Archive for November, 2011

Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD) to launch a month-long stir for Kosal State from Dec 23

Following is a report from the Pioneer:

The Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD) will launch a movement in the entire ‘Kosalanchal’ region to sensitise people about its demand for a separate Kosal State from December 23 to January 23 next.

This was announced to the media on Sunday by KKD chief Pramod Mishra. The entire ‘Kosalanchal’ has been divided into five zones along with Boudh and Athmallik subdivision of Angul district, he said.

Commenting on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s move to create four smaller States out of the existing UP, Mishra observed that it is high time the Government of Odisha adopted a resolution in the State Assembly in favour of a Kosal State. All political parties should come forward to join hands for formation of a separate Kosal State, Mishra said.

The month-long movement in Balangir district would start from Harishankar on December 23, and simultaneous Yatras would be organised in the other districts of the region, Mishra informed.

“After this movement, we will visit New Delhi and put forth our demand of creation of a separate Kosal State to Centre leaders. We will also stage a dharna before the Parliament during its next session,” Mishra informed further.

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November 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm 1 comment

Starvation death in Sinapali

Following is a report from the Sambad (Dt.26.11.2011):

November 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm Leave a comment

Recognition and development of Kosli language: A powerful writing by Prasanna Kumar Karabara

Following is an article from the Samaja (Cuttack-Morning   Nov 21, 2011   Page 6  online edition). My thanks to the honorable writer for very good analysis and logical conclusion.Click here to download the complete pdf.

November 25, 2011 at 3:22 pm 1 comment

Cultural Aspects of Traditional Games of West Odisha

Following is a write-up by Dr. Sanjaya Kumar Bag. It is taken from https://indianfolklore.org/journals/index.php/Lok/article/view/758/967

Click here to read the complete article on “Cultural Aspects of Traditional Games of West Odisha”.

November 24, 2011 at 4:57 pm Leave a comment

Does India need smaller states?

Following is a report from Business Standard:

Sudha Pai
Professor of Political Science and Rector, JNU

It is time for a second States Reorganisation Commission that can redraw India’s federal map, creating many smaller states and keeping in mind economic viability

The current demand for the break-up of large states like Andhra Pradesh,Maharashtraand Uttar Pradesh needs to be examined seriously and dispassionately in its historical and contemporary context. AfterIndependence, the demand for the reorganisation of states along linguistic lines overshadowed such issues as size and economic capability. The Congress party had supported the idea of linguistic reorganisation since the 1920s. However, following Partition, Jawaharlal Nehru felt that the idea could wait since he feared it would foster local nationalisms, breed parochialism and undermine national unity. So, he argued for large states within a strong politicalUnionand a socialist economy that would enable centralised planning of resources, leading to equitable regional development.

Further, it was thought that the interchange of capital and labour between the richer and poorer sub-regions in large states would create greater equality over time. Thus, Nehru mooted the idea of merging Bihar and Bengal and keeping Maharashtra andGujarattogether. Even as these large blocs could not be formed, big states like UP, Madhya Pradesh and AP were created on the basis of language.

B R Ambedkar, on the other hand, held that the doctrine of “one language, many states” would enshrine the principles of language and size: there could be four states carved out ofMaharashtra, for example, all of which would speak Marathi but be of a viable size.

Today, the situation has undergone a substantial change. There are increasing demands for carving out smaller states out of the large, single-language states created afterIndependence. In the contemporary post-Congress and post-reform era, states have emerged as important players determining national political patterns. In many states, an upsurge from below has brought the hitherto underprivileged groups to power, creating new political elites. And in the era of coalition governments, regional or state parties have become partners in central governance. The establishment of a market economy, too, has opened the floodgates to private capital that has led to increasing regional inequalities and, thus, contributed to the rising demands for smaller states.

Economic backwardness of sub-regions within large states has also emerged as an important ground on which demands for smaller states are being made. This is evident from the immediate demands for the formation of Vidharbha, Bodoland and Saurashtra, among other states. These developments have been responsible for a shift away from issues of language and culture – which had shaped the earlier process of reorganisation – to those of better governance and greater participation, administrative convenience, economic viability and similarity in the developmental needs of sub-regions.

In this situation, the move towards smaller states appears to be inevitable and would lead to more democratisation. The formation of three new states in 2000 – Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand – has provided a fillip to this process. It also points to a new confidence in the political elite in comparison to the early years ofIndependence. Today, fears of the Centre weakening due to the creation of a large number of small states are unfounded. Many small states were created after 1956 – Punjab, Haryana and some in the north-east – which strengthened rather than weakened theUnion. Even as the older federal structure served the polity created atIndependence, there is a need to redraw the map ofIndiain keeping with the new social and political order. Reorganisation needs to be seen not as a task undertaken at a single point of time, but as an ongoing process that remains unfinished.

At the same time, the creation of a federation consisting of smaller states is a complex task and requires careful attention. Many critics have correctly argued that the mere creation of smaller states out of the existing bigger ones does not guarantee good governance and faster and inclusive economic development. Considering the plethora of demands being raised, it is time for a second States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) that can redrawIndia’s federal map, creating many smaller states and keeping in mind the twin criteria of economic viability and people’s aspirations.

Rakesh Hooja
Director, Indian Institute of Public Administration

If the administration in a large state suffers from inefficiencies, what is the guarantee that it will become competent by
merely creating a smaller state?

Why do political demands for smaller states and bifurcation arise? There are, of course, emotional considerations like culture, language, religion and a sense of economic and regional deprivation. But more importantly, politicians envision additional posts of power as chief ministers or ministers, leaders of the opposition, Assembly speakers and so on. Similarly, government servants think of becoming chief secretaries or secretaries, DGs of police, chief-engineers, directors and so on.

A common notion is that a larger share of central funds would flow into a new state compared to when it is a region in a larger state. Most also believe that a new capital city would provide better living conditions. Arguments are set forth that a smaller state with less number of districts would diminish the span of control of state-level functionaries. And that reduced distances between the state capital and peripheral areas would improve the quality of governance and administrative responsiveness and accountability. However, this can easily be achieved with strong regional administrative units in larger states.

Evidence shows that both large and small states have fared well and that poor performance is not necessarily linked to size. In fact, today, technology can help make governing larger territories easier and bring even far-flung areas closer.

Much more than the size of a state, it is the quality of governance and administration, the diverse talent available within the state’s population, and the leadership’s drive and vision that determine whether a particular state performs better than the others.

A small state is likely to face limitations in terms of the natural (physical) and human resources available to it. Moreover, it will lack the kind of agro-climatic diversity required for economic and developmental activities. It would also be restricted in its capability to raise resources internally. All these factors would only make it more dependent on the Centre for financial transfers and centrally-sponsored schemes. Further, increasing the number of states in the country would expand the span of control of the central ministries dealing with states and of party high commands dealing with state party units.

A new small state may find itself lacking in infrastructure (administrative and industrial), which requires time, money and effort to build. Some may argue that it is with this very purpose of developing infrastructure that demands for the creation of smaller states are encouraged. But experience shows that it takes about a decade for a new state and its government and administrative institutions to become stable; for various issues of division of assets, funds and of the state civil service(s) to get fully resolved; and for links to the new state capital to stabilise. The cost of this transition is not low and the state’s performance may suffer during this interim period.

So, the rationalisation of some existing state boundaries and reorganising territories may be desirable for reasons of physical connectivity. And even as this and other socio-political factors could be considered by a new State’s Reorganisation Commission, a change merely for the sake of having a small state is not desirable.

Moreover, we cannot fix a state’s optimum size on a whim. It calls for a thorough evaluation of physical features like land quality and topography, agro-climatic conditions, socio-cultural factors, natural and human resource availability, density of population, means of communication, existing administrative culture and effectiveness of its district and regional administrative units and so on.

There are numerous demands for smaller states in different parts of the country. However, smaller states are not a panacea forIndia’s myriad problems. Neither can they resolve issues faced by various regions and sections of society. Larger states may be, in fact, more economically- and financially-viable and better capable of serving people and achieving planned development. If the administration in a large state suffers from inefficiencies, what is the guarantee that it will become competent by merely creating a smaller state?

These views are personal

November 22, 2011 at 4:02 pm 1 comment

Small is manageable

Following report is from http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/ajit-ranade-small-is-manageable/456194/:

Uttar Pradesh accounts for one sixth of India’s population. If it were a country, it would be among the eight most populous nations in the world. This fact alone justifies at least an exploration of the question of reorganising the state into smaller, more manageable units. But it is not administrative or managerial convenience alone that calls for such a split. As Niranjan Rajadhyaksha (Mint, November 17) and others have pointed out, it was B R Ambedkar who had laid out the case for smaller states in a book published in 1955. The book was a response to the increasing, and strident, demand to carve out states along linguistic lines across the country. It was written before Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were even born. Dr Ambedkar was the original proponent of the idea of breaking up the various Hindi-speaking provinces or states in the north. Linguistic reorganisation, he argued, would lead to the creation of disproportionately large behemoths in the north and Balkanisation of the south. His proposal aimed to prevent such a situation.

Of course Dr Ambedkar did not anticipate the additional demographic skew that the country is witnessing now, with southern states having reached replacement fertility equilibrium and northern states providing higher growth in population. This situation is further distorted because northern states have lower per capita human capital. It is not clear which is the cause and which is the consequence: higher female literacy or lower fertility? Given the higher numbers in the north, sooner or later electoral constituencies will have to be redrawn. Untying that political Gordian knot, which was postponed in 1971, remains a problem. The proposed break-up of Uttar Pradesh is not about the demographic question of north versus south; it is about reduction to manageable size.

Dr Ambedkar had proposed that a state should have a population of 20 million. By that standard, 17 of India’s 28 states would need to be broken up. An international comparison may be useful. The United States has 50 states for its 300 million people — about six million in every state. Germany has 16 federal states for its 86 million, thus averaging to less than the US. South Africa has nine provinces for 49 million people, Argentina has 23 provinces for 40 million, Vietnam has 58 provinces for 87 million people, and so on. We don’t need to mention the more intense federal set-ups such as the cantons of Switzerland. The pattern is clear. India is an extreme outlier when it comes to the number of people in each sub-national entity in the democratic world. Just like states, our Parliament is also severely understaffed. It sounds crazy that one member of Parliament (MP) represents two million people. Even the council of states, the Rajya Sabha, has at least two deficiencies. One, it has too few members. Two, the members do not represent each state equally. Uttar Pradesh has far more Rajya Sabha MPs than Manipur; this violates the principle of the council of “states”.

In the case of Uttar Pradesh, its size and economic record have also led to another anomaly: each successive Finance Commission has recorded an imbalance between what the state gets and what it contributes to the national exchequer. The Commission’s distribution formula is weighted by population and poverty rate, and is, therefore, biased towards larger and backward states. There is increasingly a difference between what a state contributes to total tax collection and what it receives. The states’ own tax effort, through sales tax collection, is also one of the factors. But the difference is acute in the case of Uttar Pradesh, which alone receives almost 20 per cent of all fiscal transfers. Of course the Commission is responsible for addressing both vertical and horizontal imbalances. In this it is aided by transfers through the Planning Commission mechanism (the Gadgil formula). But over the years, a perverse outcome emerged in the Commission grants: the transfers were increasingly skewed towards backward states, implying as if they were rewards for backwardness. Recent Commissions have sought to correct this by introducing incentives for fiscal rectitude and economic performance in the transfers. The 13th Finance Commission has even found an innovative way to bypass the state government and give money directly to lower tiers of government. But unless a full-fledged amendment is made to the Constitution, such direct transfers to the lowest tiers are impossible. If such measures existed, then the problem of size and the imperative to break up big states like Uttar Pradesh would be diluted.

The evolution of a modern democracy like India will inevitably lead to greater centralisation. The rollout of the nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime illustrates this gravitational pull towards the Centre. A smaller but equally significant example of increasing centralisation is the Universal Identity initiative. Centrally sponsored schemes, which often bypass states’ authority, are also examples of the Centre’s hegemony. But such anti-federalist phenomena are common in most federal societies. In India, the GST involves a voluntary abdication of federal rights by respective states. The grand bargain involves sacrificing autonomy in exchange for a nationwide common economic market. In this context a smaller state can be an effective federal entity, wherein the GST transfers back to the state are more tightly linked to the ultimate beneficiaries. If part of consumption taxes goes back to the locals, it will provide an effective centrifugal antidote to GST. Also, it will become easier to transfer resources directly from GST to lower tiers like a municipality or a panchayat (village government). Smaller-sized states make this more feasible. In the absence of the GST-tied-to-lower tiers mechanism, and with zero constitutional backing, most (big) states of India have been lethargic when it comes to implementing the 73rd and 74th Amendments. Even though every state has a state finance commission, the recommendations regarding devolution of funds, functions and functionaries are mostly observed in the breach. A smaller state makes all this much less likely. Governance is inversely proportional to distance from voters. Therefore, a smaller state increases the likelihood of better governance.

Smaller states, therefore, make more sense on the following grounds: (a) administrative ease and manageability; (b) correcting historic skews in federal finances of India through downsizing the problem; (c) greater possibility of inserting appropriate centrifugal mechanisms to thwart the GST juggernaut; and (d) reduced distance between the governed and government. Many naysayers will cite reasons of history, culture and dislocation. People will also cite how the creation of smaller states leads to loss of economies of scale in governance, law and order and “expertise” capital. All this talk is just a proxy for the centralising force. The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet’s decision is bold, whatever its timing and motivation. It should be welcomed and other states should draw inspiration.

November 21, 2011 at 6:15 pm Leave a comment

Is it time to remap India to create smaller political units? : A report from the Economic Times

Following is a report from the http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-11-20/news/30419772_1_separate-state-telengana-br-ambedkar:

If current demands were to be met, the map of India would look something like this. Telengana would be out of Andhra Pradesh as a separate state. Vidarbha would no longer be a part of Maharashtra. Karnataka would lose Coorg. Bodoland would be carved out of Assam and Gorkhaland out of West Bengal.

Rajasthan would be bifurcated with the creation of Maru Pradesh. Jammu would not be lumped with Kashmir. And Uttar Pradesh would cease to dominate the country’s politics after being sliced into the four states of Paschim Pradesh, Bundelkhand, Poorvanchal and Avadh Pradesh.

In short, instead of 28 states, India would have 38 states plus seven union territories and perhaps several semi-autonomous regions with their own development councils.

Had he been alive, the foremost proponent of small states and author of our Constitution, BR Ambedkar, may have argued that even this is too little a number for a country of India’s size and population. (The United States, with a population of approximately 300 million, has 50 states.)

In his critique of the 1955 recommendations of the first State Reorganisation Commission, which redrew state boundaries on linguistic lines, Ambedkar wrote, “The Commission evidently thinks that the size of a state is a matter of no consequence and that the equality in the size of the status constituting a federation is a matter of no moment. This is the first and the most terrible error cost which the Commission has committed. If not rectified in time, it will indeed be a great deal.”

Ambedkar was to prove prophetic. In the decades that followed, agitations for new states have erupted almost everywhere with varying degrees of violence, sometimes driven by reasons of ethnicity but increasingly by demands for better governance and speedier development.

Over the years, Ambedkar’s vision has been realised in bits and pieces. His call to break the impossibly large states of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh into more manageable units was heeded in the year 2000 with the creation of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. And now, his (self-declared) leading disciple, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati, has put another of his prescriptions on the national agenda for debate with a proposal to split her unwieldy state into four parts.

Federalism Reborn

Predictably, her opponents have slammed the proposal as an election gimmick for the 2012 state assembly polls. But Mayawati, canny as ever, may have set the ball rolling for something that has been in the air ever since Telengana went up in flames over the demand for a separate state. It may be time to remap India once again to create, as Ambedkar wanted, smaller political and administrative units that would better meet the burgeoning aspirations of people.

Political scientist Yogendra Yadav of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies calls it the “second stage of evolution in Indian federalism”. The first was the creation of states with linguistic homogeneity.

The process dominated the 1950s and 1960s and arose from the difficulty of governing regions with populations that spoke different languages and had diverse histories and cultures. But today, the push for new states has less to do with issues of identity and everything to do with the rising expectations of an electorate that wants more from the governments it elects.

It is worthwhile in this context to look more closely at the Telengana agitation. There is little that separates this region from the rest of Andhra Pradesh in terms of language, ethnicity and culture. But in terms of development, it is far more backward and impoverished.

The rapid growth of the other regions of the state has created a sense of neglect and resentment that prosperity has not trickled down, that resources have been cornered by the upwardly mobile and more aggressive populations of coastal Andhra and Rayalseema. Telengana now wants control of its own destiny and more importantly, of the resources the state gets from the centre and those it generates.

Stats of States

Statistics tell us that there is sound economic logic for small states. Growth figures of the three new states created in 2000 show that all of them have recorded a higher growth rate than the national average ever since they were formed. Significantly, with the exception of MP, the mother states, UP and Bihar, too have done better with the exit of Uttaranchal and Jharkhand respectively. They have registered around 3% higher growth.

The political impact, however, has yet to be assessed. There is no doubt that small states are a boon for regional and caste parties. They get a level-playing field to challenge the might of national parties and often end up as dominant forces.

The creation of more states then is likely to accelerate the fragmentation of Indian politics, making coalition governments at the Centre an inescapable reality. This need not be a bad thing considering the increasing inability of national parties and their Delhi-centric high commands to provide credible governance or exercise authority in the states.

The initiative for the creation of new states rests with the central government and Parliament. But the first step must be the immediate establishment of a second states reorganisation commission that will redraw state boundaries using parameters to ensure better governance and administration. If the enthusiastic response to Mayawati’s proposal from Telengana and Vidarbha is any indication, it may be an idea whose time has come.

(The author is Senior Editor, Times of India-Crest)

November 21, 2011 at 5:58 pm Leave a comment

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