Gollapudi: ‘CAPITAL’ PUNISHMENT, Andhra Pradesh is in search of a new capital, for the third time.
Here is a true story. A friend of mine married a girl from a traditional family. He was a marine engineer on a foreign vessel, consequently resulting in his absence from home for 6 months in a year. His income was astronomical and naturally, he overloaded his wife with the rarest of jewels from all across the world. In four years flat their car driver eloped with her along with all her jewels- his attraction being the jewels not as much the person. Moral of the story: don’t- I repeat-DON’T overload what you love most. The temptation would be for the ‘load’ and not as much the subject.
Now, Andhra Pradesh is in search of a new capital, for the third time. I am sure this is, by any stretch of logic, not the final one. Very soon- I would give only 3 to 5 years before another committee would have to work on yet another capital for Rayalaseema. The condescending voices are being heard already. That political leadership always play the popular card and ‘possessiveness’ is a tribal instinct. Living together is an angelic trait. The animals and communities live in hordes not because of their unity but due to necessity. Wanting to have his pound of flesh is political expediency. So be it.
Converging all the enterprises and establishments at one place is the mindset of a street vendor, who wants to make his shop a ‘show piece’ to attract his customer. The politicians try to play to the gallery time and again and hence stack all the fruits in one basket. A prudent head of the family would try to protect his assets by stretching them away from each other keeping his options open. This has been the case the world over except, of course, in India.
If something goes wrong at Mumbai, the Commercial Capital of the largest democracy collapses. If anything undesirable hits Delhi, we are left without a National Platform. In Australia, the capital of the country is Canberra,288 miles away from Melbourne and importantly not any main city. I had been to the place. It is a beautifully designed township- not very big, but big enough to accommodate all the State’s requirements. It is a picturesque garden city. Canberra in Ngunnawal language means “meeting place’’, but I was told by my friend that it actually means “hollow between woman’s breasts’’(cleavage) - a city between Black Mountain and Mount Ainslie. The garden city movement and the natural vegetation gave the title to it as “bush capital’’. And the capital of California is Sacramento, another beautiful town, 200 miles away from Dublin where I used to stay with my friend. Sierra Nevada Foothills lend a radiant, rapturous beauty to its landscape. It is a sleepy town, but with very pristine river and valleys- a temptation to visit the place not because it is the Capital but because it is Sacramento.
Look at our political prudence. Last time, when AIADMK was in power it chose a nice place next to Anna University in Guindy for the new Secretariat complex, as the present 99-year lease of Fort St George was about to expire. Jayalalithaa government even performed the Bhoomi Puja. Soon after DMK came to power and the first thing they did was, to dismantle the project and then went on to complete the construction and made it into a library! And then, DMK identified another place off Anna Salai, surely a crammed area and an unlikely venue and completed the construction of the Secretariat in record time and started the Assembly session even before the construction as it had to lay down its office soon.
DMK wanted to close all options of the opposition differing with the incumbent government. The AIADMK government took over soon after, rejected the venue and made it into a multi-specialty hospital pleading with the Defence Ministry to allow them to continue in the present Fort St George! The personality clash of the leadership has virtually destroyed the larger interests of the public and money of the exchequer.
Not a single town of the ‘left-over’ Andhra State has the requisite resources to be chosen as a capital as they were not meant as such. And then, we have two bitter experiences and a third one looming on the horizon. Let us hope that the wisdom would prevail on the leaders to decentralise the establishments that might be necessary in a Capital without choking the towns and also keeping the third bifurcation in mind. It is important to have the practical wisdom of losing a few establishments to yet another capital in the not so distant future.
Andhra Pradesh was the fore-runner for forming the Linguistic States, as also a state within state and the present identification of the capital might well augur the debate or demand for yet another state. Surely, political ‘greed’ overpowers the practical ‘need’. Let the truncated piece have a basket that is not as alluring as the ‘wife’ of my good friend.
There is a light on the tower of Australian Senate building in Canberra and I was told that anybody, who wanted to sit in the public gallery, can see the light on indicating that Parliament was in session and could walk in to witness what their chosen leaders were deliberating in the highest body of the country. We have, unfortunately leaders, who cut off the power supply in these Houses, to keep the very electorate in darkness and have their whims go by. I was allowed to sit in the visitor’s gallery of House of Commons in London. We have only terrorists’ gate crashing into our Citadels of power. A pity!