By Aditi Saraswat:
Telangana is a reality now, but for many, it is a disaster waiting to happen. Such demands for a separate state based on linguistic differences and underdevelopment alone, are fueling other such already existing demands (read Gorkhaland, Bodoland, Bundelkhand among others). Issues within Telangana itself need to be carefully deliberated upon and a road map chalked out before the yearning people rejoice.
Will Hyderabad be another Chandigarh or will Seemandhara get a new capital? Clearing the mist over this is important because as pro Telangana leaders and agitators have amply pointed out, as high as 65% of industries in Telangana region are owned by rich Andhras, and animosity exists between the two factions. Despite reassurances by Major Industries Minister J. Geeta Reddy that smooth exchange of commerce with no forced relocation will be ensured, industrialists are scared. Interestingly, Ms Reddy hails from the Telangana region.
Also, students have a cause for worry. If Hyderabad remains in Telangana, then what of the Andhra students who will then have the non local status, thus negatively impacting their chances of admissions in premiere colleges in Hyderabad. Noteworthy is the fact that there does not exist an elaborate or even a decent smatter of educational institutions outside Hyderabad in this region. Telangana inhabitants themselves will have to invariably look towards other states or colleges abroad unless they begin early and kick start building a framework right now.
The rationale behind a separate Telangana is backwardness arisen out of preferential treatment to Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema for four decades since Telangana was merged with the Andhra State. What have the leaders proposed or expressed regarding the building of an industrial- commercial- educational framework to propel the state forward, apart from the obvious smugness about receiving a generous aid ‘package‘ from the center, ostensibly for development? Telangana is a mineral rich, primarily agricultural land which needs to provide a boost to its farmers through all possible means and simultaneously develop indigenous industries. These are the primary markers which are essential for the proposed self determination.
Pro Telangana activists point out that despite the fact that roughly 70% of Krishna and Godavri waters flow through Telangana, the irrigation cost per acre is ten times as compared to Seemandhara. And this is when Telangana was in Andhra Pradesh. Redistribution of river waters has traditionally been a bone of contention between states. How will water disputes be resolved? How will safe commerce for Telangana traders to Coastal Andhra ports be ensured in the wake of tension and violence?
Also, what would be the status of the scheduled castes and tribes? What turn will the Naxal problem take? Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy has already expressed his concern over the possible rise of tension and Naxal activity in the region following the decision. Crucial also is delineating the role of women in shaping of the state, their powers and responsibilities in the civil and bureaucratic apparatus.
All these questions need concrete, well planned answers in the shape of comprehensive policies which will ensure that the cause of the people of Telangana and the efforts were not in vain. That a new state was not added to the Republic of India for satiating the questionable desires of a few political elite, and nothing more. Let Telangana not become a battleground for warring factions and communal forces. Let it become a model for states which were carved out of another so they could develop independently, let it fulfill the desires and aspirations of its people by earnest beginnings.