Editorials, GS-2, Indian Polity, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

The ironies of Small States

Familiar questions of the political terrain—

  • Political instability (once inelegantly called ‘horse-trading’)
  • Containment of capacity of the anti-defection law
  • The regrettable tendency of parties controlling the Central government to inexorably expand their writ
  • The readiness of State leaders to violate their own obligations as representatives of the political public, and vitiate democracy

Formation of States—Deepening of Democracy

  • Smaller political units facilitate contact between the government and the governed
  • Enables local populations to imprint their opinions and interests onto the consciousness of their representatives

Demands for statehood followed struggles against injustice—

State leaders have shown great willingness to play into the hands of the Central government, with representatives forgetting the history of their own societies

  • Case of Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM), Shankar Guha Niyogi— (from the late 1970s till 1991)
  • He was assassinated by the men of the liquor lobby— one of the most transformative social movements in the country.
  • Focussed not only on the struggle for wages, but also on alternative development strategies that inspired radical political consciousness among the Dalits and the Adivasis- giving ‘us’ an enormously creative interpretation of citizenship


  • When Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh—
    • Presently, according to the 2011 India Human Development Report, the incidence of poverty among Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) households in Chhattisgarh is much higher than in other social groups in the State and the country.
    • Chhattisgarh ranks low on Human Development Index rankings, with more malnourished women, underweight children, and illiterate people than the national average
    • People in the densely populated forests and hills of Dantewada and Bastar-where a majority of the STs live are the most illiterate
    • Ironically, Chhattisgarh is a mineral-rich and power-surplus State
  • Jharkhand with vast natural resources—
    • Accounted for 70 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product of Bihar before 2000 (but presently remains one of the most economically backward States of the country)
    • The SC and ST population constitutes around 12 per cent and over 26 per cent of the State’s population.
    • Poverty figures in these two communities are much higher than corresponding figures at the all-India level.
    • A higher percentage of children of the communities suffer from malnutrition and illiteracy.
    • Demand for Statehood:
      • Emerged from a 200-year-old struggle against exploitation
      • 1970s- the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha led by prominent communists and tribal leaders focussed on the direct delivery of justice to exploited tribal communities in the mineral-rich areas, in agrarian districts, and in plantations— launched a concerted effort against displacement
      • The demand for statehood was part of the demand of control over resources by tribal communities
  • State of Uttarakhand—
  • It is inhabited by hill people (majority- upper castes)
  • 1970s- Local communities mobilised against transfer of forest resources to commercial companies.
  • The Chipko movement in the Kumaon and the Garhwal regions became famous for novel modes of protest and awareness of environmental harm (protested against appropriation of resources and actions that impinged upon their bare survival)
  • The demand for statehood on the ground of special needs was articulated by leaders in national parties, and gained momentum in the late 1990s.


Deepening of Democracy or Political Vacuum?

  • A new exploitative elite—  With the formation of three small States the two paths — the fight against injustice and the drive to hoard power in the name of identity — have diverged replacing claims of representative democracy by aspirations to political power and distasteful compromises made in pursuit of profit.
  • The political vacuum created by systemic injustice in both States have stepped the Maoists, with their ideology of a new world geared towards the interests of the poor and the oppressed.

Compromise— The chasm between the needs of the people who struggle for survival, action and inaction by representatives, and lack of remedial justice has compromised representative democracy enormously

Connecting the Dots:

  • In the light of the divergence between justice and power-hoarding, discuss the relationship shared between federalism, States, representative democracy and justice?
  • Many State Governments further bifurcate geographical administrative areas like Districts and Talukas for better governance. In light of the above, can it also be justified that more number of smaller States would bring in effective governance at State level? Discuss. (UPSC 2013 GS Mains)

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