For several decades, 11 States of India, including the eight north-eastern States, had been classified as ‘Special Category’ States. They were regarded as weaker States incapable of surviving without special dispensations. These special category States received a different package of Central assistance in the form of 90 per cent grant and 10 per cent loan. This special dispensation was a matter of justifiable heart-burning for the developed States of India that received Central assistance on far less generous terms. But in all these years, the 11 beneficiary States put in very little effort to come up to the level of the advanced States by making good use of their special dispensations. The tion’s experience in respect of these special category States was no different from the leg-up given to disadvantaged sections of society through the creation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. All that we have done is to reject merit and competition totally. In more than four decades of the special category criteria, there were no indications that the special category States have done anything on their own to come up to the level of the developed States of the Union. If anything, there has been a great deal of legitimate heart-burning among the developed States that have actually provided the means to the Centre of having special category States. Over the decades, they have paid for the development that should have taken place in the special category States but did not. It is only fair that this special dispensation should be brought to an end and all States of the Union be regarded as equal. Providing crutches to healthy individuals can only ensure ill health.
Towards Healthy Equality