The state of Jammu and Kashmir is on boil, the Nero’s of Delhi durbar are playing ‘Vade Matram’ orchestra, and in that cacophony making the noise of regional and linguistic exclusiveness sound a whimper on the national radar.
The current rulers of Hindustan have unleashed a reign of terror using pellet guns over unarmed people who are resisting the bayonet rule and feel happy that they have found solution to tame such kind of human resistance.
They may be in for a surprise if the same situation erupts up as many as 14 other locations in the country that is waiting to have a distinct entity of its own in the form of creation of new states.
If that happens so, will the Nero’s of Hindustan continue to play ‘Vade Matram’ orchestra and defuse any such crisis or give it a realistic thought to address the genuine aspiration of the people?
The answer is difficult because a policy paralysis has gripped the current dispensation and its arrogance and ignorance is apparent in dealing with the situation of carnage and rebellion in Jammu and Kashmir that has so far taken 68 human lives.
The tinder box is simmering below the surface in as many as 14 locations of the country, four in UP, three in Assam, two in Bihar, one each in Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. All of them are waiting to be ignited for carving out as separate states in the country.
Well, since 1956, the reorganization of Indian states has been happening from time to time, but the sore point is, efforts on this direction is made when there is a huge people’s movement built and many loose their life property and honor.
We have seen this with regard to the creation of Jharkhand, Uttrakhand and Chatisgarh states. All of them came into existence after long drawn out human protests. The people’s movement in these states are littered with blood and only after a long struggle the government of the day has succumb to their demand and granted them separate statehood.
The same can be said about Telngana, where people’s movement goes back to 1970 and even earlier, but the statehood was possible only in 2014, when the government finally relented to the people’s demand.
The fundamental point here is why the successive governments are peeve over the creation of the new states on the basis of geographical, linguistic or cultural entities. Why it’s stifling the natural growth of a particular region and acting shy to the developmental goal? There are no logical answers to it and It’s beyond comprehension for ordinary mortals to gauge the Nero’s mind.
We all know the orchestra of 'Vande Matram' was the swan song during the freedom struggle, it served its purpose well, and got us independence, but its magic after 69 years since then is now being questioned as India has become much stronger over and glue of Vande matram is loosing its sheen and voices of sub nationalism has come into fore now.
With the people’s movement in Jammu and Kashmir showing the searchlight, this issue cannot be wished away by playing ‘Vade Matram’ orchestra, and maintaining peace under the shadow of the gun.
India’s is an administrative maze and no one had comprehended it better than the colonial rulers of Hindustan. When they established the contours of Indian administrative set up, linking localities with blocks, blocks with subdivisions and subdivision with districts and districts with a province, they established the edifice of governance in India.
Given the colonial nature, the British government was keen to have an administrative setup from the governance perspective and had no interest in the developmental demand of the geographical region, or linguistic identity or cultural entities of the country.
Thus willy-nilly the British efforts to reorganize the Indian states on governance plank created huge imbalances that remain so, even 70 years after independence.
The states like Uttar Pardesh (Northern Province) and Madhya Pradesh (Central Province) are colonial legacies. If we apply the benchmark of regional, linguistic and cultural entities these states do not have any rational basis. They are allowed to continue as so in the independent India, even though there is huge necessity to address their developmental goals.
In fact in the last general assembly election of UP, Ms Mayawati, the BSP chief had suggested creating at least four states from this linguistically, culturally and geographical diverse landmass of Uttar Pradesh but her words of wisdom were seen as a cry of someone who has lost the election.
Going by the facts on records, the pending demands for the creation of new states in UP are for ‘Harith Pradesh’ in the areas of Western UP, ‘Awadh state’ in the areas of central UP, ‘Purvanchal’ in the eastern UP and the ‘Budelkhand state’ in the areas bordering UP and MP.
In the eastern state of Assam, as many as three people’s movement is simmering for the creation of separate state. The first is Karbi Anglong, second is Kamatapur state, and third is the Bodoland state.
The Karbis living in the central part of Assam in the autonomous districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao that are put in the sixth schedule are demanding a separate state.
Similarly, the Koch Rajbhongshis demand for Kamatapur state. Here, protest is for granting Cooch Behar the status as Kamatapur state.
It may be recalled that in 1949, Cooch Behar was merged with India as C category state. In 1956, all the C category regions got Union Territory status and some even got statehood later, but Cooch Behar regional identity was extinguished and some district of it was given autonomous status within Assam.
The demand for the Bodoland state is heard with violent noises as armed rebellion is going on there for a long time. The Bodos want their present sixth schedule territorial autonomous council area in Kokrajha region that covers four districts of Assam to be made a separate Bodoland state.
The Central government’s consistent denial of their demand is fuelling armed rebellion which is controlled by the security forces.
In Andhra Pradesh, after the creation Telangana, there seems to be a lull, but the demand for the creation of Rayalaseema state is very much on the cards. The distinct regional identity here wants to be nurtured from Tirupati and not from Amravati.
Similarly, in Gujarat, the demand to create the Saurashtra state is pending for long, so is the demand for Vidarbha state in Maharashtra.
Similarly, in Karnataka, the demand for Kodagu state is simmering for long and so is the cry for the Gorkhaland state in the northern region of West Bengal. The creation of Kosal state in Odisa is too hidden below the surface.
Bihar is another case of linguistic and geographical incongruity where the demand for the creation of the Mithlancal state based on common Maithli language is long overdue.
Similarly, the Bhojpuri language and culture that forms a vast tract of linguistic and geographical entity between UP and Bihar too nurse the aspiration for the creation of a Bohjpur state.
In sum, the reorganization and reconstruction of the distinctive regional identities poses a huge challenge to the government and to keep a lid on it by harping to maintain a national identity, is doing more harm than good to the national cause.
If right steps are taken in such direction to open up bottled aspirations, it can preempt the situation that may pose problems far serious than we witness now in the case of Jammu and Kashmir.
[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org]