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Will India’s Telangana Residents Benefit from Statehood?

August 21, 2013

While the Congress Working Committee’s July 30 resolution in favor of Telangana statehood may have put a light at the end of the tunnel for separatists, the question of whether a brand new state will work effectively enough to actually benefit Telangana residents looms over policymakers.

Calls for statehood in the 10 districts of the former princely state of Hyderabad date back to the 1950s, around the time Andhra Pradesh itself was first formed on the basis of the shared Telugu language. In the past two decades, these demands have picked up steam due in part – according to Vamsi Vakulbharanan in an article on The New York Times‘ blog, India Ink –  to claims that the state’s new “business class emerged, almost completely, from the landed and the rich agrarian classes of the Seemandhra through state patronage,” which excluded rural Telangana.

Many in the business community see Andhra Pradesh’s split as potentially unlocking the Telangana’s untapped potential through increased state infrastructure investment, especially in Hyderabad where the IT industry aims to someday compete with Bangalore, India’s traditional tech powerhouse.

But the mere fact that the Congress has given Telangana the green light just before the 2014 elections raises a red flag to many doubtful of the central government’s ability to handle Andhra Pradesh’s break-up. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s pledge that the process will take less time than the creation of Jharkand or Chhatisgarh (which took about two years) means that many of these complex challenges will need prompt resolution:

  • Telangana currently relies on Andhra Pradesh’s Seemandhra region for much of its power and could face shortages if an arrangement between the states is not worked out. Likewise, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who is opposed to the split, worries about water shortages in the remaining regions of his state, telling reporters that water projects “are inter-related and inter-connected” between regions. The Times of India reported that the central government is considering creating a “Krishna Control Board” to negotiate water disputes surrounding the vital Krishna and Godavari rivers.
  • Hyderabad will remain the capital of both Telangana and the remaining Andhra Pradesh for the next 10 years as Andhra Pradesh establishes a new capital on its own turf. India’s government will likely need to help fund the expensive construction of this new capital –the state of Chhattisgarh is currently spending around $3.125 billion building its new capital of Naya Raipur. For the next 10 years, though, the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments will be bumping elbows in Hyderabad, despite the vital negotiations over water, power, and other key interstate issues they must organize. It remains to be seen whether Seemandhra politicos, bitter over the split and potential lost opportunities for their state in growing Hyderabad, will share the city peacefully without allowing competitive patronage to become a real issue and slow growth.
  • The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) party, which was the most vocal advocate for statehood, is rumored to have planned either a merger or coalition with the ruling Congress Party once Telangana is established. Just exactly what Telangana-based favoritism or other patronage the party may push for in exchange remains to be seen. The Congress’ expedient decision to support Telangana before 2014 elections underscores their need to regain lost ground in the region.
  • The home ministry’s 2011 report on potential Telangana statehood warns that a new state could serve as a home for violent Indian Maoists, known as Naxilites, who were driven out of Andhra Pradesh around a decade ago. Twelve of the 15 Maoist central committee members hail from Telangana, and concerns abound over the ability of a young state to continue tough policing. Cities like Karminagar, Warangal, and Adilabad that fall within Telangana are former hotbeds of Maoist activity. Telangana will need to establish a well-functioning police force from the get-go without succumbing to corruption.

Though Indians hope the new state’s government will be able to create a well-oiled administration to deal with these challenges swiftly, those skeptical of bureaucracy and corruption that plague so many of the country’s states are not holding their breath.

Adam Lerner is a 2013-2014 Luce Scholar working with India’s first and only publication devoted to narrative journalism, The Caravan. He can be reached at adamblerner23@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and not those of The Asia Foundation.

5 comments on this post:

  1. venkanna konduru:

    The article is more concern about the viability of the telangana statehood..it is very panic that nobody from the seemandra region recognise the democratic movement of telangana…the reason behind the maoistm or naxalism emerged out of 1969 movement failure is the left orientred intelectuals from andra region exploited the desparations of the then youth of telangana and which resulted in the naxal movement….now if the present movement suppressed by seemandra lobbying…definitely that sends feeling of suppression to the telangana youtth…it is not good for the people from the both regions…also the demands for united andra reflects the suffers of telangana people for the last 56 yers…my appeal to seemandra brothers…please let us live in harmony…and we are all telugu people…have to have broder mind in recognising the democratic wish of others….

  2. krishna darivemula:

    total waste of resources. rupee at rs64 a dollar still falling, stock markets crashing. india facing the biggest financial crisis. our paranoid people are more concerned about a new state. the wisest decision shoud have been a secong S R C. but our politicians have mastered the art of dividing people and thereby diverting attention from collosal corruption scams . but in india where is the word of wisdom in a political stage where the politics have become the domain of thugs, goondas, looteras. disgusting that people shoud waste their time like this

  3. Manish Reddy:

    Also, it has to be noted that as proclaimed by the Vamsi Vakulbharanan in an article on The New York Times‘ blog, India Ink – who claims that the state’s new “business class emerged, almost completely, from the landed and the rich agrarian classes of the Seemandhra through state patronage,” which excluded rural Telangana. This is a fact and it is also a fact that being in power they exploited our share of water, funds, employment, mineral resouces, lands (lands belonging to erstwhile Nizam of Hyderabad) and have become rich class over the past 56 years and now when the Government of INDIA realized this fact and conceded Telangana .. these andhra businessman/politicians are bringing hell and heaven down to stop the process, but we the people of Telangana shall never give up our democratic and just demand of claiming our Telangana back !!!

  4. Manish Reddy:

    Dear Lerner,

    I appreciate your concern for the people and the govt. of Telangana, but there is a difference between Naxalites and Terrorists .. while terrorists are a menace to civilization, naxalites evolve from civic society where civil rights are suppressed, although in a democratic country no one is above the law to take the law into their own hands, but the fact that naxal leaders are from Telangana is because of continuous exploitation of the andhra leaders of Telangana resources and opportunities over the past 5 decades since the formation of andhra pradesh .. and we now strongly believe once Telangana is formed there shall be no such injustice and the naxals who I believe are already extinct shall come into the mainstream of civil society putting an end to their miserable life.

    Please feel free to reach me for any further information with respect to Telangana, although I am not from journalism I do have enough knowledge on the subject.

    Manish Reddy

    manishreddy01@gmail.com
    +91 7386 430 179

  5. Dev:

    The author is truly correct that the benefit of the new Telangana State & its progress solely depends on the Policy Makers. The rightful share of water resources for the Telangana farmers had been deprived by the Andhra Politicians & its elite. If and only if the new Telangana state succeeds in tapping the river waters for the betterment of its citizens will the region develops.

    Apart from Hyderabad most of the 10 districts are backward on all social accounts because of the neglect by the successive governments & the mute response of the Telangana Politicians for not questioning the exploitation in their greed for power.

    The urban middle class which has evolved looks to the IT jobs as its forte as the India is felt across the world as an “IT Powerhouse” and it had brought the confidence which was lacking in the preceding generations because of the Tyrant rule of the Nizams who are alien to this land as they are from a different community, culture and language.

    The educated masses are looking forward for jobs in their newly created state to be given to them which were clandestinely usurped by the people from Andhra & Rayalaseema.

    It is the deprivation & successive failure of successive governments to honor the agreements signed before the formation of Andhra Pradesh (between Andhra State & Telangana) and also the subsequent agreements & constitutional guarantees accorded to the Telangana people had led to the agitation which had at last reached a conclusion.

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