Thursday, August 01, 2013
Looking beyond Hyderabad for the growth of Telangana
Telangana is set to become the 29th state of India. After much dilly dallying the Congress Party finally approved the formation of Telangana state but before that it had a lot of heart burn among people. New ideas were floated for inclusion of Ananthpur and Kurnool into the new state against the wishes of the Telangana people. The biggest issue was Hyderabad where a lot of conspiracy theories were working such as declaration of joint capital or union territory, however, it is good that the centre decided to give 10 years period for Andhra Pradesh government to function from Hyderabad and after that it will become the capital city of Telangana alone.
Hyderabad is undoubtedly the heart of Telangana but over the period of time it has grown multifold and attracted loads of foreign investment. Today, it has become a cosmopolitan city like Bombay, Banglore and Delhi. It is already developed and will attract more funds and investment. Political leaders who are against the division of Andhra Pradesh have their huge properties in the city and hence they are resisting the bifurcation. The fact of the matter is that Andhra leaders would never have bothered to division of the state had it not been the issue of Hyderabad. There are other issues such as sharing of river water resources but that does not affect the politicians more than the status of Hyderabad where they have invested in everything right from real estate to business and entertainment industry. The grim reality for them is that Hyderabad cannot become joint capital as it is situated in the heart of Telangana and distance of any Andhra city would be nearly one hundred fifty kilometer to say the least. In such a situation, the state cannot be run smoothly whose capital is surrounded and situated at the heart of other state.
The protest by the Andhra Pradesh leaders and people are highly unnecessary and show one thing that those enjoy fruits of power do not want to share it at all. The merger of Telangana with Andhra Pradesh state was never complete and the ‘gentlemen agreement’ was neither respected nor implemented. The feeling was that state continued to neglect the Telangana region. The fact is that Telangana had more resources than many other parts of Andhra Pradesh but it is also a reality that none of the Telangana city was as developed like Vishakhapattanam, Vijayawada, Tirupathi, Guntur, Kurnool etc.
The reality is that Hyderabad was the focus and the realtors actually wanted that only. In the past 30 years, since we adopted the so-called ‘economic liberlisation’ policies, the focus of most of the states have been to develop the capital cities along with a few other cities and ignore the vast rural towns and villages. While the cities are modernizing themselves with cosmopolitanism the villages are sought to be strengthening the caste identities. A majority of these areas remain undeveloped despite the grave fact that the leadership of the states are still controlled by the rural caste elite and their continued interest have been to keep villages subjugated in their own contradictions while enjoy the ‘maharaja’ life in the capital cities. In the name of Andhra, actually a few cities got developed but the maximum amount came for Hyderabad. We all feel proud of a ‘Jewel’ but that is feudal. What does it mean that the people living in capital city are more pampered and become ruling class, with more facilities as not just the political leaders, bureaucrats, businessmen, media and academia also hails from these parts and hence rural towns do not get our attention?
During the Nizam period too, Hyderabad was the symbol of his ‘prosperity’ and hence his entire focus was on that resulting in wide scale of superstition, poverty and feudalism among his subjects in places like Gulbarga, Bidar, (now in Karnataka), Medak, Nizamabad and Adilabad etc in Telangana, Aurangabad and other regions of Marathwada which are now in Maharastra. The Muslims who were picked up to lead the Nizam’s government as well as army and other services never really were the son of the soil but always hailed from outside the country. The development that time was uneven resulting in a huge gap between towns and cities, rich and poor. Moreover, the conditions of the most marginalized people like Dalits, Aadivasis, and even Muslims Dalits was worst off. The impact of that regime continued as the political class has just changed but the ‘subject’ remain the same. That is why the condition of Dalits and even Muslim Dalits in these regions is a matter of great concern and the fruits of development have not reached them. Their socio-economic conditions remain difficult and being used by religious parties to use their own ulterior political agenda. The Hindu communalism was gaining ground in this region as the power elite realize that it is the best way to counter ‘Muslim’ parties like MIM of the Owaisies who feel Hyderabad is their traditional fiefdom. Therefore, the rest of the people in the Nizam’s period became victim of his ‘lavishness’ for Hyderabad which was considered to be one of the best cities, most prosperous among Indian princely states but the conditions of people in remote regions of Nizam’s regime was worst and that is impacted their socio-political conditions even today.
A very similar situation is arising now. The political class has been focusing on capital cities and use different tactics to bring people into their ‘false’ nationalistic vision. Some time it is the ‘others’ who are responsible for your plight and when you become leader and questions are raised about the leadership qualities then some other issues will crop up. So till now, the Andhra leadership were to be blamed though there were many from Telangana region who were ministers and hence they cannot be absolved from their acts of omissions and commissions in various governments of which they were part of. The point here is that the fight for Telangana cannot be confined to Hyderabad.
It is very much part of the state and it has required infrastructure which is a very positive things. For our political class, the Nizam has already built up huge palaces and other luxurious things hence they will have no worry about the residences, secretariats etc of the new state. So, we will have democratically elected Rajas, Maharajas to rule the state. The point is that now Telananga and Andhra need to focus on their multiple cities and rural populace. Let the capital cities remain the seat of assembly but let them not become hub of everything which is happening. If everything has to happen from Hyderabad or other capital city then 20 years later, people will have nobody else to blame except to themselves. Hyderabad was already developed and will develop any way but the focus need to be on the heart of Telangana’s rural populations who have been denied and who were the real ‘warriors’ of this movement. As this movement for separate state has raised hopes, it is basically not for the people of Hyderabad but for the people of other regions who have been kept away by the power elite. The power need to go to them, understand their issues and problems and implement the policies like comprehensive land reform, people’s access to water and forest resources. The development of a people is not just ‘investment’, real estate and capital cities but more of the people who have struggled for long. They felt betrayed by others but now they need justice. Will our leaders show some statesmanship as their real test lies ahead.
In the olden days, the capital city, the palaces, the wealth of the kings and queens were synonymous with the people of those states. Living in those feudal days, we have become habitual of being proud of the ‘wealth’ of our ‘political class’. We walk around the cities and feel proud of the loot of people’s resources. If Rajasthan has some of the best palaces today which we appreciate, I can assure you, the result is the deeply feudal system of that state. What is the human development index in Rajasthan today? Has social equity found a way there? And probably that is a reality of all those states which were ruled by Rajas and Maharajas. We feel ‘proud’ of them and defend them according to our ‘ideological’ or ‘religious’ locations and they have become instrument of spreading vicious political agenda of the communal forces too but the fact remain that most of these Nawabs, Rajas were feudal and enjoyed lavishly slaughtering their own people in deep poverty and superstition.
The British regime was different in working as they focused on developing institutions and not buildings alone which the princely states were not fond off as King was the law unto himself. We can find the difference between the two regions of Andhra Pradesh itself. The Andhra part which was part of Madras Presidency had more colleges and institutions and in the Telangana region, we do not have much except development of Hyderabad only. Anyway, my attempt is not to discuss the difference between the princely States and former British dominions but a reality that it is time now we get out of those notions of ‘nationalism’ which revolved around one political family, religion and capital cities and their development.
The people of India have paid heavy price for these kinds of nationalism which has resulted in uneven development and unbreaking of our social system which is iniquitous. The leadership of the Telangana state will have to show more maturity because till date they have blamed the Andhra lobby but now they will have to work on their own. The blame game must end but the fact is for politicians it never ending and that is the tragedy of India.
One hopes that the government of India will be sincere this time and will not succumb to any pressure. This is rather unfortunate and very manipulative when you see Andhra lobby trying its best to scuttle the process even today. India cannot be strengthened if the issue of one state should be decided by someone else. Since independence, the issue of Kashmir in India has been a political hot potato for non-Kashmiris. It became our ‘symbol’ of secularism for Congress and for BJP and Hindutva it was like loss of India’s might but what is disturbing is none ask the Kashmiris what do they think? Similar situation is in Nagaland, Meghalaya, Darjeeling and elsewhere. The problem with the corrupt political class is that they ask the question of division outside those areas which have nothing to do with the issue except to ‘fancifully’ claim it is ‘India’. What will a person in Kolkata speak about Darjeeling or Gorkhaland issue? Why should Mamta Banerjee seek answer from Bengali population of Kolkata and not from people in Darjeeling? It is the same tactics of the ruling elite when we ask Telangana question to people in Andhra and Seema Andhra region. When Telangana people have for the past five year with their persistent demand have rejected to be in the state of Andhra Pradesh, why is the political class not ready to respond positively? And here lies the colonial mindset of Indians. Yes, we are happy to colonize people and feel happy to showcase it.
In the coming days, when the information technology reaches homes, when education changes our minds, these questions will further disturb us. We are a huge country and every nationality here is seeking answer. Some of the areas have not been developed and other feel different culturally. India will have to respond to them. It will have to sit with those people who feel betrayed and ask questions and not those who enjoyed the fruits of their colonialism. It is time we change our perception as it will be counterproductive and create further divisions and hatred among people. Let us learn some lessons from not just the struggle of Telangana but also from the mess created by an absolutely shameless political class whipping up passions of people against it despite known fact that the unification of two different regions actually never happened mentally. It is better for everyone to separate peacefully, respect each other and not stick together for the sake of a ‘unified’ family, fighting daily and blaming each other for every fault. No state can run on uncertainty and strike every day. It is time to go on work and build our regions brick by brick without living in concealed hatred. Let the people focus on their work, cities, towns and people who laid down their lives for the state of Telangana rather than focusing too much on Hyderabad which is already developed and is not the same what it was during Nizam’s regime. The infrastructure that was developed during that period remained the same and the population might have grown ten times more and hence it is crumbling. Hence, it is important that Hyderabad be relieved from burden of ‘hope’ and ‘despair’ of the new states so that focus of both the new states is more on their populations and towns which deserve attention from the power now.