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Dividing Uttar Pradesh will be good for growth, say experts
ABHINANDAN MISHRA & PURBA DAS  New Delhi | 20th Nov 2011


he division of Uttar Pradesh into four separate states as announced by Chief Minister Mayawati is being seen as an attempt to play the development card, keeping in mind the backward regions of the state, Bundelkhand and Purvanchal. Politically, Mayawati seems to be going the way of Nitish Kumar, who has made development his mantra.

The proposed four states will be Purvanchal (East UP), Bundelkhand, Awadh (Central UP) and Paschim Pradesh (West UP).

Bundelkhand will have seven districts including Jhansi. Although the region has received continuous assistance from Central and state governments such as plan schemes and tax incentives for setting up private industries to bridge the regional disparity, things have not improved.

A.K. Singh, director of Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow, said that Bundelkhand should be formed after following proper procedure as was done at the time of Uttarakhand's creation. "For Bundelkhand to truly develop, areas of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh need to be combined together, and even after the division, it will need continuous Central assistance to move up the economic table," he said.

Singh added that it will be much easier to manage UP if it is divided into smaller units. However, he cautioned that "dividing the state on political grounds will not be viable; rather it should be based on economic reasons".

Uttar Pradesh is the highest producer of food grains and sugarcane in the country, yet the poverty level in the state is very high in comparison to other states. 32% of UP's population live in poverty, with the Bundelkhand being the most underdeveloped.

Officials with the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), an independent economic think-tank headquartered in Mumbai, say that the problem with Bundelkhand is historical. It has been neglected by successive governments. According to them, every state has a few rapidly developing regions, which also have a resonating effect on adjoining regions, but that has not been the case with UP. The development here is stagnant. The government has been running a "backward grant scheme" for a decade now. But it has not brought any real development. UP's per capita income as per the latest figure of Rs 23,395 remains about half the national level of Rs 46,492 in 2010. Punjab at Rs 62,000 and Uttarakhand (Rs 55,800) are well above the national average. Ditto for Gujarat at Rs 63,900. Tarun Shrivastava of Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management and Development Studies, Lucknow, felt Bundelkhand was neglected because of its location and its geographical terrain. He said it could develop only if it was made into a separate state.

Professor G.K Rai of Allahabad University, however, felt that splitting UP would be just a political stunt: "No one can deny that special attention is needed for developing Bundelkhand and Eastern UP. But this announcement is a political action, which is not going to give any benefits to her. If she was so serious about the plight of Bundelkhand and Eastern UP then she should have shown her intent immediately after she won the last Assembly elections and announced the division." Those who have been watching political developments in the state feel that Mayawati's decision will not be a major election issue.

"This is not Telangana that we are talking about," said a senior IAS officer in the state Secretariat on the condition of anonymity. Even though the announcement has come just before the elections, the public won't make or break a party's chance on the basis of this decision, he added.

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