The memories of balkanisation of USSR are still afresh. A great power with a vision to challenge the capitalistic world was divided like slices of a cake. Yesterday, my eight year old son asked me to help him with his geography homework, I told him to put the map of India aside for the next five years as the boundaries are to be redrawn.
Mayawati headed government in Uttar Pradesh recently pushed for the division of Uttar Pradesh, dividing the large state into four smaller states. Division of a state at one point may destabilise the political and cultural unity but at the same time it may lead to easy administration and close association with the problems of the people. Let’s have a look at the issues in a step by step manner to have a clear understanding.
Recipe for creating new states
Article 1 of our constitution describes India, that is, Bharat as a “Union of States”. Though India has a quasi federal structure but the term union of state implies two things:
- The Indian federation is not a result of the agreement among the states.
- No state has the right to secede from the union.
Article 3 of the constitution authorises the parliament to form new states. Formation of new states is not considered as an amendment to the constitution and hence it does not require a special majority in the parliament.
A bill needs to be introduced in the parliament by prior recommendation of the president. Before recommending the bill, the president has to refer to the state legislature concerned (in the present case the state being Uttar Pradesh) for expressing its views within a specified period of timeframe. However, the president is not bound by the views of the state legislature and may either accept or reject them. As we can see making a new state is as easy as cooking dal, all you need is a political will to make it happen. The political parties very often use this power to divide the state for their political gains.
A little touch of history
Indian states were divided on linguistic lines. The Fazl Ali commission indentified four major factors that need to be considered while reorganisation of states:
- Linguistic hegemony
- Strengthening the unity and security of the nation
- Financial and administrative considerations
- Promoting welfare in the nation as a whole
Division of states in India has its share of problems. The major problem is regionalism, which has grown like a forest fire across the length and breadth of the country. This regionalism was the main reason for the delay of acceptance of Hindi as the national language. The problem still persists. The element of regionalism is strongest in Maharashtra (due to brazen shameless politics), south Indian states (hostility towards Hindi language) and north eastern regions.
The sparkling Edward
Even though UP is an eminent political state in the country, the word shining does not precede Uttar Pradesh. UP furnishes 80 MLA’s to the Lok Sabha. The clout of political supremacy of Uttar Pradesh may fall with the division of the state.
Does she really care?
The timing of Mayawati’s sudden interest in dividing the state raises eyebrows. With less than a year left for the next U.P Assembly elections, this could be her next political move. The ruling government is trying to score on the sentiments of the people of Bundelkhand and other regions alike (a region mired with farmer suicides) who have always complained of the state funds being diverted to the western part of the state.
Smaller states are easy to maintain administratively. Economic pressure is less as closer attention can be provided to the local problems. But then again, it is the job of the Chief Minister and ruling party to give more economic attention to the affected areas. The statues erected by Mayawati cost Rs 2,000 crore of public money. Imagine how many lives (of farmers) could have been saved by routing the money where it is needed the most.
It is easy to say that smaller states can be easily managed, but do we have the necessary capable workforce? Do we have the necessary capital to waste on constructing new government buildings for the state? The reason for Uttar Pradesh’s dilapidated condition is not the sheer size of the state but misgovernance. What U.P needs is not a division of state but a capable political party that understands the core problems and provide better solutions instead of just ferrying sandals on a jet plane.
There is a need to balance regional aspirations with the macro level economic need of the country as a whole.