Sub-regionalism & Cohesive State : Historical Reality అక్టోబర్ 28, 2008Posted by Telangana Utsav in Culture, Identity, politics, Telangana.
Editorial, Times of India (13 October 2008)
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has always treated unified Andhra Pradesh as non-negotiable. Few political bookies would thus bet on N Chandrababu Naidu backing Telangana’s statehood demand. Yet the TDP president now endorses the Telangana Rashtra Samiti’s (TRS) one-point agenda of bifurcating AP.
Ironically, a Congress-TRS tie-up in 2004 on the issue had cost Naidu his chief ministership. There can be two views on his U-turn. One, he’s in political wilderness, and seeks allies and emotive issues to piggyback to power. Two, a broad political and popular consensus has emerged on Telangana. So he genuinely sees its “historical necessity”. Else, he wouldn’t risk angering his own constituency.
Whatever Naidu’s compulsions, the issue is pertinent. The post-independence linguistic glue – Telugu – may have outlived its utility in AP, a sizeable state. Recall that the first States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) ratified language-based states.
Yet it had cautioned against an Andhra-Telangana merger. Events proved it right on Telangana’s sense of being swamped by Andhra, culturally and economically. Historically, coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema were part of British India’s Madras Presidency and Telangana belonged to the Hyderabad Nizam’s dominions. Telangana backers use these antecedents to push their case.
History, however, cannot be a reason for bifurcation. Nor should language be the sole unifier. Maharashtra’s linguistic chauvinists should convince us of that. The small-is-beautiful rationale lies elsewhere: administrative efficiency, political accountability, federal balance and spatially dispersed economic growth. With experience, India has learned that small states generally mean better resource utilisation. Cohesive units that demand responsible administration are better governed. Law and order is less taxing. Carved out of larger entities usually accused of intra-state regional bias, their creation also redresses developmental unevenness.
The Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh experiments have not wholly disappointed. Going by human or economic development indices, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Sikkim and Goa are strides ahead of Bihar or MP. Even industrial biggie Maharashtra has languished, buttressing Vidarbha’s statehood call. The classic case is mammoth UP. In the fifties, K M Panikker, SRC member, bemoaned its size as impeding governance and deepening backwardness.
Five decades later, have things really changed? Taking Naidu’s cue, we should go beyond Telangana, and think holistically of another bout of states reorganisation. Globalising India needn’t be hijacked by the political clout of its big and backward laggards. Good governance is an idea whose time has come.