An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 15 August 2002

Last week in our media watch we commented that divisionary forces in South and N E may ask for more devolution of powers if Kashmir gets its way. This is happening vociferously and economics may decide the issue and this will have security repercussions. The RSS want trifurcation of J and K and though the BJP Government makes noises to oppose it the story of the Mukhota (the Mask that hides) comes to mind. Now we post an excellent article by Mohan Guruswamy along those threads which are now weaving in India . He cites statistics to support his case.

His argument is plausible and he studied at Harvard. Most of our politicians work only from their experience. IDC is very clear that we are predated in our thinking to take India forward. We want the good of the West and none of their evils. Indians in power are trying to buck all worldwide trends and though this may sound childish IDC gives an example. In London or New York or whereever you go you can call advertised Mobile number for a variety of massages, whatever that may mean. Our elder Leaders who have secret lives would frown on such a thing happening in India in public as Indian culture would disintegrate –– they would claim.

Now in India ’s largest daily TOI publishing the numbers to call in India for massages, has begun and so it seems the business is sustainable. It is the economy that drives matters. Recently HT reported Kashmir and J and K banks are the richest per capita in India . The recent Petrol pump scam shows how in one day flat PM and dy PM took a decision to call for competitive bids for POL dealership. Manmohan Singh being replicated and we see the hand of Arun Shoorie in this.

Our Neighbour Sri Lanka whose economy is worrisome is agreed that they wronged the Tamils  so LTTE now controls the North. Sri Lankans are enjoying a cease fire and revival of tourism and seem happy for the time being. PM Ranasinghe is clear, he wants international support and does not call it a bilateral matter as we do for Kashmir .

The Indian Government is in dire straits on how to tackle Kashmir and the Armed Forces seem on a tether as the mobilization continues. All that keeps them happy is promotions via cadre review and India Today has a story on this.

Some hunches and indicators point to a feasibility that the Armed Forces especially the Army which has plans ready for  getting on with  some action to take out a few of the POK  camps that launch cross border terrorism, could well be given the green in the next few weeks to test the waters, as the Government is now desperate, that their strategy on Terrorism is not working in Kashmir as the elections approach.

USA and Russia should be consulted. On 5th August six Yatris (pilgrims) on their way to Amarnath shrine were killed just when Defence Minister George Fernandes visited Amarnath over the weekend to pay obeisance and said all was safe. On 6th Aug in Pioneer V K Grover a former Foreign Secretary and our schoolmate again advocated that foreign governments should force the LOC being made the IBL (music to our ears), and goes on to say India should engage Pakistan in an Arms Race and bankrupt them like USA did to Russia. Then we would have to wait a terrible 15 years and Rand has done full study of this option.

The Sang Hawks are in ascendancy in the BJP and the attack on Amarnath yatris just after visit of George assuring all is well, is going to be taken very seriously. Gujrat is a challenge. This Jaitley mission to Srinagar and talk of devolution of powers as opposed to Autonomy and Azadi is rhetoric and we are living in Dangerous times. Farooq Abdullah has interacted with IDC and he can be a powerful misguided missile. It is better for the Government to have him on their side. We  wonder whose side he is on. Please read the 'Writing  on the Wall' and send us your feed back.


The Writing is on the Wall

By Mohan Guruswamy


I have written much of this before, but am provoked to put it again before you by recent demands for smaller states comprising of northern Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Bundelkhand and Saurashtra. Dr. S. Ramadoss of the Pattal Makkali Katchi (PMK), a Tamil Nadu centered political party has mooted a bifurcation of Tamil Nadu, with the northern districts being carved out to form a separate state. Historically also there is some basis to this as the Tamil speaking region in the past comprised of kingdoms centered around Kanchipuram and Tanjore/Madurai. Jayalalithaa has shrilly denounced this demand as “secession” when the PMK only wants a smaller state within the Indian Union. The Madras centered Tamil Nadu State we now know was the creation of the British. Similarly Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra , Gujarat and other linguistic states have no historical basis. The yearning for linguistic sub-nationalism is a post independence phenomenon. Often this linguistic sub-nationalism has been a fig leaf for secessionism as we have seen in Tamil Nadu in the past and for what Vaiko and the pro-LTTE groups have as their real agenda.

The biggest states of India , Bihar , Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh are also its worst off states and hence the acronym BIMARU for them is most appropriate. They are also predominantly Hindi speaking states and hence quite clearly there is no linguistic or historical basis for their creation and existence as they are. It would be however unfair to club MP and Rajasthan with Bihar and UP, both of whom are in an advanced state of political degeneracy with none of their institutions left with an acceptable degree of integrity. Since there is lot to a name, acronym creators apparently needed Rajasthan and MP for imparting vividness. Yet within their blanket linguistic conformity these states cover a vast diversity of distinct regions, with characteristic commonly spoken languages, culture and historical traditions. Each of these sates either in terms of landmass or population still would larger than most countries in the world. Even without Uttaranchal, UP would be larger in terms of population than Brazil , Japan or Bangladesh . It was not surprising that despite the supposed linguistic affinity, there were and still are demands for smaller states from within them. All the major political parties supported such aspirations and three new states are the result.

The creation of these new states, Uttaranchal, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh from the BIMARU big three has provoked a rash of demands for similar restructuring in other areas. The demand is particularly strong in Telangana and Vidharba where there has been a mother lode of discontent just below the surface for out of work politicians to seek their political fortunes. In the recent days there is a demand for a Harit Pradesh consisting of the fertile regions of western UP being fanned by Ajit Singh who is at best a political buccaneer of the worst kind. At the farthest corner of India there is a gathering demand for the creation of a predominantly Naga state, Nagalim, consisting of all the hilly regions inhabited by the Naga tribes. Then of course there is a demand for Bodoland out of the already much truncated Assam, a Gorkhaland out of West Bengal which has shown the Bengali Marxists to be as good or bad petty chauvinists when it relates to their sub-nationalism. Latest to join the list is the RSS, which for the wrong reasons wants the trifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir. This list can be quite long.

What contribute most to these demands for smaller or in some cases larger states are a sense of strong regional affinity that is stronger than the sub-national identity, uneven economic conditions leading to wide and easily discernable disparities in development, and the perceived concentration of political power with an identifiable political elite like the Kammas in Andhra Pradesh and Marathas in Maharashtra. Contributing in equal measure to these is the non-ideological political climate that has descended upon us after one foreign economic paradigm so obviously failed and the its economic opposite was deemed as the only way to go. What are after all the differences on economic philosophy and management between the BJP, Congress, TDP and Samajwadi Parties? Or for that matter the CPM? Thus, when real political differences blur, other political differences have to be manufactured to fuel the political bandwagons in the competition for power. Corruption too ceases to be an issue when all political formations are perceived to be equally venal, nepotistic and criminal.

The late Dr. Rasheeduddin Khan most eloquently made out this case; of Hyderabad I would like to add, way back in April 1973 in the Seminar, at that time edited by the late Romesh Thapar. He had India divided according to its 56 socio-cultural sub-regions and a map showing these was the centerpiece of the article. That picture still remains embedded in my mind, and whenever I think of better public administration that map would always appears. Since the subject of small states has begun to emerge as a major issue again, with the recent by-poll results in Telangana writing its message very clearly on the wall, and with Ramadoss raising the banner in Tamil Nadu and a vociferous cry for a Bundelkhand out of UP, it is a matter of time before small states will become a major political issue nationwide. The Congress Party already has a new States Re-Organization Commission on its agenda. Others too will soon see the writing on the wall.


The Seminar  map is a veritable blueprint for the structuring of India . Out of UP and Bihar eight distinct sub-regions are identified. These are Uttaranchal, Rohelkhand, Braj, Oudh , Bhojpur, Mithila, Magadh and Jharkhand. The first and last of these have now become constitutional and administrative realities. But each one of the other unhappily wedded regions is very clearly a distinct region with its own predominant dialect and history. For instance Maithili spoken in the area around Darbhanga in northern Bihar is very different from Bhojpuri spoken in the adjacent Bhojpur area. Similarly Brajbhasha in western UP is quite different from Avadhi spoken in central UP. India ’s largest state in terms of area, MP, is broken into five distinct regions, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra into four each, AP, West Bengal and Karnataka into three each, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Orissa into two each, and so on.

Since 1971, India ’s population has doubled to cross a billion. Even at constant prices (1980-81) the GNP has grown by ten times. In 1971 the total money supply (M3) was Rs.11,019 crores, whereas it has now grown to over Rs. 1000,000 crores (ten lakh crores). Naturally the size and scope of government has also changed. The 1980-81 budget of the Government of India was a mere Rs. 19,579 crores. It is now about Rs. 350,000 crores. The annual budgets of state governments too have grown likewise. States like UP, Maharashtra and AP now have annual budgets of about Rs.20,000 crores each. All the states together have a total annual expenditure in excess of about Rs.300,000 crores. Last year the total gross fiscal deficit of the states alone was over Rs. 90,000 crores or about the same as the Government of India’s.

The total population of India in 1947 was about 320 million. Today, we have about that number of people who are below the poverty line. In the meantime India has become a very youthful country with 70% of its people below the age of 30 of whom about 350 million are below the age of 14. Clearly the task of government is not only much more enormous, but also much more complex when the rising expectations, impact of new technologies and demographic changes are factored in. Our record so far is cause for great concern and is a severe indictment of the failure of the system of governance in India .

That “the nature of the regime determines the nature of the outcome” is a well-known adage in public administration and public policy studies. The nature of a regime is not only influenced by its constitution, guiding philosophy, and the consequent system of government, but also by the structure of the system. We know from experience, both in the corporate world and in public administration, that monolithic and centralized structures fail when the size and scope of the organization grows. Thus to compete with Honda and Toyota , General Motors and Ford have had to restructure into smaller and independent operating units. In public administration this is called de-centralization. De-centralization not only implies the downward flow of decision-making but also greater closeness of the reviewing authority to the decision-making level.

Thus, if more decision-making flows to the districts and sub-districts, the state government, which is the reviewing authority, must also have fewer units to supervise. I have always held that the real concentration of power is not with the Central Government but with the State Governments. Thus when a person like Chandrababu Naidu clamors for greater functional autonomy, he is actually calling for a greater concentration of power to himself. From the perspective of good governance, this is clearly unacceptable. Good government also means lesser government, responsive government, closer government and quicker government. Large centralized governments are inimical to good government. State Governments are the worst kind of centralized governments masking their regional jingoism as a demand for autonomy.

In 1973 Rasheeduddin Khan wrote: “ the process of the infra-structuring of the Indian federation is not yet over. Therefore, political demands of viable sub-regions for new administrative arrangements are not necessarily antithetical to the territorial integrity of the country. For, every urge for autonomy is not a divisive, but most probably a complementary force; it would not lead to balkanization but to the restructuring of national identity; it is not a fissiparous but a normal centrifugal tendency in a federation; it should not be taken as a call for disintegration of the national sovereignty, but its re-integration.” The “Report of the States Reorganization Commission, 1955” states: “Unlike the United States of America , the Indian Union is not an indestructible union composed of indestructible states. But on the contrary the Union alone is indestructible but the individual states are not.” It would be unfortunate if demands for the restructuring of India by creating more states are seen only as mere political contests, where the just causes of individual socio-cultural and agro-climatic regions is just a weapon of in the hands of out of work politicians deprived of a share of the benefits of office.

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