The viability question

The viability question

Before accusing Maharashtrians of having an eye on the surplus of Bombay it must be proved that Bombay has a surplus. What appears as surplus is due...

This is the second and concluding part of excerpts presented by Dr BR Ambedkar on the question of retaining Bombay in Maharashtra during the formation of Gujarat to the Linguistic Provinces Commission in 1948. His views may benefit the ongoing debate on the status of Hyderabad

Before accusing Maharashtrians of having an eye on the surplus of Bombay it must be proved that Bombay has a surplus. What appears as surplus is due really to bad accounting. It is bad accounting where expenditure on overhead charges such as (1) the Governor and his establishment, (2) the Ministers and their establishments, (3) the Legislature and the expenditure thereon, (4) Judiciary, (5) Police and (6) Provincial establishments such as those of the Commissioners of Police and Directors of Public Instruction is not being taken into account. I doubt very much if on the existing basis of taxation, Bombay will have any surplus if expenditure on these items is charged to Bombay. It is a fallacy to charge all such expenditure to Maharashtra and exempt Bombay from it and then argue that Bombay has a surplus.

The statement that the Maharashtrians want Bombay because they want to live on the surplus revenue of Bombay, besides being wrong in fact raises a question of motive. I do not know if the Maharashtrians are actuated by any such motive. They are not a commercial community. Unlike other communities, the Maharashtrians have no nose for money, and I am one of these who believe that it is one of their greatest virtues. Money has never been their god. It is no part of their culture. That is why they have allowed all other communities coming from outside Maharashtra to monopolize the trade and industry of Maharashtra. But as I have shown there is no surplus and no question of Maharashtrians casting their eyes on it.

But supposing such a motive is in the minds of the Maharashtrians, what is wrong in it? It is quite open to Maharashtrians to contend that they have a greater claim on Bombay’s surplus because they have played and they will continue to play a greater part in supplying labour for the building up of the trade and industry of Bombay more than the people from other Provinces have done or likely to do. It would be difficult for any economist with any reputation to say the contrary. Who could deny that labour has as much claim on the wealth produced as capital if not more?

Secondly, the surplus from Bombay is not consumed by Maharashtra alone but is consumed by the whole of India. The proceeds of the Income-tax, Super-tax, etc. which Bombay pays to the Central Government are all spent by the Central Government for all-India purposes and is shared by all other Provinces. To Prof. Vakil it does not matter if the surplus of Bombay is eaten up by United Provinces, Bihar, Assam, Orissa, West Bengal, East Punjab and Madras. What he objects to is Maharashtra getting any part of it. This is not an argument. It is only an exhibition of his hatred for Maharashtrians.

Granting that, Bombay was made into a separate Province, what I don’t understand is how Prof. Vakil is going to prevent Maharashtra from getting share of Bombay surplus revenue. Even if Bombay is made separate Province, Bombay will have to pay income-tax, super-tax, etc. and surely Maharashtra will get a part of the revenue paid by Bombay to the Centre either directly or indirectly. As I have said the argument has in it more malice than substance.

This doubt regarding viability of Bombay Province is heightened by the indecent haste shown by the Government of Bombay in creating Greater Bombay by including within the limits of Bombay the adjoining parts of Maharashtra. It seems that the object of including such area cannot but be to make Bombay viable. What else can it be? So long as Bombay remained part of Maharashtra it did not matter to Maharashtrians in which administrative area a portion of Maharashtra was included.

But when Bombay is to be a separate Province it will take a long time to make Maharashtrians part with their territory to make Bombay greater and viable. What is more important is the scheme of greater Bombay casts responsibility upon the Linguistic Provinces Commission to decide whether they could, with justice force Maharashtrians not only to submit to the demand of the Gujarathis to give up Bombay but also to submit to their further demand to hand over a part of territory of Maharashtra to make Bombay a viable Province. The Commission cannot escape this responsibility.

Maharashtra and Bombay are not merely inter-dependent, they are really one and integral. Severance between the two would be fatal to both. The sources of water and electricity for Bombay lie in Maharashtra. The intelligentsia of Maharashtra lives in Bombay.

To sever Bombay from Maharashtra would be to make the economic life of Bombay precarious and to dissociate the masses of Maharashtra from its intelligentsia without whose lead the masses of Maharashtra will be nowhere. Courtesy:

The New Indian Express

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