Special provisions for special states: attack on unity?

Humera Khatoon[1]

India is one of the most diverse countries in terms of population composition, resources, regions, culture, religion, tradition and so on. We find different cultures in different parts of India. For instance, the culture of north eastern India, Jammu and Kashmir in north, Tamil Nadu in south, Rajasthan in west etc. are diverse from each other, and this diversity of India gives it a unique essence and also represents the spirit of singleness or feeling to totality when diverse sets of people, organizations or states are unified together.

Before partition, India was not a country as a whole and there were about 565 Princely states in India. These Princely states had different ways of administration and thus required different types of autonomy. Therefore, after Independence Indian government adopted a quasi – federal system as it contains major features of both a federation and union. The core objectives of Indian federalism are unity in diversity, devolution in authority, and decentralization in administration. Through federalism, the states pursue the goal of common welfare in the midst of wide diversity in socio-cultural, economic spheres. In order to fulfil the objectives and with respect to the historical background, the Indian Constitution has provided some special provisions to some states. Special category status used to be granted to some regions that have historically been at disadvantaged compared with the rest of the country. This decision was taken by the National Development Council on various parameters such as: Hilly and difficult terrain, Low population density, Low resource base, Strategic location along the borders of the country, Economic and infrastructure backwardness, Non – viable nature of the state’s finances, Sizable share of tribal population.

The special status that is given to Jammu and Kashmir has unique history. After the partition of India and Pakistan, Maharaja Harish Singh, who was the king of Jammu and Kashmir did not want to merge Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan or with India. But Pakistan unfairly attacked Jammu and Kashmir and due to weak armed force Hari Singh was forced to ask India for help. India agreed to help only if Jammu and Kashmir would merge with India. Hence, there was an agreement signed. The separate constitution of Jammu and Kashmir is a part of the agreement and is also mentioned in special provisions provided by the Constitution of India in the Article 370.

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There are some other states which have special provisions given by the constitution. According to the Article 371 of the constitution, “President is authorized to provide that the governor of Maharashtra and Gujarat would have special responsibility for establishment of separate development boards for Vidarbha Marathawada and rest of Maharashtra and Saurashtra Kutch of Gujarat. Equitable allocation of funds, facilities for technical education is also provided for the mentioned areas. Special provisions for Nagaland under Article 371-A has provisions such as: religious or social practices of Nagas, customary laws, ownership and transfer of land, criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law. Article 371-D and 371-E has special provisions for Andhra Pradesh, such as: President may provide equitable opportunities for the people of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in terms of employment and education. There is a provision for direct recruitment to posts in any cadre under any local authority within the state. Article 371-G has special provision for Mizoram, such as: the acts of parliament relating to the several matters would not apply to Mizoram unless state legislative assembly decides to do so. These matters include religious and social practices, Mizoram’s customary laws administrative of civil and criminal justice, ownership of land. Article 371-J has special provision for Karnataka, such as: establishment of a separate development boards for Hyderabad and Karnataka region. The provision also provided equitable allocation of fund, reservation of seats in education, government jobs in the region for person belonging to the region. Similarly, some special provisions are given to states like Assam, Sikkim, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa.

These special provisions have some negative impact on people belonging to other states. There are many negative impact of granting these special provisions on the unity of India as a nation. There are many problem arises which are originated through these provisions or we can say the side effects of special provisions for special states. India’s celebrated “unity in diversity” is in peril. There are nearly dozens festering insurgencies. People from eastern India have been attacked in the west, and southerners feel unwelcome in the north. People of some stated have tried to expel entire ethnic communities: Pandits from Kashmir, Bengalis from Assam. Every caste and region is demanding special treatment through reservations or financial subsidies. And the states have been fighting among themselves for everything under the sun-water, territory, capital, language, flag and so on. If the country had a system of government rooted in proven principles of national integration and supremacy, local autonomy and equality before law, it would be more unified. Regionalism or love for one’s area, despite India’s tradition of successful federal rule over the years since independence, still raises its head in different parts of the country. The people of different states feels discriminated that why our state has no such special provisions. Therefore, the special status of other states has led to the voice for the demand of more states has become more prominent in recent times, especially after the formation of Telangana in 2014. The agitation for Gorkhaland and Bodoland has been revived. Recent demands like four-fold division of Uttar Pradesh and the creation of Gorkhaland from West Bengal are instances of aggressive regionalism that pose a threat to the unity and structure of India. The step and decision of special provisions has led to the spark on violence related to unemployment.   People belongs to these special states have reservations in jobs and education in their regions due to which other population are suffering from unemployment and in other facilities which may leads to conflicts across the nation. Another problem of granting special provisions is language and ethnic conflicts. Our Constitution has provided special provisions to the states like Sikkim, Nagaland in order to protect and preserve their cultural, religious and social practices. This has led to the formation of communalism on the basis of religion, ethnic violence faced by north eastern people and language conflict. The Naga insurgencies in the Northeast started in 1950’s as an inter-ethnic conflict has led to the separatist movements. North eastern people are facing discrimination by the north Indians because people think that north eastern states have been pampered by the government by providing special provisions and the north eastern people puts the demand to separate from India. Many people think that this is all happening due to the special provisions. The special provision that gives the power to Jammu and Kashmir to have their own constitution has ignited the demands and protest in the state for the separation as an independent country. The demand for separation has led to ongoing violence and rise of militancy in Kashmir. The recent violence of 2010 and 2016 is a result of negative impact of special provisions. Karnataka has their unofficial flag from 1960’s. It has also granted the special provision under the constitution. As we know that our Tricolour flag is a national flag which also indicates the unity among the citizens of India. But there are many practices in different region which breaks this unity by having their own unofficial regional flags like Kashmir, Karnataka.

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In order to keep Indians united, all citizens should follow a single constitution. There should be equality opportunity provided to every citizen. Government should start development work in the backward states without giving special provision in order to avoid violence and disintegrity among the citizens.


[1] Student, Jamia Millia Islamia.