Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Pioneer > Panic stricken surrender

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    • Sunanda K Datta-Ray
    • Agreeing to create Telangana was a panic decision by a Minister who is not accustomed to handling political crises, but a 29th State should not in itself cause panic. The prospect of more States causes alarm only because Jawaharlal Nehru’s concern about ‘Balkanisation’ has left a deep-seated fear of parts of India breaking away.
    • Journalists and writers with greater patriotism than historical understanding have been screaming ever since about Britain’s departing kick being to try and Balkanise India. But if we do talk of the Balkanisation of India — as Nehru did of various constitutional proposals for federation — then we are bracketing the Indian Union with the Ottoman and Austrian empires, not to mention the Soviet Union.
    • What India lacks is a philosophy of its structure and a long-term vision of its administrative and political geography. Internal boundaries have been redrawn many times to be sure, but never willingly. No new State has been the result of Central recognition of the right of a particular region or people to an administrative entity. Even the States Reorganisation Commission’s recognition of linguistic States did not mean automatic cartographic reforms. That was the opportunity for taking a realistic and imaginative look at India’s demographic diversity and creating a new and willing union in consultation with the people concerned.

      Instead, every effort was made to cling to the boundaries and institutions the colonial regime had left behind. Any departure was treated as treason. Innovations have taken place only under pressure. That merely encourages the proponents of Vidarbha, Gorkhaland, Bundelkhand, Harit Pradesh or Bodoland to believe they, too, can gain their ends through blackmail. If Mr K Chandrasekhara Rao can succeed by refusing to eat, why should Mr Bimal Gurung not try the same tactics?
    • If Bangladesh can turn each sub-division into a district, and tiny Britain devolve autonomy on Scotland and Wales, India should not baulk at a redistribution of authority.

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