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A report on demand for creation of small states in India

A report submitted to

Prof. Vijaya Sherry Chand

In partial fulfilment of the requirements of the course


January 4, 2010


Table of Contents

First Level: Formation of states on linguistic lines...........................................................3
Historical perspective.............................................................................................4
Second level: formation of smaller states......................................................................5
Analysis of demands for new states.............................................................................7
Inverted Maslow’s Pyramid in political life..................................................................7
Reasons for inverted Maslow’s Pyramid.................................................................8
Role of Politicians..................................................................................................9
Effectiveness of new states........................................................................................9
Reflection on new states..........................................................................................10

Earlier in December 2009, Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader Mr. K. Chandrasekara Rao
started his fast unto death, demanding the creation of the separate state of Telangana in
Andhra Pradesh. The union government acceded to the demand and announced that the
government would initiate the process for the formation of separate state of Telangana. After
the government accepted the demand of creation of Telangana, demands of creation of new
states in different parts of India, such as Vidarbha in Maharashtra [1], Gorkhaland in West
Bengal [2], Bundelkhand, Purvanchal and Harit Pradesh in Uttar Pradesh [3], Kutch in
Gujarat [4] and South Tamil Nadu in Tamil Nadu [5] have come to the fore. It may be noted
that though the demands for the creation of these states have been raised since long time, it
is only after the granting of the demand for the creation of Telangana that these demands
have gathered momentum.

Demand for statehood to different regions in different states marks second level of assertion
of political aspirations by disparate groups. First level of assertion of political aspiration for
separate states was mainly on linguistic lines more than half a century back. In addition to
language, historically regional issues have been the basis for the demand for creation of
separate states. For example, the demand for creation of states of Uttarakhand, Chhatisgarh
and Jharkhand had been made as far back as 1948 [6], 1924 [7] and 1912 [8]. However
these demands largely went unheeded till the year 2000, when the new states were actually
formed. Formation of these new states represents second level of assertion of political
aspirations, wherein common language is no longer the factor for keeping the states
together. Once the linguistic state is formed, the second level of assertion of political
aspirations is a sign that that people assert their ambitions at a regional level, which is below
the level of linguistic states already formed.

Before discussing the implications of the demands of creation of different states, it is
pertinent to elaborate the basis and background of these demands.

First Level: Formation of states on linguistic lines

Language is one of the most important factors contributing to diversity of India. According to
census of 2001, as many as 29 languages are being spoken by more than one million

people in the country [9]. Yet, more or less, the groups of people speaking same language
have historically tended to congregate together in an identifiable geographic area. This, of
course does not translate into strict demarcation of geographic areas on linguistic lines.
Since historic times, hinterlands of minority groups speaking different language than that of
majority group have been found. For example, a large number of Marathi speaking people
have settled in Indore and Gwalior, which are otherwise predominantly inhabited by Hindi
speaking population. Despite these small aberrations, language continued to be a common
linking factor of the people in same geographic region. As a result, the language of the
majority of people of the geographic region was accepted to be the language of commerce,
trade, education and all the transactions. Rich literature in these regional languages
flourished over the years. Naturally language emerged as a common thread binding people
together. The common bonding fostered by common language was so strong that at times it
transcended other strong forms of identity such as religion. For example, partition of Bengal
province in 1905 by Lord Curzon on religious lines met with stiff resistance from Indians.

Historical perspective
As the rule of British was established in India, the country acquired a homogeneous political
structure for the first time since the times of Emperor Ashok. As the British established their
hold on India, administrative convenience was the criterion for drawing the boundaries of
states (called ‘Provinces’ then). The British mooted the idea of formation of states on
linguistic basis in the Government of India Act of 1919, also called Montagu-Chelmsford Act.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi supported the idea. The All India Congress
Committee adopted a resolution in its Nagpur session in 1920 supporting formation of states
on linguistic grounds. Nehru report of Motilal Nehru also supported the idea of formation of
states on linguistic grounds [10]. Thus it can be seen that the Indian National Congress
favoured the idea of linguistic states in pre-independence period.

Naturally it was expected that the boundaries of states of India will be drawn on linguistic
lines after independence. However as India won independence in 1947, it was accompanied
by bloodshed and violence on unprecedented scale. Consequently, Prime Minister
Jawaharlal Nehru was not inclined to accept any demand that would have created
centrifugal tendencies and challenged the dominance of the central government. He viewed
demands of formation of states on linguistic lines as a potential threat to integrity and unity of
India [11]. Moreover Prime Minister Nehru told Lok Sabha on May 22, 1952: “For some
years now our foremost efforts have been directed to the consolidation of India. Personally, I
would look upon anything that did not help this process of consolidation as undesirable.

Even though the formation of linguistic provinces may be desirable in some cases, this
would obviously be the wrong time. When the right time comes, let us have them by all
means” [12].

However on October 19, 1952, a Gandhian worker Potti Sreeramulu went on hunger fast
unto death demanding the formation of the state of Andhra for Telugu speaking people. In
1952, the Telugu speaking area was divided between Madras and Hyderabad states. In
terms of present day boundaries, the Telangana region of present day Andhra Pradesh was
a part of Hyderabad state and Rayalseema and Coastal Andhra were parts of Madras state.
Sreeramulu demanded inclusion of all Telugu speaking area under one state. After about
two months of hunger strike, Sreeramulu passed away on December 16, 1952. Nehru, was
so fiercely against the demand of linguistic states that despite being a true democrat to the
core of his heart, he did not yield to Sreeramulu’s demand even after two months.

However, there was a violent reaction after Sreeramulu’s death. Jawaharlal Nehru’s
government had to yield to demand for creation of Andhra state. The Telugu speaking areas
of the Madras state were separated from the state to form a new state of Andhra in 1953.

After the formation of Telugu speaking state, predictably demands for separate states for
other linguistic groups was raised with greater fervour. As a result, the Government
appointed Fazal Ali Commission for recommending the formation of states on linguistic lines.
The government accepted the recommendations of the commission and new linguistic states
of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Madras, Mysore and Madhya Pradesh were formed in 1956. The
government declined the demand of formation of separate states for Marathi and Gujarati
speaking people even after the states’ reorganisation of 1956. As a result, the movement for
Samykuta Maharashtra gained momentum, which ultimately resulted in formation of the
states of Maharashtra and Gujarat in 1960. Later the state of Punjab was bifurcated into
Punjab and Haryana in 1966.

With the formation of Punjab and Haryana, the political map of India remained more or less
unchanged till year 2000, except for small changes like merging of Sikkim in the Indian
Union in 1974.

Formation of linguistic states completed first level of assertion of political aspirations of
different groups in the country.

Second level: formation of smaller states
As the linguistic states were formed, it was expected that the unification of geographic region
under one state with majority people speaking the same language would pave the way for
uniform and rapid development of the states. However the expectation of uniform
development could not be fulfilled in some cases. As a result, demands for creation of new
states started being made with greater fervour. These demands of smaller states in general
have the following characteristics:

a. The region, where demand for a separate state was being made had a distinct
culture of its own and it was further and beyond the language of the state. As a
result, the region needed a separate state of its own in order to safeguard its distinct
b. The region, where demand for a separate state was being made was more backward
than rest of the state and the rulers of the state failed to provide proper attention to
the development of the region. As a result, the region needed a separate state in
order to futher its own development.
c. The region, where demand for a separate state was being made was more
developed than rest of the state. As a result, higher revenue from the region was
being spent on other parts of the state, thereby denying the region the right share of
its development. Consequently, demand was made that the region needed a state of
its own in order to further its own development.
d. The demographic characteristic of the region where the demand for new state was
being made was different from rest of the state. As a result, the policy of caste-based
reservations of the parent state had undesirable effect on the region. Consequently
demand was made that the region needed a state of its own.

Often two or more of these characteristics overlapped in the demand of new states. For
example, both Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand had predominantly tribal population with distinct
culture. Their distinct cultures were perceived as not being safeguarded in the parent states
of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar respectively. Moreover both these regions were
underdeveloped in their parent states. Both regions were rich in minerals and it was
perceived that the rulers of their parent states were negligent of development of the region.
Further, apart from the issue of development, the issue of different demographic composition
of Uttarakhand was also important in the demand for the statehood to the region. Unlike the
parent state of Uttar Pradesh, the region of Uttarakhand had majority of upper castes.

Therefore, it was perceived that the caste-based policies of the state of Uttar Pradesh were
detrimental to the region.

Apart from these successful demands for the creation of new states, other demands have
been raised, as follows.

i) Vidarbha: The demand for statehood for the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra has
been raised mainly on the issue of underdevelopment of the region.
ii) Telangana: The demand for statehood for the Telangana region of Andhra
Pradesh has been raised mainly on the issue of underdevelopment of the region.
iii) Gorkhaland: The demand for statehood for the Gorkhaland region of West
Bengal has been raised mainly on the issue of distinct hill culture of the region,
which is different from rest of the state.
iv) Bodoland: The demand for the statehood for the Bodoland region of Assam has
been raised mainly on the issue distinct tribal culture of the region, which is
different from rest of the state.

These are the main demands for statehood to different regions. Apart from these, demands
for creation of Harit Pradesh, Purvanchal and Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh, South Tamil
Nadu in the state of Tamil Nadu and Kutch in Gujarat have also been raised, though not as
vociferously as the four mentioned above. It may be noted that demands for creation of new
state of Bundelkhand by combining the districts of Jhansi, Mahoba, Banda, Hamirpur and
Chitrakut from Uttar Pradesh and the districts of Datia, Tikamgarh, Damoh, Chhatarpur and
Sagar from Madhya Pradesh has also been raised.

With the demand of Telangana getting accepted, it can be expected that the demands for
the creation of different states will be raised more stridently. As a result, the Central
government is likely to set up a second state reorganisation commission [13].

Analysis of demands for new states
As mentioned earlier, the demands for the new states such as Jharkhand had been raised
since pre-independence period, these demands were relegated to secondary position till the
reorganisation of states on linguistic lines was first completed. However once the demand of
linguistic states was fulfilled that these demands came to the fore. I would attribute this to
what I call ‘inverted Maslow’s Pyramid in political life’, as described below.

Inverted Maslow’s Pyramid in political life
In classical Maslow’s Pyramid in organizational behaviour, needs of every individual are
arranged in the form of a pyramid, with physiological needs related to the needs for the
survival and daily needs being most primary and other needs being arranged with order of
progressively lower importance. No individual seeks to fulfil the need of lower importance
unless the need of higher importance is fulfilled. For example, an individual who finds it
difficult to find food is not likely to care for things such as self esteem. Last step in Maslow’s
Pyramid is to identify oneself and knowing the self.

However I propose that Maslow’s Pyramid exists in inverted form in the political life of India.
As a society, people do not tend to think of fulfilling their most basic need, that is jobs and
development. On the contrary, they tend to identify themselves with a social group that has
some common characteristics. For example, in the post independent India, people first
identified themselves with fellow citizens having same fundamental common thread,
language. Once the identification with linguistic group in the form of linguistic states was
complete, other demands such as identification with some other social group, such as caste
and regional group have come to the forefront. The issue of development was sidelined.

Thus in political life of India, people identify themselves first with the fellow citizens who have
some larger and more prominent common characteristic as they do, such as religion or
language. Then the next step is to identify with others who have less pervasive common
characteristic such as regional culture or sub-caste. Interestingly the issue of development,
which is the most fundamental for any individual, is relegated to the position of lower
importance in public life. I would call this phenomenon as ‘Inverted Maslow’s Pyramid in
public life’. I also attribute the demand for the creation of new states on linguistic or any
other basis to this inverted pyramid.

Reasons for inverted Maslow’s Pyramid
I would attribute the reasons for ‘inverted Maslow’s Pyramid’ in India’s political life to the
following factors.

a) In the traditional setup of Indian society, historically the individuals did not engage in
any more transactions with people belonging to other social groups (castes and sub-
castes) than was absolutely essential. Moreover in traditional Chatur-Varna system,
the profession that an individual was allowed to perform was dictated by the social
community that individual was born into. Naturally identification with one’s social
group was a necessity as most other things, including job or profession that an

individual could perform, the person an individual could marry, and overall daily
activities were dictated by the social group that one was born into. Naturally getting
outcaste from one’s own community was a troublesome situation for everybody. As a
consequence, the requirement of identifying with one’s social group assumed
paramount importance.
b) At the time of independence in 1947, the literacy rate in India was very low at 14%
[14]. The literacy rate grew to 66% in 2007 [15]. This statistics means that only 66%
people in India had bare minimum reading and writing skills in 2007. The number of
educated people and the people who can think independently is still lower. In such a
country, it was easy for the demagogue politicians to divert attention of the masses
from the basic issues concerning employment and education to emotive issues
concerning religion, castes or language.
c) In a country with such a long and strong philosophical tradition, historically people
were more focussed on attaining salvation (moksha) through self denial.
Consequently the issues such as employment and livelihood were not given the
importance they deserved.

Role of Politicians
Often shrewd politicians created imaginary need of creating states on either linguistic or
some other basis, in order to create a dedicated vote bank. However many times, the
demand for new states was just a disguise for ambitions of power of these politicians.

M. Channa Reddy, under the banner of Telangana Praja Samiti (TPS) launched an agitation
for separate state of Telangana between 1969 and 1971. His party won all the 16 Lok Sabha
seats from the Telangana region in Lok Sabha elections of 1971. However later he merged
his party with the Congress and subsequently took over as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh
[16]. Later M. Channa Reddy never raised the demand of creating the new state of
Telangana. Questions have also been raised on K. Chandrasekhara Rao’s sincerity to the
issue of Telangana as he raised the issue of Telangana only after being denied the
ministerial berth in N. Chandrababu Naidu’s cabinet in 2001 [16].

The movements for statehood are liable to lose legitimacy once politicians hijack the
movements for their selfish motives. The demagogues, through their wit and propaganda
can create an impression of mass support and craving for new state. However, the support
for new state might not exist in reality to the extent being portrayed.

Even worse is the hijacking of the demand for new state by unsocial elements that turn
otherwise seemingly legitimate movement violent. Subash Ghishing launched a movement,
Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) for the creation of new state of Gorkhaland in West
Bengal. During the initial days, his movement was violent. However he signed an agreement
with the state and union governments for the creation of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council and
adopted constitutional means to make his demand. However even after the creation of the
hill council, the movement could not be kept entirely free from violence.

Effectiveness of new states
One argument in favour of small states is that the administration of small states is easier and
the state government can establish better control over the state than the government in a
larger state, thereby ensuring more rapid development of the state. Arguments have been
made both in favour [17] and against [18] this view.

In India of 2010, the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana and Punjab are
ahead of other states in terms of economic indicators. However how much of this progress is
attributed to pro-development leaders and how much of the progress is due to the size of the
state is a matter of speculation.

On the other hand, small states, due to small number of legislators in the state assembly are
more prone to political instability. This might hinder the development of the state. Changing
of sides by a handful legislators can potentially force change of government and hence
cause instability in the state. The states of Goa and to some extent Jharkhand bear
testimony to that. Of course the states of Sikkim (where P.K.Chamling has been the chief
minister since 1994) and Arunachal Pradesh (where Geong Apang had been the chief
minister for about 16 years) are notable exceptions.

Reflection on new states
After studying the issue of the demand of new states, I am against the demand of creation of
any more new states on the basis of culture of the region or race of the people. In a complex
country like India with huge diversities, all attempts should be made to integrate the people
in the national mainstream. No Indian should think of himself/herself belonging to a particular
state or region but should think of being only an Indian. Creating the new states on the basis
of distinct culture of people in the region serves only to create and foster artificial barriers
among the people. This is undesirable for the future of India in the long run.

Secondly, where the demand for new states have been raised on the issue of development,
study should be conducted whether creation of new state would promote faster development
or whether the new state would be perennially dependent on the central government for
funds. New state should be carved out only if it is feasible.

Most importantly, the focus of the governments should be on development. The states
should remain at best the artificial entities created for administrative convenience. But
otherwise, country should be a single entity. This type of integration has happened in
Western Europe, involving more than one country.

In Europe, it might appear that language is the basis of formation of nations. However that is
not entirely correct. Though there are countries like France, Germany, Spain and UK that
have people speaking only one language, there are also countries like Switzerland and
Belgium that have people speaking more than one language. For example, Switzerland has
about half the area inhabited by people speaking French and the remaining half is inhabited
by people speaking German. Had language been the only factor governing the boundaries
between the countries, countries like Switzerland would not have existed and the territory
inhabited by French and German speaking population would have merged with France and
Germany respectively. Moreover, the economic progress of France, Germany and
Switzerland is almost equal. As a result, it would hardly matter for a citizen of Switzerland
whether he takes up citizenship of France or Germany instead because there would be no
change in his status. Therefore the boundaries between the countries drawn historically
remain intact and demand for redrawing the boundaries is not raised.

Similarly, if the government can carry out uniform development of all the states in India,
there would be no incentive for demanding a new state on the issue of development and the
time and energy that is being wasted on the demand for new statehood will be saved.

The opinions expressed in this report are my personal opinions.

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29, 2009 from
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democracy”. Harper Perennial.
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13. "Centre may set up second SRC to settle statehood demands". The Times of India.
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states”. Economic Times. Retrieved December 20, 2009 from
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debate”. Rediff. Retrieved December 16, 2009 from