Group President, Group Managing Director & Editor In Chief: Dr.Shelly Ahmed

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Smaller States Will Address Governance Problems: Guha On Telengana

Advocates for separate states in India are often dismissed as nation breakers who are looking to partition the country for political gains. But have we been ignoring the aspect of state formation which allows for better administration of people who may not be receiving sufficient representation politically?
In a highly readable editorial in the Hindu, writer-historian Ramchandra Guha points out that the demand for formation of a separate state of Andhra Pradesh made as far back as 1914, only to be opposed; it was made again in 1952 by veteran Congressman Potti Sriramulu, rejected initially and then quickly formed once he died.
The historian points out that much like the debate against Telangana presently, the Madras presidency has strongly opposed the formation of Andhra Pradesh in 1914 and Nehru in 1952 arguing that the partition of the existing states could only hamper the progress of the new state.
However, arguing in favour of the formation of Telangana and other smaller states, Guha writes: After 65 testing years of independence, there need no longer be any fear about the unity of India. The country is not about to Balkanise, nor is it about to become a dictatorship. The real problems in India today have to do with the quality of governance. Smaller states may be one way to address this problem.
A study by India Today also reveals that economically, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana wouldn’t collapse if they are set up and in fact the GDP growth in both regions is almost equal. As Firspost pointed out earlier, the status of Hyderabad may be a stumbling block but the formation of a new state might not be as violent as opponents to it may suggest.
Guha’s argument in favour of forming smaller states has perhaps been borne out by the formation of Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh from bigger states which has allowed better administration of areas that were hitherto ignored by a big brother state government.
None of the states’ economies floundered despite naysayers and while Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand may continue to battle insurgency movements in the form of Naxalism, it was something the states inherited from the parent states. If anything the partitions have helped the states create separate policy based on local realities and even in implementation of central government schemes like the PDS, Chhattisgarh is help up as an example where the system can work in favour of the poor.
The states haven’t sparked off separatist movements nor have they hurt the national fabric of the country. If anything they have allowed people living in those states to have a political voice that is more audible and isn’t lost in the din of a bigger state.
Advocates for new states, like a separate Gorkhaland and Vidarbha, are bound to be enthused by the formation of a Telangana and it will only bolster their argument, possibly making their voices louder. Is it time to start listening to them rather than dismissing them outright? Or is it wrong to dismiss the linguistic formation of states as an “oh so 50′s attitude” too quickly?

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