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