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  • There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

Part 2: (Dis)United States of I-N-D-I-A

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 9, 2012

Shannon, on one of her comments shared, “The happiest and most successful countries seem to be the smaller ones. Their populations are more homogonous, which allows them to have a national identity while still respecting other cultures who are different. Because they are smaller, policies are more efficient and better able to help rather than hinder.”

I couldn’t agree more with her. Small entities are managed better than larger ones and there is no doubt in my mind that small governments are the best governments. If we gift the government even a bit of our freedom, it will enslave us for the rest of our lives. India is a great example of completely diverses states glued together to form a nation. Truly Diverse! Its a big state with a big government, and I see problems with both. Our founding fathers were aware of this drawback and hence incorporated a system of governance that empowered small administrative groups called Panchayats. The aim was to give governance in the hands of small bodies at village levels. However, vested interests in the State and Federal Governments stripped the small bodies of their powers and relevance. Today we are back to becoming a nation of big states being governed by big governments.

So why not treat India like a Private Company and consider a demerger of the enterprise? Why not look at realigning our borders and boundaries? Why not divide it and yet maintain common interests like the EU? A lot of people argue that being united gives us the economic strentgh that we now enjoy in the world. They couldn’t be farther from the truth. Real economic strength is borne out of innovation, intellect and moral excellence. What India enjoys right now is the result of overpopulation translating into cheap labor. This prosperity is not sustainable and it is only a matter of time before China, East Europe and Phillippines overtake us in the services sector we so brag about. Here’s a post I had published highlighting how being a collection of so many varied states is limiting our social and intellectual growth.

Non-kashmiris cannot buy land in Kashmir.There is 90% probability that you and I will have troubles acquiring 100% ownership of land in many districts of Himachal Pradesh. To visit Mizoram, non residents need to apply a permit from the Mizoram House. A permit of 15 days is given to visit the state. Same is the case for Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. Infact until 5 years back, a permit was required to visit any of the North-Eastern states. On the flip side, the residents of these states have no restrictions whatsoever when it comes to mobility and ownership in the rest of I-n-d-i-a.

Where are all the ”intellectuals” who ridiculed Raj Thackeray when he proposed a permit like system to be implemented for Mumbai?Either it was a case of sheer unawareness or convenient ignorance for their utter disregard for this suggestion. The argument that cordoning off Mumbai is against the constitutional ethos falls flat because it exists in several parts of India.

Lets imagine a scenario where all the states of I-n-d-i-a develop a non porous border. Which means that a person from state of Orissa will need a permit to enter the state of Maharashtra and vice versa. In order to do so, he will have to prove what value addition he brings to Maharashtra.

The consequence of such a scenario is pretty evident. The system will ensure,that very few residents of sick states of I-n-d-i-a will have an option to leave their state.This will force the local populace to fore go the escapist attitude that they presently harbor. In doing so, they will be compelled to work on their own soil and hold their local government accountable for the poor condition of their state. Bad governance of the local representatives will no longer be forgiven since the populace will be left with no outlet that they currently enjoy in the form of developing states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu etc.

A system as corrupt, infested and hollow as the one in most I-n-d-i-a-n states can be cured by nothing less than a revolution.To instigate a revolution, generation of profound resentment and anger in the people is a must. Putting a cap on the immigration outlet that people have access to, will build a pressure cooker like situation that, with time will explode into a revolution and bring about the change these states need.

In absence of such controls, we will only end up with suffocating and ailing metros/cosmos that will be fed on by parasites because an immunity system was not built in time.

Walled states could hence result in turning India into a collection of individually rich states. A united I-n-d-i-a is a classic example of an organization where de-merger of its 28 departments(states) could yield a better enterprise value than that of a merged entity slowed down by its size and weight.

Disunited States of I-n-d-i-a may not be a bad idea after all.

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16 Responses to “Part 2: (Dis)United States of I-N-D-I-A”

  1. soumyav said

    You really have a knack for all these issues! A real staright thought process! time for people like you to be active in all the political scenarios of India and bring about teh change wth their brilliance.

  2. 🙂 I doubt I will ever stop being surprised when I find out that someone was listening to something I said. Dang!

    I am convinced that what each of us needs, regardless of religion, race, income, or geography, is a fresher, more honest look at what real liberty is.

    My friends are usually shocked when they learn of my conservative voting record, because I’m the first person to pull the car over to help a hungry man, I talk about my BIL’s wedding to his partner in “best wedding I’ve ever been to; done wonders for them both; of course I support gay marriage” terms, and when I’m asked if I’m por-choice, I ask if this is even still a question. Duh.

    BUT

    Here is what I’m noiticing – at least here in the States – people, our culture, and what we teach our kids, really think that these freedoms come from the government kindly handing our liberties and goodies to all. That’s not true – couldn’t be farther from, actually. These are all personal choices that are freedoms because I stay out of your business and you stay out of mine.

    I do think that gay marriage, for example, should be legal. Beyond the personal opinions I have, though, is a far greater point: I do not believe that any one or any thing has the right or authority to tell someone else who their family is. So. It really doesn’t matter if I’m for or against it, does it? It’s none of my business.

    And so on.

    What’s happened here in the States is that we’ve developed small minds. We think about the right kind of light bulb to use – and legislate *that* (huh?) – erstwhile not discussing what happens when Iran gets a bomb. Because Iran will. And the they will use it – on Israel, unless they get super-boosting umph from Russia, and then they will use it on us. We should be talking about this. But we don’t. We neglect discussing the fact that our choice of incandescent vs halogen lightbulbs is meaningless if our grid is knocked out and our land contaminated and hundreds of thousands are dead.

    I believe that this past election was a choice between the “I won’t micro-manage you; don’t you micro-manage me” definition of liberty versus the “government will meet all your needs, even if we have to borrow them from China” definition. I think that our political debates stay small because so far no one has had the guts or the focus to say on a big stage, “Where do you think your freedom comes from?”

    No idiot will turn down a free hot meal – unless he or she figures out that by always taking the meal and not learning to cook, s/he becomes reliant upon the handout. I’m all for safety nets; I think that’s civilized. But a real civilization will teach its needy how to not need help over time. What we do now is use a system that penalizes those who try to leave the net: if you try to get a job and increase your income, the government immediates ceases all forms of help. This makes the risk of success (what if I fail? I really will starve.) too great to attempt.

    That’s not a safety net. That’s a collar and a chain.

    So, the conversation about what is it that make us free has to happen before we can downsize anything. The instint to grab what one can usually overrides good sense, in the short run. By using fear and division, poiticans keep their offices by threatening devastation if they aren’t the ones to protect their consituents. That isn’t true, but it is effective. And, that’s what happened here last week.

    I think I’ve digressed from the topic of your post today, Raunak. Apologies. I’m not appropriately caffinated yet, and this is one of my soap-boxes…. ;p

    • Raunak said

      Shannon, you said it! couldn’t agree more…people need to broaden their definitions of labels. I so wish that social views are separated from economic ones in political tagging. I want to be conservative and yet pro-choice. This separation of social and economic beliefs is important. It will make election choices more sane.

  3. Reblogged this on Mermaids Singing and commented:
    My reply to my friend’s blog today kind of eliminated the need for me to write something new today…

    What is liberty, really? And how does one get it?

  4. Childress John R. said

    Raunak:
    I agree with your assessment of smaller states have more cohesion and a greater ability to collectively control their own destiny. It is true in business as well where the legendary Jack Welch believed in breaking up large businesses into smaller units that were more focused and agile. I feel the US is no longer the United States of America but a ever weakening federation of radicals. With leaders who make decisions based on their own (and those who pay them) interests instead of making courageous decisions for the good of the whole, it is easy to slide into a nation of factions. The solution is not more laws, but better leaders.

    • Raunak said

      I think that crony capitalism combined with democracy has created a system that doesn’t allow good leaders to climb the political ladder. And the ones on top are only too happy to see the public become more and more ignorant.
      Only military coups or a brief detour from the democratic way can give a good leader that chance.

  5. Some days back I was talking about the same thing. About how India cannot and will never be wholly united, owing to the multitudes of cultures and ethnicity that reside in this country. However, there is certainly a charm to India, and somewhere down the line, I do believe the diversity of our country has its benefits and flaws. Diversity also results in an open mind. Take for example Islam nations, where single believe in their religion has kept them blind from the progress happening all over the world. In the end what matters is a free and functioning democracy. If our leaders were up to the challenge, I am sure the diversity would not act as a hindrance to overall growth of the nation.

    • Raunak said

      great thoughts indeed. Thanks you so much for sharing them. You said it…”if our leaders were up to the challenge”. Unfortunately we have been let down by our leaders, both in the center and the states.

  6. And thanks for the blogroll link. Much appreciated.

  7. I wonder what will happen to a few states like West Bengal etc if this happens…

  8. sameerc19 said

    India will truly shine if all the states contribute equally towards the economy. Migrating to other states is not a long term solution… well said.

  9. Ah, this is all very interesting…. BUT
    I’m not convinced by your argument that dividing India – or any other place – into smaller units forces the most badly run areas to clean up their act in the way you envisage.

    Europe has always been divided into separate countries and we have experimented both ways.
    We tried uniting into a larger unit, uniting our key industries and having the same currency, but the corrupt governments like Greece, Spain and Italy continued embezzling money from their people, and bankrupted themselves.

    Back in the old days, before Europe was united, we had vicious military dictatorships (Franco in Spain, the Generals in Greece, Salazar and then Caetano in Portugal) and things were probably even worse. Go back further still and we had Hitler and Mussolini. The main reason we wanted to unite in the first place was because we felt the best way to protect democracy was by constantly IMPOSING it on each other. And for all its other failings, that has been the great success of the EU.

    Could it be that the resentfully united states of India are doing the same thing for each other? It may be a bit of a shambles but India is still a democracy.

    Or are Europeans the only people who resort to extremist governments when they see extreme problems they must resolve? (That’s a genuine not a rhetorical question.) Every one of those European dictatorships I mentioned above arose when their countries were in crises of poverty.

    Many European countries want to break down into smaller units. For example, many people in northern Italy want to divide the country in two and get rid of southern Italy, which is much poorer than the north and also more corrupt than the north – no coincidence.

    That would be beneficial for the northern Italians, but would it make the southerners buck their ideas up?

    What happens at the moment is that anyone born in, say, Sicily, who happens to be more intelligent and disposed to hard work than the average, just heads of to northern Italy or another European country and gets on with working hard. The dynamic people with ambition are creamed off generation after generation.

    If you really stopped them leaving this place, would they truly be able to make everyone else around them buck their ideas up? What would it take? Would they have to become extemists and radicals? Dictators?

    Similarly, what would it take for the problem areas of India to really change? I do believe when corruption is so deeply entrenched and pervades every level of society, the only solution may be the truly radical one.

    What do you think?

    • Raunak said

      wow…that’s some deep thought indeed. Is democracy so important that it overrides economical and other considerations? It is not necessary that a democratically elected government will necessarily make a morally right judgement.
      India does need radical measures, but the size and diversity of the country really makes it tough for any one dictator or power to arise.

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