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Updated: August 25, 2013 13:03 IST
Demand for New States

More boundaries

Suresh Nambath
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“After [due] consideration, we have come to the conclusion that it will be in the interests of Andhra as well as Telangana if, for the present, the Telangana area is constituted into a separate State, which may be known as the Hyderabad State, with provision for its unification with Andhra after the general elections likely to be held in or about 1961.” – The SRC Report, 1955.
“After [due] consideration, we have come to the conclusion that it will be in the interests of Andhra as well as Telangana if, for the present, the Telangana area is constituted into a separate State, which may be known as the Hyderabad State, with provision for its unification with Andhra after the general elections likely to be held in or about 1961.” – The SRC Report, 1955.

The Sunday Story New States are acceptable as long as they do not displace people

There is little to distinguish sub-nationalist movements from nationalist ones, other than the historical circumstances of their origins and the self-limiting nature of their political aims.

Whether it is in the promotion of an idea of shared history and territory, or in the practice of identity politics based on language, ethnicity, and religion, sub-nationalists mimic nationalists in every sense. But while nationalist movements are glorified for their success in the anti-colonial struggle, sub-nationalists are often derided for their divisive politics, and for latent secessionism.

In India, the reorganisation of States on linguistic lines after Independence was a defining moment. Unlike Partition on the basis of religion, the reorganisation of States saw no large-scale dislocation of people. No surprise: people speaking a common language, as is only natural, live in geographically contiguous areas.

The agitation for a Telugu-speaking State, independent India’s first sub-nationalist movement, was instrumental in the creation of new states in 1956; language was quick to gain acceptance as the basis for a people to demand the right to a sort of “limited” political self-determination within the confines of the Indian nation-state.

The clamour for new states was never likely to end with 1956. But the most significant reorganisation since then had to wait till 2000 when Chhattisgarh (from Madhya Pradesh), Jharkhand (from Bihar), and Uttaranchal, now Uttarakhand (from Uttar Pradesh) became separate states. It was not language, but tribal, forest and hill region identities that fuelled these demands, helped along by the political calculations of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which headed the government at the Centre.

Contrary to the belief that dividing big states makes for administrative ease, Uttarakhand took away only a small, north-western part of Uttar Pradesh, which is still the largest state by far. A sense of alienation aided the feeling of social and cultural distinctiveness of the people in these areas. In Jharkhand, rich in minerals, those who pushed for statehood stressed on the lopsided development in Bihar -- the tribal areas contributed the highest share of the State’s revenues but received the least funding.

Telangana’s distinctiveness lies in its political history as a part of the Hyderabad State under the Nizam, but the statehood demand, like in Jharkhand, arose from a perception of lopsided development.

The decision of the Congress to back the case for a Telangana state has predictably given an impetus to statehood demands in other parts of the country. India’s northeast is a mix of peoples belonging to different ethnic groups, and the strongest agitations for new states have come from this region. Gorkhaland and Bodoland are only the most prominent of long-pending demands for separate states. Many of the states in the northeast are small, both geographically and in terms of population, and their territorial claims overlap, but this does not seem to be a damper on those wanting statehood for their regions. Economic viability is the main argument against smaller states. If smaller states do not have avenues for requisite revenue generation, and cannot meet the costs of administration, then, the argument goes, they are not economically viable. But this line of reasoning can hardly convince those who want a state “of their own” on the basis of their ethnic identity. After all, such arguments of political and economic instability were used against nationalist movements by the colonialists too.

Theoretically, demands for new states are as valid as any nationalist project. Or, to put it another way, any nationalist movement is only as legitimate or valid as a sub-nationalist or regional movement for a separate state. What is really important, then, is that the new states should not result in internal displacement of people. Modern democratic nation-states are based on the presumption of the right of people to self-determination. But the right to self-determination, whether as a nation-state or as a more limited state within a nation, does not flow from a people’s assertion of their ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural, or any other social identity. The political legitimacy of a people’s right to self-determination, in whatever form, comes from universal, inalienable human rights. And, almost by definition, it is acceptable only so long as it does not infringe on the similar right of another people.

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Totally agree, Aadesh. There is no reason to create new states if our faulty governance model is changed. Power should be concentrated at the lowest level (district, municipal, panchayat etc) so that we can effect change much more directly. Unfortunately, we have too many intersecting authorities which makes fixing accountability virtually impossible.

from:  Sujay
Posted on: Aug 27, 2013 at 12:41 IST

It is the faulty policies of our govt which led to the division of
states. If people's needs are not fulfilled they always do agitation
sand govt for vote bank toes to their lines.But small is always not
beautiful.It is the faulty policies of congress which led to agitation
of people.Instead of division of states govt should work for the
development of these states so that everyone live in happiness and peace
and our country will become stronger and prosperous.

from:  Chandan
Posted on: Aug 26, 2013 at 00:15 IST

You failed to mention the division of Punjab. After the partition of India in 1947, the Punjab province of British India was divided between India and Pakistan. The Indian Punjab, known as East Punjab, said to be envied by the Hindu dominated central government, was forcibly divided in 1966 with the formation of the new states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, as well as the current state of Punjab. Punjab is the only state in India with a majority Sikh population.

from:  Udham Dillon
Posted on: Aug 25, 2013 at 22:43 IST

The demand for a separate state with an argument that it will help focusing on development of all , is a weak one.In this context the eg. of Jharkhand is quite pertinent.Even after 14 years of its formation the people of mineral rich state are struggling for same old demands- education, employment, food, shelter etc.. The very tribal people,whose interest was made the reason for the formation of the state, are as neglected as ever.While on the other hand Bihar is fast on the road to development and clocking highest GDP in past years.The problem is actually in the delivery mechanism and empowerment which is not ensured by breaking of state.Vision of state must be the vision of people,for this the grassroot democracy needs to strengthened and the concept of "Initiative" be brought into practice.District must be nodal body for planning and implementation.Public participation and social audit should be a rule.Only then the problems of regions like Gorkhaland ,Bodoland, Telangana be solved.

from:  aadesh
Posted on: Aug 25, 2013 at 20:08 IST

i believe that state boundaries should go once for all.After all in future we are going to see such demands for sure.The best solution is divide india into only districts and no states.Let development happen in each district in details and an MP be held accountable for not having development.This should not pose any threat to culture or language as they will be intact and people will have once identity as indian not as tamilian or andhra or punjabi.

from:  karan aryan
Posted on: Aug 25, 2013 at 19:17 IST

The visual image of this article is not showing the proper area of India. The disputed area between India and China are along with china as a Indian we must be concern about the issue of own teritorry.

from:  Peeyush Singh
Posted on: Aug 25, 2013 at 09:20 IST
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