Friday, June 20, 2008

Gorkhaland: An urgency

Demand for Gorkhaland needs to be divested of political coloring and separatist branding for a proper understanding of the oppression, neglect and parasitic exploitation of its resources by the concerned state government.

Darjeeling is not an isolated case. It is a perpetually repeated story of exploitation of far-flung underdeveloped but natural resource rich minority geographical area by a powerful majority government with entire machinery of state at its disposal. Darjeeling is just a repetition of Telangana in Andhra Pradesh, Poorvanchal and Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh and Marathwada in Maharashtra to name a few similar cases.

It is ironic that in all those and many other cases those areas have remained in pitiable state of underdevelopment even after sixty years of independence due to indifference of successive state governments towards their development. Moreover, past experience tells us that development of large states tends to remain lopsided and the moment smaller states are carved out of them, the smaller states develop at a rapid pace. Examples of Punjab, Haryana, Kerala, Karnataka and Uttaranchal can be easily cited as evidence of better manageability of smaller states.

Secondly, the central government having repeatedly accepted reorganization of states on linguistic basis, should accept the necessity of a Gorakhaland, Marathwada, Saurashtra, Telangana, Poorvanchal and Bundelkhand etc with an open mind. The Constitution of India recognizes Nepali as an Indian language (Eighth Schedule). Hence when Begalis can have a Bengal and Marathas can have a Maharashtra then why deny Gorkhas their Gorkhaland. It will mean more bureaucratic jobs and a higher potential earning for bureaucrats and politicians alike. Hence, there should be no objection from those quarters. Ironically strongest opposition to creation of smaller states comes from those very quarters.

The reasons for such opposition are easily understood. Smaller states mean a sharing of resources (illegal gains for those in power) among a larger number. Hence, the opposition to creation of smaller states arises due to interests of those in power overriding national interests. Equating of national interest with an equitable development of all its parts is considered justified by this writer. However, this equitable development by creation of smaller states will go against personal interests and feelings of power of all the forces that are opposed to it.

Smaller states will also be a unit that will be easier to manage for the administration. They will also make it easier for oppressed people of any part to visit state capital and seek redressal, unlike present conditions where a person in Bundelkhand will dread a visit to state capital at Lucknow due to its distance.

This is a case for more and smaller states in a nutshell. All are welcome to take this idea further, with or without acknowledgement.

Behind the veil of tradition

The series of incidents I will narrate henceforth, are all isolated. Some of them may even appear to be lighthearted in nature. But the r...