We celebrated India’s 67th Independence Day on 15th August this year. We proudly displayed our national flag and unfurled it for the world to see and recognize our past freedom struggle against the British. There were patriotic movies and songs all day on television. News anchors were seen wearing something saffron, white or green. Gandhi, like every year,was shown on some channel that day. We felt proud of our nation and remembered our country’s freedom fighters. We heard slogans of Mera Bharat Mahaan and saw parade on Doordarshan. While watching those, we felt extremely proud of our army, navy and air force. We bought those small cute flag badges and gave it to the kids to wear at their school grounds. We stood tall and united as one nation and buried ourselves completely in reminiscences of India’s freedom struggle sixty-seven years back.
The next day we went back to fighting tooth and nail with our own country folks.
The politicians of our country seem to have memorize the famous lesson given by the britishers:Divide-And-Rule. With elections coming round the corner, in 2014 to be exact, the one political solution to win every vote is to divide the states further. Poor governance? Divide the state. Voters not with you? Divide the state. Central government not listening? Divide the state. Those denizens don’t speak your language? Divide the state. That minister is not from your caste? Divide the damn state. Problem solved. Votes guaranteed. People happy. The End.
Now let’s begin the count. In 2000, new states that were carved out of their parent states are Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand. Presently India has 28 states and 7 union territories. The proposed 29th state of the country is going to be Telangana, separated from Andhra Pradesh after a long and brutal history of agitations and clashes by protestors with the local government. Hours after this news broke out, there was an old flame ignited in West Bengal and people took to the streets demanding creation of a separate province of Gorkhaland for the Nepalese-speaking population in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district. The past history of this new state demand goes back as long as 1980s. Currently, there is a demand of dividing Uttar Pradesh too into four smaller states-Purvanchal, Bundelkhand, Awadh Pradesh and Pashchim Pradesh. The decision of creation of a separate state of Saurashtra from Gujarat is pending with the ministry for several years now. Earlier Saurashtra was a separate state till 1956 but it got finally merged with Gujarat in 1960. And the list goes on.
There are three main accepted reasons given for succumbing to the demand of a different state in the country by the government-division based on a common language spoken or a past history of the place or prevalent economic inequality. Protestors come out with we-will-protest-and-get-what-we-want attitude and clash with police constantly, wreaking havoc in the lives of a common man. Traffic gets disrupted, schools and colleges are shut down, education gets hindered, shops are closed down and a fear is spread among the denizens. Meaning such protests starts harassing an aam aadmi- people who are not at all bothered to participate in such things and want to just live and let live. Now coming to the law and order in the country. Its higher command lies indirectly with the ministers of several states. If strict commands and proper actions were taken in time, hurling stones, shouting slogans/abuses, violent protests and self-immolations wouldn’t have happened live on the streets.
There is quite a difference between why people want a separate state and why some political parties back them or go against them. It’s unfortunate to see people fighting for a new state because they feel they are ignored. A community, part of a big state, fails to get proper electricity and water supply and thus demands a new province. Such accusations on the government trigger violent riots and harmful practices among the masses. And ministers sometimes take advantage of such situations. A good escape often is made by making another party a scapegoat. Or by trying to make the country blind and madder by taking out rallies and giving provocative speeches. Dividing the country into small states for better governance seems a good way to go. But is it really? The inefficient handling of India’s largest states provides another reason for considering creation smaller states for effective management. But these new small states will take time to develop and form their own identity. It will take time for infrastructure to grow and proper educational institutions to get established. Industries invest in major cities only and will take time to lay down foundation in a new province. So it will take a lot of time for any new state to progress and prosper. Only time will show when and how long. Of course, that will be possible only if corrupt ministers stop playing dirty politics in future.
We are known for our very own punching line- Unity in diversity. But we have failed to actually remain united in our diversified India. In Lage Rahe Munnabhai movie, Sanjay Dutt says a blunt truth yet a heart-touching dialogue-“Gandhiji hote to kehte ke desh to apna ho gaya hai, par log paraye ho gaye hai.” Sad but so true. I wonder what Mahatma Gandhi would have done in the present scenario. He fought so bravely against the British and led the Indians to independence along with so many other freedom fighters. But how they would have fought in the present situation? Against their own countrymen? Against their very own India?