Posts filed under ‘Demand of Koshal state’

India Redrawn: Time to have 50 states

Following is a report from the outlook : (Thanks to Saket Sahu and Brundaban Sahu for the pointer)

Linguistic States: A 20th-Century Timeline

Dec 1903: Linguistic principle for organising India’s provinces figures for first time in Sir Herbert Risley’s letter to the Bengal government. Sir Herbert is home secretary at this point.

1905: Partition of Bengal takes place

1917: Dr Annie Besant strongly opposes linguistic organisation of provinces at the Calcutta session

1920: Congress adopts linguistic redistribution of provinces at the Nagpur session

1927: Congress adopts a resolution supporting creation of linguistic states

1928: Motilal Nehru Committee supports redistribution along linguistic lines

1945-46: Congress election manifesto promises provinces will be constituted on linguistic and cultural lines

Nov 1947: Prime Minister Nehru concedes the linguistic principle, but says security and stability of India important

1948: Linguistic provinces commission set up

Aug-Sept, 1951: G. Sitaramaiah fasts for creation of Andhra state

Dec 15, 1952: Potti Sriramulu dies while fasting for the creation of Andhra. The state is carved out of Madras Presidency only a year later.

Dec 1953: States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) is set up

1955: Nehru sends S.G. Barve to the former USSR for understanding the language policy as a state reconstruction programme

Jul 1955: SRC report submitted—14 states and 9 union territories recommended.

Aug 1956: SRC recommendations implemented

1960: Gujarat and Maharashtra come into being

1960-61: Sant Fateh Singh and Master Tara Singh undertake fast unto death for the creation of a Punjab state

1963-64: Language riots in Tamil Nadu

1963: Nagaland takes shape

1966: Haryana and Punjab created 1970-80: Other Northeastern states carved out

1992: Goa created

2000: Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand emerge as independent entities.

Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in the run-up to the reorganisation of Indian states in 1956, had said that “small states will have small minds”. In a volatile post-Partition milieu, he had become acutely apprehensive about smaller states being created essentially on the linguistic principle. He feared it would lead to balkanisation and the final implosion of the idea of India. “First things should come first,” he had insisted and that meant the unity and integrity of the new nation. But around the same time, for the same reasons of federal unity, B.R. Ambedkar had advanced his thoughts on linguism as an organising principle. He had warned: “One state, one language (and not one language, one state) is the rule. Wherever there has been a departure to this rule there has been a danger to the state…. India cannot escape this fate if it continues to be a congeries of mixed states.”
“Languages, unlike a mobile or a tablet, are things that last. They make a poor, overworked, under-appreciated people whole.”Mrinal Pande Writer

In 2012, 56 years after the very first round of the reorganisation of states, we seem to have a different ‘thali’ of questions before us. We seem to have arrived at the crossroads on one of the basic features of our federal structure. Federal unity is no longer a serious concern like in the ’50s and ’60s, but with a spate of demands for new states coming up from practically every corner of India at different intervals and with varying intensity, and that too from within states once seen as linguistic and cultural wholes, one wonders if we have slowly begun to move away from the idea of the linguistic state. Has the nation begun to transact with far more pragmatic parameters like development, economic growth, demographic size and administrative convenience, instead of mere emotion? Ever since the creation of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand in 2000 and now, in November 2011, with the resolution passed for a four-way split of Uttar Pradesh, haven’t smaller states become the buzzword? Should we become a nation of 50 states and eight union territories (see imaginary map) in the next few decades from the existing 28 states and seven Union territories? Is it time we constituted a second States Reorganisation Commission (src)?

It appears that there is a general recognition of a drift away from linguistic states and a simultaneous investment of faith in smaller states. Two recent incidents offer an insight. A few weeks back, the Kannada media reported that when a delegation of Marathi-speaking people from the ‘disputed’ border district of Belgaum met Raj Thackeray, he reportedly told the delegation to learn to live in Karnataka. Similarly, Rahul Gandhi’s taunt during his UP poll campaign that people from the state should stop ‘begging’ in Maharashtra was largely an invitation to envisage an economically vibrant state, for which the answer may lie in Mayawati’s idea of splitting it up into four.

Language of grievance The agitation for Vidarbha

The growth rates of smaller states in the last five years too have looked encouraging. Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have done well. The growth rate of a reorganised Bihar has been an impressive 11 per cent over the last five years. Uttarakhand has also posted impressive figures compared to its estranged ‘parent state’, UP.

“The Tamils won’t opt for a reversion or revision. It is best not to wake up a sleeping animal.”

In this context of new demands and reasoning, many have felt that it would make eminent sense to constitute a second src. Senior journalist B.G. Verghese says that instead of reorganising the states in an untidy and piecemeal fashion, a new src would take a long-term view. “There is nothing wrong,” he says, “in envisaging India at 2040-50 with a population of around 1,600 million organised in 60 states, with an average population of 25 million each, and some 1,500 districts.” He also suggests that the terms of reference for the second src should not be political, but rather “techno-economic-administrative”. More states will not destabilise us, but agitation and alienation of the sort we see in Telangana will, he argues. To go with smaller states and new administrative boundaries, the setting up of natural resource regions, river basin authorities and zonal coordination committees that hold routine meetings become important. “If zonal panels as suggested by the first src were functional, then problems like the Mullaperiyar dam or Cauvery or Belgaum would have been sorted out very differently,” feels Verghese.Historian Ramachandra Guha is equally enthusiastic about smaller states and the setting up of a second src. India, he says, now faces a second generation of challenges, and these pertain to regional imbalances in social and economic development. A new src would look dispassionately into the demands for Vidarbha, Gorkhaland, Harit Pradesh (western UP), Kongu Nadu (western Tamil Nadu) etc. Smaller states alone would not do, the emphasis should also be on granting real financial and political autonomy to panchayats and municipalities, he adds.

Addressing the question on who should be assigned the responsibility of redrawing the map of India’s states, Guha goes a step ahead and suggests that the new src should draw its members not from political parties, but from the law, academia and the social sector. Pointing out that members of the first src were the jurist Fazl Ali; author and diplomat K.M. Panikkar and social worker H.N. Kunzru, who were all non-partisan and widely respected, he says that the members of the new src should be people like jurist Fali S. Nariman, economist Jean Dreze, sociologist Andre Beteille and social worker Ela Bhatt.

However, Marxist historian K.N. Panikkar, even as he concedes that there is a case for smaller states for effective administration and equitable distribution of natural resources, feels that there is no need for a second src as such. He fears that it would open up a Pandora’s box. Panikkar is more for blurring the boundaries between states. “The border should cease to be of any consequence for the people,” he says. “Internal migration and economic linkages should dissolve the existing boundaries between states, even when they maintain cultural identity and administrative distinction.”

The agitation for Gorkhaland. (Photograph by Reuters, From Outlook, February 06, 2012)

The reorganisation argument becomes further nuanced when bureaucrat and India’s former ambassador to unesco, Chiranjiv Singh, puts forward a cultural rationale in place of the familiar administrative or economic one. “Whatever demands we see for new states may not be on linguistic lines, but there is an underlying cultural reasoning. Be it Telangana, Vidarbha or the four divisions of UP and Mithila, they are all cultural units. Also, don’t underestimate culturally distinct North Karnataka’s resentment over Old Mysore,” he says. Linguistically, too, these regions vary to a large extent. Braj, Avadhi or Maithili may have been reduced to dialects in the popular imagination, but they are anything but that. Surdas wrote in Braj Bhasha and Tulsidas wrote in Avadhi. So, Singh’s argument that the new src should recognise these cultural zones appears to be perfectly in place.


“What happened in Assam, beginning with the creation of Nagaland in ’63, is not a linguistic but a political reorganisation.”M.S. Prabhakara Writer

Singh further argues that it can’t be assumed that administratively smaller units will spur economic growth. They are not linked to each other, he asserts, offering a few examples: “Assam may grow tea, but the market is in Calcutta and Amritsar. Similarly, Amritsar is the largest producer of nose rings and, needless to say, people in the region don’t wear them. Haveri in Karnataka does not grow cardamom, but it is the market for the spice. This proves that economic linkages don’t respect administrative boundaries. Therefore, it is better that we reorganise on cultural lines. That will also rest easy on the collective memory of the people,” he concludes.

The question of src and the redrawing of the map aside, what has led to the decline of the linguistic state—at least as an exclusive logic? If one were to extrapolate the historical arguments of anthropologist Lisa Mitchell in her book, Language, Emotion and Politics in South India, language as an object of emotion or its personification in India, more specifically the South, was only a late 19th-century creation. But within half a century of the creation of the language-emotion nexus, Potti Sriramulu gave up his life for Telugu and Andhra in December 1952, and soon after, since 1964, Tamil Nadu witnessed a number of self-immolation incidents for the Tamil cause. Earlier, till the 1890s, there were no specifically demarcated domains for any language; there was only a multilingual milieu. How and why this creation happened is an interesting historical process, says Mitchell. Going by this, we could logically assume that language-based emotion may have run its course in a hundred years.

United on division The Telangana demand is based on cultural/economic reasoning

Writer-translator Kalyan Raman points out other factors that may have come to dominate the emotive linguistic field. He says the economic liberalisation in 1991 initiated three trends: inter-state mobility of unskilled workers, especially from impoverished regions to more prosperous states or cities; competition among the states for domestic and foreign investment; increased territorial claims over resources due to pressures of economic development. He points out the dichotomy of the present-day linguistic state thus: “On the one hand, as economic units, linguistic states are depending less on the community’s cultural identity for economic mobilisation to spur growth. On the other hand, cultural/linguistic identity is pressed into service for confrontational politics, whenever required. But the original raison d’etre for linguistic states—of community integration on social and economic planes—seems to have gone past its expiry date. I would say that linguistic states have morphed into something else, and that something else, because it is based on economic clout and political power, may be hard to dismantle.”

“Now, economic growth, cultural-linguistic-social identities, accountable administrative structure will be bases for reorganisation.”Asha Sarangi JNU

The hegemony of the standard version of state language over dialects and other minority languages also may have caused immense damage and dissipation of interest in linguistic states. For instance, when Karnataka celebrated 50 years of its existence in 2006, it only celebrated Kannada and forgot that Konkani, Tulu, Byary and Kodava were the state’s allied languages. Also, the backwards and Dalits, who were seen as guardians of local tongues, have moved on to experience the economically liberating energies of English.

Finally, it is important to point out that our very worldview as a nation seems to have undergone a sea change. We no longer imagine or define ourselves as living in villages, the so-called repositories of culture, but have made cities the nucleus of our being. In some ways, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (jnnurm) programme of the Union government is a metaphor for this transformation. Reporting some of the findings of the People’s Linguistic Survey of India, linguist G.N. Devy pointed out recently that Maharashtra is Marathi-speaking, but Mumbai linguistically needs to be seen as a ‘national city’ rather than a state capital. Ditto would be the results for Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.

February 10, 2012 at 5:27 am 3 comments

A brand new map for India: Demands for new states won’t stop because of the population boom

Following is an old report (July 2011) from

Sanjeer Alam says demands for new states won’t stop because of the population boom

ONCE AGAIN, the agitation for a separate state of Telangana is back to the centrestage of political drama in New Delhi. Once again, the spotlight is fixed on the blame game. And once again, the Centre seems to be sleeping with the virtues of reticence. For many, the fresh wave of Telangana crisis triggered by the resignation of elected representatives of people, MLAs and MPs, is largely an outcome of the inactivity of the central government, for it chose to sit over the recommendations of the Justice Srikrishna Commission for resolving the issue. However, the fact remains that the Telangana tangle epitomises the deeper structural problems facing India since the reorganisation of states way back in 1956. Today it is Telangana. Tomorrow it will be Vidarbha and so on.

One cannot be oblivious to the fact that the echoes of Telangana go far beyond Andhra Pradesh and New Delhi. There are longstanding demands for a Vidarbha state in Maharashtra, for Harit Pradesh and Purvanchal in Uttar Pradesh, for Mithila state in Bihar, for Koshal state in Odisha, for Gorkhaland in West Bengal and the list goes on. This is probably why the central government is interested in buying time rather than resolving it once and for all. The worry of the Centre is that statehood to Telangana will give momentum to many more demands of creating new states. So why put their fingers in a can of worms?

Why are there sustained movements for new states? Such movements, violent or otherwise, owe their career to the short-sightedness and the static approach of the political class. In the first place, administrative boundaries in any country are never static. They change in the course of time and in response to changing demographic social, economic and political conditions. In India, the last major exercise of drawing politico-administrative boundaries was carried out under the State Reorganisation Act (1956). Under this Act, the state boundaries were to be drawn on linguistic lines. In other words, the state and linguistic boundaries, as far as practicable, were to coincide with each other. As a result, due attention was not paid to other relevant criteria such as geographical contiguity, area, size of population, and socio-cultural attributes other than language. Therefore, dissatisfaction cropped up within a few years of reorganisation of the states. Even as linguistic homogeneity provided the basis of redrawing administrative maps of India in 1956, the problem remained far from settled. The Gujarati- speaking people rose to demand for a separate state. So, Gujarat was carved out of Bombay state in 1960. Six years later, in 1966, Punjab was divided into three states – Punjabi-speaking Punjab, Hindi-speaking Haryana and hilly state Himachal Pradesh. Furthermore, three new states based on mixed criteria of relative economic backwardness, geographical terrain and socio-cultural features were created in 2000. These states were Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. The journey of carving out as many as twenty-eight states so far suggests at least two things. One, that the aspirations of people channel out in complex ways. So, drawing or redrawing of politico-administrative boundaries should be sensitive to such complexities. Two, even if certain demands have enough justifications and usefulness, the political class will not move until push comes to shove.

Secondly, one, if not the sole, reason for having pluralities of administrative units is to ensure administrative efficiency and good governance. India is too big in size both in terms of area and population. The population of India is almost two times the population of Latin America and one and a quarter times the population of the whole of Africa. Owing to a relatively high growth rate of population, we add almost the total population of Australia or of Haryana every year. This obviously necessitates a periodic exercise of redrawing politico-administrative boundaries.

Thirdly, many states of India are not only super large but also quite heterogeneous in terms of socio-economic and cultural attributes. For example, Uttar Pradesh has more population (199.6 million in 2011) than Brazil (189.6 million in 2008). The population of Uttar Pradesh is two and a half times the population of Germany. In Maharashtra, there are more people than France and Spain put together.

IN BIHAR, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, there are more people than Germany. Internally, Uttar Pradesh has more population than Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the two largest states in terms of area, put together. Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have fewer people than Uttar Pradesh alone. Generally, though not necessarily, smaller states are better able to ensure administrative efficiency and governance. If the twin objectives of administrative efficiency and good governance are central to the exercise of redrawing and readjustment of administrative boundaries, states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and other bigger states can be divided into many viable states.

Fourthly and finally, most states are marked by huge socio-cultural and economic differences. For instance, economically and culturally, the western and eastern parts Uttar Pradesh are poles apart. On both counts, western Uttar Pradesh is closer to Haryana than eastern Uttar Pradesh. Similarly, the western and eastern parts of Bihar stand out in sharp contrast to each other. Both culturally and economically, the western region of Bihar is closer to eastern Uttar Pradesh. Similarly, the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra stands out in sharp contrast to the rest of Maharashtra. And so does Telangana in Andhra Pradesh. What needs to be underlined is that socially and economically backward regions within states have remained backward across time, without showing signs of convergence. Whether real or feigned, the backward communities tend to see their backwardness rooted in the discriminatory practices of the state dominated by those coming from an advanced region. Given that smaller states are generally doing reasonably well and are marked by lesser degree of regional inequalities, part of the problem of deprivation along regional lines can be resolved by carving out more states in the bigger ones.

The way the Telangana issue is unfolding, granting statehood to Telangana is inevitable. It is also certain that once Telangana becomes the 29th state of India, it is bound to give salience to the demands of creating states in other parts of country. It is high time that the Centre constitutes a Second States Reorganisation Commission to look into the legitimacy and usefulness of demands for new states.

Sanjeer Alam is visiting associate fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi


December 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm Leave a comment

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.

November 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm 1 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

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

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

Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD) urges early formation of 2nd SRC (State Reorganisation Commission)

Following is a report from the Pioneer:

The Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD) has strongly advocated for constitution of a second SRC (State Reorganisation Commission) to resolve the separate statehood issues. This would go a long way in addressing the issues peacefully, said KKD secretary general Baidyanath Mishra while speaking to the Press here.

Mishra said the Telangana agitation has taken a severe toll of men and property worth thousands of crores of rupees. This could have been solved long back had the Government gone in for an SRC instead of a one-man commission, which came out with multiple choices. The U-turn in the Telangana tangle has created a credibility gap between the Government and the people of Telangana. No amount of damage control exercise would assuage the feelings of Telangana denizens unless Andhra Pradesh is divided.

An SRC should bring all separate State demands, including Kosal in Odisha, into its orbit, but the Telangana issue has to get priority over others and must be decided within a specific timeframe. Then, it is up to the convenience of the commission to redress issue relating to other new States, Mishra said.

Asked as to where the demand for a Kosal State stands in order of preference, he said logicallyit should be next to Telangana.

November 7, 2011 at 8:25 am Leave a comment

KKD seeks Advani view on Kosal state issue

Following is a report from the Pioneer:

The Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD) has urged senior BJP leader LK Advani to clarify his party’s stand on the Kosal State issue during his Chetna Yatra in Odisha.

According to KKD leaders, on April 14, 2004 Advani had said, “The Centre could consider the demand for creation of a separate Kosal State only if the Odisha Assembly passed a resolution in this regard. A consensus is needed in the matter.”

KKD secretary general, Baidyanath Mishra, stated in a Press release here on Thursday, “Seven years have gone by. So, it is time for Advani to clarify whether he is of the same opinion or there has been a change in his stand. This question comes in the wake of his statement on Telangana that his party will support if a Bill on Telangana is tabled in the Parliament.

Mishra maintained that a resolution by the Odisha Assembly for a separate Kosal State is a far cry. Since demands are mounting for many new States, Advani should also clarify whether constitution of a second State Reorganisation Commission (SRC) is the answer to resolve the entire issue peacefully. Mishra further said that a new SRC should bring all separate State demands into its purview, but the Telangana issue has to get priority over others and must be decided within a specific timeframe.

November 7, 2011 at 8:21 am Leave a comment

How Odisha govt. betrayed the people of western Odisha: An article by Uttam Kumar Pradhan

Following report is from the Sambad:


September 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm 1 comment

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