India File

The Republic of South India

Tina Ediwn | Updated on April 23, 2019

The southern States and Maharashtra have much reason to be aggrieved with the formula for transferring of funds from the Centre’s divisible pool of taxes, even though they contribute more to the Centre’s revenues than the northern States. The Finance Commission, a Constitution-mandated body, for instance, uses criteria such as population, demographic change, income distance, area and forest cover to determine the share of each State. States that have made much progress on each of these criteria feel they are penalised for their progress as States that have made much less progress are considered more sympathetically by the panel.

To illustrate, consider the share of these States in the income taxes collected by the Centre.

Besides, the five southern States of India could very well be another country, given their largely divergent development path over the decades, compared to the northern States. They have not only attained superior progress in improving various indicators of social development but also on the economic prosperity of their people.


Sample this. The simple average per capita income at 2011-12 prices for the five southern States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana was about ₹1,18,070 in 2016-17. In comparison, the per capita income in Uttar Pradesh was about a third of that at ₹38,965 and in Bihar, a little over 20 per cent of the southern average, at ₹25,950.

The difference is starker if those comparisons are made with Kerala. The per capita income of Kerala is equivalent to the income of a family of five in Bihar. The per capita income in Kerala was ₹1,28,550 in 2016-17 at constant 2011-12 prices. Now consider the per capita incomes of Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh for the same year. The per capita income in Tamil Nadu, at ₹1,17,806, was equivalent to the per capita income of a three-member household in Uttar Pradesh.

On various indicators that measure progress made on human development, northern States will take still some more decades to match the advancement made in the South. Consider the infant mortality rate — number of deaths of infants under the age of one per 1,000 live births. It’s as low as 10 in Kerala while in the northern region it was as high as 43 in Uttar Pradesh and 47 in Madhya Pradesh in 2016, the latest available data show. That is not to say that the northern States have not achieved much in reducing infant deaths. Punjab managed to reduce its infant mortality rate from 52 in 2000 to 21 by 2016. In Uttar Pradesh, it was down from 83 in 2000 to 43 in 2016. Andhra Pradesh in the South has some distance to travel on that count though it has managed to bring down infant mortality rate from 65 to 34 in the same time period.

Likewise, the North-South disparity can be seen in sex ratio at birth. Against the 967 in Kerala, it was 843 in Haryana for the 2013-16 period. Significantly, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh have defied the trend on this count, with their sex ratio at birth nearly as good as that of Andhra Pradesh. The North-South divide can be seen in maternal mortality rate, population growth rates, fertility rate among women, literacy, and several other indicators.

Published on April 22, 2019

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