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Current Affairs, Politics, Social Issues

Some ‘state affairs’

Another state is on its way to birth ! Many of us are very much worried, which is quite normal.
Why is this divisive politics going around?

“Why can’t people think of a ONE INDIA and strive for the excellence of this country as a whole and themselves in turn? Nobody is going to gain out of this except a few power-hungry politicians..” Popular response went on like this. Again, pretty much understandable. Before jumping to the scene and suggest alternate solutions or blaming whoever supported the bifurcation,we are liable to study more about the issue for several reasons. Firstly it gives us a better platform to approach this burning issue. Secondly, we can identify the other areas where there is potential for similar uprisings. Thirdly the golden formula – “What should be done” – can be arrived on.

The analysis of this separate statehood issue should be done on a wider panorama of divisive political movements across India and not just confined to Telengana movement. Geographic, demographic, economic, political and social dimensions should be kept in mind when doing such an analysis. Such an analysis, even if a lot of people has done it already, will enable us to be in a matured position to cook our own opinion on this issue.

A brief history of similar struggles

The major accusation on the demands for separate statehood at various parts of the country is that some political leaders are misleading the general public for petty political gains. However, the history of state formations in India proves this allegation is not hundred percent true. Be it the case of Jharkhand or Telengana or the upcoming issues of Bundelkhand or Vidarbha, there is a long history of struggle and political movements – though poorly organized – with genuine reasons. For instance the history of the demand for a separate Jharkhand state can be traced back to as early as 1930s. This tribal belt with its comparatively better organized Adivasis had been pressing for this demand dreaming of a relief from the prevailed (in fact, prevailing) exploitation and displacement in the name of large-scale mineral projects. Even though it’s a hard fact that their plight is the same without much improvement owing to the infighting and , it should not be ignored that there were socio-economic factors behind the demand for a separate state. In the case of Vidarbha political assurance was given as early as 1956 favourable to the separate state demand. Here too, the core issue is the economic backwardness of the common people in this agricultural area of Maharashtra and the subsequent social issues. Similar reasons are applicable to Bundelkhand too.

As we just saw, there are genuine reasons why the aspirations of the people took political shape and there is quite a long history behind these demands unlike what many people thinks. So the root cause cannot be attributed to petty political gains alone.

Demography and the red corridor:

The interesting feature which is common to all these geographic areas is the demography factor. Tribals, Adivasis, Farmers and other landless groups mostly under the SC or ST categories constitute the population. Continuous exploitation and negligence from the sequential governments has taken out the self-respect and dignity from the individuals. They have lost their belief in the system at least to a large extent. The Red Corridor of India can be seen overlapped with most of the disputed geographical areas. Why? There are parallel governments running in many districts. In short the situation is not that simple as the mainstream public like to believe.

Will a new state solve the problem?

As we understood, the root cause behind the increasing demands for new states is the mass feeling that they themselves and their resources in their land are being exploited for a rising urban class who are higher than them in all hierarchical orders – social, caste, economic, educational etc.
This consciousness together with the spirit of a small number of selfless mass leaders gave rise to popular movements in which the affected masses started mobilizing. At times this turned violent too. And the most obvious alternative which comes to their mind is to escape from the most immediate higher level government which they think is the sole culprit behind their daily issues and form their own government. This immediate ‘supervisor’ is the state government. Thus the demand for a new state is the most obvious alternative to the neglecting, exploiting and cruel State Government under which they believe there is no future.

Now the golden question, will the creation of a new state solve the problems? One has to admit that it will NOT. Because it is not just the state governments to be blamed. The existence of vast areas of resource-rich, human occupied land across India where human development is at the worst standard comparable to any poverty-stricken government-less territories in the world marks the failure of the successive governments at the centre also. Carving out a new state may not solve the issue because of 4 reasons:
i)     Factionalism may gain upper hand.
ii)     Even if the new state is resource rich, the dreams of getting a fair share may be a Utopian one. New groups of exploiters will emerge
as the prevailing economic system is in support to that.
iii) The aspirations of a mobilized mass is tough to be satisfied in most cases under the present Indian political scenarios.
iv)  There are no provisions in the Constitution to give preference to residents when it comes to public employment. (Otherwise the Andhra model
special provisions has to be made in the constitution, but how many?). Thus the employment aspirations of the region will hardly be fulfilled.
Private enterprises won’t even think of that option.

Thus in most cases, an easier route to prosperity is just a dream. It has to be emphasized that by prosperity I mean the social, economic and moral upbringing of all sections of the society especially the downtrodden ones and not merely the establishment of large-scale industries and high revenue for the state as a whole.

What can be a potential solution?

An extrapolation of the current scenario much into the future tense will bring in front of us a large number of states in India. This is not exaggeration to support my view points. A land like ours, with heterogeneity at its height in all respects, it is probable that demands for more states and autonomous territories will be shooting up in numbers in the future. There is no scarcity for reasons too.

If this has to be overcome, the uplifting of living standards is the simple formula. How this can be done? The answer lies in the root causes behind the separate state agitations – poor administration and neglect by the authorities towards a particular geographical area or a religious group or an ethnic group or a linguistic minority etc. for a long time. Geographical continuousness is a common factor in the problematic areas. So the issue of poor adminstration can be overcome by the strengthening of the local bodies.

Even thought the multi-tiered local self-governing institutions are in place for the past 17 years (73rd and 74th Constitution Amendment Acts 1992) it is a fact that the empowerment envisaged by the law was not implemented either because of the improper laws made by the state legislatures or because of the mishandling at lower levels whereby the local self governments did not get the autonomy and independence they deserved. The panchayati raj system, if properly implemented, gives the local population in taking part in the decision-making process and there by it introduces the concept of direct democracy at least to an extent. For more reference check out the People’s Planning program  of the Kerala Government. Even though the efficiency of such programs in the beginning are debatable, it serves the purpose of providing the much-needed ‘confidence in the system’ to the local population.

When the funds are distributed to the local bodies and they given the authority to spend as per the norms set by the state government, the population in that smaller area are getting the opportunity to control the happenings and they know whom to be blamed for inefficiency and how to punish them through the next elections. State assembly elections are far too high for the extremely poor to cast their protest or acceptance in the proper way.

The above statements are synonymous to the concept of Panchayat Raj. The implementation (in fact a rapid one) of this concept in the PROPER and DEMOCRATIC way is certainly going to improve the situation. Those who need a proof should check if there is any divisive demands in the states where the system is properly implemented. After all a small area is always the best to administer and financial management than a much larger area. Probably one reason why Aristotle is widely studied even today is his conception of tiny ‘city states’ as the best suitable ones for efficient administration.



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