Event ReportsPublished on Jun 05, 2010
ORF holds a dialogue on the creation of Telangana where two Congress Lok Sabha Members of Parliament participated
Would Telangana be a viable state?

A dialogue on the issue of creation of Telangana was conducted at the ORF campus on May 6, 2010, at which two Congress Lok Sabha MPs -- Lagadapti Rajagopal from Vijayawada and Madhu Goud Yashkhi from Nizamabad -- presented contrary views on the issue.

Introducing the subject and the main speakers, Mr. Sunjoy Joshi, ORF distinguished Fellow, said that the issue had been on the forefront of public discourse and that this was the right time to address the issue as the intensity had subsided and therefore it could be viewed objectively. It was mentioned that the role of regional identities and state response to it could pose as a threat, and that this session was part of the larger project on non traditional security being undertaken by the organization.

Before the start of the dialogue, Mr. Rajagopal gave a visual presentation titled ‘Untold story of Telangana, Politicians may lie, statistics do not’. After the presentation, Mr. Rajagopal highlighted the need for a unified Andhra Pradesh. Questioning the continual resurfacing of the issue, he said that it was being politicized for vested interest. Citing the commonality of language he said there were 32 dialects of Telugu out of which there were 12 in Telangana alone, pointing out to the diversity in the state.

Mr. Rajagopal said that the demand was a psychological hangover from the Nizam’s days and it gained ground after 2001. Admitting that issues of disparity needed to be addressed, he said that over the years some sections of the population had made progress but some had not, however this was not due to systematic neglect by the state as much as it had been due to cultural differences. He further added that leaders and parties had been mere spectators and for some politicians more states would mean more positions and hence were supportive of the cause.

Citing examples of Punjab and Bihar being divided he asserted that there was no evidence to support the fact that a divided state could progress more, and added that Punjab had been better off being undivided. He also said that even in Punjab division took place because some regional parties had stake. Citing the example of the Khalistan movement, he reiterated that the seeds of separation once planted would continue to be problematic and never ending.

Mr. Rajagopal said the division of the state should be based on some criterion including economy, polity and emotiveness. Economically there had not been much evidence to suggest that smaller states grow faster, with growth rate of Telangana region being similar to that of rest of Andhra. He said the legal, logical causes need to be addressed along with emotive issues. He concluded that the issue had an underlying thread of regionalism, therefore standards regarding division of states needed to be set carefully

Defending the need for a separated state of Telangana, Mr. Madhu G Yakshi said that the movement was not started by a single political entity or class of people but was a mass movement, and that the issue was linked to cultural identity and emotion more than other aspects .He said there was a lack of emotional involvement between the people in Telangana and rest of Andhra.

Giving examples of Jharkhand and Chattisgharh, he said that smaller states would offer better development opportunities. He said there had been differences and discrimination with respect to high court judges, number of government medical colleges, doctors to employment opportunities and so on. He lamented police atrocities in the region and said that media support had been mobilized by the people opposing the movement. Quoting Nehru’s statement giving a choice of separation to Telangana, he added that it was not a question of patriotism, as demand for a separate state could not be equated to the demand for a separate country.

Seminar Editor Harsh Sethi who moderated the discussion concluded that the problem was not as much the issue of division as it was the lack of good governance. He said the situation on the ground suggested that there was something wrong in the way the government conducted its polity, and that the administrative and political system was corrupt. He added that power should go to the grassroots in the district and village committees. He however added that any restructuring should be based on diving into viable administrative units based on economic and political reasoning while keeping in mind the emotions of the people involved.

Report prepared by Akhilesh Variar, Research Intern

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