Jharkhand’s development has suffered vis-à-vis Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal because of political instability.
The demand for creation of new States is a recurring feature of the Indian polity ever since Independence. Currently, there are demands for creation of at least 10 more new States.
The emergence of coalition politics and regional political outfits has provided the political impetus for such demand. Does the creation of new States alter the situation of marginalised people for the better?
We examine this issue by considering the performance of the three States — Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand — created in November 2000 from Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, respectively. We compare and contrast their performance with that of their parent States between 2001 and the latest period for which we have information.
The success of creating new States can be measured through both social and economic achievements.
Soon after they were created, the new States fared better on health and literacy grounds compared with their parent States. After a decade, however, the pendulum swung in favour of the parent States with respect to infant mortality rates. Therefore, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal fared worse than their parent States.
In the case of education, too, the parent States have made relatively better progress in the last decade. However, the newly created States retained their initial advantage. Therefore, Uttaranchal had the best health and educational achievements of all the six States under consideration in 2011.
Thus, the better performance on social indicators for the new States is not associated with their political sovereignty, but their initial advantage.
Now, we examine the growth performance of the new States vis-a-vis their parent States. The output growth of Chhatisgarh and Uttarakhand exceeded that of their parent States, but in the case of Jharkhand it was the reverse (See table). Why?
Growth depends on a host of factors such as natural resources, availability of social and physical infrastructure, demographic characteristics and the political environment. An important factor is the share of forest cover in its total geographical area. A higher share of forest cover is a public good for the country as a whole, but can constrain the growth of the State economy in the short term.
All the newly carved-out States have a higher forest cover compared with their parent States. However, this disadvantage to some extent is countered by the relatively large share of one of the most important natural resources, that is, coal, in two of the three new States, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. These two States, however, have a much larger share of SC and ST population, compared with their parent States.
Though Uttaranchal does not have coal reserves, it has the highest share of potential renewable power among all the three new States. The proportion of disadvantaged population is around the same as in the parent State — and lower than in Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh.
As far as economic infrastructure is concerned, we consider two indicators — share of irrigated area in cropped area, and electricity generation capacity.
By 2011, Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal had made considerable progress in electricity generation as well as in expanding irrigation facilities. Jharkhand, however, has not been able to do as well.
Jharkhand has also witnessed maximum political instability since its creation. Apart from Presidential rule being imposed twice, Jharkhand has been served by eight chief ministers between 2001 and 2012.
In contrast, the parent state Bihar is characterised by a stable political environment with a development focus.
Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal have achieved better developmental outcomes after their creation, but not Jharkhand. This shows that political forces must take the responsibility of providing a stable political environment after the creation of a new State.
Without that, attempts to create new States will be an exercise in futility.
(The author is Associate Dean, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar.Views are personal.)