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10 years of Andhra-Telangana bifurcation


 Context: The Andhra-Telangana bifurcation underscores the need for thoughtful handling of major changes in India’s political geography.  The division, now a decade old, highlights the impact of reconfiguration on states’ political clout and federal dynamics.

Syllabus: Indian Constitution


How are states formed?

The formation of new states in India falls under Article 3 of the Constitution. Parliament holds the power to create new states through legislation. However, such a bill can only be introduced on the recommendation of the President. Before recommending a bill that affects state boundaries or names, the President must consult the respective state legislatures. Parliament can enact laws to create new states with a simple majority.

1956: The States Reorganisation Act divided the country into 14 states and 6 union territories, not entirely agreeing with the Fazl Ali Commission’s recommendations. States included Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Bombay, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Mysore, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

Currently, India comprises 28 states and 8 Union territories.


Factors on which states are divided: 

  1. Language: The State Reorganization Commission (SRC) led by Justice Fazal Ali, appointed by the Central Government in 1953, recommended the formation of 14 states and 6 Union territories (UTs) based on factors such as language, culture, financial viability, and national welfare. These recommendations were implemented through the Constitution (7th Amendment) Act of 1956.
  2. Development: States like Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand, formed in 2000, and Telangana in 2014, were created based on developmental considerations. These regions sought separate statehood to address issues related to development.
  3. Other factors: The reorganization of states in India’s northeastern region was influenced by factors such as race, culture, and customs, reflecting the diverse socio-cultural landscape of the country.


Do we need new states now?

There is some evidence that the newer states performed better.

  • The Eleventh Plan document provides some data which support that the smaller newly carved states — specifically Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh — grew at a rate faster (at over 9% and 7% respectively during the period 2004-05 to 2008-09 ) than their parent states (Uttar Pradesh which grew at about 6% and Madhya Pradesh which grew at about 5% during the same five-year period)
  • The existence of new states would mean the creation of new capital cities (such as Ranchi, Raipur and Dehra Dun) and the associated infrastructure
  • These newer cities will attract private investors, resulting in employment opportunities and eventually better standard of living for citizens


However, the following issues highlight that creation of new states isn’t the only solution

  • Whether or not smaller states are successful in developing their regions is dependent on the extent of decentralisation.
    • For instance, if a small state is unable to devolve enough funds and physical resources to a far-flung area of the state to maintain its roads, the result would be inadequate quality of public services
  • Further, the creation of one new state will lead to the demand for and creation of other new states.
  • Based on the experience thus far, linguistic homogeneity has not proven to be effective in keeping the states integrated (the cases of Bihar, UP and Madhya Pradesh)


Background of Andhra-Telangana Bifurcation?

In June 2014, Telangana was formed by separating the northwestern part of Andhra Pradesh. This followed the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, which merged Telugu-speaking areas of Hyderabad state with Andhra to create the enlarged Andhra Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh was the first state created based on language in 1953, post the death of PottiSriramulu. The push for a separate Telangana stemmed from perceived regional development inequalities. Hyderabad became the capital of Telangana when it was formed in 2014.  However, the division of assets and liabilities between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as outlined in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014, remains unresolved.


What questions does Andhra Pradesh’s split (Andhra – Telangana bifurcation) raise about the Indian republic?

  1. Unity of Telugu-Speaking Elites: The split raises concerns about the unity of Telugu-speaking elites compared to Kannada and Marathi-speaking regions.
  2. Potential Challenges for Other Linguistic Groups: Speculation arises about whether other linguistic groups may face similar challenges in the future due to common regional disparities.
  3. Reconsideration of Organizing Principle: The division prompts questions about whether states should be organized based on factors like territory or population instead of language, urging India to address these fundamental questions sooner.
  4. Disorderly Bifurcation Process: It highlights concerns about the disorderly bifurcation process, unfulfilled promises, and mishandling of asset distribution, prompting a reassessment of future state divisions.


Impacts on Representation and Federal Structure:

  1. Unequal Representation: Different state sizes lead to varying numbers of seats in the central legislature. This creates unequal political power and resource allocation, potentially marginalizing some regions.
  2. Shifting Power Dynamics: State divisions can alter the balance of power between regions. Smaller states may have less influence in national decision-making.
  3. Discontent and Resource Allocation: Unequal political power can lead to discontent among states with less power. This may affect how economic resources are allocated, potentially favouring larger states.


Way Forward for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

  1. Permanent Inter-State Council: Facilitate communication and resolve disputes.
  2. Special Financial Assistance: Grant special status and economic packages for both states.
  3. Judicial Mechanism for Asset Division: Establish a fast-track court to resolve disputes.
  4. Governance Reforms: Fixed terms for governors, better representation, and continuous dialogue.
  5. Development of Backward Regions: Allocate grants for development in both states.
  6. Prioritize Infrastructure Projects: Focus on road connectivity, power, and education.



The responsibilities assigned to the Inter-State Council by the Constitution (in terms of resolving inter-state disputes) need to be fulfilled in reality and not just in papers to resolve the continuing dispute between Andhra and Telangana. Similarly, Zonal councils need to be revived to discuss the matters of common concern to states in each zone—matters relating to social and economic planning, border disputes, inter-state transport, etc. India is the epitome of unity in diversity. However, to strengthen this unity furthermore, both the Centre and state governments need to imbibe the ethos of cooperative federalism.


Insta Links: 


Prelims Link:

The power of the Supreme Court of India to decide disputes between the Centre and the States falls under its (UPSC 2014)

(a) advisory jurisdiction
(b) appellate jurisdiction
(c) original jurisdiction
(d) writ jurisdiction


Ans: C

Source: Th