Posts filed under ‘Do smaller states provide better governance?’

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

Following is a report from the

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

Are smaller states better governed? : CNN-IBN

November 16, 2011 at 5:32 am Leave a comment

Why Kosal should be separated from Odisha?

Following is Dr. Arjun Purohit’s take on this issue (this message was sent to various e-groups):

Dear all,

Koshal state is inevitable because of variety of reasons but primarily because it is in accord with emerging trends. It is begining to be evident bigger states do not necessarily better management of resources, especially human resource. Fear that Koshal and Orissa will be further disadvantaged once separated simply do not hold water. Both MP and Chhattisgarh are better off after separation. Bihar is on mend under Nitish Kumar after separating from Jharkhand; it is concentrating on overall development of the state, particularly on human resource now that it can not depend on easy money obtained from mining operations in Jharkhand. Even Uttaranchal is beginning to show progress concentrating on its own resources which remained untapped when it remained with UP. Sure they are going through teething problems, but on the whole all these new entities are on the mend.

In the case of Orissa and Koshal, several studies done since its inception suggest that inter regional variance is increasing, and the gaps are getting bigger with no sign of abetting. There is no sense of urgency or inclination to reverse this trend.More recently, the state sponsored  a study to examine this self evident problem; It took four and half year and cost thirty five lakhs; and was produced two years ago. Mr.A.U.Singhdeo, the minister in charge said in Orissa assembly that the government is still studying it !! In the mean time, there has been utter failure of governance. Much of Koshal area is coming under the sway of Naxalites. Koshal is emerging as the most polluted part of Orissa. KBK area is languishing for decades even after alarm bell had been sounded decades ago.

Orissa government has no mining policy yet mining is going on in full spate for much of the last century. Even if humongous amount of mineral resources is known to be stolen away, and is being stolen away, Orissa government steadfastly opposing any  CBI enquiry even though its own government apparatus is incapable in stopping the loot. The irony is that proceeds from these operations did not improve the lots of Orissa and it is locked in the bottom of literacy and wealth ladder.We have been in the resource trap all these decades, and unfortunately lives of people who are effected by these mining operations is degrading in all measures. Not that all areas of Orissa are languishing. It is as if the sixty mile zone surrounding Bhubaneswar is where all the proceeds of Orissa is being dumped with Koshal and South Orissa remaining in the rain shadow area. Worst part of it all is that a nexus has developed in that sixty mile zone which thinks that that area alone needs to be developed. Ironically, that nexus consisting primarily of senior bureaucrats(working and retired) and academics of coastal area, is unofficially determining the shape of destiny of Orissa, and is immune from political engagement.

Orissa government has lost touch with people beyond this sixty mile zone. Our Adivashi population, who constitute nearly a fourth of population, have been singularly impacted from such deliberate neglect. More recently, the government has turned hostile towards this population. Unfortunately, both Koshal and South Orissa contain the bulk of this population. Protests from this group have not been heard, they have been replied with lathi charge, and even gun shots. And thus it is creating a fertile ground for Naxalites. We are watching in living colour the upheavals in Arab countries graphically demonstrating what happens when the governments are disconnected with people. We too in Orissa witnessing something similar albeit in a minor scale.

But Koshal should not be a separate state because of a protest movement. The daunting task of  Koshal state will be how to prepare the state for twenty first century, and align itself to overall growth and main stream of India. Key to this  is single minded focus on human resource development and create an ambiance of trust between between people and the government.We have to learn from the blunders of Orissa, which made it dysfunctional. All state resources must be equitably distributed across the regions. Overcentrilisation of state institutions and deployment of resources in a small part have been the main fault lines of Orissa; these must be avoided. Policies and procedures must be established to institute decentrilisation based upon proximity,accessibility and pragmatics. We simply can not afford to marginalise a huge chunk of population and expect progress. The Adivashi population is integral part of the state, and is a source of our strength. All social scientists will tell you that geniuses are produced in all clusters of population; therefore as it stands, by ignoring this population we are depriving ourselves a major source potential enhancers of the society. We must also develop better methods of conflict resolutions. In Orissa, we are locked into unnecessary battles between mining industries and Adivashis, farmers and industries, mineral exploitation and environmental concerns,etc.. We all have a stake in the upliftment of the state. Many of these conflicts are soluble, but we do not have in Orissa proper mechanisms to  defuse these issues. Therefore I fully endorse the stand of Sai Prasan and Parvin Patel. Koshal can be a model state if we play our cards right from the beginning. All these can be achieved without violence. And I believe Orissa will too will be better off without Koshal.


Arjun Purohit

April 3, 2011 at 1:50 pm 3 comments

Strike seeking separate Koshal state hits rail services in Orissa

Following is a report by IANS and taken from

January 10, 2010 at 1:01 pm Leave a comment

Koshal movement:A debate in OTV

December 30, 2009 at 11:37 am Leave a comment

Indian media giant CNN-IBN writes about Koshal state

CNN-IBN reports about the separate Koshal state demand.  It writes, Orissa’s turn: Thousands stage rally for Koshal state.

December 23, 2009 at 11:08 am Leave a comment

Thousands stage rally near the state assembly for a separate Koshal state

December 23, 2009 at 9:06 am 1 comment

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