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.


Madhav said...

Good article. Did you post it already?

I think Telangana would soon be given for the case is strongly grounded by facts and moreover since the mood of the people is overwhelmingly in its favour.

I think the only string to be attached is to make Hyd a free zone! I think in this connection too, you should have written something!

Gattu said...

Once again an Excellent post. Amar !!!!! Appreciated very well.... When an issue arises on Telangana, people should not just think on the basis of their origin but on the basis of the facts.... Your illustrations are universal truths..... Keep going......If a topic arises on Hyderabad as a free zone, we need to think on one more free zone 'Vizag'.

Srikanth said...

When we speak about UTs, then Vijayawada and Guntur also qualify to be UTs, besides Tirupati which has vested interests of people from Telangana, Andhra, Karnataka and Tamilnadu.

jayakrishna said...

Amar , the facts are very well supported and i feel this should be one of the best letters and recommendations from a individual in support of telangana submitted to SKC .

Ramanujam Kondapally said...

A nice post from the Argumentative Telanganite. I feel that this will be the best post that the SKC recieved from an individual either in support of united state or separate states. All the best. We hope for the best.

Amar said...

I did not mention Hyd as committee's ToR does not include discussion on city. And I do not think political structure of the city can be altered, for all practical purposes, but mechanisms could be put in place to avoid discrimination in city in jobs, housing etc.

'Free Zone' makes sense as a word only when Hyd is in the present 'united' state. If Telangana demerges, some seem to believe that the nearest equivalent to 'free zone' is union territory! And looking at central Govt approach to UTs and the historical, geographical and political reasons, making Hyd a UT is not feasible.

//When an issue arises on Telangana, people should not just think on the basis of their origin but on the basis of the facts//

That is what I believe. On every issue, we should think objectively. That is my belief behind this blog.

@Srikanth, JK, Ramanujam,

Thanks Buddies. Glad that you liked this piece.

vinod said...

Buddy, this is the best and only one post that made completely based on facts.

I am a supporter of Andhra and United andhra is my personal feeling.

My Questions are
1) Demerging the telangana is the only solution for present Telangana crisis.. ?

2) Where is the security for the people who came from Andhra and Seema(Seema people are less afected when compared to Andhra). Every body will know how the term Andhra is treated in hyderabad. I will not look for entire telangana but atleast in hyderabad, the term Andhra would not be discouraged.

3) The main and most important thing is, the language used by telangan people over andhra people. Terming us as Rowdies, looters and so on....
If we agree for Telangana now that means we are aggreing ourself that we are lootesrs and all the terms imposed by you on us.
This point is making me more angry over Telanganite

I have many points to write, for the time being i am posting only 3.

But the first Blog that i impressed, which is for protelanga...

hari srinivas said...

@ vinod:
these are my answers to your questions.
1)Yes demerger is the only solution. No more negotiations into that.
2)Security? what nonsense are you talking about? show me one instance where in a andhraite was attacked in telangana? My nieghbor back at home is a typical andhraite, I am a staunch pro telangana person. i haven't attacked him though we have differences in our thoughts. now stop this crocodile tears and get a life you loser. any person from whatever region in india is welcomed in telangana, only a group of people whose main source of income is cheating, for say, running fake chits in k.p.h.b,fake banks, running fake job consultancies again in kphb, and all the real estate blood suckers should be afraid of a seperate telangana. ofcourse those who are ill qualified than a telanganite but are able to fetch a job coz have good influences in secretariat or govt, should pack their bags and go back...
3) here you try to act sincere, natakam, bootakam is in the blood. for decades you people were insulting telangana language by using it as a trademark language for the rowdies and goondas in the movies. no movie made by u guys has the mention of all the popular festivals or culture of telangana. poor new gen telanganites are fooled by watching the movies wherein sankranti is the much adored festival. whereas it is dasara actually.
so i dont want to waste my time arguing with people like you. shut the freak up and wait for the dawn to arrive... jai telangana

Amar said...


//1) Demerging the telangana is the only solution for present Telangana crisis.. ?//

Yes, because nothing else worked.

//2) Where is the security for the people who came from Andhra and Seema..//

No such discussion is warranted as even at the peak of the latest phase of the movement, no Andhrite was targeted.

//3) The main and most important thing is, the language used by telangan people over andhra people. Terming us as Rowdies, looters and so on..//

There was a simplistic view about the problem which led to stereotyping of Andhrites in Telangana. The language you mentioned reflects that. And it hurts lots of Andhrites. The latest phase of Telangana bought more awareness to Telangana people as to which groups exactly are exploiting Telangana. So the view could mature now. It is a passing phase.

@hari srinivas,

I am glad to see you take time and post here. Please bear in mind that the issues discussed here call for an objective analysis and not personal judgments. It is in this spirit, I am calling for a free, unfettered debate without any moderation. Please self-moderate. Thank You.

Anonymous said...


I'm glad, maturity has bestowed upon you. For the first time in your entire blog, I find you "not letting T people single out Andhrites". Generally I have seen in various blogs that Pro T activists flock blogs and single out and even abuse Andhrites and Anti telangana sentiments.

Good to see this. This attitude would certainly allow discussions and analysis based on facts.

If only all Telanganites realise this. :)

Cheers to your spirit. You have proved to be a superior human being by asking Pro T acticist to self restrain..

Thank you.

mon mur said...

Very well written article. I am from Andhra but loved reading this.You have really supported every statement of urs with good facts and proper logic.

buy research paper online said...

Very interesting, anti-Nehru politics emerged with the repression of the Telengana movement; many within the Congress Party extended their hands to leftist causes. Feroze Gandhi was among them