The recent announcement by the government to declare Telengana as the 29th state with 10 districts and Hyderabad as a common Capital has opened a Pandora’s Box of similar clamors. Many groups have stepped up their game demanding for their own statehood. The government will have to ponder many factors before redrawing boundaries and splitting up states. ‘Nationalism’ has always remained the most controversial creed in the political theory. It cannot be merely defined as the casual association of people within a territory.
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It is the sharing of some popular beliefs, ascribing a common political identity to its entire people and sharing a common history. In this context the internal outcries for separate statehood cannot be ignored prima facie. Also more and more stifling of these demands will be a call for disaster. These types of internal conflicts have always been a head-ache for governments worldwide and they are still searching for a way-out. India is a nation lauded for ‘Unity in Diversity’ and a large number of minority groups of ethnic, tribal, cultural and social origin exist within the country and have been living harmoniously since Independence.
They have been amply protected under our Constitution taking into consideration their capacity to influence the populace so that their voice too is eloquently heard in a highly democratic nation like ours. However in case they feel subjugated or threatened they have the full right to protest. Their demand for separate statehood comes from the limbo they have remained in since time immemorial. They feel that a separate autonomous state would give them a better chance of survival, development and above all better administration.
Andhra Pradesh when formed by the union of British-States and princely provinces after Independence was on linguistic basis i. e. they all spoke Telugu. However Jawaharlal Nehru said at the time that in case anyone feels uneasy by their counterparts they can ask for dissociation. The plea for Telengana as a separate state had been going on for several years abrogating its ties with coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalseema. What triggered the demand was its continuing negligence in developmental schemes for the state.
However, stiff opposition has also risen from the latter regions thereby placing the government in a quandary. The internecine demands for Hyderabad as Capital of the state, by both the regions have exacerbated the situation. It has conclusively served as a bolster to similar demands from other parts of the nation. The Nagas, an ethnic group claims that they have been demanding for a bigger Nagaland by consolidating the Nagas from various Eastern states like Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Assam from time immemorial and hence they should be the first to be considered.
The cry for Vidarbha, an autonomous state in Maharashtra, Gorkhaland in West Bengal have become more ferocious. There has also been a demand to split up the large Uttar Pradesh into four states for better administration-Avadh Pradesh, Purvanchal, Bundelkhand and Paschim Pradesh. The armed conflicts by Kukis, an ethnic group in Manipur is also for their own state. The conflicts ended after signing a Suspension of Agreements (SoA) in 2005 by the Indian Army and the Kuki National Party and United People’s Front, the two main parties under whose umbrella the protests were organized.
The Agreement was signed after the promise from Prime Minister to hold conducive talks which is yet to take place. State wide protests and hartaals have already begun in all these states since the announcement for Telengana. However the premise of the argument that smaller state means better administration is fallacious in nature. Splitting up of the nation into several small states might result in the fact that their voices might be trampled upon. It will take some time until they become really autonomous recovering from the protests and conflicts with a stable economy.
In such a scenario a hostile contiguous state sharing its boundary is certainly not conducive. Also it will be only a matter of time for these demands to take on a communal character. That is a price we have already paid for and are suffering from its after impacts even today. The government has to hold many productive talks and discussions with the states concerned and should thoroughly look for all other viable options before hastening into any decision. Therefore taking a holistic view and after careful deliberation only the decision to demarcate and redraw boundaries forming more and more states should be taken.