The recent attempt at unionisation by the southern states against the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission was ill-conceived and ill-motivated. There is nothing in the ToR to warrant a case of bias against the southern States. To suggest that the Commission sticks by the 1971 census while allocating funds between the Centre and various States was unrealistic.
The protesting States would not like to limit their share to income at the 1971, will they? The basis has to be necessarily the 2011 census. Indeed, the commission is expected to give incentives to the southern states for controlling population. Fears that the populous northern States would be rewarded for a higher birthrate are also misplaced because without them, consuming a higher percentage of goods and services, the richer southern States would fail to find ready markets. Besides, there are other states which have seen a decline in population between 1971 and 2011 census.
West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Goa and Punjab, too, can claim higher allocations though they don’t contribute to the central pool as much as the southern States do. Clearly, the fears of the southern States are unfounded. It seems the real reason behind the campaign is the on-going Karnataka poll. By generating an anti-south controversy, the protesting States want to influence the Karnataka voter. As a constitutional body, the Commission is bound to do justice to all concerned parties. Richer States with a lower birth rate can in fact expect incentives as the ToR duly indicate. There is no ground for them to protest.