This book looks at the most recent episode of state creation in 2000, when the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand came into being in some of the poorest, yet resource-rich, regions of Hindi-speaking north and central India. Their creation represented a new turn in the history of the country’s territorial organisation. In this book, Louis Tillin sets out to explain the politics that lay behind this episode of ‘post-linguistic’ state reorganisation and what it means for the future design of India’s federal system. Reviewed by Oliver Godsmark for LSE Review of Books.
The Government of India has endorsed plans to bifurcate the primarily Telugu-speaking state of Andhra Pradesh, as part of the process whereby India’s twenty-ninth state of Telangana would be created. The recognition accorded to Telangana was particularly significant, as Andhra, when initially created in 1953, had been the first state to be formed in independent India on the basis of linguistic homogeneity. Support for Telangana is thus representative of a broader trend over the last few decades within India, in which the former esteem for the linguistic principle seems to have been gradually marginalised.
Louise Tillin’s highly readable and well researched book looks to provide an explanation for this shift in emphasis by focusing upon the creation of the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand within the ‘Hindi-speaking’ heartland of north India in 2000. Unlike much of the somewhat limited existing literature on these instances of ‘post-linguistic’ states reorganisation, Remapping India offers an original premise by suggesting that the calls for these states emerged out of “longer term changes in local structures of power and the relations between social groups” (p. 5).
Rather than focusing solely upon sociological or political economy explanations for reorganisation, the author treats internal borders within a federal system as a form of institution, vital “in determining which groups are in competition with each other over the distribution of which resources” (p. 21). Continue reading