the north, before you think of the south

why did dr.ambedkar favour linguistic states?
" One State, one language " is a universal feature of almost every State. Examine the constitution of Germany, examine the constitution of France, examine the constitution of Italy, examine the constitution of England, and examine the constitution of the U.S.A. " One State, one language " is the rule.

Wherever there has been a departure from this rule there has been a danger to the State. The illustration of the mixed States are to be found in the old Austrian Empire and the old Turkish Empire. They were blown up because they were multi-lingual States with all that a multi-lingual State means. India cannot escape this fate if it continues to be a congery of mixed States.

The reasons why a unilingual State is stable and a multi-lingual State unstable are quite obvious. A State is built on fellow feeling. What is this fellow-feeling ? To state briefly it is a feeling of a corporate sentiment of oneness which makes those who are charged with it feel that they are kith and kin. This feeling is a double-edged feeling. It is at once a feeling of fellowship for ones own kith and kin and anti-fellowship for those who are not one's own kith and kin. It is a feeling of " consciousness of kind " which on the one hand, binds together those who have it so strongly that it over-rides all differences arising out of economic conflicts or social gradations and, on the other, severs them from those who are not of their kind. It is a longing not to belong to any other group.

The existence of this fellow-feeling is the foundation of a stable and democratic State.
that last line brings me to andhra pradesh. could anyone say andhra pradesh hasn't been 'stable and democratic' in the last 53 years? except for two short periods of unrest in late 60s and the early 70s, one could say democracy has functioned fairly smoothly, going by indian standards, in the state. especially in the last 25 years since 1984 (when the congress monopoly over power ended) when every election produced a decisive result and no party in power failed to complete its full term in office. does that prove an existence of fellow-feeling? yes, it does. elections and popular governments are until now the only reliable yardstick to measure stability (and hence, fellow feeling) in indian democracy.

the sudden emergence of the telangana movement in the national headlines might question that assumption about the existence of fellow feeling. but i understand it basically as a movement which has appropriated the angst of several long festering discontents in the region and cleverly fashioned one strong narrative out of them. those who will gain from the movement are not those who represent the stories of the victims. there are new social forces which have emerged in the last thirty years, like a small educated middle class of obcs (from 3-4 large communities) in telangana, which find old power sharing arrangements in existing parties exclusionary. despite their numbers, their political clout has been limited by their ranking in the social/caste hierarchy in the villages, and their inadequate economic presence in the cities. the old feudal upper castes (now fairly urbanized), the reddies and the velamas, who've never really been out of power, now find an alliance with this new class of aspirants useful in strengthening their own interests. it's difficult to say how long this partyless political alliance will last, given the fact that the none of the obc castes in the state can match either, say, the kurubas in karnataka or the vanniyars in tamil nadu, forget the vokkaligas or the mudaliars, in terms of political strength. in economic and social terms, the obcs in telangana must be among the most backward in the whole south.

but would dr.ambedkar have advocated the division of andhra pradesh, on the basis of other principles like the size of the population etc? dr.ambedkar was not against the division of linguistic states, but in his notes he primarily focusses on the consolidation of the north (against the balkanisation of the south) and the need to divide the northern states into new states. he says:
The solution lies obviously in adopting some standard for determining the size of a State. It is not easy to fix such a standard. If two crores of population be adopted as a standard measure most of the Southern States will become mixed States. The enlargement of the Southern States to meet the menace of the Northern States is therefore impossible. The only remedy is to break up the Northern States of U.P., Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

How did this solution not strike the Congress Working Committee I am unable to understand. It is so obvious.

Division of the Northern States

As I have said the Commission in designing linguistic States has created a consolidation of the North and balkanisation of the South. The Commission has not I am sure done this intentionally. But intentionally or unintentionally the fact is there. Its evil consequences are also clear.

It is therefore necessary that this situation must be rectified. The only way to do this is to divide the three States of (1) Uttar Pradesh, (2) Bihar and (3) Madhya Pradesh into smaller units. In this behalf I make bold to offer certain tentative proposals.

This division does not conflict with the underlying principles of a linguistic State. For, if these States are divided in the way suggested, each resulting State will be a linguistic State.

I am happy to find Mr. Pant saying in the recent debate in Parliament on the subject that he has no objection to the cutting up of the U.P. What he said for U.P. may well be taken as applicable to Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

Division of Ultar Pradesh.—My proposal with regard to the Uttar Pradesh is to divide it into three States (See Map 2). Each of these three States should have a population of approximately two crores which should be regarded as the standard size of population for a State to administer effectively. [italics mine].
again, would dr.ambedkar have advocated the division of andhra pradesh? a stable, democratic state in the south? given the fact that the consolidation of the north is still a strong reality, would dr.ambedkar have suggested further balkanisation of the south?

even after the creation of certain small states like haryana, uttarakhand, jharkhand etc in the north, the relative strengths of the northern states hasn't changed at all. the project of the division of the north that dr.ambedkar strongly promoted hasn't begun until now, in a manner of speaking. if 2 crores, as he suggested, is to be the standard size of population for a new state, uttar pradesh still needs to be divided into eight new states, madhya pradesh into three new states, bihar into four new states and rajasthan into three new states.

in his notes, dr.ambedkar did ponder over the question of division of the northern states, and even the central states (as he categorized states like maharashtra), but didn't move to the south. in principle, i repeat, he wasn't against the division of linguistic states, but the division of the southern states was far from his mind, it'd seem. like always, he looked at the question of division and creation of new states very rationally, and seemed to have decided that the north presented a problem more than the south. perhaps, he wouldn't have approached the south at all, in my view, if one looks closely at his principles for the creation of new states.


Fifth Element said...


Really appreciate your coherent and cogent posts. If there is some way to communicate to some like minded individuals on the other side of the fence, it would help create a healthier debate. As of now, the level of this agitation is at
"Ambedkar said 2 crores is a big enuf number to form a state, our number is twice that. So we should definitely have our own state". This, if I dont get abused first for not being on the same side.
Sad situation for democracy.

kuffir said...

fifth element,

thanks a lot.

'As of now, the level of this agitation is at
"Ambedkar said 2 crores is a big enuf number to form a state, our number is twice that. So we should definitely have our own state". This, if I dont get abused first for not being on the same side.'

yes, agree with you totally. but i believe the need for, and advantages of unity needs to be explored completely.. while it's easy to make a case for division, unity requires deliberate, comprehensive effort on the part of a large cross-section of people.

reminds of what dr.ambedkar said:' indian genius lies in division, not in unity'.. or words to that effect. but i am opitimistic because i think economic and social justice, development and the project of modernizing telugu society is more possible in a united state.

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