Nagpur: Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, aptly called the ‘Architect of the Indian Constitution’ had given a deep thought to every aspect of creating a modern, prosperous nation that they wanted India to be. Our guiding fathers of independence, including Mahatma Gandhi and Pundit Nehru.
On the state of creation of states, Ambedkar had clearly opined that smaller states would be easy to administer and would develop faster. In fact he favoured formation of FOUR states instead of the one big monolithic state of Maharashtra that was created as a linguistic state of Marathi speaking people.
The four states he had suggested were: Vidarbha, Marathwada, Western Maharashtra and Bombay city state.
Today, many detractors of Vidarbha formation wrongly quote Ambedkar to say that he was in favour of undivided Maharashtra because he wanted one state for one language.
That is like putting his argument on its head. What he had stated categorically was that each state should have one clear language as the main language – but there could always be multiple states of one language, like there are for Hindi speaking people now.
This information was given by well known Nagpur Economist and academician Prof. Khandewalle while speaking at the Ambedkar lecture series at the Ambedkar college premises adjacent to the Budha stupa where Ambedkar had embraced Budhism.
Dr. Khandewalle went on to elaborate that though technically, Vidarbha people are Marathi speaking, they are culturally very different from people of Marathwada or Western Maharashtra. In fact Vidarbha itself consists of two parts – what was once Central Provinces, i.e. Nagpur, Wardha, Gadchiroli etc. and what was once ‘Warhad’ i.e. Amravti, Akola, Yawatmal etc. Warhad which later became ‘Berar’ was earlier part of Nizam’s state of Hyderabad. When the Nizam could not repay loans he owed to the British, he handed over the provinces of Warhad for tax collection to the British and later still they were given up completely to British rule. So the culture of Warhad was different from Nagpur area. Nagpur had the distinction of being the capital of first Central Provinces, which consisted of large parts of M.P. and Chattisgarh and later was made capital of the larger state of C.P. and Berar when the two were merged.
Due to its affiliation with M.P. most people of Nagpur area are bi lingual, equally comfortable in Marathi and Hindi.
Their language, and their food habits too are different from the people of Marathwada and Western Maharashtra. Even when Vidarbha was almost unwillingly, made a part of the Marathi state of Maharashtra, its leaders knew instinctively that they would not be able to assimilate and be happy being part of the new state.
Also, it was for the first time in world history where a city that had enjoyed the status of being a Capital city for over a century, was ‘downgraded’ to be a ‘second capital’ of a new state!
Sensing their leaders’ misgivings, two pacts were entered between leaders of Vidarbha and rest of Maharashtra. According to the more significant Akola pact, leaders of Vidarbha would be given the choice of being a separate state if promises made to them in Nagpur pact were not fulfilled.
“The spirit of both pacts was violated even before the ink on them could dry” rues Khandewalle.
People argue about the viability of Vidarbha state. But Vidarbha areas are so mineral rich, apart from having good forest cover and animal life – that can be a tremendous tourist attraction – that Vidarbha by itself could easily become the most prosperous state of India, vie Vidarbha proponents.
Also, being a smaller state, it would develop faster.
That is the trend shown by all states that have been divided into smaller constituents. Chattisgarh and the more recent example of A.P. and Telengana are living proofs of this. Today Telengana is the fastest growing state industrially and financially. Chattisgarh has also grown in leaps and bounds and its capital city Raipur has left Nagpur behind in many ways.
Why look further for proof? The large forested track of Gadchiroli was first part of the Chandrapur district. A very backward and ‘poor’ area. As soon as it was made into a new and independent district of Gadchiroli the picture changed. Gadhchiroli development got on the fast track – it is as if its fate and very destiny changed with that one move!
As Vidarbha will change and flourish if given its independence.
It is right now like Cindrella, living unwillingly with a step mother and step sisters and always put down. She flowers into a beautiful princess as soon as a fairy mother blesses her with a magic wand. A pumpkin becomes her carriage, the mice become regal horses and her rags are transformed to a shimmering gown.
Vidarbha is waiting for that magic wand – which will transform it and remove the breaks on its development. It can finally have its moment with destiny.
We, people of Vidarbha can almost see it happen. Our patience is running out.
“Which is the most prosperous and rich state of India?” A Bhutanese girl asked me in Bengluru just now.
“Most definitely Vidarbha!” was the reply that came at once to my lips.