Demands for new Indian states revive after Telangana created; India could have 50 States if all demands are met

August 4, 2013 1:03 pm

Demands for new Indian states revive after Telangana created

By Amy Kazmin in New Delhi

Globally renowned for tea estates that produce some of the most delicate, and highly-prized teas, India’s mountainous Darjeeling region was rocked for most of the 1980s by strikes and protests by the indigenous Gorkha community, who were demanding the area be turned into a separate state within the Indian union. The movement ebbed in the late 1980s, when Darjeeling was granted some autonomy within its present state of West Bengal. But this weekend the Himalayan region has been shut down once again. Businesses and elite boarding schools are closed, transport suspended, and tourists have been sent away as Gorkha political leaders enforce an indefinite strike in a ‘do or die’ push for statehood.

The abrupt revival of the long-dormant agitation for a Gorkhaland state was triggered by the ruling Congress party’s decision last week to create India’s 29th state,Telangana, following a highly emotional campaign by residents demanding separation from the rest of the large south-eastern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The Congress concession has inspired regional leaders to seize the moment and use the run-up to next year’s parliamentary election as leverage to drive home their claims for separate statehood. While the re-emergence of these campaigns seeking to redraw India’s internal political map – from Gorkhaland in the east to Harit Pradesh in the north – is unlikely to lead to more new states ahead of the poll, few doubt they will generate plenty of turbulence

“In the run-up to the parliamentary elections, there are political and electoral reasons why other statehood demands might gain some traction,” says Louise Tillin, a political science lecturer at the India Institute of King’s College London. “These issues could well be an important part of the bargaining in coalition formation after the elections.”

The Congress agreed to create Telangana in the hope that it would be able to secure most of that region’s 17 parliamentary seats in the next election, either directly or through an alliance with the local political party that has led the agitation for statehood.

As the electoral contest heats up, Congress, facing much disillusionment over its record in office, may feel that it could reap dividends by supporting demands for other would-be states, and the agitators behind them.

The outlines of the existing map were laid down by a post-independence states reorganisation commission that recommended division into linguistic states. This was done to defuse strife in an ethnically diverse population, and to ensure that local governments operated using their citizens’ mother tongue.

Since that initial post-independence exercise, New Delhi has thrice tinkered with its internal map, creating clutches of new states, most recently in 2000, when a government led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party carved three new states out of three Hindi-speaking states.


Gorkhaland: A mountainous region, part of Bengali-speaking West Bengal, but dominated by ethnic Gorkhas, a Himalayan community also present in Nepal.

Vidarbha: A poor, water-scarce region in the east of Maharashtra.

Bundelkhand: A region divided between the north-central states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

Harit Pradesh: The prosperous north-western part of Uttar Pradesh.

Bodoland: An area inhabited by ethnic minority Bodos, part of the north-eastern state of Assam and neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh.

“The ability of the Indian government to create new states has allowed it to accommodate regional demands and regional aspirations in a way that helps India to stay together,” says Ms Tillin, author of Remapping India: New States and their Political Origins, a book coming out this year.

Indian states vary widely in size, but the average population is about 30m people per state, compared to around 7m in Brazil, 6m in the US, or 4m in Nigeria. However, India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, has nearly 200m people – which would make it the sixth biggest country in the world if it were independent.

Across India, clamour is rising for smaller political units. Many analysts believe these could lead to more effective and more responsive local administration, as well as better service provision.

“After 65 testing years of independence, there need no longer be any fear about the unity of India,” Ramachandra Guha, a historian and author, wrote in an essay in the The Hindu newspaper earlier this year. “The real problems today . . . have to do with the quality of governance. Smaller states may be one way to address this problem.”

Demands for new states, many of which date back decades, tend to be strongest in poor, culturally distinctive regions, whose residents feel neglected or exploited by elites from more prosperous areas of their state. Yet, in Uttar Pradesh, politicians from the wealthiest belt also want to break away from a larger state they see as a drag on their region’s development.

The real problems today . . . have to do with the quality of governance. Smaller states may be one way to address this problem

– Ramachandra Guha, historian and author

“These are groups who feel they’ve been excluded from both political and economic power by dominant castes,” says Ms Tillin. “These are often redistributive demands . . . demands for better economic inclusion, though you also have richer regions trying to secede in order not to have to redistribute into poorer regions.”

The division of states is not easy and can unleash equally fervent opposition. In Andhra Pradesh, Congress faces a fierce backlash against the granting of statehood to Telangana, and allowing it to keep the IT boomtown of Hyderabad as its capital city.

Still, politicians leading statehood campaigns across India appear to believe they have all to play for in an election year, when both the Congress and its rival BJP are likely to fall far short of a majority and will have to vie for potential coalition partners to form a government.

On Friday, members of the tribal Bodo community, an ethnic minority group demanding a separate state carved out of the tea-growing northeastern state of Assam, staged protests that severed the main railway link between northeastern India and the rest of the country, causing chaos. Such disruptions could be more common in the months ahead.


India could have 50 States if all demands are met

By Express News Service – NEW DELHI

05th August 2013 08:40 AM

The announcement on formation of the country’s 29th state Telangana has prompted the demands for several other separate states.

Over the years, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is said to have received representations for creation of over 20 states. If the Centre were to agree to the formation of all these states, then India would have at least 50 states in total.

Kukiland in Manipur, Kongu Nadu in Tamil Nadu, Kamatapur in North Bengal and Tulu Nadu in Karnataka are some of the regions that have demanded statehood. Agitations for Bodoland and Karbi Anglong in Assam, Vidarbha in Maharashtra and Gorkhaland in West Bengal are already on.

However, Uttar Pradesh is the only state that had recommended the formation of smaller states under the previous BSP regime.

There are demands for four more states to be carved out of Uttar Pradesh, namely Awadh Pradesh, Poorvanchal, Bundelkhand and Pachimanchal or Harit Pradesh. There are also pleas seeking formation of Braj Pradesh, consisting of Agra division and Aligarh division of Uttar Pradesh as well as districts of Bharatpur and Gwalior from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, respectively.

Similar demands are pending for Bhojpur (made up of eastern UP, Bihar and Chhattisgarh), Mithilanchal (comprising Maithili speaking regions of Bihar and Jharkhand), Saurashtra in Gujarat, Dimaraji or Dimaland (comprising the Dimasa inhabited areas of Assam and Nagaland), Kongu Nadu (parts of southwest of Tamil Nadu, southeast of Karnataka and east of Kerala), Coorg state in Karnataka, Kosal (some districts of Odisha, parts of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh), Tulu Nadu (a region on the border between Karnataka and Kerala), Kukiland in Manipur, Konkan (made up of Konkani speaking part of Western India along the Arabian Sea coastline), separate eastern Nagaland, Union Territory status for Ladakh, Garoland in Meghalaya and Kamatapur (some districts of West Bengal, including Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri) among others.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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