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Mainstream, VOL XLIX, No 46, November 5, 2011

Realising Telangana State: Issues, Apprehensions and Hope

Tuesday 8 November 2011


by Madhusudan Bandi

1. Context

The closer a government to its people, the better it works is how Stigler (1957) defined effective governance. And the demand for ‘Telangana’, if looked purely from this theoretical perspective, appears to hold substance. It is the geographical and population-size that makes Telangana an ideal administrative unit befitting to be a State that would rank somewhere in the middle in the cluster of the 28 other States of India. However, the issue is not so simple for it is not merely a governance/local governance issue. It is interwoven with emotions, politics and, not the least, the vested interests of the powerful lobbies belonging to all the three regions of the State, who have been staking their claims against Statehood for Telangana completely overlooking the interests of the common people. This paper tries to highlight the fears, real/imaginary (spread by the vested powers) over carving out a separate State of ‘Telangana’ with Hyderabad very much as its capital. This paper is the outcome of the author’s interaction with the people of Telangana in their districts (ten) during his field visits since 2004 and especially during and after Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) declared to fast unto death in 2009. The respondents were politically aware about the developments in the State and represented sections cutting across religion, caste and economic status. The paper also reflects on the perceptions and opinions expressed by both the intellectuals and common public from all the three regions of AP as gleaned from the electronic and print media.

Genesis of Discontent

GOING back into history should help in solving the problems and not complicating them further. If the votaries of Telangana claim how the region is different from the remaining two since the period of Muslim rule, the scholars of the other regions give account of oneness between the Telugus prior to the Muslim invasion in the area. In fact, history supports the origin of the ‘Telugu’ word to Telangana as it is derived from ‘trilinga’ meaning three shiva lingas. These lingas are found on the mountains of Kaleswara (Karimnagar, Telangana), Srisaila (Kurnool, Rayalaseema) and Bhimeswara (East Godavari, Coastal Andhra) that mark the traditional boundary of the Telugu country forming more or less the present-day Telugu region (Andhra Pradesh) (Rao, 2004), thus justifying ‘Telugus’ as one ethnic group. But, in the present circumstances, this contention is limited to culture and history, simply because here the question is not about the ‘unity of Telugus’ but about control over the State’s resources. This was one of the issues1 behind the ‘Jai Andhra’ movement that took place for separation from Telangana in 1972. It was carried out by the people of the very region who are today against the Telangana agitation in the name of keeping all Telugus in one geographic unit of the Andhra Pradesh (AP) State for whatever reasons. The 1972 movement also claimed hundreds of innocent lives to scrap the ‘mulki2 rules’ that had given constitutional protection to Telangana. (Prasad, 2001)

Until November 1, 1956 when AP was formed as the first linguistic State, the three regions of Telangana, Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra were not part of the AP State. The Hyderabad state with the present-day Telangana region in AP and some parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka were integrated from the Nizam into the Indian Union on September 18, 1948 through ‘police action’. Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema along with the present-day regions of Tamil Nadu were part of British occupation and continued to be administered as the Madras Presidency from Independence to October 1, 1953. Political activity in India during 1948 to 1956 for relaying of the boundaries for administrative units on different lines was in full swing. When Andhra’s popular leader, Potti Sri Ramulu, died in the fasting camp on December 15, 1952 demanding a separate Andhra region for the Telugu-speaking people in the Madras Presidency, violence erupted as a reaction in the Andhra region which forced Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to agree for the creation of the Andhra State. It was formed on October 1, 1953.

The final merger of Andhra with Telangana happened after the States Reorganisaton Commission (SRC) headed by Syed Fazl Ali submitted its report on hearing the people and organisatons in both the regions. However, an important issue to be noted is that the recommen-dations of Fazal Ali clearly mentioned that the people of the Andhra region were enthusiastic to create ‘Visalandhra’ (united Andhra with all Telugu-speaking people) whereas the majority in the Telangana region was apprehensive and wanted to retain their separate identity. The reasons listed by the Commission were that the educationally backward people would be exploited by the people of Andhra, and any models like the ‘Scottish devolution in the United Kingdom’ or any sort of guarantee would not serve the special needs of Telangana; so it was recommended to retain its separate entity. (Government of India, 1955)

Despite the SRC report, the Congress leaders from Andhra stressed for ‘Visalandhra’ to enjoy Telangana’s readymade capital in Hyderabad and also to reap the benefits of its rich resources of the Singereni coals and water basins of Krishna and Godavari. (Government of India, 1955) The same leaders were able to influence Nehru [who was against Visalandhra (Reddy and Reddy, 2011)], with whom they had good contacts, to have their way by making him accept their concept of Visalandhra. Understandably, the protagonists of the separate State, on other side, could not sustain their struggle before the stature of Nehru. (Ram, 2007) However, the sentiment for separate Statehood for Telangana among its people always remained alive though with varying intensity.

Present Scenario

THE announcement made by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on December 9, 2009 on behalf of the government to initiate the process for the creation of a separate Telangana State was short-lived. The Union Government had to retract its stand when the Congress leaders of Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema made a U-turn by resigning en-masse from the Assembly despite all the political parties in the State, including their own party representatives, having unequivocally assured at the ‘all-party meeting’ held on December 7, 2009 to support the motion for a separate Telangana State it placed in the AP Legislative Assembly.

The Union Home Minister had to set up (in February 2010) the Sri Krishna Committee (SKC) to give suggestions and recommendations on the demand for a separate State of Telangana. Finally, when the SKC submitted its report on December 31, 2010, the six suggestions3 made by it came in for severe criticism. Concealing the 8th Chapter of the report comprising nine chapters has further dented the trust of the people. As expected, the content of this chapter (now made public after the High Court’s order) raised doubts on the integrity of the SKC because it is said to have the disgraceful recommendation of crushing the democratic movement for separate Telangana by political management, force and also using the media houses (which overwhelmingly belong to Rayalaseema and Andhra) to decisively thwart the Telangana movement. The final conclusion drawn by the people of Telangana regarding the SKC is that it was set up only to while the time to contain the peaking of the movement.

In the current situation, the demand for a separate State is clearly to meet the multiple aspirations of the people who have been consistently left out of the sphere of power. Now they see the ruling elites as suppressers of their rights; these elites incidentally belong to the numerical minority but dominating communities and also to the regions other than Telangana. The claim of looking down upon the ‘Telugu dialect’ of the Telanganaites is valid and cannot be denied; yet the frustration of the Telangana people on this score is compounded because of deprivation of their rightful share of power—be it in the political parties, bureaucracy or administrative mechanism. (Ram, 2007) All this is excused under the pretext of administrative convenience, only to hire the English-educated Andhraites. (Reddy, 1997) Bhushan and Venugopal (2009) also mentioned about a similar trend prevailing in other top government positions which cannot be a pure coincidence.

Jadhav (2010) sees it as an allround discrimination not limited to jobs and culture alone, but in every other field reminding one of the theory of ’oppression of the oppressed’ in the name of civilisation. This situation was anticipated by Dr Ambedkar who feared the possibility of only a few dominant caste groups dominating the linguistic States. (Ambedkar, 1953) All these have brought the society of Telangana to the boiling point where the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Minorities and also forward communities are now up in arms in unison to settle the separate Statehood issue once and for all by overthrowing a “totally corrupt, criminal, regionalist and commercial class from the Andhra areas”. (Jadhav, 2010; p. 16)

It is important here to mention that the underprivileged, especially the OBCs, who are unorganised but comprise the majority in the State as they are elsewhere in the country, experienced political empowerment when the Telugu Desam Party (TDP)4 introduced the Mandal (intermediate-tier) administration which created space for these sections to taste real power for the first time in the electoral history after India’s independence. Thereafter, the tussle for power among these sections has been brewing. And the new set-up of a small Assembly of about 119 members (MLAs) (the expected size of the Telangana Assembly based on the present numbers in the AP Assembly) will help them to capture power easily.5 This development could also be seen as more democratisation of the political system. (Srinivasulu and Satyanarayana, 2010) Interestingly, it is for the same reason of emancipating themselves that the Dalits and civil rights groups in Andhra have been quite vocal in extending their support for the creation of a separate Telangana. (Srinivasulu and Satya-narayana, 2010) To sum up, the genesis of the turmoil in the State of AP is all about ‘self-rule, dignity and self-respect’ of the Telangana people. (Kannabiran et al., 2010)

Above all, the demand for a separate State is within the Indian constitutional framework. (Article 3) If this democratic right is branded as ‘rebellion’ as some of the Andhra leaders tried to present it by equating the Telangana students’ agitation with the ‘Taliban’ and other extremists, it only shows a clear prejudice against the oppressed because their rebellion is looked down upon as being anti-social as if nationalism is the right of the oppressor alone. (Jadhav, 2010) AP Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan’s veiled reference to concerns about the Telangana issue have also not gone down well with the people of the region, because he said: “Don’t worry about what happens after December 31 (when the Sri Krishna panel was supposed to submit its report on the demand for a separate Telangana State). January 1 will come after December 31.” (Business Line, 2010)

2. Issues and Apprehensions

ABOUT the demand for Telangana, P. Chidambaram, the Union Home Minister, said on December 9, 2009 that it is different in every way from other demands for separate States in the country and the people there feel neglected despite speaking the same language. It is because of this reason that the movement or agitation never died even when it appeared to have lessened in intensity. However, the challenge on hand now remains how best the situation is dealt with following the release of the SKC report.

By all accounts, the solution lies more in educating/reassuring the people that their interests would not be harmed in any situation because of the unfounded fears that are in the minds of the innocent people; those have been compounded further by the irresponsible statements of two important leaders belonging to different regions. If one had allegedly called upon his partymen to chase the so-called ‘settlers6 ’ out of Telangana, the other was charged with having painted a situation where the Rayalaseema and Andhra region people would have to take a ‘visa’ to visit Hyderabad. No doubt, both were playing according to their political calculations but they failed to comprehend how such outbursts can take roots in the psyche of the people who are not aware of their constitutional rights and blindly follow the leaders.

The following analysis throws light on some of the important political, administrative and socio-economic issues that are critical and need to be logically placed before the people to convince and prepare them for the inevitable.

Political and Administrative Issues

Security of the People belonging to Other Regions:

There are people from all over the country who have made Hyderabad and also other regions of Telangana their home; some of them have been there much before the merger of the State on linguistic basis in 1956. In fact, the Nizam had invited farming communities from Andhra to come and settle down in the command areas of the Nizamsagar dam. (Maringanti, 2010) Moreover, the people of Andhra and Rayalaseema regions had more valid reasons to settle in these parts by virtue of belonging to one state and also simply because Hyderabad was as much a capital for them as for the Telanganaites. More importantly, when the Constitution of India, through Article 19, guarantees them free movement and also to settle and carry on their trade, business or provide services in any part of the country with the exception of the Scheduled (tribal) Areas and Kashmir (Article 370), then why should there be a debate at all on this? But this constitutional right needs to be reassured to the common public when the pitch of the agitation has been heightened and passions are running high.

Despite the constitutional guarantee, the fears of the general public are not baseless, because there have been numerous examples when the innocents have had to bear the brunt of atrocities in the past in many parts of the country and also very much in Telangana during 1969. (Prasad, 2001) However, the times have changed for good. Now the capacity of the police is not only better but it is competent to tackle any anti-social activity—provided the authorities do not resort to partisanship. It is also heartening to mention that the agitations for Telangana, even at their peak from November 2009 to January 2010, had been most disciplined and did not target the people on the basis of region. On the contrary, many of the people who have settled in the Telangana region actually took part in processions in support of separate Telangana (for example, the Nirmal Mandal in Adilabad cited in Kannabiran et al., 2010).

Sharing of River Water:

Water is said to be one of the major causes all along for the demand and counter-demand for the formation of a separate State. Many scholars have put forward their arguments with statistics and evidences about how Telangana has been deprived of its water share. (For details see Simhadri, 2007; Kannabiran et al., 2010) Arbitrary distribution of water between the regions of the same State could be attributed to the narrow and discriminatory politics. But, there will be a ‘tribunal’, a neutral body that oversees the water conflicts between any two States, to make sure that justice prevails. This should put an end to the fears of deprivation of river water by Telangana on it becoming a State. If anybody still harbours any doubts even on the tribunal then the blame should go to those who have set a precedent of dishonouring the judgments of the tribunals only to present themselves as the saviours of their respective States. This is a loophole in our federal structure that needs to be addressed over such an important issue as sharing water between the States and definitely it should not be made an excuse to hold back a legitimate demand like separate Statehood for the Telanganaites.

Persistence to keep the AP united just for river water exploitation could also mean that the intentions of the leaders of the non-Telangana region are dubious because the present set-up puts them at an advantage by virtue of having about two-third MLAs in the Assembly from their regions. This, in other words, vindicates the allegations of the Telanganaites of suffering injustice on the water front. (Ram, 2007)

Muslims of Telangana:

As far as the Muslims of Telangana are concerned, barring the city of Hyderabad, there appears to be a consensus among them on Telangana if the results of the recent by-elections held in July 2010 are taken as indicators. In every constituency their support was overwhelming. The case of the Nizamabad (urban) constituency in particular is significant because it has a very sizeable number of Muslim voters, and second, the candidate against the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) representing the Telangana cause was the AP Congress Committee President, a heavyweight politician who had not left any stone unturned to win but he had to bear the brunt of the people from all quarters of the society. To support this argument, a couple of case studies presented by Kannabiran et al. (2010) is noteworthy. One among them is Sheikh Chand Miyan of Rudrur in Nizamabad; he believes that creating an impression that the Hindus and Muslims would fight each other in the new Telangana is just a well-thought-out propaganda when in reality, he is confident, the Muslims’ condition would improve only in a new State. Similarly, Jameela Nishat thought the opening up of opportunities of livelihood for her community would be a possibility only in a separate Telangana.

As far as the Muslims of the city are concerned, the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) has a reasonable sway over the electorate and the leadership is yet to open its cards on Telangana. In fact, it should be seen as a partial failure on the part of those spearheading the Telangana movement for not sitting across the table with the MIM leaders to have a fruitful dialogue on the ‘safety, security and socio-economic well-being of the Muslims’ as demanded by them. (Deccan Chronicle, 2010) In a movement of this magnitude taking them into confidence would have been a prudent step.

Status of Hyderabad:

The demand for separate ‘Statehood’ or ‘Union Territory’ status for Hyderabad simply has no historical basis nor is it practical—this is how K. Jayashankar, a popular Telangana ideologue, used to clarify time and again on this issue. This demand is born out of sheer opportunism by the people interested in consolidating their immense wealth earned through real estate, or to serve the interests of those in this business. It would be understandable if the demand for Union Territory comes from IT employees or Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) who have invested their money in real estate and who fear their investments will suffer on creation of Telangana with Hyderabad as its capital. On the proposal of making Hyderabad the capital of both Andhra and Telangana, it can be accepted for a short duration with a specific time-frame but in the long run it is desirable neither for the Telangana people nor for the common people of Andhra. That is because in such a case the people of Andhra and Rayalaseema would have to travel in all practicality into another State (districts of Telangana) to reach their capital, as Hyderabad by then would be landlocked by the districts of Telangana.

The demand for separate Hyderabad as a State or Union Territory can only be equated to King Solomon’s ‘splitting-the-baby’ story. Many people in Telangana also suspect the intentions of converting Hyderabad into a greater Hyderabad by merging over 600 villages (Melkote et al., 2010); this suggestion may have been mooted to make it geographically big enough so as to claim separate autonomy when the demand for separate Telangana comes up anytime in future. Entertaining any thought of separating Hyderabad from Telangana would only mean that all the other capital cities of their respective States would be under the threat of becoming Union Territories because any capital city is bound to develop in leaps and bounds compared to other places in the State and generate a good chunk of revenue. Moreover, if this argument is entertained, then all other cities have to be in the queue; the consequence of thinking on this line in the case of Mumbai would be to invite trouble and disruption of peace not only in Maharashtra but all over the country. Nevertheless, a great relief for the Telanganaites came when the MIM declared in a statement that if the State is to be bifurcated, Hyderabad would have to remain as its capital. (Deccan Chronicle, 2010)

Political Parties and Politicians:

The political situation in AP in general, and Telangana in particular, is in complete chaos. So is the condition of the political parties and their leaders. This all began since the day KCR started his fast in November 2009. It is very much apparent that the political parties have virtually split regionally, which means the leaders even while belonging to the same party are functioning more or less in totally different directions especially on the sensitive issues pertaining to their regions.

In Telangana, it is the Joint Action Committees (JAC) at every level, namely, State, district, mandal or village, that is calling shots. The situation is not completely in the hands of the parties; this became evident when the Osmania University students declared to continue their agitation for separate Telangana regardless of KCR calling-off his fast within 48 hours. (Maringanti, 2010)

The absence of a clear stand on Telangana by the two major parties, that is, the Congress and Telugu Desam, is understandable because the leaderships of both the parties do not want to lose their ground in any of the regions in any eventuality. If a clear stand is taken in any region’s favour, one has to lose-out in the other regions forever. Remaining non-committal can help them come up with excuses later to reach out to the people and thereby sustain themselves when this issue is settled. Because of such narrow political self-interest, the leaders and their parties are pushing the regions towards uncertainty which, if prolonged, would cause irrevocable damage especially to the financial sector in the long term.

It is necessary to mention here about the anguish expressed in one of the television shows by a leader from a major party in the State; he illustrated how an MLA’s worth has declined in Uttarakhand because it is now a small State. Besides, he compared the quarters there to any ordinary hostel in AP. Perhaps he was cautioning the MLAs and Ministers of AP that if the State becomes smaller after division, they also would meet the same fate. By expressing himself thus, he has exposed how the leaders want to see themselves in complete power with all the facilities for themselves, forgetting that they are elected to serve the people and not enjoy luxuries out of the taxes paid by the people. If at all the leaders of any one region would grieve more on bifurcation, it would be the Rayalaseema leaders because this region produced the highest number of Chief Ministers including the present one and may have to forego the legacy of ruling the bigger State. Coming to the crux of the electoral formula, that is, ‘caste’, on which the politicians and parties thrive for their political fortunes, the equation is surely going to be altered not only in Telangana but also in Andhra and Rayalaseema. (Pingle, 2010)

Naxalism and Feudalism:

Those against Telangana try to create an impression that if a separate State of Telangana is formed, the entire State will fall into the hands of the Naxalites, an outlawed group, something which could be dangerous to the integration of the country as a whole. But the people of Telangana do not believe in this theory because they understand that on creation of the new State, power would justifiably shift into the hands of the weaker sections for whose cause the Naxalites claim to be fighting against the government machinery; so in the changed scenario a major part of their objective would have by then been achieved.

The apprehensions of feudalism resurfacing in Telangana are unfounded. No socially aware soul will agree to such kind of prophesy because India has surged far ahead at least in this area and in the regions of Telangana, people are now much more aware of their rights. There are a good number of intellectuals and leaders from the oppressed sections of the people who have been educating the public about their rights and how to live with dignity. Those speaking of Telangana going into the hands of Naxalism and feudalism in the same breath make a curious combination because these ideologies are quite contradictory to each other as both cannot coexist simultaneously.

Socio-Economic Issues

Division of Assets:

The people of Andhra and Rayalaseema express apprehensions that Hyderabad remaining with Telangana would deprive them of about 40 per cent of revenue (Deccan Chronicle, 2010) (as is the case more or less in proportion with any capital city) that is generated in the city, but such fears are more of a myth than based on reality because the Telangana region, excluding Hyderabad, generated more than half of AP’s total income in recent times (2003-04 to 2006-07) while the expenditure was much less in these regions. (For details see Melkote et al., 2010) Whatever be the figures, there is a system in place that provides for an arrangement wherein certain principles are followed to demarcate the assets between the new States on division. So there is no question of losing one’s rightful share by any side. Moreover, the Andhra region in the pre-merger state was bankrupt even to function as a government while the Hyderabad state was running surplus in revenue inherited from Nizam’s government. (Pingle, 2010)

The distribution of assets again depends on whether the State would be divided into two or three. This tricky decision would haunt the Centre on conceding Telangana because how the people of the remaining two regions, that is, Andhra and Rayalaeema, would take the separation from Telangana in terms of whether to stay together or go their separate ways. The opinions are again divided among all sections of the people on this issue in those regions. However, there is a possibility of reaching consensus to stay united provided there is clarity on water sharing and the choice of the capital for this new State is settled amicably.

Real Estate:

In a matter of less than a decade, the value of plots in and around Hyderabad is said to have increased 300 per cent, thanks to the specific policy and legislative changes that facilitated industrialists and politicians from Andhra and Rayalaseema to buy land in Hyderabad (Inniah, 1997) in the midst of reports of the deliberate drying up of natural lakes in the city to make way for new settlements. (Jadhav, 2010)

Following P. Chidambaram’s December 9, 2009 announcement, the people, irrespective of their regional identities, with their investments in real estate developed fears of losing huge money anticipating the collapse of real estate if Telangana becomes a reality. There is also a view among the real estate agents that clarity on Telangana formation will not necessarily have negative effect on real estate, because they believe that real estate is determined by many other factors like inflation and economic recession and not necessarily the emotive issues. Even if such issues exert influence, that is said to be of a temporary nature. But the present situation already shows a fall in the real estate prices according to the local real estate agents. (Singh, 2010) The question now is: who are the main stakeholders for whom real estate determines their lives? The section of people who would be affected can be put into three categories: one, those who are into full-time real estate business; two, the owners of plots or houses belonging to the Andhra and Rayalaseema regions; three, the category of people who belong to the rest of the country but are proper residents of Hyderabad and also other parts of Telangana. It is interesting to find the different reasons of apprehensions of these three categories.

People of Non-Andhra and Non-Rayalaseema: The fears of this section of people are comparatively less. Their only concern is the reduction of the price of their plots, houses or flats. It is important because for most of them it is their only wealth or asset in the form of insurance. However, they also know that the price fluctuation is temporary and their real market price would be regained once the Telangana issue is permanently settled. Moreover, they have no choice of going anywhere as Telangana is their permanent home, even if the price downfall stretches beyond time.

People of Andhra and Rayalaseema: According to estimates, 66.41 per cent comprise the electorate in the city of Hyderabad, out of whom 22 per cent constitute the migrant electorate (the overwhelming majority of them belong to the Andhra and Rayalaseema regions). (Khan, 2009) It is well known across the world that the families settle down in a place where its members work all their life. Hyderabad and Telangana cannot be an exception. It is justified more so for the people from these regions to settle down because they regarded Hyderabad and Telangana as their own capital and State respectively, and above all, their own country. The settling down of people in Hyderabad, especially those belonging to middle class government employees and businessmen, began in the 1960s and peaked in the 1980s when land was released on a large scale by the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (HUDA), now Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). (Maringanti, 2010) As stated earlier, in other parts of Telangana, people from these regions were already migrating for agricultural work and also leasing-in lands much before the 1950s. (Maringanti, 2010)

With the film industry shifting from Chennai to Hyderabad, the people connected with this industry also started living in Hyderabad. With the boom in the Information Technology (IT) sector, the situation changed drastically and famously/infamously gave rise to the notion—“have lands in Andhra, have a house in Hyderabad and have a job in America”. (Biao, 2007; p. 36) It is these sections of people who have some amount of fear about what happens to their immovable property if Telangana is formed. This fear is being cashed-in to mobilise the people in the towns and cities of Andhra and Rayalseema. This propaganda should have been contained by the Telangana leaders and the government by demonstrating in concrete terms to these residents that nothing would hold them from staying back in the city even after the carving of a new State of Telangana. If not for anything else, just by the virtue of being citizens of the country, because the formation of a new State would lead to only a new administrative set-up within the country and definitely will not result in an exodus like what happened during the partition of British India.

Real Estate Businessmen: It is strongly believed by the Telanganaites that the real estate lobby is dominated by the Andhra and Rayalaseema people who in reality are ‘the political class/caste group/business class of Andhra and Rayalaseema’. (Srinivasulu and Satyanarayana, 2010; Maringanti, 2010) It is they who are said to be promoting the ‘samaikya’ (unified) AP movement in Andhra and Rayalaseema for their own benefit, immediately after P. Chidambaram’s announcement for initiation of the process of a separate Telangana. Further, those desiring a separate Hyderabad State or wishing to turn Hyderebad into a Union Territory are identified with such real estate lobbies. Then again it is quite puzzling as to why this lobby should bother so much because they can always recover their money even if the prices fall on the formation of a new State, by simply re-investing their money in the new capital or where they see greener pastures.

But, as alleged by the Telanganaites, many in this lobby are frightened because their land dealings are not transparent and they fear enquires and investigations at the hands of the new regime in the new State; so they don’t want to lose their grip on the power that goes well with the present set-up.

Future of Students:

All along the Jai Telangana and ‘Jai Andhra’ movements, the students have been in the forefront on both sides because the education and employment issues were close to their lives. Now the stakes for the government position are still strong but the proportion of those seeking government jobs is far less than in the past. However, in the wake of globalisation and also after Hyderabad became a hub of the IT sector, the situation in the private sector has considerably changed. There have been huge private investments by not only multinational companies but also by individuals belonging to all the three regions led particularly by the Andhra and Rayalaseema entrepreneurs. (Kannabiran et al., 2010) This has obviously created huge employment opportunities in all sectors to not only the educated youth but also other sections of the people for complementary work (artisanry/labour etc.) in the skilled and unskilled sectors.

One of the reasons for the strong protests from the student community in Andhra and Rayalaseema against the formation of the Telangana State is because of the fears that they would be deprived of jobs in Hyderabad (Maringanti, 2010) thus creating insecurity among students and the unemployed who look towards Hyderabad as a source of employment. (Srinivasulu and Satyanarayana, 2010) They think that they will not be able to fulfil their parent’s hopes because many of them have had their families investing heavily even by selling land for educating them in the hope that they would get jobs in Hyderabad, especially in the IT sector. These fears are exploited by the leaders of those regions. It would have been a praiseworthy act if the Telangana proponents had assured these students about their jobs remaining secure even on the formation of the separate State. The students in the first place should not have had doubts on their constitutional rights, particularly when people from other parts of the country are enjoying their jobs in the city of Hyderabad. Then again these students cannot be blamed because they were overtaken by the irresponsible statements by the leaders of both the regions which has already been discussed in the earlier section on ‘security…’. If thought rationally, would it not be the responsibility of any State Government to provide free and fair adminis-tration to every citizen? And if any investor, especially belonging to Andhra or Rayalaseema, is moving out of Hyderabad, wouldn’t he move to their regions thus bringing jobs to the doorsteps of these students? And if multinational companies (MNCs) or the national companies wish to move altogether out of Hyderabad due to the law and order reasons, wouldn’t it be a loss for all Telugus? Would any government allow this to happen particularly when every Chief Minister is seen rolling out the red carpet to the investors in her/his State? Aren’t all these fears really uncalled for?

On the other side, the students of Telangana are convinced that they are discriminated against by the employers. In the words of B Ravinder Reddy, the JAC convenor of Mothkur Panchayat in Nalgonda district, most of the companies, factories and industries in and around Hyderabad are owned by the capitalists belonging to Andhra and Rayalaseema, who hire people of their own region for supervisor and other top posts and not the local candidates, especially the Dalits or OBCs, despite them being equally qualified. So he believes that on formation of Telangana they could push ‘labour standards’ more stringently to the advantage of the locals. (Kannabiran et al., 2010)

Film Industry:

Movies play an important role in the lives of a majority of the people. The Telugu people are no exception. They too are influenced by the films in their everyday life, even to the extent of electing N.T. Rama Rao (NTR), a popular cine artist of the Telugu film industry, as the Chief Minister within a year of his forming a political party. This would not have been possible if the cinema industry was not so determinant a factor in the people’s lives. More recently Chiranjeevi (Praja Rajyam Party—now merged with the Congress party), a popular actor, presented another example by emulating NTR; though he could not make an effective dent like his predecessor, he was able to garner a respectful percentage of votes in the last 2009 Assembly elections. The Telugu film industry moved to Hyderabad from Chennai in the 1980s when the then Chief Minister, Marri Chenna Reddy (belong to Telangana), promised to help it by extending all facilities on behalf of the government to set up film studios to enable the industry to flourish. The Telugu film industry has been and is in complete domination of the Andhraites. (Maringanti, 2010) Probably because of this, the Telanganaites are shown repeatedly in poor light by portraying them in the characters of either villains or comedians. (Jadhav, 2010; Kannabiran et al., 2010; Melkote et al., 2010) This trend is not appreciated by the people of Telangana; they feel the industry has helped in adding fuel to the antagonism between the people of Telangana and those of other regions of AP.

Given such a track record, the formation of Telangana could breach the industry into two with some preferring to continue in Hyderabad and some wishing to transfer to the new capital. In any case, it can be surmised that the Telugu film industry will surely flourish wherever it stays just like the Hindi film industry is doing even after the partition following independence. However, little repercussion could be anticipated in Telangana since the Telanganaites do not boost of having many in the industry as frontline film-workers.

3. The Way Forward

MANY innocent lives have already been lost on both sides due to the agitations for and against Statehood. After the November 2009 uprising, there seems to be a real discord between the two regions in every walk of life including political polarisation. (Srinivasulu and Satyanarayana, 2010)

Now a point of no return has been reached and the formation of a separate Telangana State appears to be the only solution that would end what the Telanganaites see as imperialism (Jadhav, 2010), because for them it has been a systematic and consistent abuse of Article 38 (2) of the Indian Constitution which speaks of minimising equalities among the people of the State, be it on culture, jobs or whatever count. Moreover, Nehru himself was of the view that ‘Visalandhra’ had been inspired by the imperialist occupation of land. (Indian Express, 1953) In fact, the same imperialist forces in the ruling party as well as in Opposition, who succeeded in merging Telangana with Andhra (Jadhav, 2010), are alleged to have had their way even after the favourable announcement on the formation of Telangana by the Union Home Minister in 2009. Small States may not be a solution for everything but at least people can have more control on jobs, resources and, above all, ensure their self-respect. (Jadhav, 2010) In other words, it is in harmony with the philosophy of Gurzada Appa Rao, a renowned poet and dramatist, who wrote: ‘Desham ante matti kadu, desham ante manushuloye’ meaning the nation does not refer to the landmass but the conglomeration of its people.

Strikingly, in the midst of arguments over what ought to be the ideal size of States for better governance, the growth rates of Chhattisgarh (9.2 per cent); Jharkhand (11.1 per cent) and Uttarakhand (8.8 per cent) against the projected 6.1 per cent, 6.9 per cent and 6.8 per cent respectively (Government of India, 2008) sent out a clear message that ‘small is beautiful’ despite the argument of political instability which is blown out of proportion by citing these three small and new States.

In the end, it will all come down to the real delivery of governance, how well it is taken to the people; otherwise there will be new issues but the struggle for a better life would continue for the common man. However, one can hope that Telangana would present a harmonious and cohesive society by developing a ‘casteless equation’ among its people for it has had a tradition of drawing social reformers and political leaders from all sections of the society. (Jadhav, 2010) In fact, as Melkote et al. (2010) underline, Telangana already upholds a cosmopolitan and composite culture of amalgamation of various linguistic groups resulting in a distinct identity of its own.


1. In 1971, the Supreme Court had upheld the Mulki rules; that gave “the finality” to the rights of the Telangana people. This sparked an agitation in the Andhra region for a “separate Andhra” as the people of Andhra protested against being treated as outsiders in their State capital. (Prasad, 2001)

2. Under the Mulki rules in force in the Nizam’s old Hyderabad state, any person who had lived in Hyderabad for 15 years was considered a local. The employees from the Andhra region were thus to become ‘Mulkis’ by 1971. Employees from Telangana wanted quick action in order to ensure their promotions and to prevent competition from employees belonging to the Andhra region. (Prasad, 2001)

3. The six suggestions in its last chapter, namely, ‘The Way Forward’ are: 1) to treat the movement as a normal law and order situation to be handled purely by the State with the usual support from the Centre, 2) creation of a separate State of Telangana with Hyderabad becoming a Union Territory, 3) to merge Rayalaseema with Telangana and create a new state Rayala Telangana with Hyderabad as its capital, 4) in case of a separate Telangana, creation of a larger Union Territory of Hyderabad by connecting Hyderabad with Guntur (Coastal Andhra) in the south-east and Kurnool (Rayalaseema) in the south via Nalgonda and Mehboobnagar (both Telangana districts) respectively through creation of appropriate corridors by merging a few mandals with Hyderabad, 5) to grant Statehood to Telangana with Hyderabad as its capital, and 6) providing constitutional/statutory safeguards to the Telangana region by guaranteeing redressal of the region’s major grievances and keeping the State united. However, the committee itself observed that four suggestions made by it do not merit consideration and thought the sixth recommendation was the best option followed by the fifth as the second best option.

4. The main objective of the TDP was to break the hegemony of the Congress vote-bank of Reddies, Dalits and Brahmins in the State. (Maringanti, 2010) But it ended as a Kamma dominated party. Hence Jadhav (2010) puts it as a rule of elite Reddys and Kammas for the last 40 years.

5. Social scientists like Rasheeduddin Khan, Rajni Kothari and M.N. Srinivas had advocated that the smaller States would fulfil the political aspirations of the people of backward regions, solve their identity crisis, free them from the political elite and also from their internal colonisation. (Seminar issue No. 164, 1973)

6. ‘Settlers’ is a term used to describe the Andhra and Rayalaseema migrants settled in Telangana. Interestingly, it is not used to describe any other migrant group from within the State or outside. For a detailed analysis of this term see Satyanarayana (1997).


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The author is an Assistant Professor, Gujarat Institute of Development Research (GIDR), Ahmedabad.

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