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Millennium Post

Can we afford so many states?

Centre’s decision to create a separate state of Telangana by carving out a few districts from the existing state of Andhra Pradesh brought smiles on the faces of people living in the region. People had to wage a long struggle and face confrontation with the citizens of the other regions before the final decision.

The setting up of the new state would, no doubt, have far reaching effects and several ramifications across the country. The new state, the 29th in the country, is taking shape to meet certain regional aspirations. Andhra Pradesh was carved out of the then Madras state as a Telugu speaking state.  It was the first state to be created on linguistic consideration.

The recommendations of the commission were implemented through the States Reorganisation Act 1956. This resulted in creation of the new states on linguistic basis i.e. languages like Assamese (Assam), Bangla (West Bengal), Kannada (Karnataka), Kashmiri (J&K), Malayalam (Kerala), Oriya (Odisha), Tamil (Madras/ Tamilnadu), Telugu (Andhra Pradesh), Gujarati (Gujarat), Marathi (Maharashtra) and Punjabi (Punjab) language group by 1966. The commission finalised its recommendations on the four governing principles – preservation and strengthening of the unity and security of India, linguistic and cultural homogeneity, financial, economic and administrative considerations and successful working of the five year plans. 

The primacy of the linguistic factor was taken into consideration while demarcating state boundaries. It has been established that creation of states on linguistic consideration has not been successful as Telugu speaking Andhra Pradesh is bifurcated on the consideration of regional aspirations. It is like a country which was created on the basis of a particular religion failed miserably because one part of the country was being exploited. This resulted in failure of an experiment of two nation theory conceived due to religious fanatics.

One has to agree that smaller states have beyond any doubt established their capabilities to progress fast and make their states more prosperous than their earlier united states. Haryana is one of the shining examples of this fact. Number of states like Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura were created on ethnic-cum-economic considerations.

The three states Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh were born later under the NDA regime. The three languages – Urdu, Sanskrit and Sindhi – in the 8th schedule, are the languages which were not considered for setting up of states as their concentration is difficult to be found in specific parts and speaking people of these languages have the all India dispersal.

It has been observed that the sentimental unity based on language collapsed in many states under the strains of caste, class and mass conflicts. Moreover the regional imbalances and discriminations on the basis of regions are also becoming grounds to demand separate states. While looking into the resolution passed by the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mayawati to create four states in the Hindi heartland, would result in more demands to carve out new states on the basis of dialects and not languages. This may land us to a state which may weaken our federal structure.

There is no guarantee that the smaller states based on dialects would not raise demands like withdrawal of IAS officers.  Moreover with the demands for carving out states like Kukiland, Kengunadu, Tulunadu, Kamtapur, Awadh, Poorvanchal, Bundelkhand,  Harit Pradesh-Pashimanchal, Brij Pradesh, Bhojpur, Vidarbha, Gorkhalnd, Bodoland, Karbi angling, Mithilanchal, Dimaland, Coorg, Kosal, Eastern Nagaland, Ladak, Jammu and others pouring in, where the country is going to land ultimately?  Can we afford to have 50 to 60 states? The basis for the creation of the new states must be administrative and financial feasibility and homogeneity. 

The decisions to grant statehood should not be taken on the grounds of the prolonged duration of agitations and calculated political gains. The Britishers and even Mughals had created large number of states say provinces and subas and those looked to be administratively feasible and separate homogenous units. The Mughals had divided India in to 21 subas to cover different socio-cultural regions.  The subas were – Kabul, Kandhar, Multan, Ajmer, Thatta-Sindh, Gujarat, Delhi, Agra, Awadh, Illahabad, Malwa, Bihar, Bengal, Orissa, Khandesh, Berar, Ahmadnagar, Aurangabad, Bidar and Golconda-Hyderabad. 

The British Indian Empire had 11 provinces including Punjab, Sind, NWFP, United Province, Central Province, Bombay, Madras, Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Assam. Apart from these provinces there were 562 big and small princely states.  At the time of India getting Independence, the Britishers gave freedom to the princely states of either joining India or Pakistan or keeping their sovereign identity. Our infant country had to face flood of refugees on one side and on the other side had a daunting challenge of getting all princely states under the new born independent
nation – India.
It is now time to introspect whether our country can afford large number of states or not?
The author is a communication consultant 
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