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Both regions can benefit
The long-cherished dream of the people of Telangana is going to be a reality soon. The region will be demerged from the combined State after 56 years...
The long-cherished dream of the people of Telangana is going to be a reality soon. The region will be demerged from the combined State after 56 years of cohabitation inflicting great pain and sentiment of separation. But, this is how States or nations do emerge and develop. This is not the time to reflect on our common culture and heritage as no one is physically isolated or rehabilitated elsewhere, as in partition. We continue to live and sail together enriching our common culture, language and future sharing our experiences and resources.
We may briefly reflect here on the economic status of the region. The Economic History of the region narrated by Adapa Satyanarayana, Ramakrishna Reddy, Thirumali, Vasant Bawa and others clearly shows that it had a distinct character different from others. It is really a puzzle how the Nizam accumulated so much of wealth in a land-locked region. It is revealed that the economic activity in the form of industrialisation was initiated by the State which got its resources through primitive accumulation. It was the Nizam who had invited outsiders to cultivate 40 lakh acres of barren land during the 1920s that helped create agricultural surplus for public investment.
Thus, the Nizam had developed a model to overcome the handicap of being an isolated province and not to solely rely on international trade. The authors have also explained how the “quartet of thugs” (dominant castes) bribed revenue officials to get their names entered in revenue records to transform as landowners.
Later, the Telangana armed struggle and the distribution of lands in the region along with other political developments made some of the Scheduled Castes, Tribes and OBCs landholders with average holdings higher than in Coastal Andhra. This character needs to be kept in mind while formulating economic programmes in the future State. The proportion of their population would also rise after readjustment of data.
There are several states in the country that are land-locked and under-developed. The so-called BIMARU States are land-locked (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh). Even Punjab, Haryana and the Himalayan States have not benefitted from trade liberalisation. In fact, regional disparities have grown during the post-reform period as investments, FDIs, etc., are concentrated only on the coast and a few urban agglomerates.
Delhi is an exception being the National Capital City and politically a buffer between North and West. That is why the government is now developing a Delhi-Mumbai corridor for industrial growth. Telangana, being a land-locked State, needs to learn from the experiences of these states and from its distinct historical and social milieu. The city of Hyderabad was developed due to several land-related and socio-economic factors. The city has become a bone of contention among different interest groups of diverse geographical regions that are nearby and not the backward North Andhra, 900 kms away.
There seems to be a penchant among some leaders that the city can be developed as a growth centre to take care of the development of the entire region. We may draw their attention to the recent happenings in America and Europe where cities like Detroit have crumbled. There is no doubt that the city and its resources can be utilised for the development of rural Telangana. But, the city cannot be overextended beyond an optimum point that becomes counterproductive.
Further, the city has emerged as a centre of service sector, R and D that do not produce any tangible commodities but only weightless goods and software products. They do not need vessels or ships to export them from our borders to other countries. Satellites and Internet facilities are enough.
Another important factor that needs to be kept in mind is that the whole software business is based on some soft skills and advanced education and training. We are of the view (subject to correction) that the proportion of Telangana boys and girls in this sector is limited as they had inherited a weak higher education sector. As someone remarked recently, most of the engineering and professional colleges in the city are either under the control of minorities or ‘others’. Therefore, as late Jayashankar used to insist, educational institutions are to be given priority to prepare Telangana youth to take up greater responsibilities in future.
Some critiques allege that the city of Hyderabad did not allow people to reason out the conditions in the rural Telangana. The city and its extended region of Ranga Reddy, Medak, parts of Nalgonda have limited influence on the structure of development elsewhere. Interestingly, adjoining Mahboobnagar has remained one of the most backward.
The per capita SDP of Nizamabad, Adilabad, Mahboobnagar and even Warangal is less than the combined state SDP and Hyderabad (some districts in Seemandhra have the same worry). If we turn our attention to the prospects for agriculture, the size of holdings and water are important. It is noted that the average holdings in Telangana is much higher (2.4 ha) than coastal Andhra and top 5 per cent of the landholders possess 33% of the land. It is much higher in South Andhra.
The issue is that the landlords or big farmers in Telangana seem to have not used their surplus for industrialisation of the region. Perhaps they are lured by the glamour of Hyderabad and we may hope that they will now turn to industrialisation and manufacturing in the districts. The newly formed State, like that of the erstwhile Nizam, has a responsibility to sponsor not only industrialisation but also dispersal of industries to cater to the needs of backward districts in Telangana to realise the dreams of the disadvantaged.
There are plenty of opportunities in the State in terms of mineral and natural resources, including water, that need to be imaginatively augmented for its development. Interestingly, Telangana has slowly shifted to cotton by devoting around 30 per cent of its fertile land. The State had sufficient skill base in handlooms and textiles, but they were never effectively utilised. The raw cotton is exported to Tamil Nadu and yarn is imported making handloom and power looms very expensive that led to distress migration and suicide of weavers.
Further, it has to develop its roads and corridors to connect with the emerging International Air Cargo corridor in Nagpur (nearby) and to sea port in the neighbouring Prakasam/ Guntur of Coastal Andhra. This would provide sufficient scope to share its surplus resources in exchange for Coastal Andhra space and funds to come out of the handicap of land lock to grow together.
This is a win-win situation for both the regions to continue their legacy of brotherhood and inseparability in the years to come to display the prowess of Telugu culture.