Unexpected character encountered while parsing value: <. Path '', line 0, position 0.
Creating Two States From One
Vasu Reddy from Chicago
It is politically a powerful manifesto to raise the issue of regional disparity within any given state in India. Since the Indian Independence in 1947, many of our states have been further divided into smaller states. It is not unusual for countries such as the vast USSR or a small country like Yugoslavia to be further divided into smaller countries. Religion, language, economics, history, revolution, attitudes and leaders are some of the reasons for breaking up larger countries/states into smaller autonomous entities.
Of particular interest to me is my own State of Andhra Pradesh (“AP”), which is the land of Andhras whose people speak the language Telugu. AP is geographically grouped into three major regions: Telangana, Andhra and Rayalaseema and each of these regions have distinct spoken accent of the same language.
Background and Issues
Telangana is a region that includes a few districts of Andhra Pradesh state including Hyderabad, Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, Mahaboobnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, RangaReddy and Warangal. As with most of the underdeveloped regions of Andhra Pradesh this region is one of the least developed regions in India. Rampant poverty, illiteracy, malnourished children, child labor, farmer suicides, unemployment, water scarcity and electricity shortage are some of the problems of this region.
Telangana doesn’t have any seacoast, and mainly depends on the rains (if rains come) and water from rivers that flow through the region for irrigation. Statistics over several decades show that the total irrigated area in Andhra region increased from 24.45 lakhs hectares to 26.00 lakhs hectares where as the total irrigated area in Telangana region decreased from 9.12 lakh hectares to 7.18 lakh hectares, about 22% decrease. This is a disparity is one of the main issues that needs to be addressed.
Naxalites (the Utopia loving self appointed saviors of the people) who impose their will with the law and taxes have a great say in managing the wealth in this region.
Illiteracy, caste system, tribal population and large landowners all contribute to the regions diverse needs outside of the larger issues or water and education.
The politicians definitely will enjoy having a separate state irrespective how big or small the state is. It definitely gives them an advantage to create power bases and cater to individual support bases. Religious minorities may suffer as the greater Andhra Pradesh is a better secular base and has functioned well with its diverse composition of people.
The leaders who are pushing for a separate state certainly want to include Hyderabad (about 6 million people in greater Hyderabad) and perhaps accounts for the largest source of state income. If Hyderabad is removed from the fabric of Andhra Pradesh, there is no other major city or infrastructure that can immediately support the state without Hyderabad.
Hyderabad also has been developed (if you disagree you should have seen it ten years ago) with IT, roads, offices and living areas that have been both publicly and privately funded for decades. In fact the last government took a beating at the electorate because they were unable to focus on the entire state’s needs while investing heavily in Hyderabad. The migration of people to Hyderabad has been from all parts of Andhra Pradesh over the decades, and simply removing the vested interests of people of other regions will create economic losses that will be hard to replace.
Creating Hyderabad as a common capital would probably not serve the needs of politicians nor the people, as it will create more tensions amongst the people who live in the city. Hyderabad is quite diverse with the old city with its Muslim population, people who have lived in the city for generations, IT folks, multinational corporations, the movie industry, the ultra rich folks and the usual folks. Asking these folks to chose two states is perhaps not too bright an idea, as they have already chosen to live in the rapidly growing environment and already made adjustments to their lives. Asking them to redo their life is just too big of an economic and perhaps emotional burden.
As I See It
Educational funding and literacy programs will foster better planning amongst the general population. All most all development can be centered on funding education for the region.
Irrigational planning, construction of water management facilities, better distribution of available water will help the regions needs. It will certainly help with calming the fears of common man.
There is rampant speculation that if there is two states certain parts of the land will become valuable (by multiples of hundreds) overnight. This promotes greed that makes people support the separation. There is additional regional differences that seem mundane that are cropping up by declaring that Rayalaseema as another separate state.
The regional party in Telangana TRS was a Congress ally until after the elections and initially chose not to participate in the formation of the State cabinet. Pushing for political power rather than pushing for the people agenda made the regional agenda less prominent.
The issues of the Telangana region are legitimate and need immediate attention. But, India as a country itself is a larger Telangana and doesn’t need multiple states, but needs planning and funding. For example let us say all the NRI groups and individuals who support and fund the separation movement invest the same into funding education or irrigation. I am sure it will make a nice difference as a few rupees a day will feed a family, and if the NRI dollars build jobs, it is a start. All the hoopla about functions, fund raising and separation is a wonderful idea from a distance. NRI dollars going towards this cause can build a new medical college or several engineering colleges. We should challenge our intentions and see if we can start funding education rather than separation.
From my understanding of the USA population the some of the wealthiest folks in USA are originally from Telangana region. These folks can help build infrastructure to help promote the regional development. I am sure they are already funding various programs but a concentrated effort will show results and also prompt the Indian government to pay attention.
The high cost of government is a burden on even the most developed nations. Imagine the cost two governments with in the state of Andhra Pradesh, which will further bankrupt the already loan burdened state. The current political organization that is pushing for a separate state seems more interested in power and leverage rather than pushing the agenda. I for one believe that the regions need for water and education can be leveraged right now, rather than using the separation as a political point.
Congress at the Center and Congress in the State should give enough leverage to start immediate corrections to the past inequities in funding. Participation of the regional part in the mainstream politics will help in daily lobbying for funding and programs. The focus should be on developing the region and funding the education and irrigation programs first. Once the region is at par with the so called developed regions of rest of Andhra Pradesh then a logical and well thought out separation can be called for. At this point of time neither the so called regional leaders nor the State nor the Center can adequately fund the creation and operation of a separate State, while appropriate allocation of available resources can provide much needed funding for development programs.
I love my state and the people of my state. Although I have not lived in India and Andhra Pradesh for a long time, it makes no sense that the issues that are as old as India’s independence still seem highlights of today’s speeches of politicians. We have to remember that Independence of India is a past memory to cherish, while the burden of today’s needs and people are the reality. We must remember that the separation at the time of independence did not cerate wealthy states, rather created destruction and generations of war with the country’s neighbors. We must remember the agenda of the leaders of Indian Independence was for a free India while today’s separation mongers have no clue of what their agenda is except get into power, while forgetting that they have no additional resources to cater to the needs of the separated State. Just speaking of Gandhi doesn’t mean that the politicians have the principles of Gandhi. We must continue to remember that Gandhi promoted inclusion and not separation.
The column is personal perspective, and not intended as a political statement. Research is from the Internet. All discussions with my friends in writing this column to gather opinions have been instrumental to develop the concept. My personal acknowledgement to my friend Chandu who helped with perspective and research and helped in framing the column.
Please Share this article with your friends.
More from:Vasu's Columns