The proponents of a separate Dravida Nadu should ponder over what happened this weekend. Some of the biggest names in the Tamil film industry attended a meeting to protest against the slow progress in setting up a board to manage the distribution of water from the Cauvery between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. As an aside, the appointment of an academic from Karnataka to head a Tamil Nadu university was also raised. The meeting undermines the belief that the four southern states have aligned interests on all issues, and so can do better with minimal interference from New Delhi.

It is a given that a complex country like India needs robust federalism, but the idea that states can manage on their own is a dangerous leap of faith. A strong central authority is needed in large federations to provide national public goods, arbitrate between regions, deal with coordination failures and redistribute financial resources. That is how the Indian Constitution has been designed. Regional grandstanding should not undermine a constitutional order that reflects the complexities of India.

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