Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in the run-up to the reorganisation of Indian states in 1956, had said that "small states will have small minds". In a volatile post-Partition milieu, he had become acutely apprehensive about smaller states being created essentially on the linguistic principle. He feared it would lead to balkanisation and the final implosion of the idea of India. "First things should come first," he had insisted and that meant the unity and integrity of the new nation. But around the same time, for the same reasons of federal unity, B.R. Ambedkar had advanced his thoughts on linguism as an organising principle. He had warned: "One state, one language (and not one language, one state) is the rule. Wherever there has been a departure to this rule there has been a danger to the state.... India cannot escape this fate if it continues to be a congeries of mixed states."
It appears that there is a general recognition of a drift away from linguistic states and a simultaneous investment of faith in smaller states. Two recent incidents offer an insight. A few weeks back, the Kannada media reported that when a delegation of Marathi-speaking people from the 'disputed' border district of Belgaum met Raj Thackeray, he reportedly told the delegation to learn to live in Karnataka. Similarly, Rahul Gandhi's taunt during his UP poll campaign that people from the state should stop 'begging' in Maharashtra was largely an invitation to envisage an economically vibrant state, for which the answer may lie in Mayawati's idea of splitting it up into four.
The growth rates of smaller states in the last five years too have looked encouraging. Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have done well. The growth rate of a reorganised Bihar has been an impressive 11 per cent over the last five years. Uttarakhand has also posted impressive figures compared to its estranged 'parent state', UP.
Historian Ramachandra Guha is equally enthusiastic about smaller states and the setting up of a second src. India, he says, now faces a second generation of challenges, and these pertain to regional imbalances in social and economic development. A new src would look dispassionately into the demands for Vidarbha, Gorkhaland, Harit Pradesh (western UP), Kongu Nadu (western Tamil Nadu) etc. Smaller states alone would not do, the emphasis should also be on granting real financial and political autonomy to panchayats and municipalities, he adds.
Addressing the question on who should be assigned the responsibility of redrawing the map of India's states, Guha goes a step ahead and suggests that the new src should draw its members not from political parties, but from the law, academia and the social sector. Pointing out that members of the first src were the jurist Fazl Ali; author and diplomat K.M. Panikkar and social worker H.N. Kunzru, who were all non-partisan and widely respected, he says that the members of the new src should be people like jurist Fali S. Nariman, economist Jean Dreze, sociologist Andre Beteille and social worker Ela Bhatt.
However, Marxist historian K.N. Panikkar, even as he concedes that there is a case for smaller states for effective administration and equitable distribution of natural resources, feels that there is no need for a second src as such. He fears that it would open up a Pandora's box. Panikkar is more for blurring the boundaries between states. "The border should cease to be of any consequence for the people," he says. "Internal migration and economic linkages should dissolve the existing boundaries between states, even when they maintain cultural identity and administrative distinction."
The reorganisation argument becomes further nuanced when bureaucrat and India's former ambassador to unesco, Chiranjiv Singh, puts forward a cultural rationale in place of the familiar administrative or economic one. "Whatever demands we see for new states may not be on linguistic lines, but there is an underlying cultural reasoning. Be it Telangana, Vidarbha or the four divisions of UP and Mithila, they are all cultural units. Also, don't underestimate culturally distinct North Karnataka's resentment over Old Mysore," he says. Linguistically, too, these regions vary to a large extent. Braj, Avadhi or Maithili may have been reduced to dialects in the popular imagination, but they are anything but that. Surdas wrote in Braj Bhasha and Tulsidas wrote in Avadhi. So, Singh's argument that the new src should recognise these cultural zones appears to be perfectly in place.
The question of src and the redrawing of the map aside, what has led to the decline of the linguistic state—at least as an exclusive logic? If one were to extrapolate the historical arguments of anthropologist Lisa Mitchell in her book, Language, Emotion and Politics in South India, language as an object of emotion or its personification in India, more specifically the South, was only a late 19th-century creation. But within half a century of the creation of the language-emotion nexus, Potti Sriramulu gave up his life for Telugu and Andhra in December 1952, and soon after, since 1964, Tamil Nadu witnessed a number of self-immolation incidents for the Tamil cause. Earlier, till the 1890s, there were no specifically demarcated domains for any language; there was only a multilingual milieu. How and why this creation happened is an interesting historical process, says Mitchell. Going by this, we could logically assume that language-based emotion may have run its course in a hundred years.
Writer-translator Kalyan Raman points out other factors that may have come to dominate the emotive linguistic field. He says the economic liberalisation in 1991 initiated three trends: inter-state mobility of unskilled workers, especially from impoverished regions to more prosperous states or cities; competition among the states for domestic and foreign investment; increased territorial claims over resources due to pressures of economic development. He points out the dichotomy of the present-day linguistic state thus: "On the one hand, as economic units, linguistic states are depending less on the community's cultural identity for economic mobilisation to spur growth. On the other hand, cultural/linguistic identity is pressed into service for confrontational politics, whenever required. But the original raison d'etre for linguistic states—of community integration on social and economic planes—seems to have gone past its expiry date. I would say that linguistic states have morphed into something else, and that something else, because it is based on economic clout and political power, may be hard to dismantle."
Finally, it is important to point out that our very worldview as a nation seems to have undergone a sea change. We no longer imagine or define ourselves as living in villages, the so-called repositories of culture, but have made cities the nucleus of our being. In some ways, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (jnnurm) programme of the Union government is a metaphor for this transformation. Reporting some of the findings of the People's Linguistic Survey of India, linguist G.N. Devy pointed out recently that Maharashtra is Marathi-speaking, but Mumbai linguistically needs to be seen as a 'national city' rather than a state capital. Ditto would be the results for Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.
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REORGANISATION OF STATES
This is the map one is likely to get should a second reorganisation of Indian states were to be effected. It won't depend only on language.
AUTHORS: SUGATA SRINIVASARAJU
TAGS: NEW STATES | IDEA OF INDIA
JAN 28, 2012
I think the southern states esp TN and AP is most caste ridden. So they must be split up on caste basis. None too complicated. the Forward castes are heavily discriminated against. So there can be a separate state for the FCs of TN and AP probably Vizag to Madras. The rest can belong to so called Backward Castes who are the real powerful and forward castes of the south
JAN 28, 2012
By creating such a state there will be a 100% reservation for both parties and will pave the way of ridding caste based thinking in our societies which is a must to progress. If this happens only the real poor will get be able to get reservation and the current system where the rich people of the Backward castes are consistently getting benefits rather unfairly.this needs to change.
JAN 29, 2012
Indian Nationalists always worry about current linguistic states of India which is akin to Africa - Multiple Nations within the Subcontinent. They always dreamed about breaking the states into smaller entities to destroy the regional nationalism growing in different parts of India which they will fear will cause India to break into multiple nations in Future.
USA has larger states than India & still they clamor for more states rights & less federal power; Even Presidential candidates support it
As the article says "The Tamils won't opt for a revision. It is best not to wake up a sleeping animal"...Exactly...
JAN 29, 2012
Chennai should have never been part of TN, it was a telugu speaking place in the first place.