Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Break for better governance, rule of law and economic freedom

From Niranjan Rajadhyaksha column published on November 17:
  • B.R. Ambedkar set down certain principles about state formation with his characteristic clarity inThoughts on LinguisticStates, a book published in 1955, soon after a states reorganization commission was set up by the Jawaharlal Nehru government in response to the snowballing demands for states based on linguistic groups. In that book, Ambedkar had suggested that Uttar Pradesh should be divided into three states. He had also suggested the bifurcation of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, a plan that was eventually carried out by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2000.
  • Ambedkar proposed a fundamental principle: every state should be unilingual to protect the unique linguistic cultures of India. He argued against mixed-language states. However, Ambedkar also added that this does not mean that every linguistic group must necessarily be clubbed into one state. There could be two or more states with the same language.
  • A lot of what Ambedkar wrote seems politically incorrect, but he was never one to let such niceties come in the way of logical thinking. His core arguments continue to be of contemporary interest, though the bigger issue today would perhaps be the consolidation of the Union government in New Delhi and the Balkanization of the states.
Also read Ajit Ranade's "Small is manageable":
  • Smaller states, therefore, make more sense on the following grounds: (a) administrative ease and manageability; (b) correcting historic skews in federal finances of India through downsizing the problem; (c) greater possibility of inserting appropriate centrifugal mechanisms to thwart the GST juggernaut; and (d) reduced distance between the governed and government. Many naysayers will cite reasons of history, culture and dislocation. People will also cite how the creation of smaller states leads to loss of economies of scale in governance, law and order and “expertise” capital. All this talk is just a proxy for the centralising force. The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet’s decision is bold, whatever its timing and motivation. It should be welcomed and other states should draw inspiration.

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