Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Smaller states?

Maharashtra (population 11.24 crore) is roughly the size of  japan (population 12.6 crore) with  47 prefunctures ( equivalent to states). France is one and half times size of maharashtra (population 1.6 crores) and has 21 regions or states. UK (population 6.3 crores) is 66% of maharashtra in size and has 4 countries, 28 states or counties. The European Union, with as many states as India currently (29), has an average per-country population of 1.8 crore. The 50-state USA has an average state population of just 65 lakh people. Indian states have an average population of 4.2 crores. Hence there is a need for rationalizing and creating more and smaller states.

There is a concern that creating more states will increase bureaucracy and administrative costs. That cannot be a reason for not giving more democracy. Efficiently managing costs and governance is another subject and should be taken up.  Most western countries has many more government staff per population than India. The major difference is that most of the government officials are at village or urban local body levels. In India most govt employees are centralized. So, unfortunately we have less government at grass root level and lots and lots at district HQ, State and National HQ.

By making smaller states, there is an element of decentralization of power, outreach and bringing power closer to the people. In the recent past, we have seen Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh benefiting due to bifurcation of its state. The newly formed states as well as the old states have benefited  The same is likely to happen in Andhra Pradesh. The growth rates of smaller states in the last five years too have looked encouraging. Haryana, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh have done well. The growth rate of a bifurcated Bihar has been an impressive 11 per cent over the last five years. Uttarakhand has also posted impressive figures compared to its erstwhile Uttar Pradesh
Historically all BIMARU states are large states. Most naxalite activities are in large states.

Nor does the logic of smaller states end with their mere creation. We don’t just need smaller states, but more empowered states. Smaller states without greater economic and constitutional empowerment can amount to nothing. Unless funds, functions and functionaries are empowered, the size of the state is irrelevant. India needs to become a country with Empowered States rather than an aggregation of states without powers.
Smaller states will mean that major decisions will be taken while understanding the issues and requirements. Mumbai should not decide what is good for Vidarbha. Solutions to Vidarbha lie closer in Nagpur. 

The southern end of Maharashtra to the eastern end is over 1150 kms long. Neither the problems of distant Gadchiroli, Chandrapur nor Washim reaches Mantralaya, nor does the decision reach far off Vidarbha. Vidharbha is one of the worst administered parts of Maharashtra with highest rate of farmer suicides and is one of the most extreme naxalite prone area (a sure shot indicator of bad governance).

Administering and governing large and diverse states is extremely complex and inefficient. Indian states are simply too big both in terms of size and population to be well managed.

Larger number of states will strengthen the federal structure as more and more voices are heard demanding larger say in running the affairs of the state. 
Finally, creating higher number of states is not the same as a secessionist tendency. It will respond to the aspirations of the people, and not alienate them. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Delhi Chalo - the war for India

When I read that Arvind Kejriwal declared that he will stand against Sheila Dixit in the November Delhi elections, I got charged up. What daring, what disregard to power and personal victory ! He has chosen not to play safe like others but to lead from the front. This is independent India's biggest Dharma yuddh. A veritable war with a small band of honest, daring patriots taking on the hydra headed corrupts. A war for the future of our motherland.

The excitement did not allow me to sleep and I sent a message to Arvind late that night showing my willingness to leave everything and join the war. How could my consciousness allow me to live a normal life with my family, work and day-to-day issues in Mumbai when the battlefield was in Delhi? Next morning I talked to my family and clients and asked their permission to be stationed in Delhi.

I reached Delhi and went to stay in a hotel. The peon working in the hotel saw my AAP badge and asked me if he could have it and what was my relation with AAP. Once I told him that I was part of AAP, he was so excited, came to drop me in the room and asked if he could just see Arvind. The cleaner of the room found out that I was with AAP and told me that he was an ardent supporter of AAP. When I went down all auto rickshaw drivers waiting outside the hotel asked me for AAP badges and newsletters.

I have brought my car from Mumbai and while driving to the Kausumbhi office, I was stopped by a traffic constable for not having LPG entry in the RC book. He saw the AAP stickers and asked if I was connected to the party. He then called 4 of his superiors who were on the road and all came with me with folded hands asking me to convey their regards to Arvind. In the evening, we drove through a red light by mistake and another traffic constable stopped us. Seeing we were with AAP, he said that he will charge only Rs 100. Soon, he changed his mind, pushed the 100 Re note in my pocket and said "How can I take money from Kejriwal's people?". He warned me not to repeat the offence and let me go.

Amazing undercurrent of support from the poorest of the poor. I must have talked to over a hundred workers, drivers and others and all, save none, were in favour of Arvind. I felt that I was caught in the epicenter of a revolution.

Then when Arvind told me that our internal survey shows victory for AAP in 45-47 seats out of 70 seats, it confirmed my intuition that something magical was indeed going to happen. BJP's internal survey shows 8 confirmed seats and Congress' survey shows 23 seats for them.

Congress has targeted AAP only. BJP seem relegated to the distant third. When someone put AAP hoardings, they were removed overnight. Thousands of illegal hoardings of Congress and BJP banners and hoardings abound in Delhi. When Kumar Vishwas and Sanjay Singh went to meet the PWD minister asking why only AAP banners are removed, they were told by the Minister that "You do politics your way and we will do politics in our way". AAP has put up posters behind innumerable Auto Rickshaws and the drivers are penalized and posters torn. We approached the Delhi HC which opined that it is perfectly legal to fix posters, but the removal continues unabated. So, when Kumar and Sanjay met the relevant minister and reminded that what the corporation was doing was contempt of court , he arrogantly said "So what? Go and complain to the court". A cozy CongBJPbhaibhai relationship is comfortable for both as they loot the nation. But if AAP wins, all the corrupt practices will have to cease and going to jail of the looters is a real possibility. They are petrified.

The Congress has hit back in a most violent manner. When our members went to protest against the refusal of police to register FIR in a rape case, our volunteers were beaten black and blue by the police. Our senior volunteer of Lalitpur was run over by a car, again and again by the son of the local Congress leader, till he died. And finally, one of finest volunteer and candidate for Seemapuri constituency Santosh Koli was knocked down by a speeding car in what we think was a deliberate attempt to murder.

Friends, there is lot of work to be done. Delhi is calling, our responsibility is calling, a wonderful opportunity to serve our motherland is calling. Let us not be found wanting.

We need volunteers from NOW. Please come to Delhi at the earliest. You may come to stay till the elections, or you may come for a week or ten days at a time. Whatever your skill sets, everyone is needed. The second war of independence has begun.

You may contact 08588833528 (Abhisekh) for your lodging and boarding arrangements. Dr Munish Raizada  09873703054 (neonatal Surgeon from Chicago) along with me is handling the volunteer management.

By the last election, I had felt that we had no hopes of victory for honest politics. Vote buying, criminals and religious and caste politics had increased. But the Anna movement  and the awareness has opened a window for honest politics. Let us use this election to begin the process to overthrow the corrupt and give power to the real owners of this nation - the Aam Aadmi.

It surely is a DO or DIE battle for our future. India can wait no more!