Friday, April 30, 2010

+2 Pass-out a bureau chief at CNN-IBN!?

"..I don't feel like sympathising with the rest of the people in old city. Whether they are Hindus or Muslims, they deserve to live in curfew for the reason that they don't want to change themselves. They are least bothered about the image of the city they live in."

"I sometimes suspect that both the communities in the old city are suffering from some kind of psychological disorder. They always find one or the other reason to fight against each other. "

"they are certainly suffering from mental disorder of 'religious intolerance' and need immediate treatment. Yes, all of them need treatment. "

Shaik Ahmed Ali, the bureau chief of CNN-IBN in Hyderabad is a revelation. Above are the gems he produced in his latest article on the curfew in Hyderabad a month ago. As we see, he is busy judging people rather than analyzing what possibly went wrong. Heck, he is not even reporting! None of his posts shows he actually tried to get to the bottom of the topics he was writing on by speaking to anyone - there are no quotes of the people he spoke to. Maybe he just sits at his desk and writes, that people in the city suffer from psychological disorders!

Mr Ali's case reminds us about the quality of Journalism we have today even while our nation is confronted with myriad complex problems. He is the chief reporter in a state which is confronting an unprecedented crisis, the solution for which can redefine not just the political and social identity of the many states in this country but can redefine the identity of this nation into something more complex than just a union of linguistic states. And we have Mr Ali, for a leading news network in India, to report this with absolutely no insight into things political, social or economical but loads of sweeping statements from his empty head.

Prior to his piece on Curfew, Mr Ali produced these frivolous pieces -

Why Women's Reservation Bill is Anti-Muslim?

The anatomy of Telangana agitation

Political Mafia is ruling Hyderabad

I will remember YSR, forever

When I read these, I was wondering what qualifies him as a journalist. And then a journalist friend chipped in with these words about Mr Ali's background-

"I have read this blog. It is completly immature and unprofessional.

This man was a boy when he started working for APTimes way back in 1996-97. He is an old city guy and not well educated. He just completed Class 12 and did not do any further education. Generally he used to be put on crime and old city beats. These are the beats which are generally given to young journalists from Muslim community. Later on, this fellow was hired by CNN-IBN. It was a complete surprise to me as he did not have good formal education.

Somebody told me some complaints were lodged against him with the CNN-IBN management. But i do not know how he continues to work for the channel. His understanding of politics is very pathetic and he is not very well informed about the dynamics of the Andhra politics. His world-view does not rise above the gallies of the old city. This man should not have been allowed to write as he pleases for such an esteemed channel as the CNN-IBN headed by people like Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghose."

So there we get it. A +2 guy with no formal studies writing now for CNN-IBN! There are countless gems in all his articles like those in his blogpost about curfew. In an earlier post about the Telangana agitation, he said - 'The demand for Telangana may be genuine and justified, but, I believe, the present agitation is surely not genuine or at least, not everyone associated with the movement is genuine.' One more judgmental statement from his Mr. Shaik, the genuine journalist.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Prasthanam: A delight to watch

Deva Katta seems to have a fascination for human complexities, in a Shakespearean way. And just like the bard's plays, Deva Katta's 'Prasthanam' (Journey) too leaves a grain within us, that comes back at you the morning after you watch this drama. In his debut 'Vennela', he made us walk through the transformation of Sharvanand's character from a hero type to a anti-hero type. He portrays the frailties of human mind and so the plot always look larger than sum total of characters in such stories.

I loved Deva Katta debut and I was curious how he would follow it up when I heard about this second movie. He only got better and Prasthanam is a delight to watch. It is as realistic and dramatic Telugu movies can get without boring the viewers. As in Vennela, Prasthanam has its strength in layered characterizations, story and dialogues. And that is where Sai Kumar shows what a dynamic actor he is to play multi-layered characters. He subtle action does not conceal that he is a volcano with its inside waiting to explode, and quite rightly so.

The movie is set in Gannavaram and Vijayawada and has a political backdrop. The dialogues make the movie real with its portrayal of politics, contracts, drugs etc and the exploration of human ambition, greed and relationships elevate the movie into a plane unseen in Telugu movies. The casting is good. Sharwanand does well. After Vennela and Gamyam, this is yet another movie he can be proud of. Even small characters leave their mark because they are well-written for.

The negatives are the long duration, the unnecessary songs and insufficient background score. The movie could have been edited shorter and made more engrossing. Mahesh Shankar could have elevated the movie with a better score.

And finally, the title is in line with literary bent of the movie and it makes me wonder Sri Sri's 'Mahaprasthanam' influence. Ironically, among today's directors, Shekhar Kammula, Krish and Deva Katta seem to have the literary touch in dialogues/songs and all three are US returned film school products. What a refreshing phenomenon. Hope to see more of the works of these sensible filmmakers which in turn may inspire many more newcomers to charter new paths for Telugu movies.

TELANGANA IX: EPW goes on the Telangana trail

The globally reputed independent social science journal Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) came up with another insightful article on the multiple dimensions of the Telangana movement - On the Telangana Trail. The journal which every week brings together academics, researchers, policy makers, independent thinkers, members of non-governmental organisations and political activists for debates straddling economics, politics, sociology, culture, environment and numerous other disciplines has recently started what it calls "Special Issues", which deal with subjects of contemporary interest. And this article is one such Special Issue.

The article starts by questioning 'What is Telangana? Why does it stir such powerful sentiments?' and then the writers, Kalpana Kannabiran being one of the 5 from different NGOs, go on to find answers and record their conversations with 'a cross section of people on their participation and their aspirations – people across political formations and social backgrounds'. They meet small farmers, pastoralists, intellectuals, coal miners, schoolteachers, weavers, traders and dhobis; Muslim, adivasi, dalit and student leaders; They attended meetings in adivasi hamlets, in working class urban neighborhoods and they visited shibirams (tents) across the region and spoke to people on relay hunger strikes. They conclude 'We see quite clearly the emergence of a new politics that is committed to deliberating over the meanings of democracy and direct action. People’s demand for Telangana elaborates a complex set of arguments in relation to investment, employment, education, land, water, and resources. But more importantly it has to do with self-rule, dignity and self-respect, which are the fundamental premises of the Telangana movement. The separate state is seen as only the first step towards democratization.'

Earlier this year, EPW published 2 other articles -
'The Historical Context of Andhra and Telangana, 1949-56' by Mr. Gautam Pingle and The Movement for Telangana: Myth and Reality by Rama S Melkote, E Revathi, and others. Mr Pingle is Director, Centre for policy and governance Administrative Staff College of India and his article is very rare in the sense it examines the role of caste and other social equations that, in the first place, forced the Telangana merger in the 1950s and how they now get unsettled. Some of this content was later republished in Indian Express as 'Caste and the politics of merger'. The second article discussed threadbare widely-publicized perceptions of the people's movement.

In light of these interesting pieces, it would surprise us how less informative or analytical the mainstream vernacular and national press has been about the the basis of the Telangana struggle. How many articles/programs were produced in at least AP about the reasons behind the the initial merger of Telangana, the present demand for demerger and the consequences if or not the demand is met? At least, It was the most basic of duties of the journalists to at least report happenings as they were during the last few months of struggle, pre and post December 9 announcement. Even while the issue was making national headlines, disrupting life in AP, mainstream national media did not initiate any debate on the real/perceived grievances of Telangana, obviously because of, on one hand, the ignorance/prejudice of the reporters while on the other the networks did not go beyond '15 minutes of fame' type news.

Photo Courtesy: REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shashi Tharoor's Homecoming!

There is something amiss about Shashi Tharoor. I mean, not just the allegations of 'Impropriety' and his subsequent resignation but about his persona. Here is a suave, erudite, highly successful professional in world affairs who got a PhD at 22 from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and then immediately joined UN (in 1978). In 23 years, he rises to the rank of Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, directly reporting to the UN Secretary-General. And then, after 6 years in that post, at an age of 50, he throws his hat in the ring for the post of Secretary-General. If elected, he would have been the second youngest Secretary-General at UN. Not surprisingly, he was seen 'too young' for the post! And despite a clear writing on the wall that he wont make it, it was his eagerness and his personal equation with PM Manmohan Singh that made India back him for the post. And of course he lost it leading to his abrupt exit from UN. For all his scholarliness, Tharoor was a man in hurry. Or was he a just a dreamer who think he can never fail?

Tharoor was by then living a dynamic personal life, parallely dabbling in writing novels, non-fiction and columns for newspapers. That is even while he was engrossed with the Bosnias, Human Rights Organizations and charity groups like Red Cross. Such multi-tasking is mind-boggling and speaks tons about his commitment to work hard and excel. Shashi Tharoor was living a dream even while he plunged into Indian politics. For someone who has been away from India for more than 3 decades, to decide to contest for a Parliament election needs considerable gumption. It is in line with his enterprising nature that marked his career of institution-building and quest for new challenges. He won as if it were a cakewalk - with a 100,000 vote majority. To give the credit due for him, he could have simply chosen the Rajya Sabha route instead of gearing for public election. That symbolizes his spirit. Everything was working for him, his articulation, his good-looks and an earnestness that is hard to miss. But barging into IPL, with all its monies, was unforgivable and Tharoor did not seem to have grasped the format of Indian hierarchies in businesses and politics, despite his scholarly interpretation of epic Mahabharata as 'The Great Indian Novel'. Now he seems to have realized, as he tells often, that there were a few 'closed shops' he seemed to have gatecrashed.

His fascination with the glamour world like
Bollywood made him pen 'Show Business' while his awe for cricket produced a 'Shadows Across The Playing Field'. So it is no surprise that Tharoor was attracted to IPL as it is a heady cocktail of glamor and cricket. This guy is a dreamer and that enough is good enough motive, regardless of the financial incentives, for him to take the IPL boat. But then he is a man in haste, eager to make his mark, in line with how he lost the plot at UN election, but then this is no literary world or a UN office. It is in Indian politics and he already barged in to Lok Sabha. Despite serving as a top-ranking UN official, he accepted a minister of state post, one that is usually reserved for the likes Jr Scindias, Jr Pilots (there was news that even Jr. YSR was offered one). This stands testimony to the eagerness Shashi Tharoor has to stay in limelight. He just wont let any opportunity pass and that could have frightened quite a few within his state and his party.

For an Indian politician, he was way too transparent, twittering everything and speaking his mind all too often. That could have unsettled many in power circles who see themselves as elite and everything they do to be allowed access only to a chosen few. Breaking rules set for decades in grand old party of
sycophants has its repercussions. The outsider is ousted. And the tragedy on Shakespearean lines took his toll and the high-flying dreamer comes crashing down. Was Tharoor naive enough to miss the eyes that went into envy looking at his meteoric rise to India's high-table of power? When was the last time, we saw someone go to that heights without a mum, dad, in-laws background? People the age his grandpa are still ministers-in-waiting and Shashi Tharoor showed such a hurry. Did he miss the fact that he was asked to explain the silliest of his tweets by the Congress coterie committee while Ministers and MPs alleged for far serious wrongdoings were never made to feel unwelcome? And it would be amusing to know if Shashi Tharoor somehow felt he cant go wrong with 7,00,000 followers on Twitter!? Maybe if the time he spent tweeting were spent on networking with the real coteries in Delhi, he would have had survived. But then, the dynamic minister never seemed to got tuned for these activities. Or maybe they made no sense for his erudite mind. I guess now they does.

He should thank
Lalit Modi for the quick lesson and Of course Ms Pushkar and his OSD. While Tharoor himself, with his background, looks an unlikely corrupt guy, he could have got blinded by his passions for Show Business and Cricket and got associated with the wrong people. Prima facie, he looks guilt by association. This experience is the true 'homecoming' for him. Hope he learns this one thing now and of course with his talent and worldly wisdom, he can master this art too, the art of Indian politics! And it is not played out before the Twitter crowd. He is just 54 and can be considered, in Indian politics, a baby in diapers! He is energetic, intelligent and can contribute to India immensely. Tharoor, welcome home and just grow up.

Monday, April 19, 2010

CK Prahalad, the father of ‘Core Competence’ dies

"If there was a Nobel Prize for management then Prahalad would have won that for India."

Gopal Srinivasan, director of TVS Capital Funds

" Prahlad's ideas offer an intriguing blueprint of how to fight poverty with profitability." Bill Gates

CK Prahalad, the celebrated professor of Michigan University’s Ross School of Business passed away a few days due to some unknown virus. He was an influential thinker who came up with ground-breaking ideas in corporate strategy. He was twice ranked as the world's most influential business thinker, most recently in October 2009, by the "Thinkers 50" list of the top 50 management thought leaders in the world, published by the leadership consulting firm CrainerDearlove. He was one of the few thought leaders India produced in the new age.

I personally remember him as the man who coined the word ‘Core Competence’. His thesis about how a company should differentiate from others in its sector made a splash. Ever since, the word has become so common in usage across the productive economy – from referring to a company’s assets to an employee’s. He later went on to use another expression, supposedly used by Franklin Roosevelt, to produce seminal works like "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profit" which lay the basis for targeting India’s largely rural market with mini versions of products like shampoos and soaps. The idea was to see the rural poor to customers and cater to them as a market. His idea looked audacious then as it was too simple! Before we knew, it sparked a sachet revolution in consumer market.

A few years before, one of my friends applying for Ross school of Business was doing so purely because he was fascinated by this business thinker. He used to say how much before Indian IT companies broke into the top league, CK Prahalad seem to have foretold it. What makes him foresee things? I guess it is his unique way of formulating his ideas about businesses - by actually observing them on ground. This is in contrast to what most Academicians do – going by statistics and case studies at best to formulate their ideas. In fact, ‘The bottom of the pyramid’ was supposed to have taken shape in the experiences of HP’s i-Community Project in Andhra Pradesh’s Kuppam. In addition, he was a wonderful articulator; an evangelist of new ideas. It is sad we miss a profound thinker who could have contributed a lot more, especially to the India @75 vision being envisioned by the CII.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Operation Greenhunt II: Who were hunting whom in Dantewada?

Chidambaram: India's George Bush?

Supreme Court Advocate Prashant Bhushan at a Press Conference, addressed by signatories of an Open letter to the PM on October 19, 2009 in Delhi, had this to say about Chidambaram - “He has represented many companies with business interests in Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, he was a director of Vedanta (a multinational with mining ambitions in Orissa) until the day he became finance minister in 2004. The idea of this war by the government seems to be to use propaganda to get tribal areas vacated for corporate companies, just as George Bush used a false campaign on weapons of mass destruction to grab Iraq’s rich oil wells for American business houses.”

Interestingly, just as Prashant Bhushan said, Chidambaram sounds very much Bush-like when he said "I had said that to counter the menace of naxalism we need ‘a strong head, a stronger heart and enormous staying power’. I believe that the Government has all three qualities. Even as we grieve the loss of lives, I appeal to the House – and through this House to the people of India – that we should remain calm, hold our nerve and stay on the course that we had carefully chosen since October 2009”. Was not 'Stay the Course' the phrase used at least 30 times and made famous by Bush in his policy statements on Iraq!? The usage of the phrase inadvertently tells that the Bastars and Dantewadas are as alien to Indian rulers as Iraq was to US!

Operation Greenhunt: Who are hunting whom?

That is a striking piece in India Today - Slain CRPF man had to take pay cut. It shows who were fighting whom in Dantewada. The CRPF jawans were earning a meager 10,000 per month while relocating and getting used to different theatres of war, from Kashmir to Assam to the hills in Dantewada. And yet, for all their service, the likes of Udaiveer get this kind of treatment from the ruling elite. It is the same indifference, insensitivity from the rulers that swells the ranks of the violent Maoists. Indifference of the Indian state over 6 decades to their basic amenities, education and health drove the tribals into looking at an alternative in Maoism and the state’s ruthless exploitation of their natural wealth now is forcing them to pick the gun. And so we have the poorest of India – CRPF jawans from predominantly UP and Bihar fighting the mainly Andhra Pradesh Maoist guerrillas in the hills of Chhattisgarh! 74 jawans and 8 Maoists die. And for whom? To fill the coffers of the super-rich and the MNCs, with the wealth from the tribal lands.

In a related piece in IBN, a CRPF jawan says “The British have gone but left the babus behind. The Officers act like British babus with us. The condition will always remain like this, nothing will change. Even when Central government will declare some package in Parliament, the big bosses will fatten their pockets further. They are buying crores of machinery and getting commissions. We don't even get a deserving pay” Is Mr. Chidambaram listening? No. He is busy fomenting paranoia and selling a civil war to Indian public. His own transformation from a business executive into a finance minister and then into Home minister seems to be seamless and in complete harmony. He was a non-executive director of the infamous ’Vedanta’, one of the biggest players in mining in the same region now the Operation Greenhunt is on, till the day he swore as the finance minister. And now as Home Minister, he gets down to do the dirty work of annihilating the tribals out of their homes and handing their mineral-rich regions, like in Chhattisgarh and Orissa, to the Vedantas, Tatas, Essars etc.

This job of emptying the Scheduled Areas is easy to do in the guise of an anti-Maoist operation (official figures state that around 644 villages were emptied and nearly 200,000 people displaced by the by the state-backed militia Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh) and these operations would get public support only when Dantewadas happen and paranoia is spread the way the minister is doing now about how Maoists will overthrow the state. So never mind that Udaiveer struggled with his pay when alive, he would now as a dead get Rs. 35 lakh, swiftly by this month-end as per Chidambaram. That is how important this operation is and how heroic the forces participating in it are, Chidambaram tries to make us believe now. Deify the poor Jawan, keep propagating that the Maoists are India’s number 1 enemy (ahead of the LeTs and Al Qaedas ) until the Indian middle class gets around to mentally accepting that it’s okay to throw the poor tribals out of their centuries-old ecosystem - that is the approach. This is a deadly game being played where India’s poorest, who never got anything from Indian state would be robbed of the only thing they have – their tribal land, by the state and the big corporations. The jawans, like those 74 dead, are but pawns in this game.

My Previous Posts on 'Operation Greenhunt':

Operation Greenhunt I: Chidambaram, when would your violence end?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Telangana VIII: My Letter to Sri Krishna Committee (SKC) - A Case for demerger of Telangana

Here is my letter to Sri Krishna committee advocating demerger of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh. This letter is an edited version of my previous post - TELANGANA III: A case of Tyranny of Majority.

Member Secretary,
Room No: 248,
Vignan Bhavan Annexe,
Maulana Azad Road,
New Delhi.


Case for demerger of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh

Telangana: A case of tyranny of majority

(9 April 2010)

If ever the free institutions of America are destroyed, that event may be attributed to the unlimited power of the majority.
-Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America

In our age the power of majorities tends to become arbitrary and absolute. And therefore, it may well be that to limit the power of majorities, to dispute their moral authority, to deflect their impact, to dissolve their force, is now the most important task of those who care for liberty.
- Walter Lippmann in American Inquisitors

Telanganites believe that with just over 1/3 of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly seats, they could not muster enough power to influence the decision making for 5 decades in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Testimony to this is that all agreements, accords, GOs, Supreme Court Judgments which were supposed to ensure just distribution of jobs and resources between Andhra and Telangana are either liquidated or violated to exploit Telangana and Telanganites could do nothing to stop that except democratically protest and continue to trust the state to correct the injustices. However, the state of Andhra Pradesh consistently failed to protect Telangana’s interests and instead exploited and discriminated against it. Why did this supposedly united state of Andhra Pradesh fail? The failure of the state of Andhra Pradesh has its origin in the kind of democracy it is practicing – one in which the majority Seema-Andhras who almost comprises 2/3 of the legislature have the final say in every matter. The failure of Andhra Pradesh is in the tyranny of the majority inherent in its democratic practices. Telangana struggle is a result of unabashed Majoritarianism of Seema-Andhra rulers and it is to break these shackles, a demerger is being advocated to separate out Telangana as was recommended by State Reorganization Committee (SRC) in 1956.

Telangana and Andhra: Unequal partners with different background

The core concern of Telanganites in 1950s during the time of reorganization of Indian states was that they would be unequally placed in competition with Andhrites as their political, cultural, educational background is different from those of Andhrites and were at a disadvantage in an uneven field.

Ø Telanganites were not allowed to participate in political activity in Nizam’s rule unlike how Andhrites experienced democratic processes and institutions in British’s Madras presidency. In fact, even while Telanganites were fighting their feudal lords in 1946, 2 years before they were ‘liberated’ by Indian union, an Andhrite (Tanguturi Prakasam) became the chief minister of Madras Presidency. To expect two communities from this diverse background to compete and co-exist in harmony was huge injustice to the junior partner – Telangana.

Ø Telanganites were hardly exposed to higher education in Nizam’s rule while Andhrites were well-served in British rule. The few Telanganites, who did manage, were into Urdu medium – Nizam’s official language (And this language obviously would be sidelined in a Telugu-centric linguistic state). On the other hand, the Nizam regime was almost tyrannical in tax-collection and it is from these sources that Nizam made huge investments in infrastructure in Hyderabad like railways, airport, universities like Osmania, hospitals like NIMS.

When Telanganites joined the free India in 1948, they obviously wanted to be masters of their destiny by getting themselves onto their feet educationally and politically and make use of the resources and infrastructure built by the Nizam through Telanganites’ sweat and blood. Thus, there were agitations in Telangana opposing the idea of merger right from 1952 (Non-Mulki agitation) when many youth lost their life in police firing. Telanganites were vocal about this before the Fazal Ali commission and as a result the SRC clearly stated Telangana should exist as a separate state till at least 1961 by which Telangana would rebuild itself enough politically, economically and educationally and make an informed decision whether to continue separately or merge with Andhra.

Fazal Ali - for a level-playing field by 1961

In Para 386 and 387 of SRC report, Fazal Ali clearly mentioned how till 1961, a decision on merger could wait to achieve ‘uniformity’ or a level-playing field.

386. After taking all these factors into consideration we have come to the conclusions that it will be in the interests of Andhra as well as Telangana, if for the present, the Telangana area is to constitute into a separate State, which may be known as the Hyderabad State with provision for its unification with Andhra after the general elections likely to be held in or about 1961 if by a two thirds majority the legislature of the residency Hyderabad State expresses itself in favor of such unification.

387. The advantage of this arrangement will be that while the objective of the unification of the Andhras will neither be blurred nor impeded during a period of five or six years, the two governments may have stabilized their administrative machinery and, if possible, also reviewed their land revenue systems etc., the object in view being the attainment of uniformity. The intervening period may incidentally provide an opportunity for allaying apprehensions and achieving the consensus of opinion necessary for a real union between the two States.

However, Andhra legislature opposed the SRC's report and lobbied for an immediate merger even as it assured that it would put enough safeguards in place to alley Telangana’s fears of losing jobs, land, water and financial resources. The strong Andhra political lobby in Congress won the day as there was hardly a congress party unit in Telangana (as a legacy of Nizam banning congress activities in his rule) and forced an immediate merger. Thus the state of Andhra Pradesh of 1956 is thrust down the throat of Telanganites much against their will.

Fazal Ali’s prophecy – Tyranny of the majority:

Fazal Ali commission's SRC, which has recommended Telangana remain a separate state, in page 101 and Para 378 clearly stated -

"The real fears of the people of Telangana is that if they join Andhra they will be unequally placed in relation to the people of Andhra and in this partnership the major partner will derive all the advantages immediately, while Telangana, itself may be converted into a colony by the enterprising coastal Andhra."

As mentioned by Fazal Ali in his report, the fear of an unequal relation wherein the major partner usurps the rights of the minor was the core concern of Telangana and to alley these fears, various safeguards were announced. With literally no political lobby, thanks to their ‘no politics’ Nizam heritage Telanganites were forced to accept a conditional merger with safeguards. This was despite Fazal Ali commission’s explicit warning that these safeguards would be ineffective (SRC Para 384)! These safeguards which were to work as checks and balances for the majority Seema-Andhra partners were however not monitored by the central government and Telangana paid a heavy price for that.

Conditional Merger – with safeguards as checks and balances:

In 1956, Andhra ruling elite promised safeguards for Telanganites to use their resources for their betterment and that they would not be diverted to Andhra. Telangana's merger with Andhra state in 1956 was a conditional one with safeguards, in form of Gentlemen agreement, attached to protect itself from the majority Andhrites who are comparatively well-educated. Having initiated and lobbied for the conditional merger all along, the Andhra leadership had the onus on them to keep their word. But all they started was a rich history of betrayals making a mockery of all agreements, presidential orders, court judgments in letter and spirit. The safeguards in the 'Gentlemens Agreement' mentioned that Telangana's jobs, land, water and financial resources will be reserved for itself.

Conditions broken – The Merger fails

Fazal Ali's prophecy came true and none of the safeguards which were supposed to serve as checks and balances were implemented. Telangana indeed became a colony for the majority. The 1969 Telangana agitation forced the center to appoint the Justice V.Bhargava committee which eventually confirmed the worst fears of Telanganites - that budgetary surpluses from Telangana have been moved to Andhra right from 1956.

Telangana's woes didn't end there. Even as Supreme Court upheld its rights as envisaged in the 'Gentlemen agreement', the Andhra plutocrats with their power and pelf overrode the highest court order too in parliament with brute majority. Thus, the concept of justice took backseat to number game of majority politics in democracy. While the major checks and balances have been entirely removed, Telangana was offered a consolatory one - in the shape of Telangana Regional Development Board. This board was supposed to overlook all development activity in Telangana and give a touch of financial self-rule for Telangana within the state of A.P. But then, Andhrite leaders have already shown their irreverence to agreements, accords, GOs, Supreme Court Judgements. So it was a matter of time before this minor check be done away with and yes, they did. NTR came to power in 1983 and among the very first actions he did was to dismantle the Board saying "We (Andhra people) are today in a supreme position, there is no need for a parallel board, a check or countercheck!!". So there it went again, yet another safeguard. As was practice, he issued yet another consolation, a far lesser safeguard in 1984, that of 610 GO and of course habits die hard. Even that didn't get implemented, till now. That is the disaster hegemonic power unleashed upon Telangana.

America's founding father James Madison famously said way back in 1788 "If men were angels, no government would be necessary...but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions." It has been proved that Madison's mantra of checks and balances failed to serve justice to Telangana thereby making it a victim of the tyranny of the majority.

Andhrite plutocrats never abided by any agreements and when pressed to do so, reacted by either whittling down or altogether doing away with the checks and balances as shown in NTR's own words. In hindsight, we now understand why Fazal Ali warned against the 'Gentlemen agreement'. The overarching feature of the 54 year experience for Telangana is that a majority can never be benevolent if there are no constitutional safeguards. If there indeed were some agreed upon safeguards, as in this case, you still need to trust the basic goodness of human beings to follow them! After all, the union government hardly showed any interest in seeing to it that these agreements got implemented. In our kind of democracy, winner takes it all despite any agreements and the majority wins. So Telangana was doomed to be a permanent minority the moment it took the 'Gentlemen' bait.

Telangana suffers the tyranny of the majority – some facets

Ø In context of this political & economical majoritarianism, Telanganites served as CMs in 4 terms for a total of just 6 years in 54 years of Andhra Pradesh’s existence. On the other hand, a smaller Rayalaseema, in area and population, produced CMs for almost 25 years and even a President! It is clear Andhra Pradesh is leveraging its power as a ‘bigger’ state at Telangana’s expense.

Ø Even the most ardent united Andhra proponents agree that Telanganites over years lost thousands of jobs and promotions due to the violation of agreements in letter and spirit. The 610 GO is the latest of the many flip-flops.

Ø Just as in politics, the bureaucracy is riddled with Andhrites openly flouting all agreements to reserve Telangana jobs to locals. Out of 433 decision-making departmental heads in the Secretariat, hardly 7-8 from Telangana found a place! When decision making positions have no representation from a region, that region is bound to suffer due to either ignorant or indifferent policy-making that does not take into consideration the real needs, distinct characteristics of that region and the same happened in Telangana in all sectors – agriculture, industry, education, health.

Ø Telangana hardly gets 10% of the river waters of Krishna and Godavari while 55 – 65 % of these river catchment areas are in Telangana. The lame excuse is that in this India, the aspiring superpower which is on a moon mission, we find it hard to irrigate lands on a higher elevation! Apparently the lift irrigation required is very very costly and Andhra Pradesh can’t afford it the way it can afford losing thousands of Telangana farmers in suicide (Between 1998 and 2002 alone, AP Govt statistics reported more than 1000 suicides). More than 65% of Telangana’s workforce is in agriculture and in absence of Irrigation, they are forced to depend on bore wells which requires high investments which leads to high debts and more suicides. Even while the likes of AMR lift irrigation schemes in Nalgonda proved time and again that these lift irrigation schemes are feasible and are not as costly as publicized, the majoritarian policy-making continues to be ignorant and indifferent to Telangana’s agricultural needs and practices.

Ø Proponents of united Andhra Pradesh are showing Karimnagar as a success story in irrigation and Agriculture. Karimnagar is a typical Telangana district where more than 60% of irrigation is done through bore wells! Compare that with the districts in Andhra. The cost of production is unfeasibly high in Telangana which in turn raises the minimum support price (MSP) for farmers across the state. So who is benefiting at whose expense? The Andhrite farmers on one hand pay nominal charges for the canal irrigation sponsored by Government while Telangana farmers take loans from money-lenders for their bore wells and electricity bills. Telangana farmers when not committing suicide and surviving are doing so despite, not because of, the Andhra Pradesh government and its criminal negligence.

Ø Irrigation projects which were supposed to irrigate Telangana lands are going on for decades for lack of funds while projects much larger in Andhra would be in a fast-forward mode even without environmental clearances/ permissions from CWC. This reflects the priorities of Majoritarian set-up.

Ø Telangana districts with exception of Hyderabad and its surrounding ones like Medak, Rangareddy form the bottom half of the per-capita income charts of Andhra Pradesh. That speaks volumes as the per capita income before merger was higher in Telangana.

Ø While Telangana contributes the rich infrastructure in Hyderabad and the basic resources like land, water, power for its everyday operation and expansion into surrounding districts, it is pertinent to ask what it received in turn. Amidst the massive Industrialization in the city and surrounding districts, the fact that not a single industry captain is from Telangana is not lost on us.

Your committee comprises of experts in food, agriculture, rural economies, socio-economic studies, law and political studies. And Telanganites hope you will do the due diligence required to understand Telangana’s position today.

Demerger of Telangana – the only solution:

Enough of the experiments with checks and balances, It is to break out of this majority stranglehold, Telangana wants its own legislature and rule itself, make its laws, use its waters, have its jobs and keep its self-respect. And it is with this hope that want to take this non-violent, democratic movement to its logical end – the demerger. The demerger of Andhra and Telangana would not just unshackle Telangana but would unleash more democratic forces within two smaller states which would in turn result in continued brotherhood among Telugus in two states, this time in an equal relationship. The demand for separate state has to be honored for the cause of justice and for the people of Telangana to continue their faith in democratic mechanisms.

Jai Telangana.