Column : Reorganise states, but for right reasons

Dec 21 2011, 02:59 IST
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SummaryOn the important issue of smaller states, there are arguments for geographical reorganisation to improve well-being. But the issue is being raised in a bizarre manner, which can only harm the polity.

On the important issue of smaller states, there are arguments for geographical reorganisation to improve well-being. But the issue is being raised in a bizarre manner, which can only harm the polity. Serious arguments for reorganisation of states can be traced back to the well-known Panikkar Commission. At the conceptual level, the major advances were made in the 1980s. It was then that two powerful principles were enunciated. The first was to decentralise effective governance power through the Panchayati Raj principle. Regional political parties find that anathema, for it erodes their sectarian base and, in fact, raises empowerment and development issues, which they find difficult to handle. The second was the need to reorganise development along geographical resource lines called agro-climatic considerations. Land, water and climate was the base of poverty and exploitation, but the problématique could be turned around from a viscous to a benign circle.

Local bodies supported by resource-enhancing policies could frontally attack rural backwardness and poverty. It was also perceived that cultural strengths were built around the soil of this great country. In the long run, that would be the base of political reorganisation moving away from the divisive games played to hang on to the crumbs of power.

In fact, these principles are becoming more urgent. Globalisation has not only meant an 8% annual growth but a great churning in which millions of people, including farmers, artisans and workers, are moving in search of higher incomes from small villages to large villages, and from there to small towns. Major political parties, our great globalisers and the Planning Commission have all missed this great movement. Rahul Gandhi had his finger on the pulse when he said that while travelling he learnt that millions of people are moving but nobody is bothered. Since it is the truth, and the neglect hurts the existing myopic leadership, instead of doing something about it, the reaction we get is to trash the legitimate comment on the system giving beggar wages—worse still to break up the problem so that our political backyard is intact. There is no earthly reason to break up the Indo-Gangetic Plain into Paschim, Awadh and Purva. The Purva has been exploited on account of the irresponsibility of the powers and, in fact, will link very well with the Paschim and the Awadh. The migration has not only happened to the metros but also to the Paschim, which has

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