Friday, 11 January 2008

Does the Delimitation exercise robbing the State its Hill state Status?

Written by Anil Singh

The Union government on January 10, 2,008, announced that the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls will be conducted as per the census 2001.This exercise is known as delimitation of Lok Sabha constituencies.

Except for four states of the north-east and one Jharkhand, remaining 23 states will be reorganized for the upcoming Lok Sabha Polls.

With this the whole philosophy behind making the state of Uttarakhand, has come to a serious threat. In other words the recasting of constituencies as per the 2001 census will wipe out its basic character-that of a Hill state.

First of all, let’s talk briefly, what the delimitation of Lok Sabha constituencies actually mean.
Up to now the Lok Sabha constituencies are organized on the basis of 1971 census.

So to get the population over which one MP exists, the total population of India as per the 1971 census was divided by the total no. of Lok Sabha seats (that will remain fixed even now).

But since the population of the country has increased considerably between 1971 and 2007, now the entire process will be repeated again, the only difference will be that the population figures of India will come from the 2001 census.

As the total no. of Lok Sabha seats will remain the same, the no. of Lok Sabha seats from each state will also remain the same. So the question of giving incentive to the states which failed to control their population does not come.

So Uttar Pradesh will send the same no. of MPs which it used to send before the reorganization, so is the case for Uttarakhand and also for the remaining 21.

But intra-state arithmetic in all the states will get completely changed. Let’s take a close look.

Although, the population of the country has increased considerably after the 1971 census, the increase is not uniform, Urban areas grew at a much rapid pace than the rural ones, regions with congenial living conditions showed rapid growth as compared to regions with adverse and to some extent hostile living conditions.

So if the upcoming Lok Sabha polls are conducted according to the new census figures, regions that have better living conditions will send more MPs to the next Lok Sabha.

Now let’s come back to the question of threat to the basic character of Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand is a hill state. People, who hail from hills or those who have lived in some hill region at any point of time, will agree that the living conditions in the hills are not congenial. There are serious problems like small land holdings to survive, to harsh climate, to non-accessibility to even the basic amenities.

Except for Dehradun, Hardwar and Udham Singh Nagar, the rest of the districts of the state have tough living conditions.

As a result while the population of Hardwar, Dehradun and Udham Singh Nagar has increased at a much rapid pace, the population in other districts grew much slowly.

With the new arrangement, while the representation of Hardwar, Dehradun and Udham Singh Nagar will increase; that of the remaining ten districts will decrease.

Thus, the three former districts will gain at the cost of the latter.

Not only that, in the hill districts as well, the areas that are less hostile, in survival terms (plain geography) will gain representation, at the cost of areas with harsh conditions(Hill geography).

So Chamoli, Uttarkashi or Pithoragarh will lose representation while Hardwar or for that matter Udham Singh Nagar will gain some.

This will eventually filter down to more representation of the urban and plain areas.

Then, does the state still be called a “Hill State”?

This is the reason, why this delimitation exercise, is a threat to the basic character of Uttarakhand. The state will no longer remain a hill state.

Thus the Delimitation exercise fails the philosophy behind the creation of Uttarakhand.

Let’s go to the past. When the people of this region of the country, raised their voices, in unison, for the creation of a new state, they were fully aware of the demerits of lesser representation in the country’s highest legislature. For almost five decades, the people of this region of the country were denied progress. So when people demanded a separate state, the basic premise was to give the benefit of just representation to the people living in harsh conditions, in the country’s popular legislature.

Equitable representation in a democracy meant, strong voice, leading to better plans, packages and finally progress.

If the Delimitation plan is implemented, we will again find ourselves in the same situation, which we were in, when we were a part of a bigger state, which called itself plain geography state, and used to ignore the hills.
The voice of the people of the hill regions will again become in-audible and all the benefits a high decibel voice, brings to the people in a democracy will cease.

So think on the situation, forget where we live at present. Even if, today we live in comfortable places like Dehradun or at some other place, our kith and kin live in hills….. Our roots are in those hills…


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