Telangana Statehood: A recipe for disaster?

By Soroor Ahmed,

Subjective feeling and objective truth are entirely different things. If a feeling is created in anyone’s mind that s/he is exploited, weak and poor s/he is generally not prepared to see reason. Even if his/her status improves and becomes rich and powerful s/he behaves as in the past.

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Perhaps this is happening with the champions of Telangana state. They are not going to buy any argument that Telangana as a region is now almost as rich and prosperous, and in several respects, even more developed than the coastal Andhra Pradesh. In fact Rayalaseema region is the worst off and the demand for the separate state, at least on this count, should start there rather than in Telangana.

Yet the basic complaint of the pro-Telangana activists is that it is still the most backward region when the truth is that it has undergone a sea change in the last couple of decades. True a large part of Telangana too is poor and backward. For example district like Adilabad can be compared to any backward district of say Bihar or east UP. Maoists are still strong in the deep jungles of Telangana. Yet one cannot deny the role geography plays in different eras.

Pro-Telangana students of Osmania University shout slogans as they stage a demonstration against the Justice Srikrishna Committee Report, at the university’s campus in Hyderabad on Saturday – [Photo by]

In this post-industrial revolution age even the landlocked regions of the United States of America, the most powerful country of the world, are much backward and less rich when compared to the coastal states though they are minerally and agriculturally not at all inferior.
Telangana of 21st century is not Telangana of immediate post-Nizam days of 1948 when the Communists raised the banner of revolt. Nor is it Telangana of 1960s when the demand for a separate state was raised.

The twin cities of Hyderabad-Secundarabad have now acquired the nickname of Cyberabad and along with Vishakapatnam, which is in the coastal Andhra, can be also called as the Pharmabad as a number of pharmaceutical industries have come up in the last so many years. And in December 2009 Telangana agitation caused pharma industries suffer a loss of Rs 500 crore.

In the post-industrial revolution age the coastal regions always have more economic activities than the landlocked ones. Unless it is a centre of political power, for example, Paris, New Delhi, Beijing, Tehran etc all the big and important cities of the present age are ports. They naturally emerge as export-import centres and industrialists, for obvious reasons, too prefer to set up their plants in its vicinity.

Those spearheading the Telangana movement are more inspired by the old political and emotional slogans and appear weak in understanding the changing geo-sociological realities of the world. Sooner or later they will learn from the failure of separate Jharkhand and even Chhattisgarh. Both ended up becoming the Maoists stronghold rather than benefiting the real poor people of the state. Telangana, as a part of Andhra Pradesh, in contrast, witnessed fall in Maoists’ activities, though it has a long history of bloody struggle. Only time will tell whether the creation of a separate state will benefit the people or the nascent state would once again slip into the hands of ultra-Left as in the case with Jharkhand or Chhattisgarh.

Jharkhand, arguably minerally the richest state in India, which was created in the name of tribals, has now become the laughing stock of the country with no government completing its term. Though all the chief ministers in the last 10 years of its existence were tribals the truth is that the condition of adivasis has hardly improved––instead deteriorated.

Another mineral rich state of Chhattisgarh is known for all the wrong reasons: Operation Greenhunt, the repeated daring attacks by Maoists and now life sentence to Binayak Sen.

It is argued that minus Hyderabad-Secunderabad region there is nothing much in Telengana. But this holds true to other states too. Minus Kolkata there is almost nothing in West Bengal, barring to some extent steel plants in Durgapur and Burnpur (Asansol).

Not only industrially even strategically the importance of Hyderabad-Secundarabad belt has increased in the last few decades. Along with Bangalore the twin-cities of Telangana have suited the defence ministry the most and several plants have come up.

With north and western India getting saturated and have come within the firing range of China and Pakistan the defence ministry has decided to concentrate more in south.

Today Telangana’s per capita income is almost equal to the coastal Andhra and more than Rayalaseema. True agriculture land and rail and road connectivity may not be as good as the coastal region but this fact should be kept into mind that it is a plateau region with deep jungles. The geographical advantages or disadvantages would remain even if Telangana is made a separate state.

Muslim forum for Telangana leaders addressing Press conference

The argument that people from other regions––and not Telangana––dominate Andhra Pradesh does not hold much water. The creation of separate Telangana is no guarantee to stop this phenomenon. Gujaratis still have a sizeable presence in Mumbai’s business world even after the creation of two different states 55 years back.

Setting up another States’ Reorganization Commission is one thing but creating smaller states with small Assemblies is likely to create more political instability. Horse-trading of MLAs in smaller states, even like developed Goa, is much easy than the bigger ones, where much larger sum is involved to buy two-thirds legislators.

Telangana’s problem is that the demand for separate state has risen from the political centre of power of the state––Hyderabad––and not from far-off regions like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh in case with Bihar and MP respectively. And unlike in these two states Telangana has divided different castes and communities. For example, some Muslim organizations, such as Jamaat-e-Islami too, have supported the creation of Telangana.

What is often not understood is that after the creation of Telangana outfits like Shiv Sena would come up in the new state to chase the outsiders and minorities out on the plea that they are exploiting the local people. Herein lies the real threat of such movements.