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The past two decades have seen a surge in the demand for division of larger states into smaller states. People in regions like Ghorkhaland of West Bengal, Saurashtra of Gujarat, Vidharbha of Maharastra, have been demanding separate states. Demand for newer states is not a new phenomenon. Fourteen states and six union territories were created in India through the States Reorganization Act, 1956. Initially, states like Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, were created based on the linguistic differences between the mother and the daughter states. With the passage of years, the underlying reason for the demand of new states has shifted to reasons such as better governance, higher economic growth and redistribution of political power. These were the main reasons cited for the creation of states like Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Telangana as well as for the states that are presently in contention. However, it is essential to look at how the divided states fared after separation from their mother states. It is also important to note that the smaller states like Goa, Sikkim and the north-eastern states are too small to be compared with any of these states concerning the availability of resources.

Better governance is the primary motive behind many of the separate state proposals. Administration of large and diverse states is an arduous task. The smaller states, in all possibility, will have homogeneity in terms of culture, language and social structure. This homogeneity will
allow the states to have a better allocation of public resources, management and implementation of government programmes. Moreover, smaller states can function effectively as there is increased interaction between the government and the public. They also can mobilise the resources faster and can concentrate on every aspect of public life. The recently announced Public Affairs Index 2018 reveals that all the four states divided in this millennium fare better than their mother states. The Governance Performance Index (GPI) shows that all the three states, i.e. Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand perform better than their mother states, i.e. Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In the GPI index, the six-states including the mother states have seen better than average increase in their points (0.105) in comparison to the national average (0.035) from 2001 to 2011. Development Adjusted Governance Index 2011 also shows, barring Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand topping their mother states.

The second reason cited for separation of states is higher economic growth. There could be political homogeneity in smaller states with better representation in the Electoral College. Different regions of larger states might have different political and economic regions which grow at different paces. The political leadership might also be biased towards a single region impeding the growth of other regions. There can be unequal and unfair divulging of resources in larger states with many economic and political zones. Barring Jharkhand, the average annual growth rate of Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand has been superior in comparison to their mother states. In the case of Telangana, the yearly average growth of State Domestic Product (GSDP) has increased from 4% in the two years preceding the formation of the state (2012-14) to an impressive growth of 8.6% during the three years following the creation of the state (2014-17). Not just that newly formed states, even the mother states have shown better growth rates in the years following the separation.

Another reason to look at for creation of new states is an improvement in the social parameters like per capita income, literacy rate, infant mortality rate and the poverty estimate. The newly formed states have performed remarkably well in all these fronts. Governments in the smaller states usually have more public spending as they need not spend big projects like in larger states and infrastructure. The newly formed states have recorded a better increase in per capita income. Notably, Uttarakhand posted over nine times increase whereas Uttar Pradesh posted 4.5 times rise in per capita income from 2000-01 to 2014-15. Even on the education front, new states performed better at improving literacy rate. Smaller states will provide better access to the educational institutions in the capital and can have better assessment and monitoring of students from the early ages. All the three newly formed states after the millennium have better literacy rates (rural & urban) with respect to 2001 and 2011 censuses. Just like education, health indicators can be improved in smaller states with regular review of health infrastructure and the measures taken to prevent diseases. Even regarding Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), the newly formed states including Telangana performed better according to the 2016 statistics. However, the poverty estimates, given by the Planning Commission for 2004-05 and 2011-12, of the six states do not show any changes in their position with respect to the national average.

Despite, all these important on the flip side, smaller states cannot guarantee better governance and a better standard of living. The states must be divided based on the necessity, number of institutions and resources available to both the states. There are many cases like United Arab Republic, Undivided Pakistan, where a state or a country separated from its mother state and could not stay longer united or could not perform better than their mother state like in the case of Kosovo, and East Timor. However, having states with a huge population and large size makes no sense as they are very complicated to govern and it evident from the performance of larger states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar over the years. Moreover, larger states which have political, social and economic asymmetries should be divided to form smaller and similar states for the overall development of the country.


Chowdhury, S. et. al (2016, December 13). Governance Performance of Indian States: 2001-02 and 2011-12. Ideas For India. Retrieved from http://www.ideasforindia.in/topics/governance/governance-performance-of-indian-states-2001-02-and-2011-12.html

Jharkhand, Uttarakhand & Chattisgarh; The Post Split Growth Story. (2012, July 5). India Spend. Retrieved from http://www.indiaspend.com/states/jharkhand-uttarakhand-the-post-split-growth-story

Joyita. (2013, August 5). Poverty Estimation in India. The PRS Blog [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://www.prsindia.org/theprsblog/?tag=poverty-estimation

Kumar, A. (2010, August 14). Exploring the Demand for New States. Economic and Political Weekly. 45 (33). 15-18.

Infant mortality rate (IMR) (per 1000 live births). Niti Aayog. Retrieved from http://niti.gov.in/content/infant-mortality-rate-imr-1000-live-births

Public Affairs Centre. (2018). Public Affairs Index 2018. Retrieved from http://publicaffairsindex.in/#/2018

Census India. (2011). State of Literacy. Retrieved from http://censusindia.gov.in/2011-prov-results/data_files/india/Final_PPT_2011_chapter6.pdf 

Per Capita Income. (2017, August 3). Press Information Bureau. Retrieved from http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=169546

Image Credit: Quartz India


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Written By Chanakya Yadav

Bachelors student in Materials Engineering, IIT Madras.

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