File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )
Every five years, a finance commission decides how to split India's tax revenue between the Centre and India's states.
A major factor deciding the split is a state's population. The bigger a state's population, the greater the share of tax revenue given to it.
That however, say the experts, is also unfair for it punishes the states that have done the hard work of controlling their populations.
There is at the moment a massive difference in fertility rates — the rate at which a state's population grows — between the southern and other states, with the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra, Telangana, and the western state of Maharashtra having a fertility rate of about 1.5.
Bihar on the other hand has a fertility rate of about 3.5, and the other Bimaru states a rate of about 2.5.
The problem cropped up when the previous finance commission switched over to the 2011 Census to decide the split the commissions had so far been using the 1971 Census.
Tamil Nadu's politicians, including Chief Minister E Palaniswami and Leader of the Opposition MK Stalin, have said a division on the basis of the 2011 Census will be patently unfair. They say they have done the hard work of controlling their populations and instead of being rewarded for having done so, they are now being punished.
They have also accused the Centre of "highway robbery". And are insisting the current 15th finance commission go back to the 1971 Census.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav met on Wednesday with Finance Commission Chairperson NK Singh, news reports said, and promised that the southern states would not lose out.
The reports however did not say how he would ensure that.