Small State Debate- Gorkhaland, Telangana, etc జూన్ 22, 2008Posted by Telangana Utsav in Articles, Fazal Ali Commission, politics, Six Point Formula, Telangana.
Is it time for reorganisation of states?
We need to debate our federal structure
Peter R deSouza, Director IIAS*, Shimla
Peter R deSouza
The agitation in Darjeeling for a separate Gorkha state has brought to the fore, once again, the need to examine the place of the ‘state’ in India’s democratic architecture. In sixty years a significant shift has occurred in the locus of power from a dominant ‘Centre’ to one that has now to share power with the states, to not just accommodate their claims but to concede their demands. The state has begun to drive the equations of power in national politics. This is all well known.
The first is the growth in population. A fivefold growth in the electorate since Independence, to in excess of 650 million, necessarily means that the current federal form is probably inadequate to meet the voters rising aspirations. Coupled with this is the second cause, the deepening of what D L Sheth has called India a democracy of communities.
Democracy has created an assertive politics of communities that now, enjoying their arrival on the big stage, want a home of their own. This ambition gets fuelled, the third cause, by the increasing attention that community leaders get from the media and those who count. Yesterday’s nobody has become today’s somebody. Community politics makes one a somebody.
The fourth is the development deficit. Since community politics is necessarily sectoral, some gain and some lose. And the losers react.
* The Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. Views are personal
Smaller states no answer to people’s needs
Nilotpal Basu, Member, CPI (M), Central Secretariat
First there was Telangana, and now disquiet and violence have enveloped the hills of Darjeeling. And unlike the Gorkhaland agitation of the ’80s, there is a conscious attempt to extend violence to the plains. The statehood question has, since the days of our freedom struggle, been complex. India through ages has assimilated cultures and ethnicities, emerging as a composite and plural society. Celebration of ‘Unity in Diversity’ has been the signature tune of Indian nationhood.
All political forces engaged in freedom struggle recognised this basis for building modern, post-independent India. The sole exception was RSS. Advocating the enforcement of ‘oneness’ with emphasis on religious identity, subsuming the historical diversities of ethnicity, language, culture and geographic reality.
Therefore, it was not a coincidence that the Constituent Assembly rejected the conceptual framework of creating over 100 states, which the RSS preferred. The emphasis was on creating linguistic states, which while recognising historical pluralities would also reinforce modernism to strengthen national unity.
The States Reorganisation Commission, formed in 1953, recommended formation of linguistic states. However, language was not the only criterion. Administrative and economic viability and geographic reality were also emphasised. That is why the entirety of Hindustani-speaking areas was not clubbed into a single state.
However, the post-Independence period has not been free from tensions. The inherent nature of capitalist development has resulted in regional imbalances. Lack of development has been a basis for demanding new states, often undermining the principle of linguistic states. On the other hand, ethnic and linguistic considerations, which ignore the question of viability, have been pushed to the fore. Care has to be taken to evolve mechanisms like autonomous councils for some communities — with adequate constitutional safeguard for their respective identities and greater role in deciding their own future.
Imperialism, particularly US imperialism, has been using the identity question to destabilise nations. So, formation of new and obviously smaller states cannot be an answer to the aspirations of our people.
Source- Economic Times, 19 June 2008
India’s federal experiment is a record of such reactions. As a result, we have new states, special status states, a council of states, autonomous councils, development boards, and special schedule states. And yet the demands keep coming. We may or may not need a new SRC. What we certainly do need is a new debate. The above causes can singly or in combination lead to the demand for a separate state. National politics will determine whether it will be conceded