From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Various committees mentioned in the newscard
Mains level : Three capitals concept
The Andhra Pradesh Assembly passed The Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Equal Development of All Regions Bill, 2020, paving the way for three capitals for the state.
Three capitals concept in Andhra Pradesh
- Three cities serve as capitals of the country– Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative), and Bloemfontein (judicial).
- This arrangement was a result of the Second Boer War (1899-1902) in which Britain annexed the two Afrikaner speaking states -– the Orange Free State and the South African Republic (also called Transvaal Republic).
- Cape of Good Hope then remained in the British Empire, becoming self-governing in 1872, and uniting with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa in 1910.
What are the other examples of multiple capital cities?
- Several countries in the world have implemented the concept.
- In Sri Lanka, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is the official capital and seat of national legislature, while Colombo is the de facto seat of national executive and judicial bodies.
- Malaysia has its official and royal capital and seat of national legislature at Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya is the administrative centre and seat of national judiciary.
- Among Indian states, Maharashtra has two capitals– Mumbai and Nagpur (which holds the winter session of the state assembly).
- Himachal Pradesh has capitals at Shimla and Dharamshala (winter).
- The former state of Jammu & Kashmir had Srinagar and Jammu (winter) as capitals.
Reasons behind such considerations
- According to the government, decentralisation was the central theme in recommendations of all major committees that were set up to suggest a suitable location for the capital of Andhra Pradesh.
- It had been agreed in the November 16, 1937 Sri Bagh Pact (between leaders of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema) that two university centres should be established in Waltair (Visakhapatnam) and Anantapur in Rayalaseema, and that the High Court and Metropolis should be in the coastal districts and Rayalaseema respectively.
- In December 2010, the Justice B N Srikrishna Committee, set up to look into the demand for a Telangana state, said Rayalaseema and North Coastal Andhra were economically the most backward, and the “concentration of development efforts in Hyderabad is the key reason for demand of separate states”.
- In August 2014, the K Sivaramakrishnan Committee appointed to identify locations for the new capital of AP said the state should see decentralised development, and that one mega capital city was not desirable.
Major practical problems
- The government argues that the Assembly meets only after gaps of several months, and government Ministers, officers, and staff can simply go to Amaravati when required.
- However, coordinating between seats of legislature and executive in separate cities will be easier said than done, and with the government offering no specifics of a plan, officers and common people alike fear a logistics nightmare.
- The distances in Andhra Pradesh are not inconsiderable. Executive capital Visakhapatnam is 700 km from judicial capital Kurnool, and 400 km from legislative capital Amaravati.
- The Amaravati-Kurnool distance is 370 km. The time and costs of travel will be significant.
- The AP Police are headquartered in Mangalagiri, 14 km from Vijayawada, and senior IPS officers who may be required to visit the Secretariat will have to travel 400 km to Visakhapatnam.
- Likewise, government officers who may have to appear in the High Court will have to travel 700 km to Kurnool, which does not have an airport.
- All officers and Ministerial staff who may have to be at hand to brief Ministers when the Assembly is in session, will probably have to stay put in Amaravati, leaving behind their other responsibilities in Visakhapatnam.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Special provisions in the constitution
Mains level : Nothing much
The union government has revoked the ‘special status’ granted to Jammu and Kashmir by the Constitution.
However, a range of “special provisions” for as many as 11 other states continue to be part of the Constitution.
Part XXI of the Constitution
The part ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’, includes, apart from Article 370 (Temporary Provisions with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir) Articles 371, 371A, 371B, 371C, 371D, 371E, 371F, 371G, 371H, and 371J.
These define special provisions with regard to other states of the Indian Union.
Special Provisions but not special treatment
All these provisions take into account the special circumstances of individual states, and lay down a wide range of specific safeguards that are deemed important for these states.
In these range of Articles from 371 to 371J, Article 371I, which deals with Goa, stands out in the sense that it does not include any provision that can be deemed “special”.
Article 371E, which deals with Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, too, is not that “special”.
The special provisions laid down in Article 370 before it was modified were obviously much more farreaching than the special provisions for other states, described in Articles 371, 371A-H, and 371J.
The following special provisions are guaranteed by the Constitution to states
other than Jammu and Kashmir:
Maharashtra and Gujarat (Article 371)
The Governor has a “special responsibility”-
To establish “separate development boards” for “Vidarbha, Marathwada, and the rest of Maharashtra”, and Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat;
To ensure “equitable allocation of funds for developmental expenditure over the said areas”, and “equitable arrangement providing adequate facilities for technical education and vocational training, and adequate opportunities for employment” under the state government.
Nagaland (Article 371A, 13th Amendment Act, 1962)
Parliament cannot legislate in matters of Naga religion or social practices, the Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law.
Parliament also cannot intervene in ownership and transfer of land and its resources, without the concurrence of the Legislative Assembly of the state.
This provision was inserted in the Constitution after a 16-point agreement between the Centre and the Naga People’s Convention in 1960, which led to the creation of Nagaland in 1963.
Also, there is a provision for a 35-member Regional Council for Tuensang district, which elects the Tuensang members in the Assembly.
A member from the Tuensang district is Minister for Tuensang Affairs. The Governor has the final say on all Tuensang-related matters.
Assam (Article 371B, 22nd Amendment Act, 1969)
The President of India may provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of the state Assembly consisting of members elected from the tribal areas of the state.
Manipur (Article 371C, 27th Amendment Act, 1971)
The President of India may provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of elected members from the Hill areas of the state in the Assembly, and entrust “special responsibility” to the Governor to ensure its proper functioning.
The Governor has to file a report every year on this subject to the President.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (Article 371D, 32nd Amendment Act, 1973; substituted by the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014)
The President must ensure “equitable opportunities and facilities” in “public employment and education to people from different parts of the state”.
He may require the state government to organise “any class or classes of posts in a civil service of, or any class or classes of civil posts under, the State into different local cadres for different parts of the State”, and allot them.
The President has similar powers vis-à-vis admissions in any university or state government-run educational institution.
Also, he may provide for setting up of an administrative tribunal outside the jurisdiction of the High Court to deal with issues of appointment, allotment or promotion in state civil services.
Article 371E allows for the establishment of a university in Andhra Pradesh by a law of Parliament. But this is not really a ‘special provision’ in the sense of the other provisions in this part of the Constitution.
Sikkim (Article 371F, 36th Amendment Act, 1975)
The members of the Legislative Assembly of Sikkim shall elect the representative of Sikkim in the House of the People.
To protect the rights and interests of various sections of the population of Sikkim, Parliament may provide for the number of seats in the Assembly, which may be filled only by candidates from those sections.
The Governor shall have “special responsibility for peace and for an equitable arrangement for ensuring the social and economic advancement of different sections of the population”.
All earlier laws in territories that formed Sikkim shall continue, and any adaptation or modification shall not be questioned in any court.
Mizoram (Article 371G, 53rd Amendment Act, 1986)
This provision lays down that Parliament cannot make laws on “religious or social practices of the Mizos, Mizo customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Mizo customary law, ownership and transfer of land… unless the Legislative
Assembly… by a resolution so decides”.
Arunachal Pradesh (Article 371H, 55th Amendment Act, 1986)
The Governor has a special responsibility with regard to law and order, and he shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers, exercise his individual judgment as to the action to be taken.
Should a question arise over whether a particular matter is one in which the Governor is “required to act in the exercise of his individual judgment, the decision of the Governor in his discretion shall be final”, and “shall not be called in question”
Karnataka (Article 371J, 98th Amendment Act, 2012)
There is a provision for the establishment of a separate development board for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, the working of which will be reported annually to the Assembly.
There shall be “equitable allocation of funds for developmental expenditure over the said region”, and “equitable opportunities and facilities” for people of this region in government jobs and education.
An order can be made to provide for reservation “of a proportion” of seats and jobs in educational and vocational training institutions and state government organisations respectively in the Hyderabad-
Karnataka region for individuals who belong to that region by birth or domicile.
- What is ‘Special Category’ status?
What benefits do states having ‘Special Category’ status enjoy?
- Who accords the category status to state and how?
- Which states held Special category status?
- Lacunas in the working of Special Category status
- Why the status has been removed?
- Way ahead now
What is ‘Special Category’ status?
- ‘Special category’ status is a classification given by Centre to assist in development of those states that face geographical & socio-economic disadvantages like hilly terrains, strategic international borders, economic & infrastructural backwardness and non-viable state finances.
- The classification came into existence in 1969 as per the suggestion given by the Fifth Finance Commission, set up to devise a formula for sharing the funds of Central govt. among all states.
What benefits do states having ‘Special Category’ status enjoy?
- Significant concession in excise & customs duties, income tax and corporate tax
- 30 percent of planned expenditure (central budget) goes to ‘special category’ states
- Special Category states are benefited because of Normal Central Assistance which was skewed in favour of these states. These states get more funds in terms of NCA and most part of these funds was in the form of grants rather than loans.
- Special Central Assistance given to SCS is also an additional amount which can be used by the concerned state for economic development.
- Centre bears 90% of the state expenditure (given as grant) on all centrally-sponsored schemes and external aid while rest 10% is given as loan to state. For general category, the respective grant to loan ratio is 30:70 where as external aid is passed on in the same ratio as received at the centre.
- Unspent money does not lapse and gets carry forward.
Hence, special-category status catalyses the inflow of private investments and generates employment and additional revenue to state. Since centre bears 90% of state expenditure on all centrally-sponsored schemes, state can take more welfare-based schemes from the new savings.
Further, more grants from centre helps in building state infrastructure and social sector projects. As a result, special-category state gets to bridge its development deficit.
Who accords the category status to state and how?
Special Category’ status had been granted in the past by the Union government to States having certain characteristics based on the recommendations of the National Development Council.
i) hilly terrain;
ii) low population density and/or sizeable share of tribal population;
iii) strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries;
iv) economic and infrastructure backwardness; and
v) non-viable nature of State finances.
Which states held Special category status?
11 states used to have ‘special category’ status, namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
Lacunas in the working of Special Category status
- Firstly, the way Special Category Status were assigned to a state has been a matter of debate. Various committees used different parameters to classify a state in Special Category status.
- Some states lobby central government to classify them in special category. This was to be corrected and the consent of majority of state must be taken before granting a special category status to any state.
- Moreover there should have been a general consensus among states related to principle used for granting the SCS.
- Secondly, data reveals that even after awarding Special category status not much economic progress has been noticed among states. This may mean that for economic development it’s important to follow sound economic policy. Benefit of SCS may act as a stimulus but rest depends on the individual state policy.
- Third, the amount of proceeds that states receive has increased after 14th finance commission. So the structure does not seem to have any specific relevance in present context.
Why has the status been removed now?
The Finance Ministry’s reasoning for withdrawing the status is that the higher 42% devolution takes into account all needs of states.
Following the demand for Special Status by Bihar, a committee was appointed under Dr. Raghuram Rajan in 2013. This committee suggested that States classified as ‘Special Category States’ and those seeking inclusion in that category, would find that their need for funds and special attention more than adequately met by a basic allocation to each State and the categorisation of some as ‘least developed’.
Considering special status to any new State will result in demands from other States and dilute the benefits further. It is also not economically beneficial for States to seek special status as the benefits under the current dispensation are minimal. States facing special problems will be better off seeking a special package.