha polls on this issue. The Centre seems to be at loss as it hardly expected that its move on Telangana would boomerang so fast and live it directionless to act forthwith.
To deal with issues related to popular sentiments in such hasty manner buckling under the public pressure or giving in to pressure tactics of some leaders has been the tradition of the Congress Party governments. The history of free India is replete with numerous examples to substantiate this statement. Reorganisation of states on language basis is one such classic example to show how the successive Congress governments gave in to pressures from various quarters.
Historically, the Congress Party had adopted as early as in 1923 a resolution aimed at creating states based on languages within the Indian Federation. The Congress was the only political organisation in the country then, and it claimed to represent the whole of the country. It also envisaged a federal pattern of government for our country besides the language-based states. Once this was agreed to in principle, the Congress should have initiated steps in the direction of formation of linguistic states immediately after independence or later after the first general elections held in 1952 following the acceptance of the Constitution. But that did not happen.
During the British occupation of India, the states were formed merging new adjacent areas which were brought under the British Crown. There was no particular policy as such for formation of these areas into contiguous states based on language or development criteria. The situation remained so even after the British left and political power was transferred to the Government of India under Prime Minister Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru. Credit must be given to Sardar Patel for amalgamating all the princely states into the Indian Union and quelling the possible revolts by Junagarh, Hyderabad and Bhopal principalities headed by the Nawabs and the Nizam.
But it was only in 1953, ironically that too in Andhra Pradesh, one Sri Ramlu undertook fast unto death, and eventually died in the course of his fast triggering violent reaction and protest all over the Andhra Pradesh for the formation of separate Telugu speaking state. The then Pt Nehru Government conceded to demand and new Telugu speaking state of Andhra Pradesh was created. Immediately in the same year the Government appointed Fazal Ali Commission, popularly known as States Reorganisation Commission (SRC), to look into the formation of linguistic states. Some more new states of Kerala, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh etc. were formed after the government accepted the recommendations of the SRC.
The same Fazal Ali Commission had also recommended creation of separate State of Vidarbha comprising of eight districts of the erstwhile Central Provinces and Berar. The Commission stated in its report: “Considering the financially sound position of Vidarbha and deficit of the rest of Maharashtra, excluding Brihan Mumbai, the people of Vidarbha are not much interested in merger with Maharashtra. In case, Vidarbha merges with Maharashtra, the people are not sure whether their surplus revenue and resources would be used for the development schemes of Vidarbha and prima facie this doubt seems to have solid reasons to believe.” (SRC Report, Para 448) The SRC further noted, “Judging impartially all the arguments made before us in favour and against Vidarbha, we feel that the Marathi-speaking districts of Madhya Pradesh that is Vidarbha, is a contiguous region and creating separate state out of that would be in the interest of all.” (SRC Report, para 452.) However, the Nehru Government did not accept the recommendation on separate Vidarbha. Instead, Vidarbha and Marathwada were merged with the large bi-lingual state of Bombay (Gujarat and Maharashtra).
Even this large bilingual state was further bifurcated into two separate states of Gujarat and Maharashtra not until the public demand, agitations and death of over 100 people compelled the Nehru Government to take such step. Similar strong public agitation forced the government to trifurcate PEPSU into Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana states. Take the case of North-eastern states. Nagaland was created in 1960 to satisfy the Christian missionary-led separatists, while Meghalaya was created in 1971 when the Indira Gandhi government gave in to the pressure of the Christian Church leaders. Same was the case with Mizoram which was granted statehood in 1987 by Rajiv Gandhi Government. Compared to these the recent formation of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh during the Vajpayee Government was smooth and without any pressure.
However, the Centre’s response to K Chandrasekhar Rao’s 11-day fast and subsequent countrywide reactions on the separate Telangana issue vis-à-vis demands for new smaller states coming from various corners of the country, there is an express need for setting up a second States Reorganisation Commission. This panel must go into the details of various demands and submit its report to the Central Government within a stipulated time frame.
Not that all the demands for new smaller states should be taken as affront on the principle of federalism enshrined in the Constitution of India. But the possibility that such a demand would not be usurped by the anti-India forces aimed at weakening India should not be ruled out entirely, especially in the border regions. Most of the demands for smaller states like Bodoland, Vidarbha, Harit Pradesh, Gondwana or Bundelkhand are made because of development imbalance. There is no proper infrastructure, no industries worth to name, no better facilities of education and health etc. in these regions. Lack of development led to ever growing unemployment and subsequently that inspired the people in these regions to demand separate state for themselves. Initially, there was a demand for development but when continuous neglect was heaped upon the people, the demand for separate state was put forth. This had happened in case of Bodoland movement. When in 1987, the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) submitted a 100-point memorandum to the then AGP Government led by Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, the 99 points in it were related to providing development infrastructure in Bodo-dominated areas of Assam. The 100th point had said that if the government failed to provide all these facilities then the Bodos would be left with no alternative but to demand a separate state for themselves! Unfortunately neither the Centre nor the State government took any serious note of this memorandum paving the way for anti-India forces led by the vested interests to sneak into the movement and to grab its leadership later. That turned it into a violent insurgent movement aimed at weakening India into that sensitive border region.
States were reorganised on the basis of language the majority people spoke in a particular geographical region. But in doing so geographical size and population ratio were not taken into consideration. Thus we have Uttar Pradesh with a population of over 17 crore and Mizoram with a population of just 9 lakhs! Similar is the case with Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh. This uneven distribution of population, and consolidation of political power in the hands of few influential leaders of a particular region in large states had resulted in development imbalance and neglect of a particular region. To overcome this imbalance, the late Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyaya had suggested that some 60 small what he called ‘Janapadas’ could be carved out so that each region would get an equal chance to develop itself. The Bharatiya Janata Party in its National Executive meeting at Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh in 1987 made a mention to this concept of ‘janapadas’. But the issue remained there only. If we study the demands of smaller states we find that these regions once formed the ‘janapads’ in early periods of history. We come across innumerable references to ‘janapads’ during the Maurya or Gupta period when democracy was firmly rooted in the Indian socio-cultural system of governance and administration. Will dividing Indian states further into smaller ‘janapads’ as advocated by Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyaya serve the purpose? The thinkers, planners, administrators and political and social leaders must give a serious thought to this. Reorganisation would be a gigantic task requiring time and patience. But it needs to be undertaken without any further delay. And the first step in this direction would be announcing the second SRC.
Following is an Op-ed published in http://www.mydigitalfc.com: The article is written by Tushar Gandhi.
If Bapu was alive, he would have supported the demand for Telangana. Not only Telangana, but Vidarbha, Bundelkhand, Gorkhaland, Coorg and all those regions in large and unwieldy states that have been neglected and have remained backward because other regions had stronger political patronage. When the demand for formation of states on linguistic lines was first raised immediately after independence, Bapu had supported the cause. But he had also warned against language and regional chauvinism.
In more than 60 years of independence and almost the same time that the present large and unmanageable states have been in existence, it is starkly evident that the state administrations have failed to be fair in their treatment of various regions. Take Maharashtra, the Vidarbha region in the eastern extreme of the state has been criminally neglected, so much so that today it has become infamous for farmer suicides. Farmer suicides in the region have become so routine that now there is a season for suicides and the media displays a daily tally as routinely as the Sensex.
All the sugar barons of Maharashtra hail from the western regions of the state, therefore, western Maharashtra has enjoyed more than its fair share of development and riches. The Marathwada region has started getting a bit of attention now because of the new breed of education barons and spillover of sugar barons that hail from the region, but it is still nowhere near the development.
The Vidarbha region houses the winter capital of the state, Nagpur, and that’s about all that it has. Cotton, its traditional crop, has failed. At one point of time, Vidarbha was the cotton capital of India, and Akola was the cotton trading post for the rest of the country. Not any more. Today, Akola is a town past its glory. Successive state governments have not bothered to inject any tonic to boost its economy. Neither did Vidarbha get any economic package for its development till the prime minister stepped in and provided a relief package aimed at alleviating the misery of debt-plagued farmers.
The misfortune of Vidarbha is that it used to be traditionally a Congress bastion, and since Maharashtra also had a strong Congress base, no politician wanted to rock the boat. The last time any serious attempt was made to force the creation of Vidarbha was when Jambuvantrao Dhote sat on a fast. After 21 days, he was persuaded to give it up with a face saving assurance. Since then, only disgruntled leaders have raised feeble demands for statehood, and when their personal agenda was served, they dumped the cause of Vidarbha.
The same is the case with Kutch and Saurashtra in Gujarat, two chronically neglected regions the state. If it hadn’t been for the devastating earthquake of 2000 and the subsequent rebuilding of Kutch, it would have remained a backward region. The quake proved to be a blessing in disguise for Kutch, which is today showing some signs of development, also due to the very hard-working and industrious Kutchis who are fiercely loyal to their desh, as they refer to Kutch. Saurashtra still languishes and from time to time one can hear feeble voices for it to be hived off as a separate state.
It was only after Punjab was trifurcated into Himachal Pradesh and Haryana that all the three states developed uniformly. The condition of Bundelkhand in southeastern Uttar Pradesh and Gorkhaland in the hilly territory of West Bengal are tales of similar neglect.
Andhra Pradesh was the first state to raise the demand for reorganisation based on linguistics. There has been a demand for a separate state of Telangana for a long time. Osmania University, the institution established by the Nizam in Hyderabad, has been the hotbed of the separatist Telengana movement. This time, a few suicides, a student’s agitation and 11 days of fasting for Telengana sent the Centre into panic and the Congress high command hastily sanctioned the creation of Telangana. It was seen as a decision driven by Sonia Gandhi. But the decision has triggered a mutiny of sorts. The Congress high command is facing a mutiny in Andhra Pradesh.
It is strange, but Andhra Pradesh has always been a bug-bear for the Nehru-Gandhis. When N T Rama Rao catapulted to power and trounced the Congress, Indira Gandhi felt insulted and gave Rajiv Gandhi and his men a free hand to topple NTR. They did manage to topple him and place Bhaskara Rao on the throne. But they had underestimated the charismatic NTR, who bounced back stronger than before, drove out Bhaskara Rao and left Rajiv Gandhi with egg on his face. It seems Sonia Gandhi, too, has been caught on the wrong foot in Andhra.
As long as neglected regions remain in large mismanaged states, the demand for division and creation of smaller states will be legitimate. Yes, I am certain Bapu would have been agitating for the dismantling of the large mismanaged states and the creation of smaller states purely on the criteria of them being more manageable and being able to deliver more uniform development.
The writer is founder president, Mahatma Gandhi Foundation
Bhubaneswar, Dec 20 (PTI) Amidst demands for carving out separate Koshala and Kalinga states from Orissa, BJP today said it favoured creation of smaller states for speedy and balanced development of different regions of the country.
“One may not support the demand for formation of Koshala or Kalinga states, but it is difficult to ignore the issues that have given rise to these demands,” BJP’s Orissa unit president Suresh Pujary said adding these issues must be addressed properly.
“BJP believes in small states and the party leadership has favoured fresh reorganisation process,” Pujari told reporters ahead of election of new state party chief scheduled on December 23.
Following article is from the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) website: This article is written by P. V. Ramana.
The creation of a separate state of Telengana by carving out nine or ten districts from Andhra Pradesh has the potential to provide space to Naxalites of the Communist Party of India Maoist, or CPI (Maoist), to regroup in the areas from where they have been driven out during the past few years, and in some other regions where demands are being made or are likely to be made for separate statehood.
Owing to sustained intelligence-based operations by the elite anti-Naxalite crack force, Greyhounds, the Maoists retreated to Bastar –– in neighbouring Chhattisgarh –– and North Coastal Andhra –– bordering Orissa.
Ganapathy, the general secretary of the CPI (Maoist), admitted in an interview circulated to the media on October 17, 2009 that “It was due to several mistakes on our part that we suffered a serious setback in most of Andhra Pradesh by 2006.” The Maoists failed to gauge the intensity of police operations against guerrilla squads and did not relocate cadres from Telengana and elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh. As a result, several prominent leaders were killed in encounters.
The Maoists are also making fervent efforts to stage a come-back in North Telengana, once their flagship guerrilla zone, also because the Andhra Pradesh leaders in the Central Committee of the CPI (Maoist) run the risk of their position being undermined by leaders of the erstwhile Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) in the Maoist Central Committee.
Many leaders of the ruling Congress-I in Andhra Pradesh, including those belonging to Telengana, have argued against the creation of a separate state, especially because they apprehend that the Maoists could gain control over such a state. In fact, over a decade ago, in 1997, the Naxalites gave a call for the creation of a separate Telengana; this demand, however, did not attract public support.
After the demand was raised once again in 2000, the Naxalites and their ideologues such as Gaddar and Vara Vara Rao did not lose time in expressing their support. In fact, the Telengana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), a political party that was formed with the single-point agenda of a separate Telengana, had publicly declared during the State Legislative Assembly elections of 2004 that the “Naxalites’ agenda was their agenda.” A number of former rebels have also joined the TRS cadres.
At the present juncture in 2009, when the Union Home Minister announced that the process for the creation of a separate Telengana would be initiated, media reports held that the announcement was made, importantly, in the wake of reports that the Maoists have infiltrated the agitation for the creation of a separate Telengana. Media reports further claimed that the Maoists could take advantage of the situation and commit ‘actions’ in urban areas and attempt to strengthen themselves in the Telengana hinterland.
Further, Telengana geographically lies adjacent to Bastar, the Maoist Base Area, and the Maoists had, some years back, demanded the creation of a separate Bastar state by carving it out of Chhattisgarh; in the past there were also demands for the formation of a larger Dandakarnya state. According to a senior Congress leader, “the creation of two separate states –– Telengana and Bastar / Dandakaranya –– would leave a large swathe of land at the mercy of the Maoists.” Moreover, the Maoists have varying degrees of presence in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, two states highly affected by Maoist activities. Thus, a large and near contiguous stretch of territory extending from Telenaga to Jharkhand could, eventually, come under the hold and sway of the Maoists.
Besides, the announcement on a separate Telengana could also give a boost to old and fresh demands for the creation of many more separate states, for instance Vidharbha from Maharashtra, Koshal from Orrisa, and Bundelkhand comprising areas in southern Uttar Pradesh and northern Madhya Pradesh. Media reports claimed that there have been demands for 11 such states.
Areas that comprise Vidharbha and Koshal, for instance, are Maoist affected. The Maoists could join hands with self-serving and unscrupulous political leaders, or prop them up, in the regions demanding separate statehood, which would add to the already existing security concerns.
The aspirations and demands for the creation of separate states might, or might not, have merit. However, in the light of the possibility that the Maoists could either steer or infiltrate agitations for such demands, the governments in the respective states would need to plan appropriate responses. Also, from the security point of view, it might not be prudent to carve out states from Maoist affected regions –– merely out of political expediency –– without adequately preparing the administrative and security apparatus.
Bhubaneswar, Dec 18 (IANS) The Kosala Kranti Dal, a political party in Orissa which has been demanding separate statehood comprising 11 western districts, Friday distributed maps of its dream state to people.
The maps were distributed in the district headquarter of Bolangir, its president Pramod Mishra told IANS. He said the maps would also be distributed in other parts of the western region in the next few days. Bolangir town is 320 km from here.
Hundreds of students in Sambalpur, Bargarh and Bolangir towns boycotted classes and walked streets with posters and banners, and shouted slogans in favour of a separate state.
Mishra said his Dal has planned to launch a massive agitation in the coming days to press its demand. “We are going to demonstrate in Bhubaneswar in front of Raj Bhaban on Dec 23,” he said.
The demand for separate state has picked up momentum in Orissa following the central government’s decision to pave the way for a Telangana state in Andhra Pradesh.
The Kosala Kranti Dal wants a new state comprising the districts of Bargarh, Bolangir, Boudh, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Koraput, Nuapada, Sambalpur, Subarnapur and Sundergarh.
Known as the Kosala region, these districts suffer from poverty and backwardness, deaths due to malnutrition and high infant mortality rate.
Views of Prof. Mahesh Rangarajan of Department of History, Delhi University and C V Madhukar, Founder and Director of PRS Legislative Research on “creation of smaller states in India”
……History professor at Delhi University and political analyst Mahesh Rangarajan says many of the campaigns for separate states are born in poor and neglected areas. For example, supporters of Telangana want an independent state because they say the region is deprived of resources, jobs and opportunities.
“In many cases the regions that are backward or underdeveloped, there is a feeling among people that statehood within the Indian union will give them a better chance of living a life of material dignity,” said Rangarajan. “Added to this, there is the view that there are cultural features which unify them as opposed to people in the rest of the state.”
Political boundaries within India have been redrawn several times since it was divided into 18 states, on linguistic lines, in the 1950′s. Today, India has 28 states and seven federally administered territories. The most recent division of states took place in 2000, when three new states (Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand) were carved in north India to meet the aspirations of tribal and hill communities.
C.V. Madhukar is the director of the Delhi-based independent PRS Legislative Research. He says the model of linguistic states is being questioned as issues of identity come to the fore in the diverse country of more than a billion people.
“It [language] was relevant at that time and continues to be relevant, in large measure. But, beyond language, there are cultural, ethnic differences,” he said. “There are development differences that people want to address and a lot of this is coming out in the agitations which we are now seeing.”
Those who support splitting existing states point out that some Indian states are bigger than the size of many countries. The most populous state, Uttar Pradesh has a population of 190 million – nearly the same as Brazil.
Political analyst Rangarajan says the demand for smaller states is no surprise in a country where the population has grown three-fold from the time it became independent.
“Today we have 28 states –but we must keep in mind, 28 states for one billion people. United States has 300 million people and 50 states,” he said. “The European Union has 300 million people and 27 nation states. So it is not all that illogical.”
Those who support the creation of smaller states also argue that they could promote better governance in a country where administration, in many regions, is ineffective. They say it could lead to better political representation for local communities. They point out that some of India’s smallest states, such as Haryana in the north and Kerala in the south, are more developed than larger ones. ……….
Amid a growing chorus for smaller states after the Centre’s decision to create a separate Telangana, former president APJ Abdul Kalam has said the wishes of the people of the region should be given priority while deciding on such issues.
“Till the economic condition of the states improves, the country cannot progress. I feel the people of the region concerned should decide what is good for them,” Kalam told reporters here Saturday night.
On the issue of new states like Telangana, he said, “It is quite difficult for me to say whether this or that state should be created or not. According to me, we should see what are the aspirations the people of the region concerned. We should give importance to their wishes.”
Kalam felt that “politics of development” rather than “politics of politics” would be useful for the common man.
“Several young leaders are coming up in the country. I want that the whole political system should now be geared towards politics of development,” he said.
To a question, he said the rate of economic growth has slightly declined due to the meltdown, but the situation is gradually improving.
“If we can take the GDP growth to 10 percent and keep the same level for next 10 years then the Mission 2020 will be fulfilled,” the former president said.
On differences between developed and developing countries at the Copenhagen climate meet, Kalam said, “Climate change is the problem of whole world — be it Indore or Tokyo, cars emit smoke everywhere.”
The ‘missile man’ said every year, crores of tonnes of carbon dioxide are being emitted world over and to reduce this, dependency on solar and bio-fuels should be increased.
Kalam said India has a proper energy policy and by 2020, it will increase production of solar power to 20,000 MW.
The dust raised over creation of a separate state comprising districts of western Orissa refuses to settle down with members of the Sambalpur Bar Association (SBA) joining the bandwagon.
Speaking to mediapersons today, president of SBA Pradeep Bohidar welcomed all the organisations demanding creation of separate state comprising districts of western Orissa and assured all support in the stir.
Maintaining that the State Government is pursuing the policy of ‘divide and rule’ be it setting up High Court bench in the region or creation of a separate state, he said that the State Government was trying to put the people of the region against each other.
Elaborating on the stir over setting up of permanent HC bench in western Orissa and issuing an ultimatum to the State Government to declare it by January next, Bohidar said that it will be the final fight and the members of the Bar Association would not only sit on fast unto death but may also resort to economic blockade.