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New State For India

‘We may soon reach 50,’ said a bright-eyed Percy as I sat down to butter my toast.

It was still very early in the morning and I had just taken a small sip of my second cup of coffee so I wondered if he was taking of the Brazil vs Croatia match. We had been up all night cheering Neymar.

Looking at my expression, Percy brightened up further and shot out: ‘did you know smaller ones are easier to manage?’

‘Resources like water, power and funds can be distributed equally and there would be more job opportunities for everyone.’ Percy was now as bright as a 1000 watt lamp while my face expressed total disinterest.

Percy was not good at reading facial expressions. He continued.

‘The 29th was carved out recently from an existing one. Soon similar demands from the rest of the country would get stronger. I only hope it doesn’t turn into hundreds.’

He looked slightly worried. I was too!

Then it struck me. ‘Did you say job opportunities Percy?’

‘Ya, ya…India recently split the existing southern state of Andhra Pradesh to create the new state of Telengana.’ He brightened up again.

Post India’s independence from the British, the country inherited over 550 princely states or provincial divisions from the Raj. However, independent India soon reorganized itself into 14 states and 6 union territories based on linguistic communities.

The southern state of Andhra Pradesh was formed in 1956 combining the Telugu-speaking region of the former princely state of Hyderabad (that includes Telangana) and the Telugu-speaking region of Seemandhra, which was part of the Madras Presidency.

‘Did you know that this ends a 57-year-old battle between the two Telugu-speaking regions, which saw many riots and hunger strikes by groups that were either pro or anti-separatism,’ Percy rambled on.

‘Proponents of a separate Telangana state say they have been exploited and discriminated against when it comes to the allocation of river water, jobs and state funds, despite repeated government promises.

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‘The two states will share the city of Hyderabad as the capital for 10 years or at least till Andhra Pradesh (or Seemandhra as they want to be called now) gets a new capital.’ Percy was on a roll.

‘That might be easier said than done,” I said. Both Telengana and Seemandhra want revenues from their common wealth generating capital city, a major technology hub that hosts the country headquarters of multinationals like Google and Microsoft.

Percy looked at me with a frown. He did not like my poking holes in his perfect world view.

‘Soon demands for separate states such as Gorkhaland in northern West Bengal, Bodoland in Assam and Vidarbha in Maharashtra would start getting louder and more insistent. There is already a demand that the huge state of Uttar Pradesh in north of India should be broken up into four states. Don’t you think it might create instability in the country,’ I added, enjoying myself.

However, Percy does not like to lose any debates. ‘Smaller states lead to more effective and focused governance. It reduces diversity and resources can be efficiently allocated when there is less religious, cultural and lingual diversity. Moreover, it leads to empowerment.

‘In 2000 three states in India’s northern Hindi-speaking heartland were each divided in two. That proved to be successful, to an extent,’ continued Percy.

‘Uttarakhand, a hilly corner separated from Uttar Pradesh, recorded rapid economic growth. Resource-rich Chhattisgarh and once a part of Madhya Pradesh, is doing much better economically than before. Only Jharkhand in eastern India has faltered marginally after separating from Bihar’.

I could almost hear ‘…so there!’

Jayati is a freelance writer who loves to explore books, eateries, nooks and crannies. While sipping endless cappuccinos, she brags about her discoveries at: ginovertonic.com

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