Background of the Telangana movement
A dying feudalism is only a part of the problem. After all, feudalism has been a national problem. But in Telangana, it received hammer blows at the hands of the Socialist and Communist struggles of the 1940s. It received a fillip at the hands of biased Andhra rulers in the 1950s and 1960s who pushed the Hyderabad Tenancy and Agriculture Land Act under the carpet (in the absence of militant peasant movement, the tenancy legislation in Andhra area had only a negative impact on tenants as the landowners resorted to large-scale evictions). The Hyderabad Tenancy Act, one of the most progressive acts in the history of modern India and also across the world, was passed by the state govt. of Hyderabad and partly implemented between 1952 to 1956, which resulted in the conferment of protection to nearly 6 lakh tenants with over 75 lakh acres in their possession. The same period can be described as the happiest period for the people of Telangana for a long time.
The Telangana region could have continued its happy existence, but the merger of Telangana region with the Andhra state has taken place on the basis of linguistic states, by ignoring the wishes of Telangana people, against a categorical recommendation of the 1st State Re-organization Commission (SRC) and contrary to the views of the tallest leader of the time, Jawaharlal Nehru. However, the merger was facilitated by number of solemn promises and constitutional safeguards given to the Telangana region and these promises were made umpteen times and were also broken umpteen times by the central govt. Gentle men treaty, Telangana regional committee, Mulki Rules, 610 GO etc. this list has no end to enlist the broken promises.
Above two points are provided to convey the emotional outburst behind the continuous Telangana movement of 55 years i.e. right since the formation of Andhra Pradesh (A.P.).
Development versus "Demand" for Telangana
By attributing the demand for separate Telangana to the „sentiment‟ (for Telangana), some sections of the political leadership are only evading the real issue. The Telangana movement grew out of a sense of regional identity as such, rather than out of a sense of ethnic identity, language, religion, or caste [Amercian Congress, 1995]. The movement demanded redress for economic grievances, the writing of a separate history, and establishment of a sense of cultural distinctness. Therefore, what is at issue is not whether development has been taking place. Indeed, in a democratic polity like ours some development has to take place in different parts of the country including even the remotest areas. The issue really is about the rate and quality or pattern of development. Apart from equity, such as due share in investment allocations, quality also refers to the cost, risks, and sustainability of development.
There is a long-standing feeling that Telangana has not received its due share in investment allocations, and that the „surpluses‟ from Telangana, i.e., the difference between what ought to have been spent and what has actually been spent, have been diverted to the other regions [Rao, 1969]. But there is no way of ascertaining exactly how public expenditures, as a whole, are distributed between different regions in Andhra Pradesh. The relevant information is not being disseminated ever since the abolition of the “Nigrani” Telangana Regional Committee in 1973, under the wrong notion that sharing of such information would breed regionalism. But experience has shown that withholding the relevant information would produce the opposite result of intensifying the feeling of injustice.
The growth that has been taking place in Telangana may be characterized as high cost growth. For example, the irrigation map of the region has changed completely. Tank irrigation occupied an important place a few decades ago. But now, over 70 per cent of irrigation is through ground water and deep tube wells in large parts of Telangana [Subrahmanyam, 2003]. This means for a unit output growth there has to be much greater investment now. If catchment area is taken as the principal criterion for allocation of waters between different regions of the state, Telangana should get 68.5% of the 811 TMC ft of Krishna river and all most similar share with the 1480 TMC ft of Godavari river. We do not have any information on such vital aspects as the quantity of water to be supplied for Telangana on account of the proposed irrigation projects including from „assured‟ sources. Land left fallow in Telangana has increased from 25 percent of cultivable land in the early 1970s to as much as 40 percent by 1999-2000 [Subrahmanyam, 2003]. Pollution from industrial projects in certain areas has aggravated the crisis and also resulted in severe problem of fluorosis in the Nalgonda district.
The feeling of injustice is greater among the educated classes, i.e., students, teachers, NGOs, employees and professionals in general. This stems from the fact that increasing awareness leading to greater sensitivity to „discrimination‟ among such classes in respect of employment, funds allocation to the universities and promotions or career prospects, especially because of the rising importance of the services sector at higher levels of development. It is not surprising; therefore, that the separatist movement has gathered momentum in the post-reform period when the opportunities for such classes have proliferated in the services sector and the role of the state in influencing development and regional equity has vastly increased (recent movement in 2009 Nov. is best example for this). For the same reasons, it should not also come as a surprise that the separatist sentiments are stronger in the relatively developed areas like North Telangana.
Therefore, it can be concluded that far from „development‟ programmes – more precisely welfare measures currently being implemented – countering separatist sentiments, the movement for separation would become stronger with the spread of development as long as the perception of injustices due to „discrimination‟ in development within the integrated state persists.
Social (Samajik) Telangana
This is coined by few politicians to provoke low castes from Telangana region for vote bank politics, that these low castes will be suppressed by particular high-castes within Telangana region, if state is formed. However, one can firmly notice that this argument is entirely paradoxical. Statehood for Telangana is a national issue and not just a regional one. This is because it represents the on-going social change in the country for the empowerment of people through decentralized governance by broadening and deepening the working of our democratic system. Such empowerment and governance would enable articulation of the real problems of the people and their solution. This would inevitably result in „Samajik‟ or "socially inclusive" Telangana.
According to 2001 Census, Scheduled Tribes population constitutes around 9 percent in Telangana as against 5% in the rest of the state. Thus, as much as 60 percent of the ST population of A.P. state is concentrated in Telangana. Their voice can be expected to be more effective in separate Telangana, not the least because their representation in the state legislature and other elected bodies at different levels would be proportionately greater. Similarly, the population of Muslims is as high as 12.5 percent in Telangana when compared to 6.9 percent in the rest of A.P. state. As many as 61 percent of Muslims of A.P. live in Telangana, of whom 60 percent are spread over in different districts other than Hyderabad. They too can be expected to have greater political clout in separate Telangana in determining their fortunes as they can more easily relate themselves with the rest of the disadvantaged sections of the society in the struggle for a better and more secure livelihood. SCs account for about 16 percent of population in Telangana as well as in the rest of A.P. Census does not give the figures of BCs. But many BC organizations convey that socially and economically disadvantaged sections including SCs, STs and BCs constitute not less than 85 percent of population in Telangana. The Dalit and tribal movements in the state were the first in the country in demanding reservation within reservation among Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
Telangana has been primarily a territory of adivasis and nomads, pastoral and service castes, artisans and leather workers. It was because of their composition Telangana has become, in popular perception, a symbol of people‟s rebellion. Telangana movement means the movement of service caste, artisans, nomads, and pastoral communities. Thus the weaker sections constituting a large majority of population in Telangana would be better able to articulate their problems and politically assert themselves in a separate state. Formation of Telangana state would thus strengthen the forces of social inclusion and secularism.
Carving out borders and the Hyderabad issue
According to the home ministry of the Indian government, there are two norms to carve out borders for newly created states. One is to consider the geographical borders existed during the period of British rule (Nizam government rule in the case of Telangana) and the other one is the borders existed when all the independent provinces merged to culminate Indian union. It is well known fact that apart from these two norms, other mythological stories and historical borders won‟t be entertained by neither Indian parliamentary system nor the judiciary system. Hence, it is crystal clear that there need not be any ambiguities about the borders of Telangana state.
An impression is sought to be created that the development of twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad took has taken place due to funds diversion from Andhra region and hence, they want to claim rights on Hyderabad if Andhra Pradesh is divided. It is a travesty of truth.
In the Greater Hyderabad Muncipal Corporation (GHMC), currently 12,500 employees are working and those “entire” salaries are paid from the income generated in the Telangana region. In addition, salaries of the employees working in the Hyderabad Metro Board, Hyderabad Urban Development Association, Public Health, Engineering, Town Planning, Sanitation, Health, Forest, Urban Pollution Controlling, and Irrigation for Water Supply etc. departments are entirely allocated from the income generated from the Telangana region. In the last 55 years, there were never funds allocated out of the united A.P. budget for the Hyderabad development and always merely taken from the Telangana region [Jayashankar, 2003].
Due to lot of people‟s migration from Andhra region to Hyderabad (capital city) has also resulted in a huge loss to the farmers in the surrounding areas of Hyderabad. This stems from the facts that the water supply to the capital city is forcefully taken from the Usman Sagar lake 25 million gallons per day (MGD), Himayath Sagar lake 20 MGD, Manjeera river 45 MGD, Singur project 65 MGD. All these water resources were earlier used for cultivation in Telangana and they are diverted to the capital city without replacement of appropriate water resources. Industries situated in and around the Hyderabad have polluted the Musi river, which has provided drinking water to Ranga Reddy and Nalgonda districts. All this culminated into huge migration of farmers from Mahaboob Nagar, Nalgonda, Ranga Reddy and Medak districts and forcefully converted them into daily labors. In addition, the daily maintenance costs and all the project costs were again taken from the Telangana region‟s income.
The other development activities took place in Hyderabad are also mostly funded by private parties or debts taken from World Bank etc. It is also very important to note that majority of government buildings (Assembly, 1913 and High Court, 1925), universities (Osmania, 1920 and Nizam, 1884), hospitals (Osmania, 1925 and Niloufer, 1945), infrastructure (Railway station, 1874 and Airport 1937), irrigation facilities (all lakes) etc. were built much before the formation of Andhra Pradesh, with the taxes paid from Hyderabad state people and no significant funds are used from the united A.P. budget for the development of infrastructure, which are useful to common people in Hyderabad. Whatever the funds have been allocated, as mentioned above, mostly taken from the Telangana income. In addition, it is a shameful fact to know that even Hi-Tech city doesn‟t has under ground drainage facility and whatever the drainage system exists in Hyderabad, it is built before 1956. Hence, the arguments/claims of Hyderabad as a common capital is baseless and mostly put forward by smaller, yet rich groups, such as real estate, political persons who have their own vested interests in the city.
Stand of Political Parties and “Consenus”
1st Prime Minister of the biggest democratic countries in the world, Late Shri Nehru, has addressed to thousands of Telanganaites in 1955 (at the inauguration of Nagarjuna Sagar project), that Telangana state formation would be considered positively. Right from there, Late Shri Indira Gandhi‟s promise in 1969, BJP‟s resolution in 1998 at Kakinada, 2004 Manifesto of Congress party and Shri Sonia Gandhi‟s promise in Karimnagar public meeting, UPA‟s 2004 Common Minimum Programme, Shri Manmohan Singh‟s speech in both houses in 2004 and till the Union Home Minister Chidambaram‟s statement on Dec. 9th, 2009. All the statements by tallest leaders of India have had only single point agenda and it is promising Telangana state.
All the political parties at national level, except CPM and Congress, have unequivocally supported Telangana state formation by submitting letters (incl. TDP, the opposition party in A.P.) to the Pranab Mukharjee Committee, which was constituted in 2004 and was supposed to deliver the final report in 3 months. Even within the Congress Party, there is a consensus in its favor among the leaders, legislators, ministers in the state as well as the centre. But then what does one mean by Consensus? It is not fair to insist upon consensus among all the constituent regions, when there is a clear opposition to statehood for Telangana from small group of the power elite belonging to the dominant region of the state. This also the real explanation for the Congress not taking a stand is the „veto power‟ being exercised by a few leaders in power in the state and can manipulate the levers of power in a large and heterogeneous state by dint of the huge resources and power at their command.
The demand for Telangana state is not opposed by the common people from the rest of the state of Andhra Pradesh, not withstanding hostility from certain sections of business and political elite. This is amply borne out by the stand taken by parties in the 2009 Elections, Late YSR from Congress, Telugu Desam headed by Chandrababu Naidu, C.P.I, BJP, Praja Rajyam Party headed by Chiranjeevi, and others. This is very much evident from the fact that separate Andhra state will also flourish with its rich resources and infrastructure and having a capital city nearby will aid common people in the Andhra region in an efficient manner. Hence, we strongly urge you to carry out a meticulous study on Telangana issue and its 55 years movement history and we strongly believe that you would deliver a report to the central government of India, which will culminate to the initiation of Telangana and Andhra states formation and in our point of view it will enable the articulation of the real problems of the common people in both the regions, i.e. A.P.
India: a country study / Federal Research Division, Library of Congress; edited by James Heitzman and Robert L. Worden (1995). (http://lccn.loc.gov/96019266), Chapter 4: Regionalism, Telangana.
Rao, C.H.H.(1969) “Budgetary Surpluses of Telangana”, Economic and Political Weekly, October 18, 1969.
Subrahmanyam, S. (2003) „Regional Disparities: Causes and Remedies‟, in C.H.H.Rao and Mahendra Dev (edited), Andhra Pradesh Development-Economic Reforms and Challenges Ahead, Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Hyderabad.
Jayashankar, K. (2003) Telangana-The Demand for a Separate State, B. Janardhan Rao First Memorial Lecture, Prof. B. Janardhan Rao Memorial Foundation, Warangal.
Dr Nishanth Dongari
Marie Curie Research Fellow
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK