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A decade since birth of Telangana

By, Hyderabad
Jun 01, 2024 07:04 AM IST

Telangana, formed in 2014 after intense struggle, is celebrating its 10th formation day. It has seen significant growth and development in the last decade.

On June 2, 2014, Telangana was carved out as a separate state through bifurcation of combined Andhra Pradesh. The fledgling state, which has grown into one of the strongest and the most developed states of India in the last 10 years, is gearing up for a grand celebration of its 10th formation day on Sunday.

On June 2, 2014, Telangana was carved out as a separate state through bifurcation of combined Andhra Pradesh. (Wikimedia commons)
On June 2, 2014, Telangana was carved out as a separate state through bifurcation of combined Andhra Pradesh. (Wikimedia commons)

The separate statehood to Telangana materialised after decades of intense struggle by the people in different phases, against their discrimination in education, employment, allocation of funds for the development of backward areas of the region, provision of irrigation and drinking water facilities and exploitation of resources of the region allegedly by the Andhra rulers.

In fact, Telangana region had been a separate geographical entity as part of erstwhile Hyderabad state ruled by the Nizam, who annexed it with the Indian Union in September 1948. In 1956, the Telangana region was merged with the then Andhra state which had by then separated from Madras Presidency, as part of the States Reorganisation Act of 1956 on linguistic lines.

Since then, the people of Telangana had been fighting for the demerger of the region to form a separate state again. The first major struggle took place in 1968-69, which turned into a violent agitation claiming the lives of around 360 people in police firing in different parts of the region. It was crushed ruthlessly by the then Indira Gandhi government at the Centre.

A martyr’s memorial, constructed at Gun Park in front of the state assembly, still stands as a mark of tribute for those who laid down their lives for the separate state. Even today, it has become a focal point for any agitation to reflect the aspirations of Telangana.

There were attempts to revive the movement for separate state by various groups – students, academics, social organisations and even political leaders in the next three decades, but they could not build it up into a well-organised movement of masses, though the aspiration for a separate state was still raging among the people.

Telangana activists like former Kakatiya University vice-chancellor Kothapalli Jayashankar and former Osmania University professor M Kodandaram realised that the only way to achieve the statehood to the region was to convert it into a political movement, because the formation of a new state would be possible only through an act of Parliament.

In 2001, the movement for separate Telangana state was reignited by K Chandrashekar Rao by floating a political outfit – Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Soon, the movement gained momentum and KCR, as the TRS chief is called, received massive support from the people, which was reflected in the local body elections and later in the 2004 assembly elections.

Though the Congress-led UPA government included the Telangana state formation in its common minimum programme, it could not take any decision due to stiff resistance from the Congress leaders from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions; particularly from then chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy (YSR).

KCR, who was part of the UPA, came out of it and intensified the movement. On the political front, he mobilised support from various national and regional parties across the country to build up a consensus on separate Telangana. But YSR had put his foot down firmly to prevent the bifurcation of the combined state.

It was only after the untimely demise of YSR in a chopper crash in September 2009, the Telangana movement regained its momentum. This was the last phase of the agitation, which began with the fast unto death by KCR in November 2009, forcing the UPA government to make an announcement on December 9, 2009, on the commencement of the process for separate Telangana state.

This triggered revolt from Andhra and Rayalaseema leaders, who resigned en masse to stop the bifurcation. As a result, there was a massive outrage in Telangana region and the people from all walks of life joined the movement under the auspices of Telangana Joint Action Committee headed by M Kodandaram.

They brought the administration to a standstill with their 42-day long “Sakala Janula Samme” (All people’s strike). A protest rally in the name of “million march” held on Tank Bund turned violent. This phase of agitation also witnessed more than 400 youngsters dying by suicide out of frustration over the delay in the formation of the state.

Finally, the Congress government at the Centre conceded the demand for the separate state and introduced the bill in Parliament in February, 2014. There were acrimonious protests from Andhra leaders, who even resorted to releasing pepper spray in the Lok Sabha to prevent the passage of the bill, but couldn’t stop it.

On June 2, 2014, which was the appointed day for bifurcation, the Telangana state came into existence amidst massive celebrations across the region.

What Telangana gained

The slogan on which Telangana movement thrived was — “Neellu, Nidhulu, Niyaamakalu” (water, funds and recruitments), in which Telangana was allegedly facing discrimination from Andhra rulers.

So, when KCR took over as the first chief minister of Telangana after winning the assembly elections in 2014, these three issues were on the top of the agenda of the TRS (now, renamed as Bharat Rashtra Samithi or BRS) government.

Popular Telangana activist and former chairman of Telangana state public service commission (TSPSC) Ghanta Chakrapani says the biggest gain from the Telangana state formation was to gain its own identity. “The people of Telangana came out of the shadow of Andhras and proved their identity and their unique culture. The entire country now acknowledges Telangana as the most progressive state,” he said.

Secondly, after separation, Telangana was able to utilise its resources for itself, unlike in the past when Telangana resources were diverted to Andhra. “The revenue generated within Telangana was spent on its own needs, rather than elsewhere. As a result, it could grow into one of the revenue-surplus states,” Chakrapani said.

Thirdly, Telangana was able to utilise its water resources to a large extent. “Whether it was the Kaleshwaram project or Mission Kakatiya (revival of old tank irrigation), the optimum utilisation of water resources resulted in increase of paddy production from 4.57 million metric tonnes in 2015 to over 20 million metric tonnes in 2023. Every village was able to get potable drinking water through Mission Bhagiratha scheme,” he said.

In the last 10 years, Telangana’s economy grew by three-fold with Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) registering a growth of 155.71%, which was among the best in the country, according to official figures. So was the per capita income of the state which grew at an average rate of 12.1% in comparison to India’s average PCI growth rate of 9.2%.

The state also witnessed rapid growth in industrial and I-T sectors with several top industrial houses like Tatas and Mahindras establishing their units in the manufacturing sector, while I-T giants like Amazon, IMB, Google and Apple setting up their offices in Hyderabad. The I-T exports registered a four-fold growth in the last 10 years.

“At the time of formation of Telangana, there were apprehensions that the Telangana leaders might be lacking administrative skills and there would be flight of capital from Hyderabad to Andhra and other states. But it proved otherwise,” Chakrapani pointed out.

However, with regard to the third aspect of providing employment opportunities to the young population, the KCR government did not achieve much progress. Though around 150,000 posts were filled up, they could not match up to the growing unemployment.

The education sector also did not achieve much progress to the extent it was expected to be. Particularly, the higher education sector was grossly neglected. There were no attempts to enhance the skills of the educated population. So is the case with the health sector, which was neglected.

“Similarly, there was no improvement in the living standards of the underprivileged sections, though some welfare schemes like Rythu Bandhu, Rythu Bima, Dalit Bandhu, Kalyanamasthu, Shadi Mubarak etc, were introduced but they did not bring about radical changes in the social sector,” Chakrapani said.

Kodandaram, who spearheaded the last phase of the Telangana movement, said the BRS government had belied the expectations of the people. “We fought for heralding a democratic state, but what we witnessed in the last 10 years was a dictatorial regime. So, the people had to wage a battle again to liberate themselves from this anarchic rule,” he said.

He said KCR began treating Telangana as his own fiefdom and destroyed its democratic structure. “BRS had become a family party with KCR’s son KT Rama Rao, daughter K Kavitha and nephews T Harish Rao and J Santosh Kumar dominating the party and the government. As a result, the people got fed-up and defeated the party in the recent elections,” he said.

He said the basic needs of common man in Telangana were yet to be fulfilled. “Though the BRS claimed to have improved the economy of the state, the fruits haven’t reached the people, as KCR’s family looted the booty,” Kodandaram alleged, adding that there was a need to rebuild Telangana all over again.

Senior journalist and Telangana activist Pasham Yadagiri said the so-called progress made by the state in the last 10 years was a myth. The state has been pushed into a debt trap with over 7 lakh crore outstanding loans and there were no jobs for the youngsters.

“KCR ruled the state like a typical feudal lord and was inaccessible to the common man. Only his family gained the benefits of the separate state,” he said.

Unresolved issues with AP

Even after 10 years of bifurcation, there are several contentious issues that remain unresolved between the two Telugu states. Both the states are battling it in the tribunals over sharing of Krishna and Godavari waters.

Division of several assets as enumerated in Schedules 9 and 10 of AP Reorganisation Act, still remains a contentious issue. While Schedule 9 talked about the division of State Public Sector Units, Schedule 10 listed out training institutes that are required to be shared between the two states. Out of 91 PSUs, the division of 22 PSUs still remains unresolved.

There is also a long-pending dispute between Telangana and Andhra over payment of electricity dues. Andhra Pradesh is demanding that Telangana pay the dues to the tune of 7,000 crore for the power that it supplied to Telangana.

Though the bifurcation act says that the government properties would be shared between the two states in as-is-where-is condition, Andhra Pradesh is still demanding a legitimate share in the value of lands and buildings located in Hyderabad.

Geographically divided, emotionally united

Though the two Telugu states were divided geographically, the emotional bonding between the people on either side remains intact.

“In fact, the people of the Telugu states were always united and it was the political leaders who created the wedge between them for their selfish political gains. Now that the two states are separated, they have no axe to grind at each other,” said political analyst and author Ramesh Kandula.

He said in fact, the people of Andhra and Telangana have come closer than they were before the bifurcation of the state. The flow of investments from Andhra have been on the rise in the last 10 years and so is the migration of Andhra people to Hyderabad for education and employment purposes.

“The craze for Andhra cuisine has gone up more in Telangana and one can see more Andhra restaurants at every nook and corner of Hyderabad and parts of Telangana. Similarly, one can find Hyderabad Biryani outlets and Haleem centres in Andhra,” pointed out B Rajasekhar, a software engineer from Visakhapatnam, working in Hyderabad.

The cultural assimilation between the two states is also evident from the way films made on Telangana lifestyle and culture like “Balagam” have become big hit in Andhra, while Andhra-made films do brisk business in Telangana.

“The fact that Andhra-born music director MM Keeravani is composing the new Telangana anthem – Jaya Jayahe Telangana, is a classic example of the cultural bonding between the two Telugu states,” Kandula added.

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