The term of reference of 15th Finance Commission of the country has shifted its reckoning population base from 1971 census to 2011 census. The financial allocation to each State will be made based on the latest population. Due to this reckoning the States which had implemented the family planning programme effectively and thereby stabilized their respective State population are likely to get less financial allocation in comparison to the States where the population growth is not under control, though not unabated.
This term of reference has been opposed vehemently by the States which are effective in their population control measures. Is it not a negative reward for the effectiveness of the States in the implementation of welfare measures both directly and indirectly?
Recently the team of economists which met the 15th Financial Commission pointed out this lacuna in the term of reference and suggested for positive rewarding of the State policies that stabilise population. Negation of rewarding such state policies will remain as a tag of penalty for the effectiveness on the part of the States.
Recently, the Finance Ministers of six States submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind demanding 13 amendments to the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission.
Afterwards, the commission stressed that the terms of reference were drafted according to the present context and the current fiscals challenges. The chairman of the commission has defended the use of population of the 2011 census, which States like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have been aggressively protesting against.
States such as Andhra Pradesh had stated that they would lose out more than Rs. 24,000 crore a year if the 2011 population data was used. Tamil Nadu would lose a little over Rs. 22,000 crore and Kerala and West Bengal would lose Rs. 20,000 crore each.
In 1956, ignoring the effectiveness of the States had already caused a non rectifiable imbalance in the formation of electoral Constituencies both for Central and State Legislatures while the States were re-organised based on the prevailed population as the reorganised States. States with more unabated, less abated population were able to get more number of electoral constituencies which reflected in their representation in the legislatures. States which kept their population under check were allocated with less number of constituencies, thereby disempowering the people from staking less representation in the legislatures. The measures which undid the due stake of the States have not been rectified so far which is a pitfall in the democratic polity of the country.
Such deficiencies in the term of reference of the Finance Commission will allow the replay of the earlier foul game. Why not explicit change in the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission with due reward for the States that have stabilised their population?