Millennium Post

New states in the Hindi heart

Union rural development minister, Jairam Ramesh, recently expressed his opinion in favour of splitting Uttar Pradesh in more than one state. Just before the elections, the then chief minister of UP, Mayawati, had proposed the division of the state into four smaller states, and had tried to make this proposal an election issue. The Samajwadi Party (SP), led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, had opposed the proposal. Mayawati lost and Yadav won and this issue of division of the most populous state of the country lost its relevance. Mayawati could not take advantage of this proposal of smaller states and Yadav did not suffer for opposing. That is why one may conclude that the demand of splitting up UP into smaller states has been rejected by the people of the state. Some other leaders who espoused the break up of UP also lost in the last assembly election. Raja Bundela, who was at the forefront of the movement for the creation of Bundelkhand, could not prevent SP from sweeping the region called Bundelkhand. Amar Singh espoused the cause of Poorvanchal. He, too, could not make even his political presence in the so called Poorvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh and there, too, the SP won the election with a handsome margin.

In this background, the opinion of Ramesh for dividing UP into smaller states seems to be a song in wilderness. But, what the union rural development minister has opined needs a debate not only in UP, but also among those who are concerned about the development of the most populous state of India.

UP is not the largest state of the country in terms of geographical area. There are many states, like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, which are larger than it. But it is not the geographical size or population which necessitates its division, but it is the cultural and linguistic diversities that prepare grounds for its division. On the face it may seem that the whole population of the state speaks the same Hindi language, but, in reality, there are huge linguistic diversities. Many dialects are spoken and these dialects have been categorised into three sub-groups of Hindi – Bihari Hindi, Eastern Hindi and Western Hindi. People speaking Pahari Hindi have already been given a separate state called Uttarakhand. These linguistic diversities do not allow people of the state to develop a sense of belonging to a single state. Bhojpuri [a Bihari Hindi dialect] speaking people of the eastern part of the state are not recognised as UPites by the people of western UP. Not only Khadi Boli speakers of Western Uttar Pradesh, but even people of central UP consider them [Bhojpuri speaking UPites] as Bihari, because they speak a Bihari dialect are culturally close to the people of Bihar. Even the Awadhi speaking people do not accept them as belonging to their state. This kind of problem is not only faced by the easterners of UP, but there are problems, when people talk of people of western Uttar Pradesh and central UP as well. Frankly speaking, the problem of the people of UP will not end even by its division. What, in fact, is needed is the reorganisation of all the Hindi speaking states. UP has been a victim of the Delhi empire for centuries. This state is the creation of the policy of divide and rule adopted by the emperor sitting in Delhi. UP, in the present form, is the result of the division of at least five cultural regions of northern India. A part of all those cultural regions have been put together to form UP. Before, 1950, it was known as United Provinces. Still before it was known as North West Provinces by the English rulers based at Calcutta. The formation of UP has taken an evolutionary path. Bihar was divided by Akbar and its western part was merged with Awadhi. Bihar was known as Poorab Desh [In
by Al Biruni] and Prachi [In Indica by Megastheneze]. This is the reason Awadhi speaking people identified the people of extended Awadh as Poorabi and their language Bhojpuri as Purabia. Now these people of erstwhile Bihar have searched a new identity for themselves and this is the Poorvanchali identity.

Akbar divided Bihar, because its ruler Shershah had ousted his father from India and captured Delhi. Similarly, other cultural regions, too, were divided by Akbar and the successive rulers of Delhi. Bundelkhand was divided. One part of it is in UP now and the rest is in Madhya Pradesh. Baghelkhand was also divided. One part of it is in UP and another part is in MP. Khadi Boli speaking area was also divided. One part of this area is in UP another part is in Delhi and the third part is in Haryana. Even Braj Bhasha speaking area was divided. This dialect is spoken in some parts of UP and some parts of Rajasthan.

In this way, we can see the policy of the rulers of Delhi resulted in the formation of a state which lacks a clear cultural identity of its own. The people of this state do not possess cultural cohesiveness. Awadhi is the centre and its peripheries show a restless existence. Where the people of the eastern part are demanding Poorvanchal, people of southeast want Baghelkhand while the westerners want Harit Pradesh or Kisan Pradesh and people belonging to the southwest are asking for a separate Bundelkhand. Their problems will not be solved by creating states of their asking.

In fact, the divisive policies, which resulted in the formation of UP, have to be reversed. It is amazing that even after Independence, these policies are being perused by the rulers of Delhi.

The whole of the Hindi speaking region should be reorganised along linguistic lines. Let the Braj Bhasha speaking people form their own Braj Pradesh. Let the Awadhi speaking people get Avadh state. People speaking Khadi Boli should have a state of their own. Similarly, all Bundelkhandis and Bhaghekhandis should have their own states. (IPA)
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