By Ipshita Agarwal
Economics teaches us about payoffs and trade-offs. Making the best decision out of the choices available, so as to not leave any of the given variables worse off, than they were before. Why then, do our politicians not apply this basic principle to politics and make rational decisions? Partitioning Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and Seemandhra will push Telangana further into backwardness. Seemandhra will need to develop its capital again. Who gains? Except for the politicians and factional groups promoting this partition, nobody does!
The issue of partition of Andhra Pradesh is not a new one. When states were first formed in 1947 on linguistic bases, Telangana and Andhra were one. But, they did not grow as one. While Hyderabad became one of the most developed and technologically advanced cities of India, Telangana was left in the dark. As Hyderabad became the IT Hub, Telangana lost out on opportunities and economic development. Slowly, the seeds of dissent were beginning to sprout.
Lead by K. Chandrashekhar Rao and his hunger strike in 2009, the Government considered the possibility of this partition. Why? Because one man, backed by a certain group of people, representing a certain interest wanted so. And what about the rest of the nation, against whom such move would go? But, losing out on Telangana meant losing out on a very ‘powerful’ ‘vote bank.’
And so, the Andhra Pradesh Re-organization Bill, i.e. the Telangana Bill was passed in the assembly. The rationale? Economic reasons, they said. Let’s deliberate over their ‘economic reasons’.
There are 2 schools of thoughts that prevail, regarding the partition. One that says that Telangana will now gain at Seemandhra’s cost; the other which says Seemandhra will continue to grow while Telangana will be pushed deeper into backwardness.
I talk about the first school of thought, first.
Pro-Telangana activists say that the economic development of Telangana was neglected due to all resources flowing to the Andhra-Hyderabad region. Yes, it might be true, to some extent. But how is the creation of a state going to solve this problem? If Hyderabad goes to Telangana eventually, what happens to Seemandhra?
Using district-level statistics for the Telangana and non-Telangana districts, we find that the GDP per capita in the Telangana region is considerably higher. Furthermore, over the time period 2001-08, GDP per capita has been rising at a faster rate in the Telangana region than in the non-Telangana one. These conclusions are true even if Hyderabad is excluded from Telangana. The percentage of population living below poverty line is identical in Telangana and non-Telangana regions. (Data taken from Economic Times website)
“People of Seemandhra always felt that it was their investments and human capital that created all the wealth in and around Hyderabad, while Telangana people were free riders.” Such statements lead us to believe that it might actually be Telangana walking away with the millennium city, Hyderabad; with Seemandhra left in the fray.
The second thought of school reasons that creating another capital will provide Seemandhra with new opportunities. They say that Hyderabad has already attracted all the investment it will, has already developed and further potential is low.
Yet another point of view is that the partition is something which is necessary and should have been done way back in 1947 itself. The supporters of this theory believe that, given their linguistic differences, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana need to be two independent states.
After so many years now, they say that the partition is only giving the people of Telangana their due. It’s time that Telangana, having suffered for so long, gets equal opportunities and equal economic development. They believe that ‘Seemandhra is not being oppressed when another group (Telangana) is getting rights that Seemandhra always had’.
However, a report published in 2010 said that Telangana cannot be partitioned for ‘the greater good.’ If the Government caves in and agrees, what it will observe will be a domino effect. Today it was Andhra Pradesh; tomorrow it’ll be Vidharbha, Tulu Nadu, Saurashtra, Bundel Khand, Mithilanchal, Gorkha land, Bodo Land, Purvanchal, Harit Pradesh and many others.
Can the demand of a certain section of the society cannot trump the diversity of the country? Communal activity may increase in Hyderabad and the Maoist forces would grow manifold in the forest areas of Telangana. The chaos, confusion, migration and violence that would result from the division, is too high a price we’d have to pay. This could set back the state by a decade or more.
At a time when the incumbent Congress looks likely to be voted out of power, passing of this bill is just an example of the party manipulating communal forces and sub-regionalism for its political advantage.
The British ruled us by ‘Divide and rule’ strategy. Is the Telangana Bill also along the same lines?