Maharashtra (population 11.24 crore) is roughly the size of japan (population 12.6 crore) with 47 prefunctures ( equivalent to states). France is one and half times size of maharashtra (population 1.6 crores) and has 21 regions or states. UK (population 6.3 crores) is 66% of maharashtra in size and has 4 countries, 28 states or counties. The European Union, with as many states as India currently (29), has an average per-country population of 1.8 crore. The 50-state USA has an average state population of just 65 lakh people. Indian states have an average population of 4.2 crores. Hence there is a need for rationalizing and creating more and smaller states.
There is a concern that creating more states will increase bureaucracy and administrative costs. That cannot be a reason for not giving more democracy. Efficiently managing costs and governance is another subject and should be taken up. Most western countries has many more government staff per population than India. The major difference is that most of the government officials are at village or urban local body levels. In India most govt employees are centralized. So, unfortunately we have less government at grass root level and lots and lots at district HQ, State and National HQ.
By making smaller states, there is an element of decentralization of power, outreach and bringing power closer to the people. In the recent past, we have seen Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh benefiting due to bifurcation of its state. The newly formed states as well as the old states have benefited The same is likely to happen in Andhra Pradesh. The growth rates of smaller states in the last five years too have looked encouraging. Haryana, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh have done well. The growth rate of a bifurcated Bihar has been an impressive 11 per cent over the last five years. Uttarakhand has also posted impressive figures compared to its erstwhile Uttar Pradesh
Historically all BIMARU states are large states. Most naxalite activities are in large states.
Nor does the logic of smaller states end with their mere creation. We don’t just need smaller states, but more empowered states. Smaller states without greater economic and constitutional empowerment can amount to nothing. Unless funds, functions and functionaries are empowered, the size of the state is irrelevant. India needs to become a country with Empowered States rather than an aggregation of states without powers.
Smaller states will mean that major decisions will be taken while understanding the issues and requirements. Mumbai should not decide what is good for Vidarbha. Solutions to Vidarbha lie closer in Nagpur.
The southern end of Maharashtra to the eastern end is over 1150 kms long. Neither the problems of distant Gadchiroli, Chandrapur nor Washim reaches Mantralaya, nor does the decision reach far off Vidarbha. Vidharbha is one of the worst administered parts of Maharashtra with highest rate of farmer suicides and is one of the most extreme naxalite prone area (a sure shot indicator of bad governance).
Administering and governing large and diverse states is extremely complex and inefficient. Indian states are simply too big both in terms of size and population to be well managed.
Larger number of states will strengthen the federal structure as more and more voices are heard demanding larger say in running the affairs of the state.
Finally, creating higher number of states is not the same as a secessionist tendency. It will respond to the aspirations of the people, and not alienate them.