Leela Krishna Annam (PGP 2013-15) tries his hand at fortune telling of his future home state
A morning no different from any other. That was how today started. I came back from the sink after making sure my teeth were gleaming white and was searching for my spectacles, when I noticed a neatly folded paper on my desk. Knowing that nothing in the world would make me fold a paper so meticulously, I was sure it didn’t belong to me. Naturally, I opened it to read its contents…………..
I am sure you just got back after giving those teeth of yours a nice brushing. And I am sure the only reason this piece of paper caught your attention was that it was so disciplined and white. Makes me glad that your desk is perennially cluttered with ruffled papers. And please get rid of those purple shorts you sleep in. They are horrendous. They remind me of how big a disaster I was then.
Now, before you start questioning your sanity and read this letter further, I ask one thing of you. Please believe yourself. You will understand what I mean when you are done reading. The reason I came back all this way is to tell you a story. A story of the land which you will go on to call ‘Home’. A story called Telangana.
It has been 20 years now since the state of Telangana came into existence again. With the city of Hyderabad as its capital, it was the long cherished dream which came true and opened doors of opportunity to the people of the region. Or so, they thought. I have not come back to talk about what it is now, but to reflect on why things will turn out to be the way they will turn out to be. For when the issue of the statehood of Telangana was burning, the only thing which everybody seemed to care about was the flaring emotions of the people involved and their mindless actions. The media would rant on about the reasons for the hasty decision of the congress, the agitations for and against the new state; dig deep into the history of Andhra and the erstwhile state of Hyderabad and keep playing images of people destroying public property with a vengeance. But none, not even one, would even bother to talk about the sustainability of the new state that will eventually form!
A state is not just about people and their emotions. It is also about plain economics, practicality and fulfilling the human need. It is not just about having a major metro as its capital. It is also about having a self-sufficient system which has its own economic activities to feed itself. The formation of Telangana missed three major logical inconsistencies which eventually led to what it is now.
First, it assumed it had the great metro of Hyderabad on which it can simply piggyback. The problem is, Hyderabad was never a natural capital city or metro. Delhi, for instance was the power capital from the days of yore. Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata were also cities which grew in their own right and sound economics. The cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad however were never meant to be cities. Nothing about their nature makes them what they are. They just happened to be cities where the geek lords of your age decided to set shop. Nothing more than that. They were cities of chance which owe their existence to the soul of their citizens. And so, when Telangana did happen and Hyderabad went there, it lost its multi-cutural cosmopolitan soul. The people no longer wanted to be part of something which existed for something so narrow as regionalism. As people moved away, so did the city. Before it knew, there wasn’t one.
The next mistake was the assumption that the region of Telangana is a dreamland. The truth is, most of its districts are arid and even the rivers which cut through them cannot be used for irrigation purposes without draining the exchequer. It was never a Chattisgarh either, to fall back on its mineral wealth. With no major minerals except the few scattered coal reserves, it hardly presented anything lucrative for the manufacturing industries. Also, except for the few centers of wealth in and around the city of Hyderabad and the two hydel power plants, Telangana had no ammunition. Now, with Hyderabad’s image as an investor destination hit thanks to ludicrous policies of the regional sentiment backed governments which hold power here, the investment flows into the state have come down to a trickle.
But the biggest mistake was ignorance of the concept of fringe benefits. As long as Telangana was a part of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana complained about injustice in the allocation of power and water resources. But, what never occurred to it was the benefits it enjoyed being a neighbor of the Rice bag districts of India which fed it with their surpluses and the fact that it reaped the benefits of the richer coastal districts which pumped in their money into Telangana or might I say Hyderabad. So unlike Uttaranchal, where it was the richer region which wished to get away from U.P which was laggard, Telangana was asking the prosperous Andhra region to move away when it should have been using it to power its growth.
From where I come, Telangana is a reality and a harsh one. It is a little less shocking encore of Jharkhand. So, I just wanted to tell you to please put your baseless loyalty to Hyderabad aside and start working your bottom off to build a life outside it. That would mean you would save yourself the effort of writing this letter and leaving it for you again!
P.S: Go watch “Chennai Express” on the first day in Gopalan cinemas. You will bump into somebody really interesting 😉