“Special state” vs. India’s federal structure

On the day Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has got what he desperately wanted from UPA (being called the most backward state), let me reiterate what I wrote on March 18 when Nitish held a rally in Delhi demanding special status:

I have serious objection to changing the ground rules for special status. Special status gives the state near infinite resources from the Centre while allowing state government to abdicate all its responsibility towards mobilizing funds on its own. For any central assistance, an ordinary state gets 30% as grant, while 70% as loan. For a special state, 90% is in the form of central grant.

Gadgil committee in 1969 (http://www.mightylaws.in/985/concept-special-category-states-india) has clearly stated that such a status will only make sense if the state is tiny, hilly, and has international border. It is one thing to give special status to Tripura or Mizoram. It advances national integration by making these border areas feel inclusive in national development without draining national exchequer. It is a totally different ballgame to bring in Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, and later UP, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan, MP, future Telangana, future Vidarbha in the name of backwardness. These are extremely populous, resourceful states that have absolutely no legitimate excuse to not stand on their own feet. If they cannot, their politicians and voting preferences are to be blamed.

Such unreasonable expansion of special status would reward sloppiness in state governance, drain central resources, and damages federal system, and weakens national integration. India will resemble two tumblers with hot milk (money) flowing from West+South to North+East.

Granting special status to Bihar would be a terrible precedent comparable only with the three other *irreversible* historical blunders: the perpetuity of quota system, the sheer impossibility of removal of the word “socialist” form the constitution preamble, and the non-adoption of the constitution-mandated Uniform Civil Code. These were also purely political decisions devoid of any thought for long term national interest. Demand for special status by a giant state such as Bihar is socialism at its worst done only for short-term political expediency scripted by Congress and Nitish.

I fail to see any national interest logic here. I only see political interest logic here.

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