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AP debate sets Quora on fire.

AP debate sets Quora on fire.

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Even if you are a non-Telugu person, you wouldn't have missed the state of affairs in Andhra Pradesh about the division of the state.

As a native telugu speaker,  I have a stake in the state and have been following the developments with such feverishness that it drives my non-telugu wife nuts.

For long, I've been wanting to write and voice my opinion on the topic. The tipping point happened with the question posted on Quora:

★Politics of India: What do you think about the Indian Government's decision for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh? - How will it affect the state and the nation as a whole? Can it be used as an excuse by other segments of the society to demand separate states?

It attracted 61 answers and the best answer has at the time of writing has 3848 votes. Below is my unabridged response to the question.

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I have a bias against the division because I subscribe to the idea of one state for all Telugu people. Development, if really desired by all sections, can happen within the framework of this idea.

But if the state were to be divided, from a development perspective, in the long run, the division will be largely good because there will be rebuilding in both parts of the state creating newer opportunities for all people. But Hyderabad as a capital city of Telangana will likely grow slower without the influx of human and financial investments from other regions of the state.

But there are good reasons why people who oppose the division do. Below, I elaborare 5 reasons that resonate with me.

Identity

For many, it is traumatising to lose the unified identity as Telugu people, all belonging to one large powerful state, which could until now stand on its own compared to other big culturally and linguistically proud bordering states like Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

This loss of an unified identity is irreparable. The argument that "we will be separate but exist together like brothers" is wishful but an eyewash. The gash is deep. The wound will heal but the scar will remain.

Hyderabad

Two, the issue of the city of Hyderabad. The pro-telangana section wants a state comprising of Telangana districts along with Hyderabad as it was before 1956 (when the Indian states were re-organised linguistically). But Hyderabad is not what it was. It benefited from being designated as the state capital with inflows of human and capital investments over five decades. The opposers find it absurd the pro-telangana section's claim that Hyderabad as it stands now belongs wholly only to Telangana. Since all sections contributed to its eminence (including communities from outside the state), it should have its own identity (City-state, UT, like) different from as one belonging to Telangana.

Economic backwardness unsupported by data

The Sri Krishna Committee constituted in 2010 concluded that except for Hyderabad, all three regions (Coastal, Telangana, and Rayalaseema) in Andhra Pradesh have sub-regions that are relatively developed and backward and there isn't much to distinguish between them.

In Page 117 of the report, it says -

"It is (also) alleged that most of the higher level economic opportunities are appropriated by those belonging to coastal Andhra. At the outset, some or all such allegations appear true when absolute amounts, numbers and percentages are reviewed. Yet, when a study of rate of change, growth rate and shares in the state economy is evaluated, nothing unusual emerges."

The pro-Telangana activists dismiss this conclusion and accuse it is based on data offered by agencies influenced by coastal Andhra leaders and officials. But here are some of the sources that the Committee quoted from.

  • GOI, Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation
  • Census of India, 2001, CSO, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, GOI 2007-8
  • Reserve Bank of India, 2010.

These are Government of India organisations. It will be a hard-sell to convince people that these organisations favour any one section of the society.

These are some of the State sources the committee quotes from:

  • Foreign Direct Investment in AP from 1991 to 2010 by Region- Data supplied to the CSAP by GoAP
  • Percapita Expenditure of PRIs (ZP, MP & GP) by region 2007-08 - District Hand Books of respective districts of A.P.
  • Motor vehicles per '000 population across regions of A.P.-2009 - Transport Department, GoAP
  • Directorate of Economics & Statistics, GoAP

If the theory is that the coastal Andhra officials have camped in these organisations and have surreptitiously fudged the data for decades so that one-day they could influence a certain Sri Krishna Committee which would be formed, it requires some stretching of one’s imagination.

You can read all the objections to SriKrishna Committee by MissionTelangana here in "Justice SriKrishna's Injustice"

Cultural oppression a hyperbole

It is true that the Telangana culture is different from other sub-cultures of the state. It is also true that their dialect doesn’t find mainstream acceptance. But for the moderates, to call this cultural oppression is hyperbole.

Cultural oppression is when the practice of a way of life of a people is disturbed and their rights to do so are usurped. Contrarily, the people in Telangana districts live and celebrate their culture, dialect, festivals, music and art as freely as people in any other region in the country. There is no data to prove it is otherwise.

Further, if cultural differences are taken as grounds for division of states, it will be condescending to disregard the aspirations of people in other parts of the country who demand a separate state on the same grounds. Who is to decide which sub-culture is worthy of a separate identity and which is not?

Unscientific model of division

In continuation to the above point, even if the state were to be bifurcated, the opposers of the division want it to be done on a scientific basis. Whatever methodology the Government employs should be workable in all situations where there is a demand for a separate state.

While BJP will clearly benefit electorally from the creation of Telangana, its support is in consonance with its stated national policy that creation of smaller states is a good model for accelerated development. Whether this policy is true or not is moot (people quote the under-development of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh as examples). It is appreciable that it is a policy and a stand nonetheless.

Given this, statesmanship demands Congress do one better and say ‘considering the many demands for separate states and the questionability of creation of small states as a model for progress, there is a need to come up with better alternatives for states re-organization and execute the right one which will apply to the country as a whole’.

Lets say a model emerges that population, area, location of the capital city within the state are the only three criteria on which states should be re-organized for equitable distribution of opportunities, it is now easier to unchain people from their linguistic identities and demands for statehood on other grounds. In such a scenario, whatever the reservations of the Coastal Andhra people, they too would have to fall in line with the national policy.

Conclusion

By ignoring the national perspective and choosing a short term solution to please the emotions of a majority in Telangana and with eyes firmly on electoral benefits, the Congress has opened up a Pandora’s box.

In the long run, all the regions of the now Andhra Pradesh may be alright after the bifurcation but I wonder if the Congress has grossly miscalculated the impact of this decision on the country. It seems like it is now the turn of people of other states to suffer like people of Andhra Pradesh did since 2009.

If you want to read all the reasons against the division, read

Refuting an Agitation - 101 Lies & Dubious Arguments of Telangana Separatists by Visalandhra

Image Courtesy: http://www.vepachedu.org/TELANGANA.html

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