Another New State

While oth­ers may balk at such ideas, In­dia goes ahead with cre­at­ing new states.

Southasia - - REGION INDIA - By S.G. Ji­la­nee

In­dia em­barked on re­shap­ing the coun­try’s ge­og­ra­phy soon af­ter in­de­pen­dence. In 1953, it ap­pointed a State Re­or­ga­ni­za­tion Com­mit­tee to rec­om­mend the de­lin­eation of state bound­aries. Since then many new states have been carved out of the old prov­inces. Today, In­dia has 28 states. The Te­lan­gana re­gion in Andhra Pradesh, which is now set to be­come a sep­a­rate state, will be the 29th.

The de­ci­sion is the re­sult of a pro­longed strug­gle by the Te­lan­ganese for sep­a­ra­tion since their union with Andhra Pradesh did not work. The State Re­or­ga­ni­za­tion Com­mit­tee (SRC) had pointed out at the very out­set that pub­lic opin­ion in Te­lan­gana was largely against the re­gion’s union with Andhra Pradesh. The first elected Chief Min­is­ter of Hy­der­abad State, Bur­gula Ra­makr­ishna Rao, had clearly stated that a ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion of Te­lan­gana was against the merger.

The peo­ple of Te­lan­gana had sev­eral con­cerns. De­spite hav­ing a larger rev­enue base, their econ­omy was less-de­vel­oped than that of Andhra’s. They feared that their re­sources might be di­verted for use in Andhra. They also feared that planned ir­ri­ga­tion projects on the Kr­ishna and Go­davari rivers would not ben­e­fit their re­gion pro­por­tion­ately, even though it con­trolled the head­wa­ters of the rivers. Another con­cern was that the

peo­ple of Andhra, who had ac­cess to qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion under Bri­tish rule, would have an un­fair ad­van­tage in gov­ern­ment jobs.

The SRC, there­fore, pro­posed that the Te­lan­gana re­gion should be made a sep­a­rate state. It also sug­gested a pro­vi­sion for uni­fi­ca­tion with Andhra af­ter the 1961 gen­eral elec­tions if a res­o­lu­tion could be passed in the Te­lan­gana state as­sem­bly with a twothirds ma­jor­ity fa­vor­ing the move.

How­ever, to al­lay the fears of the peo­ple of Te­lan­gana, the AP As­sem­bly passed a res­o­lu­tion on Novem­ber 25, 1955. The res­o­lu­tion promised “de­vel­op­ment of the area and reser­va­tions in ser­vices and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions on the ba­sis of pop­u­la­tion and ir­ri­ga­tional de­vel­op­ment.”

Fol­low­ing the res­o­lu­tion, the lead­ers of Te­lan­gana and Andhra reached an agree­ment on Fe­bru­ary 20, 1956 to merge Te­lan­gana and Andhra with prom­ises to safe­guard Te­lan­gana's in­ter­ests. A uni­fied Andhra Pradesh was es­tab­lished on Novem­ber 1, 1956.

But even the then For­mer Prime Min­is­ter, Jawa­har­lal Nehru was skep­ti­cal that merg­ing Te­lan­gana with Andhra state would work. He com­pared the merger to a ‘mat­ri­mo­nial al­liance hav­ing pro­vi­sions for a di­vorce if the part­ners in the al­liance can­not get on well’. And, as it turned out, they did not get on, lead­ing to a pro­tracted feud and, ul­ti­mately, a ‘di­vorce’.

For­merly a part of the Hy­der­abad state, the Te­lan­gana re­gion is the largest of the three re­gions of Andhra Pradesh, cov­er­ing 41.47 per­cent of its to­tal area. It is in­hab­ited by 40.54 per­cent of the state's pop­u­la­tion. Most of the rev­enue sources of Andhra Pradesh – 61.47 per­cent in­clud­ing 50 per­cent from Hy­der­abad – come from Te­lan­gana; 19.86 per­cent from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment; 14.71 per­cent from Andhra and 3.90 per­cent from Ray­alaseema.

Yet, the peo­ple of Te­lan­gana com­plain that they were cheated by Andhra, which ex­ploited their re­sources and never ful­filled the prom­ises made to se­cure the merger. There have also been al­le­ga­tions of in­jus­tice in the dis­tri­bu­tion of wa­ter, bud­get and job al­lo­ca­tions to Te­lan­gana. Within Andhra Pradesh, 68.5 per­cent of the catch­ment area of the Kr­ishna River and 69 per­cent of the catch­ment area of the Go­davari River are in the Te­lan­gana re­gion. But with a 74.25 per­cent share, the Coastal Andhra re­gion stands to gain most of the ben­e­fits of ir­ri­ga­tion through the canal sys­tem under ma­jor ir­ri­ga­tion projects, while the share of Te­lan­gana is only 18.20 per­cent. The re­main­ing 7.55 per­cent goes to the Ray­alaseema re­gion.

Another al­le­ga­tion is that funds al­lo­cated for Te­lan­gana were never spent. Ac­cord­ing to sources, “Only 20 per­cent of the to­tal gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees, less than 10 per­cent of em­ploy­ees in the sec­re­tar­iat, and less than 5 per­cent of de­part­ment heads in the Andhra Pradesh gov­ern­ment are from Te­lan­gana.” More­over, Te­lan­gana held the po­si­tion of the chief min­is­ter of Andhra Pradesh for hardly 11 years, while the Seema-Andhra re­gion held it for 42 years.

Frus­trated by con­tin­ued ex­ploita­tion and in­jus­tice, the Te­lan­ganese be­gan to de­mand for sep­a­ra­tion from Andhra Pradesh. There have been 904 sui­cides in Andhra Pradesh be­tween Novem­ber 2009 and Fe­bru­ary 2013 in pur­suance of the de­mand for a Te­lan­gana state.

Ul­ti­mately, on July 30, 2013, the Congress Work­ing Com­mit­tee ap­proved a mo­tion for a sep­a­rate Te­lan­gana state to the cen­tral gov­ern­ment. A few months later, on Oc­to­ber 3, 2013, the Union Cabi­net ap­proved the cre­ation of a new state by di­vid­ing the ex­ist­ing state of Andhra Pradesh and on De­cem­ber 5, 2013, it ap­proved the Te­lan­gana draft bill. On the con­tentious is­sue of Hy­der­abad, Home Min­is­ter, Sushil Ku­mar Shinde is on record as hav­ing said that it will be the joint cap­i­tal of both states for 10 years and that an ex­pert com­mit­tee will be set up to de­cide the new cap­i­tal for Andhra Pradesh.

With the win­ter ses­sion of the Lok

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter, Jawa­har­lal Nehru was skep­ti­cal that merg­ing Te­lan­gana with Andhra state would work. He com­pared the merger to a ‘mat­ri­mo­nial al­liance hav­ing pro­vi­sions for a di­vorce if the part­ners in the al­liance can­not get on well’. And, as it turned out, they did not get on, lead­ing to a pro­tracted feud and, ul­ti­mately, a ‘di­vorce’.

Sabha com­ing to a close two days ahead of its sched­uled time with­out any progress on the bill, it ap­pears that the is­sue of the cre­ation of a 29th state in the coun­try will con­tinue to drag.

Pre­dictably, the de­ci­sion has re­ceived a mixed re­ac­tion in Andhra Pradesh. While Te­lan­gana lead­ers are cel­e­brat­ing, Seema-Andhra lead­ers are roiled. The rea­son is plain. Te­lan­gana’s gain will be Andhra-Seema’s loss and the loss will be sub­stan­tial.

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