Telangana : At 67, was India prepared to divide?

Author: Ekagra Jain, Research Associate

The Benefits, Repercussions and Consequences of a New State with respect to the current Indian scenario

To protect the unity and integrity of India, Article 2 & 3 of the Constitution of India vests the power to create new states in the Parliament, which may pass law on the subject. The Parliament is also empowered to alter the boundary of any state and even change the name of the state.

This article is four folded. Firstly, it discusses on what the constitution speaks as to what is the process of bringing into existing a new state. Secondly, it debates on the issue of the new state being formed that is Telangana and whether it is a controversial issue and what is the inside story behind it. Thirdly, why is the need of a new state still been arising after Independence has also been discussed in length. Fourthly, this article debates on the need of certain parameters or benchmarks for the formation of a new state.

How can a new State come into existence?

The first step that needs to be done in this process involves a bill pertaining to the matter which needs to be referred by the President to the legislature of the affected state so that the legislature can express its views within a certain period. After ascertaining the views of the State Government, a resolution is tabled before the assembly and if the resolution is passed by the State Assemblies, it has to pass a bill in respect of creation of a new state. Finally, a separate bill on the matter needs to be brought to the Parliament on the recommendation of the President which needs to be passed by a two-third majority and ratified by the President and thus the new state is formed. Before drafting the Bill, a commission can be appointed by the centre to fix boundaries and for sharing waters, facilitating other guarantees and location of capitals, High Courts and all other requirements of the States to be formed. The President may recommend the Bill, on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers only on receipt of report of the Commission.

The Telangana Issue

History

The State Reorganisation Committee was formed in 1953 to recommend the reorganization of state boundaries1. The Committee, when looking into the details of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana was not in total favour of an immediate merger with Andhra Pradesh and stated that it was primarily on the people of Telangana to take a decision on their future2. Despite having opposition for the merger continued for it, the Chief Minister of Hyderabad passed a resolution on 25 November 1955. The resolution provided certain safeguards to Telangana and its people. The resolution stated that the development of that area would be deemed to be special charge, and that certain priorities and special protection will be given for the improvement of that area, such as reservation in services and educational institutions on the basis of population and irrigational development to the people of Telangana. The resolution was also formulated into an agreement on 20th February, 1956. The agreement which is termed as the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” had the objective to bring the less developed region of Telangana on par with the rest of the State. Andhra Pradesh was formed in 1956 as India’s first linguistic state3.

Since then, several agitations and movements have been done pertaining to cancellation of amalgamation between Telangana and Andhra and for the creation of a separate state in 1969, 1972 and 20004. The Telangana movement gained widespread political recognition and was spread all over India pertaining to creation of a new state. On 9th December 2009, the process of formation of Telangana state was announced by the Government of India5. This announcement had violent protests and several members of Legislative Assembly and politicians had given their resignations on hearing the announcement. The resulting agitation which posed a serious law and order problem in the state in the late 2009-10, eventually led to the constitution of the Srikrishna Committee6.

The Srikrishna Committee in its report stated that, “After considering all aspects, the Committee found the balance tilting in favour of keeping the state united, though some valid and strong reasons that had continued to cause discontent in Telangana region since its merger indicated that the demand for separation was also not entirely unjustified7.” Soon after considering the report of the Sri Krishna Committee, the government of India passed a resolution of creation of Telangana.

 “Mother India gives birth to her 29th baby at the age of 66”8, read the front line of the Times of India Edition dated 31st July, 2013. The Government of India has passed the resolution of creation of a new state Telangana separate from the state of Andhra Pradesh.

According to estimates, the way to Telangana being a separate state is however subject to a 7 months duration which includes the following 12 processes:

  • Refer the new-state proposal to the existing Andhra Pradesh state legislature.
  • Preparation of a Cabinet note at the Centre, based on the existing state government’s proposal.
  • A newly constituted Group of Ministers (GOM) at the Centre to examine the economic issues arising from the move to create Telangana.
  • Preparation of a Cabinet note at the Centre, along with a re-organisation bill, based on advice from the GOM.
  • Central Cabinet’s approval for Telangana state bill and recommendation to the President of India to refer the draft bill to the existing Andhra Pradesh legislature.
  • President’s recommendation.
  • State Assembly and Legislative Council’s consideration of the bill.
  • Vetting of the bill by the Ministry of Law at the Centre.
  • A Central Cabinet note, along with the vetted bill, to be approved by the Cabinet.
  • Notice for the introduction of the vetted bill to be given by the Home Ministry to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha
  • Passing of the bill by the Lok Sabha / Rajya Sabha by a simple majority.
  • President’s assent, after the bill is passed by both Houses of Parliament.

Therefore, there are various difficulties that need to be tackled before Telangana is declared as a state. The Telangana Rashtiya Samiti (TRS) which has been continuously debating for years regarding the new state haven’t been celebrating yet because the bill still needs to be approved by the seal of the Indian Parliament.

Is Building of Telangana: A Controversial Decision?

The controversial decision to build up a new state of Telangana has made many people stand up for the change they thought to bring it on for many years. While the government has approved the idea, the critics fear that the country’s unity will be dismantled. The way things have started to proceed with different regions asking the states of their own, the structure of Indian Federalism seems to be at a big risk. The protests and demands for creation of new states have been carried on by a variety of groups from several years. A variety of protests have been for various concerns which include ethnic, linguistic and economic concerns. Roshan Giri who has been fighting for a separate state since 1907 announced a general strike on 3rd August, 2013 and has stated that, “If there is to be the state Telangana, there must also be the state Gorkhaland9.” Mr. Roshan Giri, who has been a part of the Gorkhas freedom movement, wants a separate state for the Nepalese seeking minority in the Darjeeeling area of the state of West Bengal. Another example of a movement has been the movement to create a state called Vidarbha which would include the disadvantaged region of Maharashtra10. The Bodoland tribe in Assam has also been demanding its separate state despite immense autonomy being enjoyed by it11. The former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati had already proposed the division of Uttar Pradesh into four states during her time in office. There is also a demand for the creation of Bundelkhand which would comprise of some of the poorest districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. If Telangana is accepted, there are no operative reasons to deny the formation of the following states stated above.

The Inside Story

Many politicians and journalists have been discussing on what could be the inside story for promotion of Telangana as a state. The newspaper weekly Tehelka’s Editor Ashok Malik has stated that “The Telangana decision can’t be left to the UPA’s electoral gambles12.” The editor even stated that the reason which can be attributed to the creation of India’s 29th state could be that the Congress party could persuade the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) into an alliance for the 2014 General Election.

The formation of the state ‘Telangana’ does send a dangerous signal to the Indian unity. Analyst and Policy advisor K.G. Suresh of New Delhi believes that the cultural, ethnic and religious diversity is a huge challenge for the world’s largest democracy within its 1.2 billion people. According to him, the decision of the Central Government truly reflects that it is ‘weak’. The problem that he stated was that in earlier days, the party ruling in the Centre also had powers in the state which ensured stability but in the modern times, this trend has changed. Now, the parties ruling in the centre do not mostly rule in the states. The state is mostly governed by regional coalition partners who have a strong base in their respective states which makes the Central Government to be dependent upon them. The decision of formation of Telangana into a state has been seen as a Political move and critics believe its formation is being based on political calculation13. According to K.G. Suresh, making this decision leaves a bad aftertaste because it is all about votes at the end. He states that making such a crucial decision before 7-8 months of the election surely indicates a total political move despite having legitimate interests because even the Congress party cannot visualize what is going to happen in the near future. He alarms this as a red signal as it gives hope to any kind of movement with interests created out of thin air14.

Why is the need of a state arising?

If the administration in a state suffers from large inefficiencies, what is the guarantee that it will become competent by merely creating a smaller state15?

There have been so much political demands for the creation of new states. There are surely emotional considerations for the same like cultural, language, religion and economic necessities and administrative ease. The most important point to this answer has not yet been answered. What the politicians have been visioning upon is additional posts of power such as Chief Minister or Ministers, leaders of the opposition, Assembly speakers and so on. The Government servants have been viewing it as the additional posts of Chief Secretaries, Secretaries, Chief Engineers and Director Generals of Police. The fact that needs to be taken into consideration is that carving out the new states should not be supported just on the basis of political sentiments but what needs to be looked is whether the creation of a new state will be beneficial in the near future or not. A question while formation of a new state that needs to be answered is whether the creation of a smaller state will result in better administration or not.

Arguments in Favour

The arguments in favour of the division of states have been that the new states will receive more funds from the centre which they would not have received comparatively when they were a part of the larger state. The living conditions can be improved through a new capital city. The span of control of state-level functionaries can be reduced through which the quality of governance can be improved. The education facilities can be improved. Certain arguments have been that the problems which could not have been solved before when they were part of a larger state can be solved now being a smaller state.

Arguments in Disagreement

The size of a state is not an integral factor for determining whether a state will perform well in the future or not. States like Gujarat and Kerala have shown that development is just not limited to size rather it’s the diverse talent available within the state’s population coupled with the leadership qualities and effective governance that determines how a state could perform well in comparison to the other states. For developing a state with infrastructure, estimates show that more than a decade is required to set up as time, money and efforts are integral factors for the formation of same. A small state is also going to face up difficulties with respect to human as well as natural resources available to it. The difficulties that it may face include the potential to regenerate resources internally. Another critical factor is that the states will be dependent on the Centre for financial transfers and centrally sponsored schemes. Certain small states like Uttarakhand have an annual growth rate of 9.31 percent but the fact is that Uttarakhand has joined the Special Category state which gets 70 percent of its funds from the Centre16. The formation of new states is also opposed on the ground that there may be impediments in the growth of interstate trade and other economic activities, as large number of local taxes may be introduced by these states.

Need for Benchmarks for Formation of a New State

Article 3 of the Constitution of India has vested in the Parliament the power to form new states and alteration of areas, boundaries and names of the existing states which may pass the law on this subject. However, what the Constitution which is termed as the Supreme law of the land fails to answer is the criteria or the parameters which need to be taken into consideration while forming a new state. The Parliament has been given exclusive power but the basic deficiency which persists in the Constitution is regarding the guidelines which need to be there for the formation of new state.

Ideally, a policy decision should have some benchmark or should set a precedent for the future. The decision on Telangana reflects a different view in this matter. There is a lot of ambiguity with the decision being taken up by the Centre taking into consideration the parameters being taken up for statehood. The Motilal Nehru Committee Report of 1928 stated that the formation of new states must be on a linguistic basis. According to the report, major languages constitute the base for the formation of states and also affect the cultural base of life17. The Indian National Congress had accepted this proposal. The first State Reorganisation committee had made the use of language for formation of states. The second criteria which was formulated for creation of a new state was ethnicity. For the breakup of Assam in 1970s and the breakup of Chattisgarh and Jharkhand in 2000, the reason attributed to the same is the logic of ethnicity. So the two main benchmarks for formation of new states was language and ethnicity and these should act as precedents for the future.

The benchmark that the states are now focussing on considering is regarding Administrative ease. For example, the division of Uttar Pradesh into four daughter states is because of the administrative ease that it will provide.

According to the Judges S.H. Kapadia and K.S. Radhakrishnan, the division of the state is a political question. Senior Advocate Harish Salve submitted that, “Power under Article 3 and 4 is the solemn constitutional power and it is obvious that no constitutional power can be exercised arbitrarily and at will without there being a fundamental constitutional paradigm or basis to the exercise of power18.” He said the manner in which the entire matter relating to creation of a new state was being dealt with proved that there was no established principle for the government to act on such issues.

While establishing criteria, the government needs to look into the matter that it is not necessary that division of states into small units would make them work well. Small states like Goa had to face massive challenges and had their ups and downs whereas some like Haryana have been successful. Jharkhand was removed from Bihar under the assumption that it was being exploited by Patna. Over the years, Bihar has shown a tremendous development and Jharkhand has become India’s basket case. Small states are easier to govern but larger states have their own advantages as well.

The parameters regarding the establishment of Telangana still hold some ambiguity. This paper debates on the need of setting up certain benchmarks for the formation of states. A bench comprising of S.H. Kapadia and K.S. Radhakrishnan after dismissing the petitions which were filed when the agitations of the Telangana issue were at heights regarding certain guidelines which needs to be formulated have stated that, “Till date, no law has been proposed for the purpose of carving out of the state and as and when something is enacted, it will be open for the petitioners to approach the court19.”

Author’s view

As the paper discusses, there needs to be criteria and benchmarks need to be setup for the formation of new states. For the following purpose to achieve there needs to be setting up of Second State Reorganisation Committee. The Second State Reorganisation Committee will create criteria/benchmarks, only on the fulfilment of which new states should be created. It should look into the details regarding the new states which should be taken into consideration and should accept the formation of only those states which have been based on the benchmarks created by the Committee. The proposal made by the State Reorganisation Committee should be passed by the State Legislative Assemblies and a separate bill should also be passed in the Centre. The president needs to give consent to it. It should also formulate plans on how it is going to be developed and the future developments and accomplishments which the new state wishes to achieve should be pinned down and efforts to accomplish the same should be made. The financial constraints should also be discussed at length as how the state is going to receive its funds and till what limit will the funds be provided by the Centre. There should be also discussion as to how the Infrastructure, water-sharing facilities, agro-climatic conditions, quality and topography, socio-cultural factors, natural and human resource availability, density of population, means of communication, existing administrative culture and effectiveness of its district and regional administrative units will be dealt with and provisions for future contingencies should also be made. An appropriate architecture as to how schools, hospitals and other entities will be created and the amount of money and time that it will require should also be taken into consideration.

In short, formation of a new state is a critical issue and research for the formation of the same needs to be done in length. Political sentiments should not act as centre stage demanding the creation of new state where there is no justification for the same. All issues stated above should be discussed in length and then only the decision should be taken.

  1. State Reorganisation-History of India, http://www.indiansaga.com/history/postindependence/reorganization.html‎ []
  2. Para 382 of the State Reorganisation Commission Report, 1955 []
  3. Report of Committee for Consultations on Andhra Pradesh- December 2010 []
  4. Ramachandra Guha, The Hindu,”Living together,separately”, 30th January 2013         http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/living-together-separately/article4358004.ece []
  5. NDTV, “Telangana cleared as 29th State”, 31st July, 2013 www.ndtv.com/blog/…/telangana-cleared-as-india-s-29th-state-398466‎ []
  6. Supra Note 3 []
  7. Sri Krishna Committee Report- Page 7 Point 4 []
  8. The Times of India, 31st July, 2013 []
  9. Anwar Ashraf & Priya Esselborn, DW, “New Indian State sends a dangerous signal”, 01st August, 2013, http://www.dw.de/new-indian-state-sends-a-dangerous-signal/a-16991867 []
  10. The Hindu, ‘Now demand for Vidarbha State gains momentum’, 30th July 2013, http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/now-demand-for-vidarbha-state-gains-momentum/article4969520.ece []
  11. Arkadripta Chakraborty, Tehelka, “After Telangana, Bodoland demand intensifies’, 3rd August, 2013 http://www.tehelka.com/after-telangana-bodoland-demand-intensifies/ []
  12. Ashok Malik, Tehelka, http://www.tehelka.com/the-telangana-decision-cant-be-left-to-the-upas-electoral-gambles/# []
  13. The Hindu, ‘Decision to form Telangana is a political one, not final yet’, 9th August, 2013,  http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/decision-to-form-telangana-is-a-political-one-not-final-yet/article5006354.ece []
  14. Supra Note 10 []
  15. Rakesh Hooja, Business Standard- “Does India need small states?”, 3rd November 2011,  http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/does-india-need-smaller-states-111112300035_1.html []
  16. Dhurjati Mukherjee “Formation of Telangana: Small states in the offing?”, 29th December, 2009, http://www.infa.in/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1401&Itemid=41 []
  17. G.P. Singh, Principles of Statutory Interpretation, 312 (Wadhwa and Company, Law Publishers 8th ed. 2001) (1966). []
  18. The Hindu, “Telangana apolitical issue, not Constitutional :Supreme Court”, 20th August, 2010, http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/telangana-a-political-issue-not-constitutional-supreme-court/article584120.ece []
  19. Ibid []

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