I was standing in the balcony of my house, having tea and thinking of today’s day at work, when I saw Mr. Sharma’s kids playing on the road in front of our building. It not being a Sunday, this was a rare sight and so I curiously asked them why they were not at school. The reply which came made me feel dumb, as it was not something that I hadn’t heard of in the past few days and should have easily guessed, “TelanganaBandh”. For us, office goers, it meant no roadside food stalls in breaks, no restaurants for lunch, most importantly no buses, no autos or I might say few high charging auto drivers to take us to office. This has become a regular occurrence in Hyderabad and needless to say, a painful one.
The history of the Telangana issue goes way back to 1953 when the States Reorganization Committee was formulating the division of Indian states on the basis of linguistic grounds. With a rich resource base but less developed economy, people of Telangana were not very keen on a common Telugu speaking state for fear of exploitation. After a lot of considerations and arguments, it was decided to go with a larger state for the time being with promises and constitutional safeguards made for the prevention of any injustice against the people of Telangana. Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister termed it as a matrimonial alliance with a “provision for divorce”!
As feared, the alliance never worked, with Telangana facing the brunt of exploitation in every field. Since then there have been continuous requests, protests and movements by those wanting a separate state, followed by guarantees and promises, committees and constitutional amendments by those proposing to stay together. One such violent protest was during 1969, which had to be stopped by army action.
Post 2004 protests
Just when the separate Telangana emotion had subsided, the political parties in Telangana made it the driving wave for their electoral campaigns and thus came the emergence of TelanganaRashtraSamiti (TRS). In November 2009, TRS president K. ChandrashekarRao (KCR) went on a fast unto death demanding a separate state of Telangana. There after it lead to chaos in Andhra Pradesh assembly, with pro Telangana MLAs resigning on any move, which went against the formation of separate Telangana and MLAs from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema resigning on any move towards division of states. Many cases of suicide among pro Telangana students of Osmania University were reported to pressurize the government further.
To find an ultimate solution to the issue, a committee was setup in December 2010 to study the entire situation and propose a long term solution to this problem. The committee came up with six solutions, two preferred solutions being, keeping the state united or bifurcation of the states with Hyderabad as the capital of Telangana and a new capital for coastal Andhra. After so much of struggling and trouble shooting, we were back to square one with no party agreeing upon any solution and the protests and Bandhs continuing till date. It has not just disrupted the common man’s life but also caused a lot of revenue loss to the government.
Points of contention
The two major rivers, Krishna and Godavari have always been a major reason of grievance, with Telangana never being happy by the allocation of water to their region. Another point of contention is the government jobs in Hyderabad being taken up by people from coastal Andhra and their students bagging most of the seats in prestigious educational institutes. Though these are of concern to common public, but not so much for someone to commit suicide.
A game of politics
From a bird’s-eye-view, in the end everything appears to be a game of politics. People of Telangana are hoping to get power by formation of a separate state, while people of coastal Andhra dread diluting their position of power. The developed state of Hyderabad has become the major bone of contention for being a rich source of revenue and the immense employment opportunities that it provides. Forget about the concept of global world, what happened to the concept of “May the best man win”?
Hyderabad being the biggest IT hub after Bangalore, it has a large base of non-telugu speaking people working with software giants and other multinationals. If they decide not to risk their lives and move away from Hyderabad, this would soon be followed by multinational organizations, which are already re-considering their plans of setting up new offices in Hyderabad. This would ultimately lead to loss of revenue that these politicians are craving for. It is high time the government takes some stringent measures to prevent this from happening. Started by politics and aggravated by politics, we will never be able to find a solution to this seemingly endless problem unless active and constructive politics overtakes selfish needs.