Examine the demand for greater State-autonomy and also its impact on the smooth functioning of the Indian polity. (250 Words)

The experience of more than six decades of Independence has demonstrated that tendencies of over-centralization and authoritarianism weaken the fabric of Indian unity and that there is a clear need for federalism and de-centralization. The demand for State autonomy arose in a context where people and political parties in various States felt crammed in and even oppressed by the Centre’s relentless aggrandizement in the legislative, executive and financial spheres and by the notorious misuse of Article 356, which empowers the Centre to dismiss State government it does not like as well as to dissolve elected State Assemblies. Several regional political parties, including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Telugu Desam Party and the Akali Dal, which find themselves within the National Democratic Alliance, have in the past raised the autonomy demand.

Any solution or meaningful perspective on demand of autonomy must accommodate the multiple identities of the State concerned, the significance of every constituent community and sub-region, and the imperatives of an integrated approach to the resolution of conflicts. People-to-people contacts must be deepened. The people of affected areas in the entire State must be taken into confidence before any major policy issues like recent land transfer issue.

Neglecting all such prime issues, if autonomy is granted, it would spell a great disaster for this largest pluralist democracy in the world. Shedding all political egos, let us think rationally and liberally to establish a truly egalitarian socio-political system, with a co-operative federalist structure.

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