Abrupt and politically motivated proclamation of separate Telangana state by the union government utterly felt shocking to most of us who have different takes on statehood policies, sharply distinct from exasperating greed backed hungry demonstration by the Telangana Rajya Samiti (TRS) chief K.Chandrashekhar.Rao (KCR) who foreseen a very crucial role in potential formation before splitting from Congress and later Telgu Desam Party after availing considerable stints in their rules.
Way back to Potti Sriramalu who had evangelize the statehood of Andhra Pradesh and later caused for the State Reorganization Committee (SRC, 1956) headed by Justice Fazal Ali to recent stirrings by KCR, they all used fast as a catalyst along with the linguistic and ethnic considerations to forward their demand of statehoods; alas! If the government in centre has Shawn similar sensitivity with the Irom Sharmila in Manipur who have been for years fasting for removal of the Arms Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) in state, she now remains a skeletal with her genuine demand.
The two represents the opposites ends of realities –human lives could have face the juxtaposed treatment in our democracy since they represent the unequal political patronage and indeed our political system still is not so much dynamic to anticipate the voices of civil society on pro-rata basis. In present case, the government had conceded the demand of separate Telangana without thinking the future consequences; decisions on redrawing state boundaries needs close reviewing and meticulous expatiation of the pros and cons, essentially such plan must be driven by logic and actual data, not emotion.
Initial categorization and subsequent formation of states on linguistic grounds were completely irrational since such maneuverings were entrusted with divisive factors since its inception as Nehru feared during the formation of Andhra state in 1956 and termed it as a marriage of unequal partnership with provisions of separation, similar to what we are witnessing today…at least now any statehood maneuvering should be opted primarily to take on the considerations of developmental issues unlike the politically inflated ethnic and linguistic issues.
Some causes of unsystematic state planning in early years after the independence could be attributed to the princely states and fore mostly to the British system of governance that was unduly centralized due to major considerations of substantial land revenue than any other visible factors albeit later improper developments were the outcomes of political sea-change.
State Reorganization Committee (SRC, 1956) recommended the formation of sixteen states and three centrally administered territories-the government however opted for fourteen states and six union territories because of apprehensions regarding their sustainability. Although presently, numbers of states have reached to twenty eight; we can’t refute the performances of new smaller states-from newly created north eastern states, Himachal Pradesh, Hariyana to Uttaranchal, Chhatisgarh etc ,they all have performed better except the Jharkhand whose fortunes damaged with political mal-functioning and many other counts has even more deteriorated after its separation from Bihar.
Core data suggests that, in general, smaller states have performed better after their own existence on physical and social infrastructure, law and order, administrative convenience, redressal of pertinent local issues, lesser heterogeneity etc. With improved economic and social indices if new states could enhance the transparency and accountability in governance than there is strong case for partial decentralization of other services except the matters of defense, national security and external affairs.
Decentralization is essential in present political framework and that must be headed by the second SRC to devise optimal number of states by appropriating rational benchmark in terms of good governance and better participation to redress the local developmental issues. An exposure of twenty five to forty five millions population and geographical coverage of thirty five thousand square kilometer would be an optimum situation although it should not seen as a deadline since diversity of conditions have to be interfaced with them.
Concept of smaller states In India are far from being a bandwagon of western experiments in this regard, who have been availing much distinct devolution from ours; neither our case is alike with China , where the process of decentralization was started even before 1978-79 reforms. However what they all makes sense that in most of matters devolution of power work to reach the benefits of growth to the bottom of pyramids besides eradicating all sorts of alienation that often caused for unrests; what exactly needed today to properly plan the viability of statehood with sole agenda of development in mind and stop appeasing the claims on the basis of extremes-like fast unto death, gathering of millions, damaging properties etc.
A clear intended plan with well judged implementation is suffice to change the internal boundaries of country and rest of energies must be merged with such plan to dwell further on successes.
Atul Kumar Thakur
December 30th 2009, New Delhi