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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The politics of state formation in India : the case of Uttarakhand Mishra, Sangeeta

Abstract

The recently ratified new states in India have profound implications for understanding the capability of federations globally to accommodate the increasing number of autonomy demands. Granting state status to regions seeking autonomy seems to be one solution to achieving greater stability and unity in a state. However, before fully embracing this as a solution to possible fragmenting tendencies and ultimate cases of dis-unification, it becomes necessary to examine in what context regions are given state status. The political factors determining the fate of statehood movements in India is the topic of this thesis. In August 2000, the India parliament approved three new India states. The newly created states in India were not unpredicted events. Many of these regions had been seeking separate statehood since pre-independence. However what makes this an interesting topic is to consider why now, why have the regions have been granted state status. This thesis looks at one case study, the case of Uttarakhand, and attentively follows it journey to statehood. A region in the northern Himalayas, the area cites lagging economic and social conditions, along with a separate cultural lifestyle from its host state Uttar Pradesh. This thesis begins to address this political event by first examining past attempts at explaining why and how new states were created within a federal institutional design. Ultimately, the thesis disregards a fully federal explanation as the real understanding for why these movements occur. Instead, it looks to contemporary political conditions in which statehood movements are likely to be determined. In particular, I argue that coalition politics along with its by-products of leadership and institutional accommodation play a significant role in determining the fate of these movements. Although I recognize that the ability of groups to mobilize around given issues is imperative, I argue that these are not primary considerations when governments decide whether to grant or to not concede statehood demands.

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