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Telengana sparks fresh debate on reorganization of Indian states

The geographical lump sandwiched between Krishna and Godavari rivers i.e., Telangana is again confronting the political guild over the relevance of state's reorganization and the issue has been further accelerated after 30th July 2013 when Congress Working Committee recommended the formation of a new state named Telangana to the government of India.

What does future contain is a matter of assumptions as of now, however, on the pretext of this issue we can discuss the relevancy of reorganization of Indian states and in this regard the extempore question arises that what is the motive behind such reorganizations?

As per the various researches and notable works done in this regard suggest that there are two main motives; first is political gain and second is the development of the area in concern.

Most of the times the later one is the projected reason behind all such reorganizations but in actual practice the former one prevails.

In order to get a clear vision over the issue we need to explore the structure of our country.

Despite our country's structure is a model of federalism, the Indian 'model' of federalism has several marked differences from the classical federal models one finds in countries like Australia, Canada and the United States.

One notable difference has been the unilateral power of the union parliament to reorganize the political structure of the country by forming new states and to alter the areas, boundaries or names of existing states.

Despite having the constitutional power, overwhelming concern for nation-building and economic reconstruction based on the development planning model, initially dissuaded the national leadership from conceding to demands for the creation of smaller regional states.

Only after India witnessed popular unrest, were linguistic states created in the late fifties and sixties, and this process remained incomplete.

During the next three decades, only some of the centrally administered Union Territories were upgraded to full-fledged states while longstanding demands for the smaller states like Saurashtra, Vidarbha and Telangana remained in limbo.

When India became independent from the British Empire in 1947, the Nizam of Hyderabad did not want to merge with Indian Union and wanted to remain independent under the special provisions given to princely states.

It was "Operation Polo" on 17th September 1948 that the Government of India annexed Hyderabad state.

The Telangana Rebellion took place in the former princely state of Hyderabad between 1946 and 1951. It was led by Communist Party of India. The revolt was against the local feudal landlords and later against the king of Hyderabad State.

In December 1953, the state reorganization commission was appointed to recommend the reorganization of state boundaries. The States Reorganization commission was not in favour of immediate merger of Telangana with Andhra state, despite their common language. The people of Telangana had several concerns. Their region had less developed economy than Andhra, but had a larger revenue base which people of Telangana feared might be diverted for use in Andhra.

The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru initially was sceptical of merging Telangana with Andhra state, fearing a "tint of expansionist imperialism" in it. He compared the merger to a matrimonial alliance having "provisions for divorce" if the partners in the alliance cannot go on well. The central government established a unified Andhra Pradesh on November 1, 1956. Since then, there has been several movements to invalidate the merger of Telangana and Andhra, major ones occurring in 1969, 1972 and 2000s onwards. Now the usual question again arises, Does India needs smaller states? Factual analysis shows the development and efficiency argument does work in favour of the new states when compared with the parent states.

During the tenth five year plan period Chhattisgarh averaged 9.2 % growth annually compared with 4.3% by Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand averaged 11.2% annually compared with 4.7% by Bihar, and Uttarakhand achieved 8.8% growth annually compared with 4.6% by Uttar Pradesh.

Also, smaller but compact geographical entities tend to ensure that there is better democratic governance, as there is greater awareness among the policy makers about the local needs. Smaller spatial units having linguistic compatibility and cultural homogeneity also allow for better management, implementation and allocation of public resources in provisioning basic social and economic infrastructure services.

As of now, the federal polity of India does need to accommodate the ongoing demands for smaller states. In most regions, even if the local, urban entrepreneurial/middle classes lead the demands, these demands represents the democratic aspirations of the hitherto politically dormant, neglected and discriminated masses from the peripheral regions.

- Sundeep Shukla