Statehood for Bundelkhand, a genuine demand జూన్ 1, 2010Posted by Telangana Utsav in Economy, Identity, politics, regionalism.
Statehood for Bundelkhand, a genuine demand
Business Line, Tuesday Jun 01, 2010
Bundelkhand has been in the news for its backwardness. The people are forced to migrate to other States in search of alternative sources of livelihood.
Deepak K. Srivastava
Bundelkhand, known as Jaijak bhukti until medieval period, is a geographic region of central India that spreads between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The six districts of Madhya Pradesh — Chhatarpur, Damoh, Datia, Panna, Sagar and Tikamgarh — and the seven districts of Uttar Pradesh — Jalaun, Banda, Chitrkoot, Hamirpur, Jhansi, Lalitpur and Mahoba — form the Bundelkhand region. Bundelkhand kingdom was established by the Bundela dynasty, a Rajput clan. Geographically Bundelkhand lies between the Indo-Gangetic plains to the north and the Vindhya Range to the south.
Demand for statehood to Bundelkhand has gathered momentum after the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minster, Ms Mayawati, who has a strong political hold in this region, expressed her support.
Bundelkhand has been in the news for the backwardness and distress that has plagued it for a long time. Persistent poverty in Bundelkhand forces migration of people from villages to other States in search of alternative source of livelihood. This region can be characterised as a feudal area that discourages private investment.
The economy of Bundelkhand is largely agricultural, owing to its predominantly rural population. People’s livelihood are mainly based on subsistence, rain-fed, single crop agriculture and small-scale livestock production, with wheat and oilseeds being the predominant crops.
The uncertainty of rainfall along with poor quality soil makes agriculture difficult in many parts of Bundelkhand. Throughout the year the people here face water scarcity for both agricultural and domestic use. Large numbers of farmers are highly dependent on the monsoon rains for agricultural activities.
Industries are mostly absent in this region. According to the web site of Development Alternatives, there is only one factory for every 100,000 people. The entire region is characterised by some of the lowest levels of per capita income and human development in the country.
The only solution to the problems — poverty, hunger, lack of development and infrastructure — in the region is statehood. This would not only help the cause of better governance but also preserve the region’s sub-cultural identity. There are many other reasons as well for the statehood of Bundelkhand.
Shrinking UP, MP
Owing to their large population, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are chronic cases of underdevelopment, and governance is not done adequate enough. In terms of population, Uttar Pradesh is bigger than Pakistan or Russia. While Madhya Pradesh is bigger than all the southern African countries. Therefore, reducing the size of both States has become an absolute necessity for directing the benefits of developmental programmes to the common man. The basic argument for statehood for Bundelkhand is that adequate voice in political decision-making, and better governance and employment opportunities are not possible within the integrated Uttar Pradesh.
If formation of new States was based on only linguistic criterion, there should have been only one State for all Hindi-speaking regions such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The truth is that our States have been formed on no common basis. There were different reasons applicable for different States.
The North-Eastern States were formed because of tribal demands. Likely, Goa had come in existence because of its own historical background. Notwithstanding the linguistic factor, administrative efficiency, regional, cultural and other such factors make new statehoods desirable.
Statehood of Bundelkhand will not only be helpful in articulation of local and sub-cultural regional identities, but also in equitable expansion of regional development in the coming years.
Scope for more
Today, if all the regional demands for statehood are accepted, there will not be more than 40 States. If the US and Thailand can have 50 and 75 States respectively, why cannot India? Some 40-odd small States can be governed better than a country with large, rugged States.
Notwithstanding political instability and naxalism, the newly created States of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are witnessing manufacturing-led growth. According a report ‘Demand curve — new manufacturing sectors in eastern India’, prepared by research firm Indicus Analytica , Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have moved up into the top 10 industrial States of the country.
The report states that the manufacturing sector has contributed to the growth of these Sates as they have successfully attracted several industrial projects. For inclusive economic development, India needs a dispersed pattern of industrialisation and many more States like Bundelkhand that would help mitigate poverty and backwardness.
Creation of Bundelkhand as a new State would not mean an overall expansion in government expenditure, though there certainly will be some additional expenses for the creation a new State capital.
Article 3 of the Constitution was incorporated for giving the legislature adequate powers to form new States or alter the geographical boundaries of existing ones.
Indeed, both recent experience and scholarly exploration support the case for statehood for Bundelkhand. Therefore, the process towards this needs to be initiated without further delay.