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The Telengana Issue & Pros and Cons of Smaller States

K G Suresh, Senior Fellow & Editor, VIF

The Group of Ministers (GoM), set up to look into the proposed bifurc tion of !ndhr "r desh, is e#pected to sub$it its report to the %nion & binet before the winter session of " rli $ent' The hi(h)powered $inisteri l p nel h d det iled discussions o*er sh rin( of ri*er w ter, power, distribution of ssets nd de$ rc tion of bound ries in its two $eetin(s held e rl+ this $onth' The GoM will lso look into the le( l nd d$inistr ti*e $e sures re,uired to ensure th t both Tel n( n nd the residu r+ st te of !ndhr "r desh c n function efficientl+ fro$ -+der b d s the co$$on c pit l for ./ +e rs' E rlier, followin( the c binet decision to bifurc te the st te in pursu nce of &on(ress 0orkin( &o$$ittee resolution, !ndhr "r desh w s up in fl $es p r l+1in( the entire See$ ndhr re(ion, brin(in( e*en b sic ser*ices to (rindin( h lt nd in the process c usin( i$$ense h rdship to the people nd loss of billions to the e#che,uer' 2ut for the distr ction c used b+ &+clone "h ilin, the protests would h *e continued for lon(er ti$e' The de$ nd for Tel n( n , co$prisin( the Telu(u spe kin( re s of the erstwhile princel+ st te of -+der b d, h s been there ri(ht since the ti$e of Indi 3s independence' Thou(h the l n(u (e of the two re(ions w s the s $e, pre)re,uisite for cre tion of st tes on lin(uistic lines, there w s nd is *er+ little in co$$on between the peoples of Tel n( n nd other re(ions of the st te n $el+ 4 + l see$ nd &o st l !ndhr ' To be(in with, Tel n( n w s ne*er under direct 2ritish rule, unlike the &o st l !ndhr nd 4 + l see$ re(ions of !ndhr "r desh, which were p rt of 2ritish Indi 3s M dr s "residenc+'

It $ + be rec lled th t the St tes 4eor( nis tion &o$$ission (S4&), ppointed in .567, to stud+ the cre tion of st tes on lin(uistic b sis, w s not in f *our of n i$$edi te $er(er of Tel n( n re(ion with !ndhr st te, despite their co$$on l n(u (e' The &o$$ission found th t the people of Tel n( n h d se*er l concerns includin( less)de*eloped econo$+ th n !ndhr , but with l r(er re*enue b se, which people of Tel n( n fe red $i(ht be di*erted for use in !ndhr ' In f ct, in p r (r ph 789 of its report, the &o$$ission 4eport s id :opinion in !ndhr is o*erwhel$in(l+ in f *our of the l r(er unit; public opinion in Tel n( n h s still to cr+st llise itself' I$port nt le ders of public opinion in !ndhr the$sel*es see$ to ppreci te th t the unific tion of Tel n( n with !ndhr , thou(h desir ble, should be b sed on *olunt r+ nd willin( ssoci tion of the people nd th t it is pri$ ril+ for the people of Tel n( n to t ke decision bout their future<' The then "ri$e Minister " ndit = w h rl l >ehru w s initi ll+ skeptic l of $er(in( Tel n( n with !ndhr St te, fe rin( :tint of e#p nsionist i$peri lis$< in it' -e reportedl+ co$p red the $er(er to $ tri$oni l lli nce h *in( :pro*isions for di*orce< if the p rtners in the lli nce c nnot (et on well' Fin ll+, the new st te of !ndhr "r desh c $e into bein( on >o*e$ber ., .56? with ssur nces to Tel n( n in ter$s of power)sh rin( s well s d$inistr ti*e do$icile rules nd distribution of e#penses of * rious re(ions' -owe*er, the hone+$oon did not l st lon( with the people of Tel n( n e#pressin( diss tisf ction o*er the i$ple$ent tion of the (ree$ents nd (u r ntees, $ de t the ti$e of the st te3s $er(er' Followin( the = i !ndhr (it tion in the See$ ndhr re(ion in .5@7, ( inst the protections ($ulki rules) (i*en for Tel n( n re(ion, the Go*ern$ent of Indi diluted the (u r ntees pro*ided in the pre) $er(er Gentle$en3s (ree$ent, thereb+ le din( to $ ssi*e (it tions cross the Tel n( n re(ions' !ccordin( to proponents of sep r te st te, Tel n( n is not onl+ the l r(est of the three re(ions of !ndhr "r desh st te, co*erin( A.'A@B 2

of its tot l re nd inh bited b+ A/'6AB of the st teCs popul tion but lso contributes bout @?B of the st teCs re*enues, e#cludin( the contribution of the centr l (o*ern$ent' The+ lso cite percei*ed inDustices in the distribution of w ter, bud(et lloc tions, nd Dobs' The+ lle(e th t 2ud(et lloc tions to Tel n( n re (ener ll+ less th n .E7 of the tot l !ndhr "r desh bud(et' There re lso lle( tions th t in $ost +e rs, funds lloc ted to Tel n( n were ne*er spent' !ccordin( to the proponents of sep r te st tehood, onl+ 9/B of the tot l Go*ern$ent e$plo+ees, less th n ./B of e$plo+ees in the secret ri t, nd less th n 6B of dep rt$ent he ds in the !ndhr "r desh (o*ern$ent re fro$ Tel n( n ' Followin( widespre d protests, the %"! Go*ern$ent h d nnounced fi*e)$e$ber co$$ittee on Tel n( n he ded b+ retired =ustice 2 > Srikrishn to look into the issue' 2ut inste d of co$in( out with stron( reco$$end tion, the &o$$ittee, in its report, offered si# options r n(in( fro$ $ int inin( the st tus ,uo to cre tion of sep r te st te with the contentious -+der b d s %nion Territor+ s lso ccept nce of the de$ nd for c r*in( out sep r te st te with -+der b d s its c pit l in toto' &ontinuin( with its dill+ d ll+in( t ctics, the &entre s t on the reco$$end tions till recentl+' F*er the +e rs, with n e+e on the Tel n( n *oters, l$ost ll politic l p rties h *e t one point or the other supported the cre tion of sep r te st te' Therefore, politic l p rties such s Telu(u Ges $ " rt+ (TG"), whose le der &h ndr b bu > idu w nt on protest f st ( inst the $o*e, which h d f *oured the cre tion of Tel n( n e rlier, re onl+ protestin( ( inst the $ nner in which the rulin( %"! h d (one bout the de)$er(er' - *in( kept the issue on the b ckburner durin( its dec de lon( rule t the &entre nd e*en rene(in( on its pro$ise, pro$ptin( K&4 of Tel n( n 4 shtr S $iti (T4S) to w lk out of %"!)., the &entre h d suddenl+ woken up to the de$ nd he d of the Hok S bh elections nd nnounced the cre tion of the st te in hurr+, which cle rl+ s$ cks of politic l $oti*es' %nited !ndhr "r desh led b+ the ch ris$ tic IS4 h d contributed $uch to the for$ tion of %"!)9 nd in his bsence nd followin( the e$er(ence of = ( n$oh n 4edd+ s force to reckon with in 3

See$ ndhr , the &on(ress pp rentl+ felt it could ( in lost (rounds b+ cedin( Tel n( n ' 0ith T4S likel+ to $er(e with &on(ress in the new st te, p rt+ str te(ists re hopin( for = ( n3s ho$eco$in( post)polls, thereb+ ret inin( its entire b se in the re(ion' !pp rentl+, the bi((est loser would be TG", h *in( lost its b se in Tel n( n nd st rin( wipe out before the = ( n Du((ern ut' Therefore, > idu w s forced to sit on f st while = ( n is tr+in( to enc sh h rd on the nti)Tel n( n senti$ent to consolid te his b se' !p rt fro$ the $ Dor bone of contention, i'e -+der b d, there re lso ke+ issues such s the st tus of Go*ern$ent e$plo+ees, w ter nd power sh rin(, distribution of ssets et l which need to be sorted out he d of the proposed de)$er(er' The &entre would h *e done well to t ke into confidence ll st ke holders on both sides of the di*ide s lso re(ion l nd n tion l politic l p rties, before t kin( such $ Dor unil ter l decision' In the bsence of cl rit+, the utter nces of T4S le ders on contentious issues such s the f te of Go*ern$ent e$plo+ees is onl+ ddin( to the n(er nd confusion $on( the people' !t st ke re not Dust politic l fortunes but lso the f te of $illions of citi1ens, which re$ ins uncert in in the present scen rio' Three st tes were cre ted durin( the >G! re(i$e J %tt r kh nd, =h rkh nd nd &hh ttis( rh but the process w s pe ceful with no bitterness between the p rent st tes nd the new st tes' In f ct, 2ih r *irtu ll+ lost ll its n tur l resources nd %tt r "r desh its $ ssi*e re*enue fro$ touris$' Iet, there were no co$pl ints' In f ct, followin( the recent %tt r kh nd tr (ed+, it w s %tt r "r desh which nnounced 4s 96 crore id, $uch $ore th n n+ other st te' The nnounce$ent pert inin( to Tel n( n h s lso once ( in sp rked off n tion wide de$ nd for s$ ller st tes nd deb te on their *i bilit+, with both its d*oc tes nd opponents t kin( e#tre$e st nds' 0hile politic l p rties such s the 2=" nd 2S" re in f *our of s$ ll st tes on the (rounds th t such st tes re d$inistr ti*el+ $ore con*enient nd (i*e (re ter s + to the loc l popul ce in $ tters of (o*ern nce, st tes such s =h rkh nd, where independent MH!s like M dhu Kor bec $e &hief Ministers nd $ ssed we lth * stl+ disproportion te to their inco$e, showed the inherent fr (ilit+ of polit+

in the newl+ c r*ed out utopi s often touted s the ulti$ te p n ce for $is(o*ern nce nd $ l) d$inistr tion in l r(e st tes' There re lso fe rs th t cre tion of s$ ll st tes c n le d to incre sed re(ion lis$ or p rochi lis$ which c n fuel sep r tist sub)n tion l tendencies' So$e of the de$ nds re b sed purel+ on irredentist cl i$s' For e# $ple, the de$ nd for Gorkh l nd on ethno)lin(uistic (rounds' ! look into the histor+ would re*e l th t in the l te .8th centur+, G rDeelin( w s p rt of the Sikki$ &ho(+ l3s territor+, which w s o*errun b+ the Gorkh s of >ep l t the be(innin( of the .5th centur+' Followin( the !n(lo)Gorkh w r in .8.A, >ep l h d to cede ll the territories nne#ed b+ the Gorkh s fro$ the &ho(+ l, who subse,uentl+ ( *e it to the 2ritish E st Indi &o$p n+' The ,uestion is how f r do we (o into histor+K Goin( b+ th t lo(ic, perh ps so$e dec des l ter, ille( l 2 n(l deshi i$$i(r nts settled in !ss $ nd elsewhere in the countr+ c n seek sep r te st tehood' !s for l n(u (e, di lect nd cultur l issues, there c nnot e*er be n end to such de$ nds' Fro$ 2odol nd to K rbi)!n(lon(, !ss $ is up for (r bs' Ku$ onis nd G rhw lis in %tt r kh nd too re different in ter$s of l n(u (e nd culture thou(h there is no such de$ nd till now' 2+ concedin( to such de$ nds, will we be undoin( the -ercule n efforts $ de b+ S rd r " tel to inte(r te the countr+ into sin(le entit+K E*en s $ n+ politic l nd $ilit nt (roups in > ( l nd h *e been de$ ndin( cre tion of Gre ter > ( l nd or > ( li$ includin( > ( inh bited re s of !ss $, !run ch l "r desh nd M nipur, four districts of e stern > ( l nd L Tuens n(, Mon, Hon(len( nd Kiphire L h *e pl ced de$ nd for sep r te st te citin( ne(lect b+ the Mstron(er > ( tribesM' 0ith 98 st tes lone, Indi h s so $ n+ re(ion l p rties th t fr ctured *erdicts nd conse,uent inst bilit+ h *e beco$e n inte(r l p rt of polit+, both t the &entre nd the st tes' ! do1en $ore st tes (oin( b+ the de$ nds, includin( those $ de b+ letterhe d or( ni1 tions with no (round support, would $e n scores of re(ion l p rties nd

thereb+ $ore bl ck$ il, $ore fr ctured $ nd tes nd $ore fr ($ented polit+' 0ill it ulti$ tel+ le d to the b lk ni1 tion of Indi K Thou(h so$e of the de$ nds includin( for Gorkh l nd re not new, $ n+ h *e e$er(ed o*er the l st few dec des, which witnessed the &entr l Go*ern$ent incre sin(l+ beco$in( we ker nd he *il+ dependent on the re(ion l p rties for their *er+ sur*i* l' Goes this u(ur well for the countr+ is the $illion doll r ,uestionK Fn the other h nd, l r(er st tes lso pose se*er l ch llen(es' >otwithst ndin( the f ct th t the %"! h s been reduced to $inorit+, the+ re sur*i*in( Dust on the support of two $utu ll+ nt (onistic p rties fro$ sin(le st te' Thus, with their brute " rli $ent r+ stren(th, l r(e st tes c n deter$ine not onl+ the f te of Go*ern$ents t the &entre but lso influence policies' S$ ller st tes includin( those in the >orth E st re *icti$s of ne(lect to (re t e#tent due to their poor presence in the " rli $ent' E*en the $ost bitter opponent of the &entr l Go*ern$ent in s$ ll st tes like &hh ttis( rh or Go would not think of d rin( the &entre to withdr w ll its ci*il ser* nts fro$ their st te, s h s been done b+ the S" Go*ern$ent in %tt r "r desh' S$ ller st tes cre ted b+ the >G! Go*ern$ent includin( &hh ttis( rh nd %tt r kh nd h *e done co$p r ti*el+ well in contr st to their situ tion s p rt of M dh+ "r desh nd %" respecti*el+' The s$ ller the st tes, the lesser would be their $onopolistic or he(e$onistic tendencies nd politic l clout s is the c se with l r(er st tes' Moreo*er, ll st tes would be e,u l p rtners in pro(ress' !s for Tel n( n , the proposed bifurc tion of !ndhr "r desh is $ore of Nde)$er(er3 th n the cre tion of sep r te st te' If the cre tion of 2 n(l desh h s busted the $+th th t people belon(in( to the s $e reli(ion constitute n tion, the de)$er(er of Tel n( n h s pro*ed th t l n(u (e lone c nnot be the b sis for cre tion of sep r te st te, thereb+ ,uestionin( the *er+ lin(uistic b sis on which the st tes were reor( ni1ed in the first pl ce' It is pertinent to ponder o*er whether it is ti$e to re*iew this b sis in *iew of the de$ nds for st tehood co$in( fro$ cross the countr+'

2oth s$ ll nd l r(e st tes h *e their d* nt (es nd dis d* nt (es' Therefore, the de$ nd for st tehood h s to be studied on c se to c se b sis' &ert in p r $eters such s de*elop$ent l + rdstick, spir tions of the loc l popul tion, econo$ic nd d$inistr ti*e *i bilit+ nd con*enience re spects th t h *e to be f ctored into before t kin( c ll' "olitic l ( ins, s is pp rent fro$ the %"! decision on Tel n( n , should not be the (uidin( f ctor in such critic l decisions' In n+ c se, $ore st tes c nnot repl ce decentr lis tion nd de*olution of powers to the (r ssroots s the ulti$ te (u r ntor of (ood (o*ern nce' Moreo*er, irrespecti*e of the si1e of the st tes, the need of the hour is undoubtedl+ stron(er &entre in the w ke of thre ts to n tion l unit+ nd securit+ fro$ intern l insur(ents nd e#tern l ene$ies' It h s to be ensured th t de$ nds for s$ ller st tes do not dilute the powers of the &entre, which would be detri$ent l to n tion l interests' H st but not the le st, it h s to be ensured th t while l nd $ + be di*ided for d$inistr ti*e con*enience, he rts should not be di*ided t n+ cost' &onsensus nd not confront tion should be the (uidin( $ ntr , for t st ke is the *er+ unit+ nd inte(rit+ of the n tion
Monday, 12 August 2013 | KG Suresh | in Oped
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The recent announcement by the Congress Working Committee with regard to the UPA Governments intention to carve out a separate State of Te angana from Andhra Pradesh! has once again sparked off a nationwide demand for sma er States and a debate on their viabi ity! with both its advocates and opponents taking e"treme stands# The demand for Te angana! comprising the Te ugu$speaking areas of the erstwhi e prince y State of %yderabad! has been there right since the time of &ndias independence# '"cept for the Te ugu anguage! there was and is very itt e in common between the peop e of Te angana and other regions of the State! name y (aya aseema and Coasta Andhra# To begin with, Telangana was never under direct British rule, unlike the Coastal Andhra and Ra alaseema regions of Andhra Pradesh, which were !art of British India"s #adras Presidenc $ It ma be recalled that the States Reorganisation Commission, a!!ointed in %&'(, to stud the creation of States on linguistic basis, was not in favour of an immediate merger of Telangana region with Andhra State, des!ite their common language$ In !aragra!h ()* of its re!ort, the Commission Re!ort said, +,!inion in Andhra is overwhelmingl in favour of the larger unit- !ublic o!inion in Telangana has still to cr stallise itself$ Im!ortant leaders of !ublic o!inion in Andhra themselves seem to a!!reciate that the

unification of Telangana with Andhra, though desirable, should be based on a voluntar and willing association of the !eo!le and that it is !rimaril for the !eo!le of Telangana to take a decision about their future.$ In fact, then Prime #inister /awaharlal 0ehru was initiall sce!tical of merging Telangana with Andhra State, fearing a +tint of e1!ansionist im!erialism. in it$ 2e re!ortedl com!ared the merger to a matrimonial alliance having +!rovisions for divorce. if the !artners in the alliance cannot get on well$ 3inall , the new State of Andhra Pradesh came into being on 0ovember %, %&'4, with assurances to Telangana in terms of !ower5sharing as well as administrative domicile rules and distribution of e1!enses of various regions$ 2owever, the hone moon did not last long, with the !eo!le of Telangana e1!ressing dissatisfaction over the im!lementation of the agreements and guarantees made at the time of the State"s merger$ 3ollowing the /ai Andhra agitation in the Seema5Andhra region in %&6(, against the !rotections 7mulki rules8 given for the Telangana region, the 9overnment of India diluted the guarantees !rovided in the !re5merger 9entlemen"s agreement, thereb leading to massive agitations across the Telangana region$ Thus, the !ro!osed bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh is more of a :de5merger" than the creation of a se!arate State$ If the creation of Bangladesh has busted the m th that !eo!le belonging to the same religion constitute a nation, the de5merger of Telangana has !roved that language alone cannot be a unif ing factor$ ;hile !olitical !arties such as the B/P and the BSP are in favour of small States on the grounds that such States are administrativel more convenient and give greater sa to the local !o!ulace in matters of governance, States such as /harkhand, where inde!endent #<As like #adhu =oda became Chief #inisters and amassed wealth vastl dis!ro!ortionate to their income, showed the inherent fragilit of !olit in the newl 5carved out uto!ias often touted as the ultimate !anacea for misgovernance and mal5administration in large States$ There are also fears that the creation of small States can lead to increased regionalism or !arochialism which can fuel se!aratist sub5national tendencies$ Some of the demands are based !urel on irredentist claims, for e1am!le, the demand for 9orkhaland on ethno5linguistic grounds$ A look into histor will reveal that in the late %)th centur , >ar?eeling was !art of the Sikkim Chog al"s territor , which was overrun b the 9orkhas of 0e!al at the beginning of the %&th centur $ 3ollowing the Anglo59orkha war in %)%@, 0e!al had to cede all the territories anne1ed b the 9orkhas from the Chog al, who subseAuentl gave it to the British Bast India Com!an $ The Auestion isC 2ow far do we go into histor D 9oing b that logic, !erha!s some decades later, illegal Bangladeshi immigrants settled in Assam and elsewhere in the countr can seek se!arate statehood$ As for language, dialect and cultural issues, there cannot ever be an end to such demands$ 3rom Bodoland to =arbi Anglong, Assam is u! for grabs$ =umaonis and 9arhwalis in Ettarakhand too are different in terms of language and culture though there is no such demand till now$ B conceding to such demands, will we be undoing the 2erculean efforts made b Sardar Fallabhbhai Patel to integrate the countr into a single entit D Bven as man !olitical and militant grou!s in 0agaland have been demanding the creation of a 9reater 0agaland or 0agalim including 0aga inhabited areas of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and #ani!ur, four districts of eastern 0agaland G Tuensang, #on, <ongleng and =i!hire G have !laced a demand for a se!arate State, citing neglect b the :stronger 0aga tribes"$ ;ith *) States alone, India has so man regional !arties that fractured verdicts and conseAuent instabilit have become an integral !art of !olit , both at the Centre and the States$ A doHen more States going b the demands, including those made b letterhead organisations with no ground su!!ort, would mean scores of regional !arties and, thereb , more blackmail, more fractured mandates and a more fragmented !olit $ ;ill it ultimatel lead to the balkanisation of IndiaD

Though some of the demands including for 9orkhaland are not new, man have emerged over the last few decades, which witnessed the Enion 9overnment increasingl becoming weaker and heavil de!endent on the regional !arties for its survival$ >oes this augur well for the countr , is the million dollar Auestion$ ,n the other hand, larger States also !ose several challenges$ 0otwithstanding the fact that the EPA has been reduced to a minorit , the are surviving ?ust on the su!!ort of two mutuall antagonistic !arties from a single State$ Thus, with their !arliamentar strength, large States can determine not onl the fate of 9overnments at the Centre but also influence !olicies$ Bven the most bitter o!!onent of the Enion 9overnment in small States like Chhattisgarh or 9oa would not think of daring the Centre to withdraw all its civil servants from their State, as has been done b the Sama?wadi Part 9overnment in Ettar Pradesh$ ,ne dreads to imagine a situation, though unlikel , wherein national !arties would score less than the number of seats obtained b a regional !art in a State such as Ettar Pradesh$ And what if that State under some maverick leader decides to secede from the countr D After all, the !owerful 0iHams of 2 derabad never beAueathed their !owers to the British or the 3rench and tried to remain inde!endent even after inde!endence$ Smaller States created b the 0>A 9overnment, including Chhattisgarh and Ettarakhand, have done com!arativel well, in contrast to their situation as !art of #adh a Pradesh and Ettar Pradesh res!ectivel $ The smaller the States, the lesser would be their mono!olistic or hegemonistic tendencies and !olitical clout as is the case with larger States$ #oreover, all States would be eAual !artners in !rogress$ Thus, both small and large States have their advantages and disadvantages$ Therefore, the demand for statehood has to be studied on a case5to5case basis$ Certain !arameters, such as develo!mental ardstick, as!irations of the local !o!ulation, economic and administrative viabilit and convenience, are as!ects that have to be factored into before taking a call$ Political gains, as is a!!arent from the C;C decision on Telangana, should not be the guiding factor in such critical decisions$ In an case, more States cannot re!lace decentralisation and devolution of !owers to the grassroots as the ultimate guarantor of good governance$ ( he author is Senior !ello" and #ditor at the $i%ekananda &nternational !oundation'