The State Machine

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With KCR’s hunger-strike splitting a state born of yet another hunger-strike in a bizzare demonstration of history recursing itself, the floodgates have opened for every selfless politician in every nook and cranny of India to step up their demands for their personal fiefdoms.

Including myself.

I realized a long time ago that there is no way I can become the Chief Minister of West Bengal. Simply because I dont wear a dhoti, I think Groucho Marx is more profound than Karl Marx and most importantly—-I just dont have the time to rise up through the party hierarchy of cadres, being too busy nowdays playing Fallout 3. I also cannot take the opposition route to Chief Ministership as the opposition wont accept me since I do not sing jibanmukhi songs and I have never acted in a Tollywood movie. Even if they somehow did accept me, there is no way a certain person would ever let me have the position she has organized so many bandhs and stalled so much development for.

Which is why I seek to form a state consisting of the Ballygunj area in Kolkata, where being a “local boy” I think the money that I can make from “administering” the shopping districts and the new constructions would be enough to keep me and my future generations in a state of eternal financial solvency.

Of course this is easier said than done. First I need to creatively create a bit of history to show that Ballygunj was never really a part of West Bengal but actually a settlement of merchants who came over from Bali selling a type of fabric called Gunji which now people refer to as Genji (baniyan). Most importantly, I need to convince people inside Ballygunj that we have been “neglected” by the state administration.

Now to be honest, we have not been specifically targeted and Ballygunj remans one of the most prosperous regions of Kolkata and by extension the state (otherwise why would I want to rule it silly?) But then again Jammu and Kashmir has the least number of poor people in India and yet it is the state that is, to put it mildly, the most voluble about its neglect by India so much so that it wants to seceede from the Indian Union.

Given that, why should we at Ballygunj care?

And after all, it is pretty easy to make a case for neglect—-Ballygunj has slums and it has poverty. Of course so does the rest of the state, perhaps has it even more, but hey just because of that you cannot say we at Ballygunj are not “neglected” can you? Perhaps we are not the only ones but then that’s not my concern.

What then is my concern? Of course a share of the pie. Or putting it in a term Ballygunjites will understand—-a fleshy fish piece.

My movement for a separate state needs to be financed of course. Getting money will not be a problem as I can always convince local promoters, that they being native Ballygunjites, will get the inside track on government largesse (should a Ballygunj government be formed) and they are well advised to put a little money up front. Why just land dealers? There will be many investors in my endeavor once they realize that new permits and licenses will be handed out, new contracts signed , new committees created, new ministries formed.

So now having created the discontent and obtained the financial backing, I should now start my fast-unto-death. Right?

Wrong.

A fast-unto-death by itself is no big deal. The government will arrest you for trying to commit suicide and then force food down your throat.

Remember that non-violent protest is fine. But only when it is accompanied by disruption and violence. Else you meet the fate of KRK in Big Boss who went on a fast-unto-death unless “Ka-laudia” professed her love for him but had to break it once the lady with the big union territories refused to give in.

Getting people to commit violence and burn a few buses is ridiculously easy in India. For one there are many disaffected in Ballygunj and all I need to tell them is 1) your jobs have been taken away by people from Shyambazar in the north of Calcutta and 2) Once my state is created, you shall all live with dignity (which they take to mean jobs—-of course they are not the brightest bulbs in the lot—if they were not why would they be “disaffected”)

With violence on the streets, it is time for me to go on my fast-onto-death. Before starting that, I will consume three special mutton rolls bought in secret from one of Ballygunj’s street vendors. This will not only give me a last burst of gustatory goodness before I go off food for some time but will definitely make me vomit the next day (since some of the vendors, neglected by the local government, put in chunks of dog meat in mutton rolls). This will have the happy consequence of making me look sunken, bedraggled and dehydrated when the cameras arrive.

Then comes the critical part. The fast. This really has to appear intense. Relay fasts wherein you fast for 12 hours, the to-be finance minister does 10 and then people do it in the inverse order of the amount of money they are going to make once a state is formed, just do not cut it. No. So I really do have to fast. Four days into the fast, some “people” (whom I will pay by the hour) will come begging and pleading for me to have some juice, saying that they are willing to forgo their rights to a separate state rather than lose a leader like me. I would of course act like an angry wife who has decided to stop eating food, turn my head away and say “Please leave me to my fate. My pain is nothing compared to the pain of the people.”

The violence of course will go on. If it takes a little time to make the government uncomfortable, I will quietly have a bit of Cadbury’s Five Star at night since I do not actually want to die. No not because I am a selfish man —I would be only too glad to die if I knew my progeny would become the next Chief Minister but the problem is if I die, my Finance Minister would make a hot speech about my martyrdom and then anoint himself the Chief Minister of the new state and that I cannot allow, considering I am the one that is dying.

However once the government sees violence on a worrying scale, they will be forced to come to the good cop. I will by that stage be “sinking” as I wave away all kind of compromise solutions.

Statehood and nothing but it.

As Tiger Woods would say “Karenge jab tak naheen marenge”

Students will be on the streets threatening violence on a massive scale should the great leader die, with the only person in Ballygunj happy being my wife as she says to herself “Good he is losing some weight.”

Then finally I hope the government, after making its own political calculations, will see things my way. My finance minister will come at the head of a band of rejoicing “students” and “locals” and offer me a ceremonial piece of fish from Ballygunj’s market and a glass of fresh nimboo pani tastefully mixed with a certain other stimulating beverage. Because now the partying will begin as I shall miraculously rise from emaciation to emancipation in order to give my great leadership to the newly formed state of Ballysthan as it throws off the yolk of Bengali rule while I whisper to my wife “Sumana’s husband may have gotten her a Mercedes for her birthday but for you, dear wifey, I have brought a new kingdom. Now tell me. Who is da man?”

Not just for my own self-interest, I genuinely feel that what India needs is more states. Many many states. Because India needs more governance and what can be better way to achieve that than to have more and more government.

If Indian taxpayer money was supporting twenty-nine state governments of size N , let it now support fifty-eight of size N (note not N/2—just because a state is halved does not mean the government of each individual state is halved).

More the merrier.

Putting it another way, what’s better than one Koda?

Two Kodas.

And what’s better than two Kodas?

That I am one of them.

In a little state. All of my own.

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62 thoughts on “The State Machine

  1. GB, just this morning, I was discussing with one of my friend in office that soon every “Para” in every City will vie for statehood. Also, as earlier pointed out by you, since now the GJM negotiators are under tremendous “Work Pressure” ….. going to Darjeeling will soon be an Interstate Journey !!!

    Really liked the staement about “Ka-Laudia” —- ” lady with the big union territories refused to give in” πŸ˜›

    BTW, do I really get something for being the first ??? Just Curious ;)!!!

  2. You cannot be a martyr for Ballygunj…..thats my area….and my 4 fathers have lived in that area for longer than yours….Of course….if you agree to have a separate state of Joka….and make me the CM of Joka with exclusive rights to who gets into the hallowed institute of Joka….then i am willing to reconsider….

    BTW, did you see the half page ads taken out by the Pony Tailed Guru who is going to award a prize equivalent to the Nobel Prize….and our Didi is one of the winners of the first ever Pony Tailed Nobel Prize….lets see if I can dig out that ad from Indian Express and send it to you

  3. Well Arnab da you should also claim Kolkata to be Ballygunj’s integral part and send out a nara saying “No Ballygunj state without Kolkata” πŸ™‚

  4. Very well said. I wonder why media fails to point such things and call the bluff. I think you should choose more popular medium than a blog written in english….to bring sense to the masses….maybe a TV serial made in all the regional languages of india…i think should talk to subhas chandra of ZEE TV!!

  5. “…as it throws off the yolk of Bengali rule…”. Did you mean ‘yoke’? Of course it could also imply that the Bengali rule is like an egg on the face πŸ™‚

  6. Seems like gorkhaland activist are following the same path.

    I demand a separate state of Noida…..i am going on a hunger strike until i get one.

    Anyone listening…O well i’ll just have a bite of a burger until then

  7. @ Ech Aar Manager

    What did the ad say – “dare to think beyond Nobel”…

    And I support Pratap – Tiger Woods deserves more than one line. Not fair. Or are you waiting for the count to cross 20?

  8. I wish to go on a hunger strike for “Peace of mind”.. u know thats a state too!!!

    btw.. Ajit Singh wants a new state “Harit Pradesh”!!! So Raj can now go after UP and HP..

  9. Best wishes for Ballygunj! You can wear a dhoti and sing jibanmukhi songs and do all the stuff other people are doing, but ultimately there will be only three states– Solid, Liquid and Gas.

  10. Would be nice to see a Fish swimming against the current…..
    Anyone? Raj T?
    I am going on a fast to demand merger of Goa and Maharashtra πŸ™‚

  11. Maharashtra times …Uddhav Thakre says,
    “If Telangana is based on “samaan sanskriti” logic, Merge Belgaum in Maharashtra!!”
    This was expected.

  12. Good one !!

    Jokes apart though, does anybody else think that we should earmark certain critical fast growing cities in India and free them up as “Union Territories” ? The following are good candidates –

    Mumbai
    Bangalore
    Calcutta
    Hyderabad
    Madras
    Ahmedabad
    Chapra

  13. Your post made me puke, had eaten couple of mutton rolls on my last trip to kolkata , are you serious about the dog meat thing ?

  14. I think a much better platform than “samaan sanskriti” is “samaan swarth”. I’ll compile a list of highest income districts in India and then go on hunger strike (aided by generous amounts of chaat and namkeen) to demand that all of them to be merged into a state. Richistan – tumhari leaderni aa gayi!

  15. Quite so. I certainly thought how it would be to have alwarpetnadu, adyarabad, mylapooru,guindypuram to state(oops) a few examples of neglected pockets turned into patriotic natal states in Chennai.And I figured myself at the helm of governance. There is a hitch..
    I do not know bongland in detail but here we believe in showing bereavement of a loved leader/movie star by knocking off all breakable facades of beautiful buildings,stopping education institutions from working etc.Influential leaders and movie stars habit this place. So again my newly formed alwarpetnadu may be declared “neglected” by alert and resourceful patriotic citizens of my state and form a newer state…

  16. stupid question from me.. why not another state?
    remember.. ancient india had close to 500 kingdoms so why not? After all we have not covered even 10% of that!!

  17. Just plain curious Arnab da, how do I make the connection between big Union Territories and err, you know what. I got what that phrase is surely meant to mean (brains of course) … but how did you make the pun.

  18. Good One! Another interesting forecast is that if the same thing happened in Maharashtra, it also would be divided into zillions of states, and more importantly, soon there would be a call to rename all the states as Chhatrapati Shivaji Pradesh πŸ™‚ .

  19. r u then saying big states are free of Kodas? That there is no corruption when great brothers are ruling over small communities as one big state? Beyond a greed for money and power and beyond development related neglected there is also a resentment towards cultural hegemony when certain communities demand autonomy. The leaders may be corrupt but to reduce every issue to the leaders is de-signifying others who belong to a group or a community. Why should there be signs in Bengali in Darjeeling zoo saying ‘ Jor e kotha bolben na. Ete poshuder oshubida hoy’? Because Bengalis are a noisy lot and they treat the whole world like their own house and care a fuck about others around them? In which case there should be signs in Bengali in all tourist spots over the world, no? Why just in Darjeeling?

  20. Pingback: Global Voices Online » For each of us, a State

  21. Pingback: My blog » Blog Archive » India: For each of us, a State

  22. Brits left us with 562 princely states and left us the headache to deal and unite to form united India…The day is not too far when India will break down into 562 or more states (may be countries). Poor Sardar Patel would be crying from his grave..
    Indian enemies does not need to worry about investing time and money in destabilizing India, as long as we have these politicians ruling this nation…

  23. @ Praveen
    “… Poor Sardar Patel would be crying from his grave..”

    One small step to deal with the headache that “Brits left us” is to get out of this habit of using Islamo-Christian terminology that pervades our subconscious.

    Sardar Patel was a Hindu who was cremated with full national honor. So no grave..and no afterlife.

    Yeah I know…its unrelated…but does effect how we think about many other things.

  24. very funny – and predictable.

    You’re mocking the call for Telangana without really trying to understand what the issue might be all about. Instead you resort to sweeping generalisations and irrelevant analogies – personal fiefdoms, Kashmir, Koda.

    What’s wrong with carving states if it leads to make administration more localised?

    From BW:
    “In a liberalising economy, the state government has a bigger impact on growth than that of the market, a notion that is counterintuitive. Awarding contracts, choice of location for big private sector projects, the setting up of special economic zones, land acquisition and compensation policies, all play a significant part. And let’s not forget about patronage extended to business groups.

    In the case of Jharkhand, Uttaranchal and Chhattisgarh, their creation as states appears to have released considerable pent-up potential. Just take a look at the numbers for gross state domestic product (GSDP) in the Eleventh Plan document. All three states grew well above target rates set for the Tenth Plan period (Jharkhand at 11.1 per cent against a target of 6.9 per cent per annum, Uttaranchal at 8.8 versus 6.8 per cent and Chhattisgarh at 9.2 against 6.1 per cent).

    As regions, they appear to have contributed much more to the parent state’s growth than has been estimated. Post separation, and in the same period, Bihar grew at 4.7 per cent versus a target of 6.2, Uttar Pradesh grew at 4.6 against a targeted 7.6 per cent and Madhya Pradesh at 4.3 against 7 per cent. When it comes to states, it’s not about economies of scale.”

  25. I have been following your blog for almost a year now, and this is my first comment.I just wanted you to know that i love the stuff you write and am eagerly waiting for your review of Paa.

  26. hi GB,

    why don’t you write something on PAA. It has one of the finest performance i have seen till date. Wud realy love to see what you have to say about it.

  27. As the date for releasing your book coming close, you are playing more and more to the gallery. This is apparent as you are taking up any and every headline issue with rather shallow analysis. The comment section is also bearing the same signature.

    Please take this as a constructive feedback from an avid reader.

  28. Its hearting to see all the happenings sitting in Hyderabad.

    Teler sishi vanglo bole khukur opor raga karo
    tomra j sob buro khoka varot venge vag karo… tar bela?

    Translating…

    When a child breaks a glass bottle we scold him but when elder people break the country into pieces we don’t bother to stop them.. This is Indian politics

  29. The emergence of new states in India often polarises those voices in the know into the usual two groups: the ayes and the nays. I’m not an authority on the subject and can’t make up my mind whether this new trend is for the better or the worse.
    Let’s look at the implications one by one.
    Economy: Can’t tell. @Anshuman Achaya: economics is not just a few data points thrown about carelessly. Let’s explore the issue at large with logic and not just a very few datapoints, which all empirical economists will agree, make little sense. New states and hence new governance may mean better administration and less neglect of such areas. This would present a strong case for the diseconomies of scale, as you pointed out. But then tax harmonisation is an issue that has plagued that the country since independence. As we move to a GST (Comprehensive VAT) more states will lead to more delays in Tax harmonisation. Same logic applies to harmonisation of logistics and other legal issues (pertaining to jurisdiction). Smaller states may also lead to “race to the bottom” where each state, in it’s bid to attract businesses, offer zero taxes and “special” economic zones. They in turn lead to a stagnation, or at worse a decline in fiscal revenues which affect development expenditures, which could well set forth a deterioration in health and education services delivery.
    Law and Order: Again ambiguous. If the new state is being carved out of a “lawless” state rampant with corruption, then a new state will help the law and order situation, provided it does not fall into the same abyss. If it is not, and since it takes some time to have an enforcement system to be up and running in full seams it will take the new states some time to match the efficacy in their parent states. The new states could well turn out to be havens for criminals for as long as it takes to get their setup in place. Further, as it seems the Centre until now has considered the “Naxal” issue as a state problem and not much of a federal problem, small states can be easier targets for a naxal encroachment and at worse revolution.
    Federal Character: This has obviously seen an universal decline in the years. Newer states reinforce regional identities and embolden identity driven politics and social mindsets. At a time when cities act as melting pots of different cultures, the countryside may become ethnically homogenous entities, causing further divergence between the two. Regional parties will become more relevant, threatening stability of future governments. Coherent national policies may become very difficult, like national tax policy, homeland security, enviroment policies etc

  30. really relevant in recent political situation……you should also include Dhakuria(Panchanantala) in your demand :)……it will be much more easier to prove that they are “neglected”..:)

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