Friday, December 11, 2009

Telangana and the issue of smaller states (Part 1)


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.



Samatha said...

You may be right when you say that telangana ppl r just throwing the blame on others for their inefficiency but then this could be their first step towards being responsible for themselves.. They have identified problem and own the problem and want their control over their life so that they can move it to better level... they could as well do that in united andhra pradesh but i guess unless u own it you dont feel responsible for it,.. so it might actually work.. and in this ordeal other regions dont get affected tht badly either... since u proclaim they r smart.. and they already have their sense of superiority and ownership they will surely do well.. so alls well so y not move far to get more close and prosper well :)..

Tavish Chadha said...

nice write up man... u have done far more analysis than I had done... my views on the issue still remain that of a united Andhra but somehow there is a part in me that has started saying its will prob be positive for both the regions... it could probably help in the development of another city like Vizag or Kurnool... by separation my main concern is the formation of new states that will be dangerous for the unity of the country... whatever happens lets hope it happens for the best... and it happens peacefully....

Anonymous said...


I was waiting this post of yours but I guess I forgot to blogroll you on my blog and missed the update.

Your opinion on the issue is so clearly stated and explained.
True Telangana issue was an old one,but if the partition had to happen it must have had been long before and not now.

I feel the raise of Telangana issue now is just a result of greedy politicians.

The Andhra dialect and Telangana dialect true are different and I have a dialect which is a cross of both :~)

I still don't understand why hostility exists b/w North Indians and South Indians.....

Creator !!! said...

Same here ... i have no sides in the Telengana issue ! Im a hyderabadi, and just want the city untarnished after the messup

sarada nagachandra said...

Very good analysis this person should be on telugu news channel. Very diplomatic closing like our polticians who wish to change there stake.
You may be hyderabadi my dear but what if your child is rejected a seat on the bias that he is not a part of telagana in osmania,jntu univ, and andhra ppl saying he is non local here too and throwing last in the merit list in andhra area.I hope mumbai too wont help them.
But the last point saying "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." is extremely true.
What is their plan of action if the state was divided, Without that plan touching the feet of lagadapati in airport stopping movie shoots and asking them to say jai telagana doesent work.

IIM ka Sarkari Babu said...

@Samatha: Agreed to your point wholly, will not debate it further...

@Tavish: The key word here is "Peacefully" - the things are going out of hand like the 1947 partition...

@SivArchana: Hostility always exists when you breed unfamiliarlity and contempt. It starts from one side and spreads to both sides and no one wants to stop the flow at all...

@Creator: We all want that, don't we?

@Sarada: Diplomatic eh? Well, may be that is how I have made myself in the last few years :) My child, if born in Hyderabad, cannot face rejection, as he/she will be a Hyderabadi born - no one can make laws to discriminate against my kid. Let's see what happens...