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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Telangana Conundrum

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Let me say from the outset, I am a North-Indian and I have no in-depth knowledge of the issue. I am just expressing my understanding of issue based on various readings I have done on the issue.

Why Telanana?

First of all, Telangana is not a new demand. Telangana basically comprises of the districts of the erstwhile Nizam's Hyderabad princely state. After the independence, Telangana was merged into the larger Andhra state.
The States Reorganization Commission (SRC) was not in favour of merging the Telangana region with the then Andhra state. The concerns of Telanganas were manifold[citation needed]. The region had a less developed economy than Andhra[citation needed], which Telanganas feared might be diverted for use in Andhra. They also feared that planned dam projects on the Krishna and Godavari rivers would not benefit Telangana proportionately even though Telanganas controlled the headwaters of the rivers. (Source)
Telanganas feared too that the people of Andhra would have the advantage in jobs, particularly in government and education. Telangana people under Nizam had no or little education till then. Those who had were educated in Urdu. Meanwhile the people of Andhra were educated under British – learning Telugu and English. So, when the new state of Andhra Pradesh was formed, the prerequisite languages were Telugu and English, and since people of Telangana lacked education in both these languages all the initial jobs were filled up by people of Andhra causing anticipated anguish to people of Telangana.(Source)
In 1969 there was a popular student movement in Telangana and many people were killed and jailed. Following that TPS (Telangana Praja Samiti) won 11 out of 12 Lok Sabha seats on a single plank – of creating new Telangana State. Indira Gandhi snubbed that movement while the leaders of Telangana betrayed their own people by joining the Congress and Chenna Reddy became Chief Minister of the entire state.  (Source)

This is quite similar to what in case of Jharkhand. A demand for Jharkhand (basically comprising of tribal districts) was also made to the SRC. However, a larger state of Bihar was created. The erstwhile state of Bihar had a total of 54 seats of which only 14 were in Jharkhand. Jharkhand is highly rich in minerals. Hence, the region which was already backward was exploited by the Biharis who were numerically superior.

BJP has always supported the Telangana movement. It was the BJP led NDA that created the states of Jharkhand, Uttaranchal and Chattisgarh in 1999. However, at that point of time they were in alliance with the TDP and hence didn't then.

Why no to Telangana?
One of the major reasons for an opposition to creation of Telangana is because the twin-cities of Hyderabad-Secunderabad lie in the Telangana region. The twin-cities have received a large investment into infrastructure particularly under Chandrababu Naidu making it preferred IT location. A large number of Telugu people are settled in the cities.

Gurgaon, another IT hub contributes about 40% of the GDP of Haryana. I do not have the similar figures for Hyderabad, but I am sure the figure would be immense, although Haryana is a much smaller state.

Another important issue is that of Naxalism which is active in the Telangana region. At a time when the Naxal movement is on the rise, it may not be the best idea to create a new state. I am not sure whether the new Govt. would be able to deal to effectively with the Naxals. Veerappan, the dreaded smuggler remained nuisance for around three decades. This is primarily because he operated in a region bordering three states Kerela, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Coordination among different states police was not effective.

Even in case of West Bengal, it is reported that the Maoist are much strong in the bordering districts of the state. After committing the crime they escape into the neighboring state where West Bengal police have no writ. Similar situation could now arise. The present crisis may have created some resented among the two sides and they may not co-operate with each other thus playing into the hands of the Maoists.

The present crisis
KCR formed the his new party TRS in 2001 and has been fighting for a new state. In 2004, he won fought the elections in alliance with the Congress and won. But the Congress did not keep its promise. Despite that, the party managed to win the 2009 elections. That could be attributed to the YSR magic who is no more.

Perhaps KCR feels that this is the right time to press for Telangana because the Chief Minister is still new in the job and YSR loyalists may not give him a free hand. Needless to say that the demand for Telangana runs deep and the present protests are a clear indication of that. Moreover, I don't think that it is correct for the numerically superior Telugus to decide whether Telangana stays in Andhra or not. A referendum in Telangana is perhaps the best option.


  1. The people in Telangana are also Telugu people but they are culturally and linguistically(diff dialect) different from the Andhra people. So it would be better if you refer Andhra people as
    Andhrite? Not sure about the term. But i am sure that both Telangana and Andhra people are Telugu.

  2. Interesting post
    "I don't think that it is correct for the numerically superior Telugus to decide whether Telangana stays in Andhra or not"

    To correct you on this every Telugu speaking person can be called as a Telugu whether they are from Andhra, Telangana, Rayalseema or anywhere. So, if Telugus dont decide then who will decide?

    I think its high time a referendum is conducted in the state solely whether the state must be divided into smaller parts

  3. I suppose u r rite in saying that Telengana people are also Telegus...but the larger point is that they consider themselves to be different. There are hardly any development in the region and the 50 yrs old marriage is falling apart.

  4. Indicating that there is hardly any development in this region flies in the face of facts.

    If you look at the map of Telangana you will notice that the city of Hyderabad is almost at the center of it. Hyderabad is the capital of Andhra Pradesh. The city of Hyderabad and its surrounding areas is one of the most important regions in India. Both the central and state governments have put in considerable amount of money developing this region. Only select areas in India like Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Noida have seen more development since independence than Hyderabad and its surrounding regions.

    The Krishna and Godavari rivers also flow through this region. Over 70% of crops grown in Andhra is rice and most of it is produced along the banks of these rivers.

    If you carve Telengana out then you are taking out a region which is the most important engine for the Andhra Pradesh economy.

    You cannot also justify separation just because people in a region "consider themselves different". People in Kashmir consider themselves different and clearly a vast majority of the Muslims in the state want independence or want to be part of Pakistan. Are you ok with Kashmir not being a part of India? Please don't tell me that the public opinion only matters in state affairs and not in international affairs (as is the case in Kashmir).

  5. @Hari
    Welcome to the blog. As I have already stated I am north-Indian and my views are based on the vast number of readings that I have done on the topic.

    Now just becoz Hyderabad has large amounts of investments does not means that the people of the region have benfitted. Most beneficiaries have been outsiders including large number of Andhrites from other regions of Andhra. Telangana hardly has any major educational institutions outside Hyderabad and vast Naxal prone regions like Warangal and Karimnagar are all in Telangana.

    Equating Kashmir with the Telangana is an extreme example. Even the State Re-organization commission in 1956 did not recommend the union of Telangana into Andhra.

    I support states with some logic. For instance, Vidharbha region is the most backward region in Maharashtra and makes news always for the wrong reasons. But it produces 70% of electricity of Maharashtra yet hardly gets its fair share of electricity. Is that fair?

  6. nice argument there sandy..

    Moreover creating a different state & taking Hyderabad along with it will only result in fall of an otherwise developing city..accept for a few politicians, i do not see anybody gaining anything from it...

    @everyone else
    please give your views for or against liberation of Telengana...looking forward to views from fellow South Indian netizens mainly...

  7. I have lived in Hyderabad for 3 years from 2004 to 2007, and the city showed unfailing signs of progress and success. Both TDP and Congress governments administered the city well during their respective tenures. Sadly, 3 major events have stalled the progress of the city namely 1) Satyam Scandal 2) YSR's death and now 3) Creation of Telangana.