Did You Know Some States Have Special Powers Given By The Constitution?

Symbolic Picture representing the Diversity of India (Image Credits: UJA)

Federal countries around the world follow the pattern of asymmetrical lines within their constitutions. The Indian constitution being quasi-federal in nature allows the state to formulate their laws. To accommodate the vast differences that are present within a large heterogeneous country like India, many constitutional asymmetries were included to protect the rights and interests of regional, ethnic, cultural and linguistic minorities.

These asymmetries were a conscious attempt by the constitution-makers to accommodate diverse backgrounds into the Union of India and sprung up the feeling of nationhood, especially into small ethnocultural groups. Constitutional asymmetries have been an essential part of the Union of India, for it has helped the country stand united for more than seven decades.

A country as vibrant and heterogeneous as India could, in no case, have adopted a unitary political system; the constitution-makers were clear on this subject right from the beginning. The issue was whether a potent federal structure would weaken the national unity and would make it harder for the centre to push for welfare schemes which were necessary for the economic development of the country.

The division of states was chiefly based on the linguistic identity of the region; the need for asymmetry was necessary for the dissolution of basic law of the land and to the accession of states into the Union of India.

Special Provisions For Different States

Article 371 provides special status to some states within the Indian Union. These provisions were mainly included to ensure the economic development of various socio-lingual minorities that exist in various parts of the country.

Special Provisions for Maharashtra and Gujarat:

Map of Marathwada and Vidarbha region (Image Credits: Sky Met Weather)

These provisions were made when Gujarat was formed. Some areas were taken from the Gujarati speaking part of the Bombay presidency to ensure the development of these relatively under-developed communities for whom special provisions needed to be included to ensure their development.

Article 371 gives special provisions to the governors of Gujarat and Maharashtra to create independent development boards for Vidarbha, Marathwada and rest of Maharashtra and Saurashtra, Kutch and the rest of Gujarat. It gives room to provide more facilities for employment opportunities, vocational and technical education in the state.

Special Provisions for Assam:     

Under Article 371-B, the President holds power to elect a committee of elected tribal representatives into the state’s legislative assembly.

Special Provisions for Manipur:

371-C grants power to elected members from the hilly region of the state for the establishment of a committee for the proper functioning of the legislative assembly. The committee works under the directive of the Governor, and it can take central government instructions regarding the administration of hilly areas.

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A glimpse into the life of Hilly Manipur (Image Credits: AP)

Special Provisions for Andhra Pradesh:

Under Article 371-E, the President can assert their powers in order to promote opportunities for the local populace and can interfere with disputes regarding appointment and promotion of posts in the state.  

Special Provisions for Mizoram:

371-G says, without the consent of the State Legislative Assembly, the Parliament cannot decide on the matters of religious and social practices of the Mizos, civil and criminal law of the land, land ownership transfer, and customary law procedures.

Special provisions for Arunachal Pradesh:

If the President grants special powers to the Governor, under Article 371-H, the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, on the directions from the President, can act upon situations concerning the law and order in the state while taking advice from Council of Ministers. The governor’s decision will be final. 

Special provision for Goa:

As per Article 371-I, the State Legislative Assembly of Goa will consist of not less than 30 members.

Special provisions for Karnataka:

Article 371-J gives room for some special provisions to the Hyderabad-Karnataka region. The President gives special responsibilities to the Governor of Karnataka to create a separate board to develop the Hyderabad-Karnataka regions.

Every year, a report regarding the working of this board will be presented before the State Legislative Assembly. Equitable funds must be allotted for developing these regions. There will be reservation of seats for the education and vocational training of the students from this region besides reservation for jobs within the state government for persons hailing from this region.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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