Bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
on August 1, 2013
History: The map below shows the provinces in south India post independence. The blue part was actually a part of the Madras Presidency during the British rule and the yellow parts which seem to be split by red and blue lines together constituted the Nizam state. Nizam's kingdom was divided into 3 parts as shown and the Telugu speaking part was merged with the Telugu speaking part of the Madras Presidency to form the present day state of Andhra Pradesh. This was followed by the formation of Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, etc. Now why did the whole thing even happen?
Now, what followed was Nehru's failed decision making and social engineering- which is the root cause of today's problem. Remember how Patel forced the Nizam to merge his kingdom into the Indian Union? After kicking the Nizam out, Nehru did not have a good follow up plan for the backward state of Hyderabad. He initially opposed merging Telangana with Andhra. After a decade or so, he thought he could do some clever social engineering by giving the Telugu speakers of the Nizam's kingdom a new language-based identity along with the people of Seemandhra. This was soon after the first SRC provided him with the pros and cons of the merger. He did not care about the disparities between the people of Telangana and Seemandhra.
What were the disparities? Telangana had a feudal history with Islamic rule for over hundreds of years (similar to Delhi), while Seemandhra was ruled by the British and had a long colonial past (similar to Tamil Nadu). However, Nehru did not care. His biggest fear was that the forcibly annexed state of Hyderabad might be backward forever or might someday leave the Indian Union to join Pakistan (Remember the figure below shows the Pakistan Jinnah wanted, Hyderabad state is called Osmanistan on the map below).
The modern state of Andhra Pradesh was formed and was ruled by successive Congress governments- until N T Rama Rao started the Telugu Desam Party on the basis of Telugu pride and self-rule. Now, there was also a Telangana agitation in the meanwhile, and there was also a separate Jai Andhra movement during Indira Gandhi's prime ministership. However, the Congress party was able to suppress these movements in both the regions- simply because it was the single largest party in the state without a strong opposition.
During all these years- from post-independence to the late 1980′s Andhra Pradesh (Telangana in specific) was a socioeconomic basket case. Then came Chandra Babu Naidu. He transformed Andhra Pradesh into what it is today: from a basket case into a top 5 state. I won't write much about him because most educated people know his achievements very well and I will leave you with a graph below which speaks volumes about his governance. The spike in Hyderabad (shown in the graph) was during Naidu's rule. This was how Hyderabad was transformed from a backward, lawless city into a modern metropolis.
Meanwhile, a man named KCR tried to advance his political career by bringing back the separate Telangana movement and starting his own party. His initial argument was that people from Seemandhra have stolen all the fruits of development from the people of Telangana. Later an expert panel called the Sri Krishna commission set up by the central government proved his argument wrong. Here is the link to their report:
http://pib.nic.in/archieve/other…. Now that his argument was proved wrong, KCR picked up another cause: Self-respect of the Telangana people. This is where things get very sensitive.
There are three major regional dialects of Telugu- each spoken by the people of Telangana, Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. People of Telangana always felt that their dialect was being considered inferior by the speakers of the other dialects. Also, the mass media (like Telugu movies and Television) have always used the Coastal Andhra dialect.
So, KCR successfully found a new reason to exploit to his political gain. He claimed that the Telangana culture and dialect were being considered inferior by the people of seemandhra and the only way the Telangana people could get back their self-respect is by demanding a separate state. He started a fast-unto-death- which really scared the hell out of Sonia Gandhi and Chidambaram in 2009 (Remember the Potti Sriramulu incident?). So they caved in and announced in December 2009 that they are willing to form a separate state of Telangana.
Now the story moves to New Delhi. This is the election year and Sonia is worried that the Congress might be decimated in AP during the 2014 elections. Since 2009, the Congress party did not do anything about separate Telangana- until the last month when they finally woke up to the election reality. The state of AP sends a strong contingent (~32) of Congress MPs to Lok Sabha. She is worried that she would lose to KCR in the Telangana region; Jagan Reddy or Chandra Babu Naidu in the Seemandhra region. So she has instead decided to divide and rule the state. She believes that- if they can form the state of Telangana before 2014, they would at least get 17-18 MPs from the newly formed state. However, she is clueless about Seemandhra (refer to the figure below).
Here comes Mr. Owaisi. Remember this hate-monger from Hyderabad? This guy has collaborated with the Kashmiri Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad- to work out a plan to socially re-engineer Andhra Pradesh all over again. They have created a plan that would split the four districts of Rayalaseema into two- one half would be merged with Telangana and the other half would be merged with Seemandhra. They want to rename the new Telangana state as the 'Hyderabad state'- just like the Nizam times! This will be a very dangerous thing for India in the long run. The idea here is to create a huge Muslim minority, which would ensure that the congress party has a secure voter base and political future in the new state. Take a look at the social composition of Andhra Pradesh.
Now why would Telangana lose out and how would Seemandhra gain from the division?
- Telangana would fall prey to the vote-bank and socialist economic policies of the Congress party due to the presence of a large number of minorities, and backward classes. Note that the Muslims in Telangana are Urdu speaking, whereas the Muslims from Seemandhra are Telugu speaking and are very well assimilated into the society. Look at the social mix from the 6th bar in the graph above- Telangana would have a huge minority population- which is like Congress party's dream come true. However, the opposite of this would happen in the state of Seemandhra- as it would have less than 5% Muslim population. Refer to the last bar in the graph above.
- Compare the percentage of high-castes in Telangana vs Seemandhra, i.e 6th Bar Vs the last bar in the graph above. The high castes from Seemandhra were the entrepreneurial classes who have been creating a lot of wealth over the last few decades (including Hyderabad). Think GMR, GVK, LANCO, Dr. Reddy's, Satyam, several media conglomerates, and the whole of Tollywood, etc. Telangana would lose out on these capitalist classes and their entrepreneurial spirits. This will impact their economy over the long run. On the other hand, Seemandhra would have a huge scope for these entrepreneurial classes- close to 31% of the population- to grow.
- As many OBC leaders from Telangana have pointed out in the past- the elites in Telangana have always been mostly feudal- but never very entrepreneurial and these are the elites the state of Telangana would be left with. This is indicated in the graph below which shows how inequality in Telangana actually increased over the last decade due to landlessness and feudalism despite the economic boom in that area. Note the steep decrease in inequality in the Andhra region.
- Hyderabad would no longer be the cash cow. The first wave of wealth creation in Hyderabad is over and this can be inferred from all the macro-economic indicators. This is probably the worst time to separate this city from its capitalists and entrepreneurs; You are killing the golden goose. The exact opposite is true for Vishakapatnam and Vijayawada. They are yet to begin their first wave of economic growth. Look at the competition in FDI between Coastal Andhra vs Telangana (excluding Hyderabad) from the graph below. Seemandhra is already competing pretty well with Hyderabad in attracting investments.
- Seemandhra would be a power-surplus state while Telangana would be a power deficit state. Unlike Seemandhra, Telangana consumes a lot more power than it produces- mainly because a lot of power is needed to irrigate the land there.. Seemandhra would have an infrastructure surplus, while Telangana would become a landlocked state by losing out on major ports, coastline, golden quadrilateral and major railway freight corridors (see the figure below). It would also lose its share of revenues from the KG gas basin.
- The Telangana movement was very successful because of the involvement of the students. KCR has promised government jobs to all these people. Now the real question is how would he create all those government jobs? On the other hand, a great amount of job creation would happen in Seemandhra because they would need brand new infrastructure and need to build their new capital.
- Identity politics and the loss of cultural capital all over again. This is probably something the congress leaders sitting in Delhi would not understand completely.The division is not only being made on the premise of under-development but also on the basis of self-respect and Culture. How would the people of Telangana reconcile with their identity issues once the division is over? Is there a real leader who could make this process easy and rebuild their identity? Would the Telangana people be able to assert their rights over the Telugu language and its 4000 years of literature? Will the Telangana media immediately switch to the Telangana dialect to reflect the new identity? Will there be Telangana movies? Will the new Seemandhra state successfully hijack the Telugu identity once and for all? Will Seemandhra emerge as a strong language based state like Tamil Nadu? These are some tough questions that need answers. They have no concrete answers, but my prediction is that there is a danger of a deep identity crisis for a long time to come unless there is a transformational leader who can make this process easy. After all, 4000 years of identity cannot be divided as easily as a piece of land. This is similar to what happened during India-Pakistan partition (exaggerated, yes).
- Most people from Seemandhra feel the Telugu language did not get its fair share of respect in some parts of Andhra Pradesh, especially Hyderabad- where it had to play second fiddle to languages like Urdu and Hindi (Do not mistake this for anti-Hindi sentiments).The image below shows the vandalized statue of a great Telugu poet, during the Telangana Rashtra Samithi rally in Hyderabad. None of the TRS leaders have ever apologized for this appalling incident. What did Potti Sriramulu die for? What was the Telugu state he had envisioned? The formation of a strong linguistic state like Seemandhra would be a great asset for the Telugu language and its great literary tradition.Our neighbors in Tamil Nadu have done an admirable job in protecting their linguistic identity and I hope we would be able to do the same in the state of Seemandhra (of course without resorting to all the linguistic politics).
Now how would all this affect the nation?
- The Pandora's box of state division would be opened once again. There will be demands for Vidharbha, Tulu Nadu, Saurashtra, Bundel Khand, Mithilanchal, Gorkha land, Bodo Land, Purvanchal, Harit Pradesh and many others.
- Economic barriers between the newly formed states of Telangana and Seemandhra would impact the market forces and the overall trade in the region.
- Communal forces would increase in Hyderabad and the Maoist activity would grow manifold in the forest areas of Telangana. There is no concrete proof for this but this has been the trend in the states like Chattisgarh- which actually shares the Maoist affected forest area with Telangana.
- This is clearly a case of the congress party exploiting sub-regionalism in order to reap political benefits from it. Its pure social engineering at work. This is nothing but a mockery of the Indian democracy. This a good example to show that the Nehru-Gandhi family can merge and break any two regions of the country according to their whims and fancies.
Now that Telangana has voluntarily chosen to break away, the Seemandhra region will be unchained, and the people there will finally be able to unleash their true potential. If things go through as most of us expect, you have another Gujarat in the making. I am not trying to say Telangana will not progress, I am just saying Seemandhra would have a lot more to gain from this division. I hope both the Telugu speaking states-along with the rest of India- prosper.
This is how I look at it. The others might have their own views.
Update: Congratulations to the people of both Telangana and Seemandhra- the divorce is through. Owaisi's 'Rayala-Telangana' or 'Hyderabad state' luckily did not happen; Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra have chosen to be together and to form the new state. Hyderabad as of now will be a common capital for the coming 10 years.
Sources: All the graphs were taken from the Sri Krishna committee report.