In continuation with my friend Tavish's Post (Click for link) on the Telangana issue, I would like to out forth my views, some of them biased and some of them inferred from the situation I see around me. These views are those that I have formed after reading details about this situation from various sources, both to and for the formation of states.
If you can read Tavish's post, you will know that the issue of Telangana is not new. And if you are familiar with the Gentleman's Agreement of 1956, you will understand that the people from this region have always felt that they were different, inspite of the same language being spoken in both regions (Andhra and Telangana). You must also understand that then Congress Party central government decided to ignore the recommendations of "The States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) Report of 1955" and established unified Andhra Pradesh on November 1, 1956.
The 1969 Telangana freedom movement was spearheaded by Mari Chenna Reddy, who was silenced by being made the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh State (PV Narasimha Rao was also made the CM because he was from the Telangana region). And the issue was kept under the covers (atleast politically), until the KCR fast,and the rest is history as we all know it. I would like to make my arguments in a point-wise manner, as it would be easier to follow:
1. The creation of a new Telangana State will shift the power equations in the Andhra Belt. But more importantly, it will end a issue that has plagued the mindsets of various generations - that of "non-development" of the region. It is fair to say that people do feel neglected as compared to those from other parts of the state. And by not acting on it, the people have got it ingrained in themselves to "blame the Andhra-focused Government" for everything that is wrong with the region. Once the state is formed, there are two possible directions that the state will head towards:
a) Telangana develops rapidly and inclusively. Then the people of Telangana will be happy and the region will prosper. The common flow of rivers Godavari and Krishna will certainly raise a lot of commotion, and that will hamper the development of Andhra region, thereby bringing no net change (or a minimal positive change) to the development of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh.
b) Telangana will not develop as much as expected. This is the most likely scenario here, because people will now have no one to blame but themselves and their own leaders. They will not be able to blame the "Andhraites" for their own misfortune. This could lead to instability in the region and may also hamper the prospects of the states around it, especially the Andhra region.
As much as both the scenarios project a non-net-positive impact on the region's growth (Rivers and Hyderabad issues will be the bone of contention), the direction of (b) is necessary for the people in the region to realize that the power is in their hands to make things happen and not just wait for the Govt. to dole out sops for the region. The blame lies with them and not with the Governments. After all, there have been CMs who have come from the region itself, haven't they? Why didn't you fight it out then? Don't say you were meek etc. as you had the balls to fight it out now.
2) Historically the region of Telangana was more prosperous than Andhra. The ones who argue for separation will say that "The Andhrites wanted Telangana just for Hyderabad,and fought for the unification as they had nothing in their kitty that was as great as Hyderabad." Ok, fair enough. But didn't the Govt. of "Andhra Pradesh" develop Hyderabad to be a world-class city, most of it at the expense of other cities like Kurnool and Vizag? Hyderabad may have had the earlier infrastructure, but the so-called resources of Telangana could have been diverted to create a new and better city, something that could overtake Hyderabad, right? Did that happen?
No that did not happen. Hyderabad is now an awesome city. So it is fair to the rest of the state that the city in which the Govt. invested so much be taken away? Agreed it was part of Telangana and has always been, but it was also the capital of the Nizams before the creation of Andhra, and later Andhra Pradesh. It was a good city, and now is a great city. Is it fair to tell the people from Andhra "We have Hyderabad and want it, now go develop another city to rival it from scratch"?
(Leaving the sentiments aside, I am sure that the Andhrites, who are perceived to be much more hard-working, will develop such a city, but that is not the point)
3) It is true that smaller states permit development of new infrastructure and have better provision of public goods. But it also permits smaller political factions to wreck havoc on the political scene of the state (remember Madhu Koda in Jharkhand?) That does not mean there should be larger and larger states, but what I mean is that one needs to take into account the major political implications of the region before making any decision. Just because the state is small doesn't mean it becomes more easier to administrate, on the contrary it could become more complicated as smaller powers become the major players. For a country like India, it could mean another 30-party coalition forming a Govt. at the centre.
4) There are arguments that the Telangana culture and dialect is disliked and perceived to be of a "lower class" as compared to the Andhrites. I cannot comment on that, but that is the attitude of a set of people, and it will not change overnight. People always love and hate other people - the North-South divide can never be bridged as long as the North-Indians remain ignorant about the South-Indian customs and traditions (Yes Sirs, we are all not Madrasis) and the South-Indians remain hostile to North-Indians in South-Indian states (Face it, we do discriminate when we get the chance, atleast most of us do that). Who started what is irrelevant, as long as the problem exists. Development brings about modernization and modernization changes some traditional customs and makes it more conducive for others to be integrated into those customs. Andhrites in Hyderabad may not celebrate Bonnalu, but that doesn't mean they hate it. A few generations down the line, I don't think anyone will even recognize what is the Andhra dialect and what is the Telangana dialect.
Although all these points may tell you "Varun Reddy wants a United Andhra", I wish to assert you that I have no stake in a United Andhra, nor do I have a stake in Telangana. I am a Mumbai-born kid, who has lived in Hyderabad his entire life. As long as me and my future kids are not discriminated as "non-locals" in their own state and city, I don't care if I am part of a Telangana or a Andhra or a Greater Hyderabad or a Hyderabad UT. All I wish to say is a quote by Denis Waitley:
"The greatest choice we have is to think before we act and then take action toward our life goals every day. Our problems result not only from our lack of action, but from our action without thought."
Telangana is said to be underdeveloped because of lack of action, and the new state may remain underdeveloped because of this act of separation without proper thought.
A few links for reading:
My next post (in a few days) will deal with my life, on what Telangana and Andhra meant to me before the news about separation came to light. That would surely put this article into a better perspective I guess.