Uttarakhand an example; small states are not necessarily efficient

Dehra Dun : Following the nod given by the Congress Working Committee for the creation of Telangana state out of Andhra last week, violence has erupted in some parts of the country, whereas peaceful demonstrations are being held in others. The violence and demonstrations are in support of their demand for a separate state, which the people feel is a panacea for efficiency in administration and with it prosperity to the people.

But if the formation of Uttarkhand, having been carved out of the state of Uttar Pradesh, a little over 12 years back is any indication, the results can also be devastating, as has been in the case of this small mountain state. Believe it or not, but almost over 70 per cent of the state’s population today feels that they were much better off as part of Uttar Pradesh, than they are today, despite the fact that the huge size of U P, made it rather unwieldy.

Except for a handful of politicians and their cohorts, the bureaucracy and corrupt ‘babudom’ and the middlemen flourishing on their count, the common man is at his wits end. Corruption is at its peak and the regional vernaculars are almost full of stories of the rampant misuse of power and doing away with public funds. But neither chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, his cabinet colleagues or the bureaucracy has tome to even look into these complaints forget take action against the offenders.

What could be a greater irony than the fact that the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) that spearheaded the agitation for a separate hill state and promised a bright new future for the people, specially the youth, is today split into various factions. What makes it all the more disturbing is that the various factions who prior to the agitation swore by Uttarakhand are today not even willing to come on the same table for discussion regarding the future of the state and its people.

It is not without reason that the people of this small mountain state have become disillusioned within a small span of 12 years and are now going the extent that they committed a mistake by agitating for Uttarkhand. Had we known that this would be the sad state of affairs in the new state, we would not have braved the lathis and bullets of the police and the PAC and the vagaries of nature for carving out the new state.

The crux of the issue has been that there has been no able leader to guide the state in its formative years. The only leader worth his name Narain Dutt Tewari was the chief minister for five years during the last Congress tenure. But the man who minces no words to say that he would heave been Prime Minister of the country had he not lost the Lok Sabha election from Nainital, took little interest in the state and perhaps more of what was revealed in a sting operation from the Andhra Raj Bhawan.

This coupled with the fact that the state has a bureaucracy that it could perhaps do without, has only made it go downhill. And no one is the least bothered of why some of the members of the bureaucracy want to hang on to one city, despite the fact that they do not belong to the state. Stories that some IAS member of the state was present during the shootout in which Ponty Chadha and his brother were killed is a case to point.

The people of the state had hoped that some of the burning problems of the state, particularly that of migration from the villages to the towns would come to an end. The elders hoped that there would be a brighter hope for their children and they would not have to run from pillar to post in search of jobs. But neither has the migration stopped, nor is the youth getting jobs. If anything, the problems has only multiplied manifold.

The plea that a small state is well managed and efficiency becomes its hallmark is a myth asfar as Uttarakhand is concerned. Maharashtra at one point of time, despite its size was a very well managed state and without any clichés, Gujerat remains one of the better governed states of the country. Pro-Namo or anti-Namo the people of Gujerat are by and large far better off than the people of Uttarakhand.

Let us face it. The future of a state, big or small, depends upon how capable is the leadership that is handling it and not on how big or small it is. Himachal Pradesh, a small state which got the capable leadership of Dr Y S Parmar in its formative years, has today set up milestones in various spheres for other states to follow. In fact some of the measures adopted by Himachal Pradesh have not only been adopted by some bigger states, but by the centre also.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor (Uttarakhand) at Himachal Media. Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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