Small states touted as the panacea for development only reflects poor governance.
All the small states that have been carved out including the supposed model state of Haryana had to resort to having separate statehood because of negligence and maladministration of the states that they were part of.
Some political parties also have accepted the specious plea of smaller states as these are supposedly better administered. Haryana is often quoted as the ideal, which developed faster than when it was part of Punjab.
Various states in the north-east region also emerged as better governed after they separated from what was once greater Assam. But it is also a fact some of these are worst administered be it Manipur or Nagaland, have the worst development records and the highest corruption profile.
Insurgency in these states has often been supported by the ruling political parties. The insurgents have become conduits for jacking up the incomes of many. Parallel administrative, exploitative extortion regimes are bleeding these states. Law and order situation is abysmal.
The convenient way is to blame the insurgents and government’s “inability” to control them. But nobody says that they are thriving under political patronage and “inability” of the government is often an alibi for the few ruling class groups for not acting against those who are putting governance to shame.
Three states were carved out during this decade – Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal. All the three were given separate statehood because their parent states of MP, Bihar and UP had been ignoring their developmental aspirations. Separate states were supposed to create a better environment for job creation and infrastructure development.
It has hardly happened. It is only Chhattisgarh, which is a better administrative unit. One can say that Maoists have created severe problems in the state and again have put the issue of governance on backburner. This apart the state is doing better than others.
On the other hand, Uttaranchal is going through a severe financial crunch and is dependent on dole called special grants from the Centre. Its survival is at stake. Law and order situation has worsened. There are more crimes than when it was part of UP. The so called development is denuding its forests. Infrastructure is being added but not many industries are lapping it up. There are allegations that its people and administrators have become more prone to graft.
If at all it has helped some bureaucrats, who after the formation of new states have got quick jump in promotions and got lucrative postings.
Jharkhand has all the potential. It is rich in minerals, has industries and power generation. But the formation of the state has not helped its people. The separation from Bihar was supposed to make it one of the most advanced states in terms of development paradigm. But it has not happened. Lame duck governments, instability and the highest levels of graft have bled the state.
Crime situation is grim though it is convenient to blame the Maoists but it is also a fact that some politicians and Maoists have developed nexus to reap the maximum benefits and bleed he state. It would be naïve to believe Madhu Koda was functioning in isolation. The biggest criminal nexus have emerged in the state.
It is easier for criminals and criminal-minded politicians and bureaucrats to function in smaller administrative arenas. They unleash reign of terror that helps them function in relative “safety”. Bureaucracy either coalesces or is coerced to join the criminals. It is not to say Bihar was better but few had expected the simple tribals to surpass the despised elements from there.
Jharkhand is a failed state. Should that logic be used to further bifurcate it?
It calls for a political debate. Would a new Telugu speaking small Telangana be better than larger Andhra? Of course, it could be argued that Ramalingam Raju of Satyam or Maytas exist in Andhra and enjoy political patronage. Hyderabad is contiguous to Telangana region. It has not been developed despite that proximity. Is there any guarantee it would develop faster if it becomes a separate entity and have better governance with the same stock of bureaucracy and political clan?
UP Chief Minister Mayawati, certainly not politically a very sagacious person, has demanded trifurcation of the state with Bundelkhand and western UP as separate states. It is a sad reflection on her. She has virtually admitted that her government has failed in giving equal treatment to different areas of the state. She has admitted discrimination.
The state of UP is one of the most cosmopolitan in its social approach. Mayawati is trying to break that may be for her limited political gains. The state has become subject to worst kind of extortions during her and the previous Samajwadi regime. Can anyone guarantee that the culture would not become more vicious if the state is divided into smaller entities? Ask anybody he would only aver that more politicians, mafia elements, realtors and their close aides would gain from such entities.
Let us not jump into easy conclusions. These are thoughts with dangerous manifestations. It is time the nation looks at the issues more critically and ponder how better governance could be ensured all over the country. The issue to stress again is better governance and efficient administration. Smaller states need not be a better state. Let us not propagate it.
(The writer is a senior journalist)