SPECIAL CATEGORY STATUS (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     6th June 2024        
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Context: Recently, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president has risen as a pivotal figure in national politics, prompting expectations of numerous concessions, notably the assurance of Andhra Pradesh's Special Category State status.

Special Category Status

  • About: It is a classification given by the Centre to assist in the development of those states that face geographical and socio-economic disadvantages.
  • The Constitution does not have any provision for categorisation of any state as a Special Category Status (SCS) State.
  • Introduced by: In 1969, the Fifth Finance Commission of India.
  • Objective: To provide certain disadvantaged states with preferential treatment in the form of central assistance.
  • This formula (Gadgil formula) was named after the then Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Dr Gadgil Mukherjee and is related to the transfer of assistance to the states by centre under various schemes.
  • Recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission: They suggested that the resource gap of the states should be filled by increasing the devolution of tax to 42% from the existing 32%.
  • Criteria for special category status:

o Hilly and difficult terrain

o Low population density or sizeable share of tribal population

o Strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries

o Economic and infrastructural backwardness

o Non-viable nature of state finances

  • The decision to grant special category status was with the National Development Council, composed of the prime minister, union ministers, chief ministers and members of the planning commission, who guide and review the work of the commission.

o SCS was accorded to 11 states, including the entire Northeast, and the border hill states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. Subsequently, other states too demanded SCS — including Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.

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