Thursday, January 13, 2011

The SKC Scandal 2: SKC Thinks Telanganites are lazy and lack self-confidence!

The SKC report says “Telangana experienced a long history of oppressive feudal rule which shaped the character of the people and also generated the resistance to it. Telangana people are often considered subservient and lazy and they feel that coastal Andhra people exercise a “veiled contempt” towards them.” Can any academic well-versed in history, sociology actually stereotype that a group of people are lazy and subservient! This is a stereotype propagated by chauvinist Andhrites and the SKC has got its report ghost-written by them. Nothing else explains this scandal.

In fact while discussing how Telanganites are stereotyped in Telugu movies, this is what the report says – “The question of stereotyping and “being looked down upon” or “made fun of” is not peculiar to Telangana – unfortunately such stereotypes abound in all societies and are subject to change as the fortunes of such groups and sections of society improve. The self-confidence has to come from within and cannot be legislated or dictated by policy.” The last statement is again a pedestrian observation. How can a group of academics say that a people of a particular region lack self-confidence! Does that mean that Tamils lack self-confidence because Hindi movies make fun about them? Or that Jews lacked self-confidence in Hitler’s Germany when they were butt of all jokes!? It is an embarrassment for this country that these are ‘observations’ of a central government’s team of ‘experts’. Do we need further proof about who actually wrote the report?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The SKC Scandal: Mr Duggal, Who actually wrote the SKC report?

When I was going through the SKC report on Telangana, sheer disbelief took over me. It, in an odd way, reminded me of the senate hearings scene in Martin Scorcese's "The Aviator". In the electrifying scene where Howard Hughes was being investigated by the US senator Owen Brewster. The dialogue goes this way..

Hughes: Is it true you accept free Pan Am tickets

to circle the support of your C.A.B. bill?

Senator: No, it is not true.   
Hughes: Well, who wrote that bill, senator?
Who actually wrote the C.A.B. bill?                   
.. The actual words. Did you write them?

Senator: This is not how these hearings....are gonna be conducted.

Hughes: I have it. Maybe it'll refresh your memory.                  
"Bill S-    to amend the Civil Aeronautics Act."                   
Now, you introduced this bilto the Senate.
A lot of words.                  
You write all of them?                 
- Did you write any of them, senator?
- Now, look...

Now, this entire bill was written
by Pan Am executives...
...and designed to give that airline
a monopoly on international travel.
You've been flogging this bill all around
the world on their behalf, have you not?
Senator: I have duties that take me
all over the world, Mr. Hughes.
Hughes: Well, what the hell does a senator
from Maine need to visit Peru for?
Senator: I was seeking outlets for our trade goods.
Hughes: Buy a lot of lobsters down there, do they?
Senator, how many times have you visited
Trippe's office in New York... the last three months?
Would you like me to tell you, senator?
Senator: All right, this has gone on long enough.
Juan is a great American. 
His airline has advanced the cause
of commercial aviation for decades.                      
Juan Trippe is a patriot. Juan Trippe is not
a man who is interested in making money......

For those who does not know the background of the scene, let me briefly put it this way. Howard Hughes and Juan Trippe are competitors for the airlines market of US in 1940s and the senator tries to pass bills that gives monopoly over the market for Trippe's PanAm airlines. It is precisely that bill Hughes is referring to in the above scene. The senator tries to pass PanAm executives wish list as a bill, as it is!

While lobbying is always there in every sphere and government, very rarely is it seen, in an issue as prominent as Telangana's, that a committee succumbs so badly to men with power and pelf that they will simply pass their propaganda as the committee's 'objective study' verbatim. I mean no airbrushing, no attempt to at least pretend!! I mean, did the guys at least browse through the report before they signed it!?

Here is a committee that came in under the cover of the reputation of a certain Justice Sri Krishna. But it was clear from the very outset, that with a retired babu - a former chief secretary in the team, who will the shots. In fact even some of the team member's credentials are under question. It turns out that what they claimed they are, they actually are not, like that guy who called himself an economist. More about this later. So the committee with its phony qualifications made a farce show for an year and then submits a report referring those who have been campaigning for statehood for half-a-century (and who actually succeeded) as 'separatists'. It is the exact lingo of the 'Samaikyandra' group led by Lagadapati Rajagopal and K S. Rao. In fact, the report just reads out their arguments as its conclusions!

Every claim of Telanganites' is doubted, but not investigated before being concluded as baseless or insignificant. The report casually uses words like 'so-called discrimination' and 'percieved injustice' when addressing the Telangana's arguments of discrimination. All government statistics are taken at face-value without any third-party (like central government statistics) cross-checking. This, when the state government itself is the defendant! When there is a need to infer from the statistics and understand the deliberate discrimination done, like in case of the irrigated land, no effort was made. So what was the point? 

The report starts and ends with an agenda of trashing all arguments in favour of Telangana, with the same tone and reason of 'Samaikyandra' plutocrats. There is no doubt that what the committee has released as its report is an edited copy of what they were given by these plutocrats. This is unbelievable scandal which shows the corruption and insensitivity of the Indian state. Would someone stand and own up this report? Would Mr.Duggal tell us who actually wrote the report!?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Telangana XV: Why the SKC's 'best option' is bound to fail

SKC’s mentions the following 2 as the best out the 6 options it considered: The remaining 4 options are examined but are seen unviable. So they don't merit a discussion at this stage.

SKC’s best option:
1)    Creating a constitutional/statutory regional council for Telangana with and also an apex committee that would coordinate between the council and the AP state government as and when required.

    This is mentioned as option VI - Keeping the State united by simultaneously providing certain definite Constitutional/Statutory measures for socio-economic development and political empowerment of Telangana region – creation of a statutorily empowered Telangana Regional Council

SKC’s second best option:
2)    Demerger with Telangana as a state with Hyderabad as capital.

    This is mentioned as option V - Bifurcation of the State into Telangana and Seemandhra as per existing boundaries with Hyderabad as the capital of Telangana and Seemandhra to have a new capital

The report came out as expected reserving its strongest recommendation for setting up the regional authority for Telangana. I blogged about this option earlier and predicted why the SKC would prefer this over the demerger. While this line of thinking is understandable, what is perplexing is the lousy way SKC put the idea across.

Why SKC’s best option (Option VI) in present form is bound to fail:
The report itself states Earlier, a Regional Committee of the Legislature had been constituted by a Presidential Order under Article 371 through the Seventh Amendment in 1958. However, after the introduction of Six Point Formula, the Regional Committee was done away with by the Thirty Second Amendment in 1974. It has already been discussed in the Report (Chapter 1) that the Regional Committee did not fulfil the role envisioned for a statutory Regional Council under the Gentleman‟s Agreement, 1956. So it was all the most imperative that the SKC bolster this option and make a strong pitch for it for this option to have any chance. 

There are 2 questions the SKC should have pondered over and put in more work.

1)    If the committee did not fulfill its role earlier, how would it do now? How would Telanganites buy a failed experiment again? 
2)   Why would the Andhra people now accept the separate committee that they got removed earlier?

The 1st question would bring an answer that this time the regional committee should be different and powerful with legislative powers if indeed it needs to considered seriously. But no, the SKC just mentions this could at best be a legislative consultative mechanism that submits its annual report to Andhra Pradesh assembly! And guess what it does not even cover HMDA. And reason? SKC lamely says “However, the area under HMDA will not be a part of the development sub-plan since there is a separate authority for this purpose headed by the Chief Minister.” Why could not the SKC think about a comprehensive solution for all Telangana regions? They did not even try. And this is when they themselves say “As it will possibly be the first case of an empowered Regional Council outside of the Sixth Schedule Areas, every care should be taken to ensure that the proposed Regional Council is fully empowered in real terms. This will be critical both for making the model acceptable across the board and for winning the confidence of the people.”

Regarding the 2nd question, the SKC mentions nothing that made them think Andhras will be happy with Telangana having its own regional council. They just assumed they will support. Same assumption went wrong in the past and it will wrong again. It is a matter of time before there is a ‘telugu atmagaurava udhyamam’ that demands parity across the telugu state and we would be back at square one.

With these flaws, option VI indeed has no chance to make people think and discuss. That would leave only the ‘second best option’ as the best for not just Telangana, but even Andhrites!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Death of a doyen - K.G.Kannabiran

An year after losing K.Balagopal, we lost yet another voice of reason and justice - K.G.Kannabiran. Hardly a few weeks before, SR Sankaran passed away. The brave good men are indeed getting fewer.

In an age where governments are getting more unscrupulous by the day in their greed and declining moral centre, it is all the more tragic that we don't have souls like these anymore to defend what is right and show the silent majority that courage of convictions is not a lost virtue. Their clarity of thought and courage of convictions is what that keeps any democratic civil society inspired and hopeful about a gradual transformation of our establishment for the better. They have shown with their struggle for civil rights that truth indeed would triumph if persisted with.

My earliest experience of Kannabiran is in my adolescence when I was plagued with questions about state's violence and social unrest around. Around 15 years ago, I heard him speak in a seminar in Warangal lucidly touching upon a question he said he was asked time and again by the press. He was asked why are the Naxalites seeking 'rights' cover under the constitution when they are in fact waging war over it and its product- the state? Mr Kannabiran in his eloquent style said the state has its constitution under which it should act. It should try outlaws as per its constitution. If it goes out of its way with fake encounters and extra-judicial killings, may be it feels it's constitution and it's system are inadequate! And that it's sense of law and justice is flawed! And that only would vindicate the left wing argument that the state is exploitative and discriminatory against the powerless and the poor. Thus, Mr Kannabiran stressed, the state should act within its limits while dealing with the Naxal 'outlaws', for its own good. The objectivity was striking and his defiance was inspiring. 

That is precisely the feeling he did not want the crowds to lose by hearing about his death. So he seemed to have requested to his kith and kin that the news of his death be not publicised. And that the world should keep thinking he is alive and his inspiring spirit is still around. What a beautiful thought and how beautiful life ?