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Solutions, any one ?

Firstly, here's wishing you all a very happy new year ! And advance wishes for Sankranthi/Pongal !

In 2008 Jan, we (the entire extended family) went on a trip to Varanasi, Allahabad and surrounding places. In 2009 Jan, we did the Rameswaram, Kanyakumari circuit. This year, we have a new born at home, and therefore, no Sankranthi trips. Hopefully in May, I will head to some place in cooler climes for a week or two. Lets see.
On the political front, as expected, the all-party meeting convened by Mr.Chidambaram has not yielded any specific outcomes other than an appeal to stop the bandhs and let people go about their daily lives. It looks like the political tamasha is going to continue for some more time. However, not a single politician or 'intellectual' is talking about any feasible solution.Says a lot about the kind of people we allow to become leaders.

Let me make an attempt to list down the main concerns of various stakeholders, so that we can have an idea about a possible solution.

1.Telangana separatists - want a separate state which includes Hyderabad. No other demand.
2. Unified AP folk - want status-quo. But some elements within this large group insist that the main concerns are related to the future of their investments in Hyderabad city, Polavaram dam, and the cost of building a new capital from scratch. If these three concerns are addressed, a good number of them might reluctactly agree to the division of the state.
3. Settlers of Hyderabad - want status-quo or Hyderabad to be made a union territory or at least a Special Administrative Region (SAR).
4.Majlis Ittehadul Mussalmeen (MIM) - are fine with status-quo, but are keen on: 1. Hyderabad having a special status and 2.Package for muslims in Telangana and rest of AP.
5.Greater Rayalaseema proponents - are fine with status-quo, but if Telangana is given, they want either the new capital to be in Rayalaseema or a separate state of Rayalaseema+Nellore+Prakasam districts.
6.Telugu cultural nationalists - I am using this term to denote people who feel that AP being a linguistic state of Telugus should remain united because the interests of Telugu people and Telugu language and culture will be better served this way. More importantly, they fear the dominance of other languages over Telugu in a separate Telangana state, as was the case during the Nizam rule. These people want a unified state, but they are not part of the public movement for or against separation.
7.Students of Telangana universities - Students belonging to ABVP, and students affiliated with far left outfits, are leading the agitation. They are not very high in number, but they have support from trade unions, teaching staff etc. And they are capable of mobilising neutral or disinterested students in dharnas. The students have formed a Joint Action Committee (JAC) and are impatient about the slow process of consultations. Some student leaders of OU declared yesterday that they don't mind losing an entire academic year. What will these students gain from a separate state ?

8.Students of rest of AP universities - Wherever ABVP and/or Radical left students have a good presence, they have burned buses, conducted rasta rokos and rail rokos and in general created a lot of nuisance to the public- as much as their Telangana counterparts if not more. What will these students lose if Telangana is given ?

Before I venture into my possible solution, let me state how sad I feel at the behaviour of our students.University education is highly subsidised in India. The universities are run on tax payers money. We, the tax paying public of India, are investing in the country's future by maintaining these universities, and offering higher education at a vastly discounted price. The students don't seem to appreciate how lucky they are to be able to attend such institutions. They are also exhibiting scant respect for the 'rule of law', for the fundamental rights of their fellow citizens, and going by the scenes on TV channels, there is not much difference between hired political goons and the students of OU, KU and SKU. There has been a hue and cry about police lathi charging the students, but I have no sympathies for these kids.Not a single student spokesperson that I have seen on TV was able to articulate their concerns in a proper, decent manner. And some of the internet savvy folk among them are going around Telugu blogosphere, dishing out abuses and taunts and engaging in virulent flame wars. The student bodies are as feudal and casteist as the rest of the Telugu society. In a word, the students of AP have made me ashamed of being a Telugu in the last month and a half or so.

So, in a way, this movement has brought into the open the worst traits of our Telugu society.We talk about Telugu self-respect and yet we depend on non-Telugus like Sonia, Veerappa, Pranab and Chidambaram to decide the fate of our state. We burnt our buses, allowed people to commit suicides for the sake of an emotional cause, put alcoholic and unreliable leaders on a pedestal, caused a lot of damage to the state economy, and above all, succeeded in creating lot of bad blood among the three regions of AP.

There are many of us who expected saner counsel to prevail by now, and the leaders sitting together to discuss the issues with a problem solving approach. That is yet to happen.

Features of a possible solution:

1.Agree to a 'reversible' separation of AP in a phased manner. By 'reversible', I mean that the state could be reunified 5-10 years after the separation if Telangana people wish it so.
2.Phase 1 of the process will comprise a comprehensive discussion with all sections including public forums in various towns of AP, where a committee of neutrals will interact with concerned citizens. If possible, no political party should be associated with this exercise. Apart from these town hall type discussions, let us also look at the assets and liabilities, planned expenditure on important projects and proposed new investments across the state. We can also finalize the location of a new capital for AP.(I think Prakasam district is ideal and will be accepted by both Rayalaseema and Coastal AP).
3.Phase 2 will comprise construction of the new capital and ancilliary infrastructure. Meanwhile, Hyderabad will continue as the common capital, and administered as an SAR.
4.When AP was formed, Bhadrachalam revenue division from E.Godavari was made part of Khammam.Similarly, parts of Kurnool district went into Mahbubnagar, and parts of Krishna and Guntur districts were added to Nalgonda. It is only fair that people living in these border areas are allowed to choose if they want to stay on in AP or be part of Telangana.
5.The package for AP should include plans to construct an international airport similar to the one in Hyderabad (Shamshabad) near the new capital, along with at least two big PSUs to be set up in AP. (All major PSU units in AP since 1956 were setup in Hyderabad).
6.There has to be a separate package for Rayalaseema and North Andhra in terms of mega projects, infrastructure and educational opportunities.
7.Telangana has to cooperate with AP for Polavaram project. In return, Telangana can expect more water allocation from both Srisailam and Nagarjuna Sagar reservoirs than what it receives currently.
8.Hyderabad will be a free zone as far as any government or private sector operations are concerned.The film industry will be allowed to develop in AP whilst continuing to grow Hyderabad as a global hub for entertainment industry.
9.Both AP and Telangana will give each other preferential treatment in terms of goods movement (no octroi levy on products coming from AP/Telangana), and sharing of power generation.
10.Concerted action to eliminate the maoist menace in Telangana and agency areas of North Andhra.Police to be empowered to cleanse Osmania and Kakatiya universities of any far left, militant elements.

The Telugus have an opportunity now. We can build one of the best cities in the world, bang in the middle of our hinterland. The city will have none of the inadequacies of Hyderabad or any other metros of India. It will have India's best airport, vast green spaces, and will fast become a trading hub and a biotech centre. And in Kakinada and Krishnapatnam, AP will develop two of the best ports in India. An entertainment park better than Disney Land can be built between Nellore and Tirupati.We can also identify 9 small cities (Kadapa, Anantapur, Ongole, Nellore, Vijayanagaram, Kakinada, Guntur-Vijayawada twin cities, Kurnool and Chittoor) that will all be inter connected and build Vizag and our new capital (Lets call it Hampi for now) into global metros. The state of AP will have surplus power generation which it will sell at a discounted price to Telangana and other neighbouring states. A Las Vegas style entertainment and convention city can be developed between Tirupati and Kadapa. And Vijayawada will have a world class cricket stadium. The aim should be to develop, within 15 years or less, infrastructure adequate to hold the National or Common Wealth games in the new state capital.

All the above is within the realm of possibility.The enterprising and hardworking people of the hinterland can do it. They are a bit emotional and the emotions can be channelised into the right direction.If China can do such stuff, so can a state in India.

Question: All this will cost money. Where will it come from?
Answer: The package and shared revenues from Hyderabad will drive the initial investment. We will also give attractive investment options and generate foreign direct investment (the legal hurdles should be cleared as part of the package I am talking about). The flow of capital from rest of AP to Hyderabad will now get directed towards Hampi.

The one and only reason this entire dream can become stillborn: Our politicians. Even there, we are luckier than the rest because a decent number of our politicians are businessmen. And when they think of the enormous opportunities, they will see reason.

What of Telangana? It will continue to grow economically thanks to the twin cities.If AP starts building a new capital and lots of jobs get created, a good number of skilled people from Telangana will migrate to Hampi looking for work. There will be occassional squabbles between the two states, but none as serious as the ones between Karnataka and TN.Telugu will be the common binding factor for both the states. And if the stupendous economic success of new AP makes Telangana folks desire for unification, the doors will always be open.

Question from a Telugu Nationalist: But why can't we stay united and do all this development you have rambled about?
Answer: We can and we should, if we stay united. But it looks like the bad blood and mistrust created by the media and the politicians is here to stay for some time. So, why not make good use of the 'hurt' and channel it into some thing constructive?

There I go.I think I am done with this whole issue of AP state separation.Unless some major development happens in the next few weeks, I don't want to touch this issue again for some time. I wish to focus on national issues, especially national security.And some light topics such as movies, literature and stuff.


Anonymous said…
It was a nice insight into a possible scenario except for a few changes to your
"possile sollution" which could make it more optimal.

1. Construction of a whole new capital city from scratch in a barren land?

the cost factor? time frame? and if so completed where does it stand with
likes of Blore, Chennai, Hyderabad?

An appropriate distribution of the administrative, legislative, judiciary and
executive wings among various regions of the seperated state is a real cost
and time saver and a proper utilization of already established infrastructure.


2. "The flow of capital from rest of AP to Hyderabad will now get directed
towards Hampi"

the same flow to hyderabad has lead to this present situation where no other city
comes close to it and everyone wants a piece of it. Enough of this flows.

If theres anything that needs a flow its our educational, health and infrsturcture
aspects not to mention the backward regions of Rayalaseema,North Andhra and
the platue regions of south costal districts.

3. International Aiport at Ongole?

There's one in Chennai, one in Banglore, a new one proporsed at tirupati and then
theres Hyderabad. How many more does it take to handle the traffic from this region?
All of the major towns Rayalaseema and South Kosta hav Intl airport access in 200-300km.
I think vizag needs a International Airport more than any other place keeping in mind
the revenue it generates and the industries it hosts and also considering the fact its
650+Km to nearest Intl Airport.

4. And for the rest of the trading hubs, film activity, cricket stadiums, ports and
entertainment centers i guess we already have some of them in one form or the other in
different regions Its a good thing to improve on them and we definetly need some sports

Improvements on the already present Rayalaseema mining sector, emerging Nellore-Tada
- krishnapatnam, Guntur-Vjwada Agro and trading hubs, and Vizag-Kakinada Industrial
region saves a lot of money and time and gives us the hope to attract FDIs and keep up
with the rest of southern states.
Solution Here said…
What is your solution?
Provide here:
PR said…
Mr. Kumar,
Just to go on the record this is an excellent post by you. The center should have thought of all these issues and more before making a statement on December 9. I love your suggestion "Hampi" as working name for a future capital of Andhra. An alternative name could be Bhagyanagar. Our people built Chennapatnam, for say, 50 years and lost it to Tamil Nadu. The prospects are they are going to lose Hyderabad after another 50 years of toil. Some things like International airport and IIT are not easily duplicated near a new capital. Reminds me of the saying, cheemalu pettina puttalu, paamulakiruvinayatlu...

At least some of us can claim to be Andhras without hesitation soon. We always were identifying ourselves as Telugus, just to be politically correct and not to offend our Telengana brethren. You note all our associations in North America are named as Telugu society, sangham, association etc. I understand Andhra and Telugu are synonimous names for the same language we speak.

-An NRI well wisher
Bhanu said…

This is a great Solution. I like your writings.

I linked you, a link back will be much appreciated.

Kumar Narasimha said…
Dear All,

Thanks for the comments. I have been amiss in responding to the comments for the past week or two.


I agree with your points, in general. I am all for distributing the investments across the state, but if Telangana gets separated, we must build a new world class capital that stands as a symbol for Telugu/Andhra capabilities and cultural roots.


You have a nice site.Will link back.

Bhanu Prasad said…

Thanks for linking.
Bhanu Prasad said…

Look at this hatred man:

This dude is a CEO of 30-cr worth telecom start up in Bangalore. He is well educated and look at the hate he has for andhrites..
Kumar Narasimha said…

I am aware of Sujai's blog.

People who are successful in one field need not have the answers for problems in all other fields.

Sujai has a right to his opinion, but I don't see any value in reading and responding to his opinions.
Anonymous said…
Kumar garu,

Waiting for your post on Jagan's Odarpu Yatra.
mythreya said…
I feel sad about our Ap state.Now since the TRS won again in byelections,the demand for seperate state will increase.
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