Telangana: Divided We Stand

Businesses in Andhra Pradesh have good reason to worry about the fallout of the Srikrishna Report. But the report indicates that the storm may pass soon

Published: Jan 18, 2011 06:37:56 AM IST
Updated: Jan 18, 2011 07:46:24 AM IST
Telangana: Divided We Stand
Image: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters
FIGHT FOR TELANGANA Hyderabad can expect more disruption in the short term

Now that the Srikrishna Committee on Telangana has completed its job, it is for the Union government and the political process to take a call on the situation in Andhra Pradesh.  

Although the committee talked about six options, four of them were set up by it as dummies to be shot down. The five-member body clearly put its weight behind the option of keeping the state united. However, it recommended that some constitutional and statutory measures be put in place to allay the apprehensions in the minds of the people of Telangana region. It recommended the bifurcation of the state only if it is ‘unavoidable’. While agitators for a separate Telangana unequivocally rejected the recommendations, ‘integrationists’ from the coastal region expressed happiness over them.

In the coming months, attention will be focussed on the shape the separate Telangana agitation will take and on its impact on the business and investment climate of Hyderabad. The developments will also have a bearing on the stability of the state Congress government. The political fallout in the state is important because it is the main pillar of strength for the Congress-led UPA at the Centre. Without the 33 MPs given by the state Congress, the party could not have formed UPA-2.

With the Srikrishna Committee revealing its preferred solution in no uncertain terms, the Centre is unlikely to make an announcement in favour of creating Telangana state. It will try to structure the discussions with political parties to evolve a consensus on constitutional or statutory mechanisms to keep the state united. It would not like to think bifurcation as an ‘unavoidable’ course of action. Telangana state protagonists would like to create conditions to make the bifurcation of the state ‘unavoidable’. In other words, they will have no option but to try and make their preferred solution the only and ‘unavoidable’ course of action for the Centre to address the situation.

 Despite announcements by main political formations that they would carry on their agitation for a separate state peacefully, Hyderabad will, in all likelihood, witness disruptions that will adversely impact its business climate. This is because the mainstream political formations have very limited control over the groups that are likely to resort to violent forms of agitations. This is perhaps the essence of the message the Srikrishna Committee passed on to the home ministry in the sealed cover. It did not deal with the law and order aspect in the open report. It said that it conveyed its opinion on it separately to the government.  

Businesses in Hyderabad, therefore, are wary. Most of the software establishments are moving their project teams with tight timelines to other cities so that their delivery schedules are not compromised. Many of the offices and malls with glass facades have made huge investments in throwing protective nets around their buildings. In the short run, and only in the short run, there will be room for this kind of apprehensions to prevail. This climate is unlikely to last long, though. However, the realty sector’s recovery will be delayed at least by one more year, if not more. Hyderabad will be put in the category of less preferred investment destinations.

In the next few weeks, Congress and Telugu Desam legislators from the Telangana region will come under intense pressure to resign their Assembly and Lok Sabha seats. Telangana protagonists who are outside the mainstream political formations have time and again said that a separate state is possible only if the state plunges into a constitutional crisis. If the leaderships of the respective parties cave in, the state will surely face a political crisis and the Centre will not have any other option but to impose President’s rule. And that is likely to be a long spell.

After the grandstanding and posturing are done with, the long-term impact of the Srikrishna Committee on the attitudes of the political parties towards the division and unity of the state will inevitably come to surface. The committee’s report will be remembered not for the six options that it had discussed. It will become a point of reference in the years to come, mainly for its examination of development and backwardness of various regions in the state since its formation. On the other hand, it will also create conditions for a more proactive and conscious public policy with regard to deployment of resources. The report said that the demand for separation is ‘not without justification’. But in the same breath it also showed that the shrill propaganda of economic exploitation, backwardness, and political domination are not borne out by data and historical facts.

If the political and business leaderships in the state steel themselves to ride out the temporary storm that might rage in the coming weeks, the state will be back on rails sooner than later. And Hyderabad will soon regain the sheen it lost. Andhra Pradesh has provided linguistic organisation of states as the principal element of the architecture for the Indian Republic. If it rides out this storm, it would have done its bit to save India the labour of searching for an alternative architecture. Alternative to language as an organising principle could be religion, caste, ethnicity, or even all of them. This search should be the last thing that India should expend its energies on in the second decade of the 21st century.

(The writer is managing director of RightFOLIO, a branding consultancy based in Hyderabad. He can be reached at parakala@rightfolio.in) 

 

(This story appears in the 28 January, 2011 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Ravinder Reddy Narra

    I do not agree with mr b v rama rao in any aspect. it does not mean that if they speak one language one must be united and if so 10 speaking states should be under one state and the population will be close to 60 crores which is unmanageable. Smaller states will lead to a better administration just like in the united states which has 50 states for just 31 crore population and even in india there are two tamil speaking states. All andhra politicians want a united state just to grab all the telanagana lands in and around hyderabad in the name of SEZs by using their power as majority of the MLAs and CM will be from the Andhra region. And in the last 56 years of state formation andhra politicians have grabbed closed to 70000 acres of telangana lands in and around hyderabad which is worth close to 5 lakh crores of property.

    on Oct 13, 2012
  • B V Ramarao, Phd

    Comments sent to Forbes by Dr. B V Ramarao on 22 Jan 2011 on the Article by Dr. Parakala in Forbes India Magazine: "The comments by Sarva Shri Surya, Venu, Hanmi Reddy, and others on the Article by Dr. Parakala are neither fair nor objective. The factual data given in the Srikrishna Report clearly establish that Telangana Region has prospered manifold as compared to its status while in Nizam, and much more than the non-Nizam regions in AP. It is worth recalling that East Germany was economically very backward compared to West Germany but they united on the basis of a common language. And both regions are now very happy although even today the Eastern Region has not yet matched the economic indices of the Western Region. Even today there are backward districts in AP which are more backward than T-Region. Regional imbalances apply to all the States in India. It should be possible to guarantee and enforce proportionate allocation of budgets, funds, jobs, Ministerial Berths, Schools, Hospitals, and infrastructure to all the 23 districts in AP by an improved formula on the old Gadgil formula. Today 80 % of the population in AP are born after Nov 1, 1956, and they cannot be labelled in terms of sub-regions. A larger State has always more clout with the Central Govt., and by splitting the State, all Regions will be at a disadvantage in the larger Federal Set-up of India. By dividing the State, only some politicians will gain, but not the Aam Admi. It is not good to whip up emotions and make students suffer in their studies and careers. Regards, B V Ramarao, on 22 Jan 2011 Formerly Additional GM/ S C Rly/ Hyd

    on Jan 24, 2011
  • Surya

    The summary of whole telangana issue is the pupose of indian congress to instigate the issue to attain political gains and the party is more concerned about it's own intrest..,Rahul as PM. they are not lease bother about state development, and welfare of the people.

    on Jan 21, 2011
  • Vijendar

    SKC report is useless and baseless... How many people did this commitee meet and how many open debates/discussion did this committee conduct in the last one year? AP state government itself said that they dont have data before 1990's... Where did the committe get the info? SKC report does not even refer to the previous committees like fazal ali commission, bhargava, gir glani committee etc... It does not talk about the Telangana share in krishna/godavari water... Moreover I don't understand on what basis SKC concluded that Maoists become influential if Telangana state is formed?

    on Jan 19, 2011
  • Venu

    This is nothing short of milking the report by a biased journalist. Can't believe Forbes hires crap like this. The context is India is one of the most corrupted countries in the planet and the inputs provided to the report are provided by administration run by Andhrites who are against Telangana so this report is as skewed as it can get just a waste of time and space. I would expect Indian journalists to question what is in the report than actually accepting it on face value but the sad truth is this is India and the perception of 4 people is more important than the perception of 40 million people. The report has just given a free license to the Andhra businessmen to exploit poor Telangana. I guess this is what India is all about these days.

    on Jan 18, 2011
  • Mohanr

    What an article? The gloss put on the whole issue is truly the hallmark of a consultant! What about the promises made in election manifestos? The votes reaped by the political parties, in the last election, on this false promise have to be declared invalid. The author himself was part of such a fraud in his capacity as Secretary of Praja Rajyam party.

    on Jan 18, 2011
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