Separate Statehood : A Boon or a Bane?

Posted by JaYesh GaNgan
July 5, 2017

What actually is separate statehood and how does one get it?

Separate statehood is basically a demand for a separate state by a certain region or people of a particular state. The demand for a separate state can arise due to several factors like, government negligence towards certain regions or people of the state, no proper allocation of the resources, difference in culture, language, religion, etc. The creation of new states or merger of old ones is a power solely reserved for the President of India. At the time of independence in 1947 India was divided into 562 princely states and in 1950, with Sardar Patel’s efforts, these princely states were integrated. Coming back to the present, many regions and groups of people are demanding for separate states like Vidarbha (Eastern Maharashtra), Harit Pradesh (Western Uttar Pradesh), Purvanchal (Eastern Uttar Pradesh), Bodoland (Northern Assam), Saurashtra (Southern Gujarat), Ladakh (Eastern Jammu & Kashmir), Gorkhaland (Northern West Bengal), Kongu Nadu (Southern Tamil Nadu).

What are some of the pros and cons of separate statehood?

PROS

  1. Seperate states signify empowerment of common people.
  2. With new states come new opportunities. Businesses, industries and government investments which are beneficial for the people economically.
  3. Increased attention towards neglected areas.
  4. Redistribution of tax and other resources ensures that money and resources are being utilized for overall development of entire state rather than being concentrated on a few areas.
  5. New political parties come up which leaves people with plenty of choices to elect right candidate and in the long run this is good for the democracy too.

CONS

  1. Setting up of various institutions, government offices, universities, hospitals, etc. require huge sums of money, therefore, the new state might end up depending on the Union for funds, which may or may not be available.
  2. Resource distribution can become a major issue of a tussle between the two states.
  3. Rise of new political parties can lead to disputes and divide people further on regional grounds.
  4. If one state’s demands are granted it’ll encourage other states to follow their lead.

There are pros and cons to everything, to survive as an independent state, a region has to have sufficient resources that can generate revenue, employment, food and support systems for the sustenance of the people and the system of governance. When the demand for a separate statehood is not handled properly, it may result in agitations, riots and violence by the people for eg., the demand by GJM – Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for a separate state of Darjeeling resulted in violence. GJM complained about the step-motherly attitude of the state government. How Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) is not allowed to work properly and they don’t receive funds regularly, and how they are being hounded and victimised by the state government. Due to this attitude towards the region by the West Bengal state government, the people came out on the streets and chose the path of violence to show their anger. On 8 June, the army was deployed in the restive town after GJM supporters indulged in violence. PTI reported that the troops were brought in after the protesters damaged police vehicles and set some of them ablaze, henceforth the authorities need to tackle such demands sensibly, ignorance is not an option. On the other hand, the people who demand a separate state also need to understand that not all demands can be achieved, sometimes compromising is better than demanding something because of which you might suffer in future. Let’s take Darjeeling and the GJM’s demand for a separate state for the region and Vidarbha’s demand for separate statehood as an example.

The demand for a separate state by GJM is not at all a sensible decision and here’s why:-

  1. Darjeeling has a very small geographical area for a separate state.
  2. Another division of Bengal would amount to a political hara-kiri.
  3. Other communities will also start demanding separate land for them which will leave Bengal in various different parts.

Whereas, the demand for a separate statehood by Vidarbha is a sensible option because:

  1. Vidarbha holds two-thirds of Maharashtra’s mineral resources.
  2. Holds three-quarters of its forest resources.
  3. Is a net producer of power.
  4. Throughout its history, Vidarbha has remained much calmer during the communal troubles than the rest of India, Vidarbha as a separate state has the potential to succeed.

Conclusion

To answer the question of separate statehood, one needs to carefully examine if they have proper resources, leadership and potential to succeed as a state. If the region lacks all this, separate statehood for them may become a bane but if they have all of this then separate statehood will be a boon for them!

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