Reviving the Inter-States Council is the only real way to address conflicts of state interests
In a paper published a few years ago, my colleagues and I drew attention to the vast interstate differences in various development indicators. Our main purpose was to assess and rank the service delivery performance of state governments. As social and economic outcome indicators are highly correlated with per capita income, we ranked the states after controlling for differences in per capita state domestic product. The results were quite remarkable. After controlling for income differences, some poorer states moved significantly up the rank order: Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan. Collaterally, better-off states such as Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Punjab moved down several notches. Clearly, centrifugal economic forces are distancing rich and poor states economically but there are other centripetal forces containing interstate differences in the levels of economic and social service delivery. Most of these centripetal forces emanate from the Constitution, in particular, the constitutional articulation of central and state-level institutions of the legislature, judiciary and executive. Also, successive finance commissions have attempted to ensure to the extent possible that citizens across all states, are provided the same level of public services, given that they belong to the same tax jurisdiction.
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