By Promod Puri
Because of its vast linguistic and cultural plurality, as represented by most of its states, suggesting India’s division into individual autonomous regions may sound a Utopian or even an insensible concept.
But the divisive motion would reflect and meet more effectively the political and social aspirations of its peoples than the current restrained setup.
The unity and stability of the region, called India, lie in granting more independence to its diverse provinces.
From north to south, east to the west, and in between, India is a country of countries.
What Ladakh has in common with Kerala, or Manipur sharing any similarity with Maharashtra? And that goes for every state in the Republic of India. Each one of them has their separate identities.
In its present political formation, India has always been a grudging union of 28 states and eight Union Territories. Even people belonging to the same faith have different religious rituals, customs, and traditions influenced by local collective identities.
A loose federation of autonomous states would release the subdued regional urges of its peoples. The social and political aspirations of people based on their cultural and local needs are often ignored or repressed by the authoritative regime at the Centre.
It is a case of granting complete autonomy to the states that would help realize the territorial sentiments of people. Less interference from the Center in local affairs means peace and political stability to the nation as a whole. Moreover, regional sovereignty would help in resolving the perennial Kashmir problem.
The slogan “unity in diversity” is meaningless unless that very diversity gets politically recognized and becomes part of the system by granting complete autonomy to the states. And that would indeed strengthen and revolutionize the democratic traditions of India.