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By JR Janumpalli

June 2, 2022, marks the eighth anniversary of Telangana State’s formation. In these 8 years, the State’s forward march was very eventful and inspiring. For a region which was denied its statehood for six decades, forced to be in the company of a majority region and was fighting with its back to the wall for its rightful share of its own region’s resources, it is very commendable progress – a revelation of its denied potential and proving wrong the sceptics as well as an avowed vindication of its ardent protagonists.

At the peril of repetition, we need to recount Telangana’s outstanding progress among the comity of States in the nation on its anniversary. It has risen to a position of above 5 in the larger States in terms of GSDP and per capita GSDP. The erstwhile united State was hovering at the 15-18th position before 2014. In most of the macroeconomic indicators too, it has secured its place among the top. Its Budget performance is acknowledged to be very prudential. Telangana has made a mark in every important socioeconomic indicator in these eight years. Official figures and estimates of the national institutions confirm it.

Little Acknowledgement

But the two national parties and other local parties in the State refuse to acknowledge it. The Congress does not talk about progress but indulges in perverse personal and family invectives. The BJP local leaders instead of trying to get help from their ruling Centre, promote anarchy and disgruntlement for their own political benefit. Other local parties like the TJS simply indulge in knee-jerk reactions of rejection of everything the Telangana government does.

The media is a peculiar mixture, dominated by ‘two Telugu States’ (a euphemism for Andhra) media, both print and digital. There are some local anti-Telangana and some pro-Telangana outfits. The latter is dubbed as pro-government, blithely by the antagonists. Even if they report the official Central and State data and the ground level situation as it is, it will be billed as pro-TS government. Yet, the Telangana media reporting dedicated news on the State’s progress is doing a fine job. It has shown its merit and brought the real progress of the State to the fore.

The progress made by Telangana in the last eight years needs to be reviewed against the backdrop of its formation. Many States were carved in India after 1956. But only a few were created through bifurcation of old States, like Mumbai-Gujarat and Punjab-Haryana. Andhra-Telangana is not a bifurcation of the original old State. It is the demerger of two merged States. It was a conditional merger. There was disaffection between the two since the beginning. The States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) did not recommend it. The Centre forced it for political reasons. They did not gel like other linguistic States. There were vehement intermittent revolts against it with a great deal of loss of life.

Centre’s Apathy

It was the misfortune of Telangana to have fallen for the wrong political calculations of the Centre, getting a very raw deal in its forcible merger with Andhra in 1956. The Centre had revised its decision in the case of Bombay-Gujarat and Punjab-Haryana and bifurcated them. They flourished better after separation. Subsequently, there were many such State divisions with several dimensions. In 2000, three States were created which were not in the purview of the SRC and their struggle for separate States was not as intense as in Telangana. Despite all these examples, everybody who was somebody professed that demerger of Telangana was wrong and would trigger many such divisions. But nothing of that sort happened, except providing a profound new lease of life to suppressed Telangana.

Nearly all the Andhra intelligentsia never appreciated the desire of Telangana people for demerger. They said it was unconstitutional, unscientific and irrational. They also solicited opinions from outside the State from eminent personalities like Kuldip Nayyar in support of their refusal to demerger. They wrote a book ‘Refuting an agitation – 101 lies and dubious arguments of Telangana separatists’. Sanjaya Baru, former media adviser to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, released the book in New Delhi. Ashok Malik, renowned columnist, and Ajay Sahni, Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management, spoke on the occasion. They did not talk on why it is not justified like in the case of other earlier mentioned divisions later than 1956 and the need to make Telangana people go through such conflagration for as long as 58 years.

Discrimination Continues

As if the 58-year ordeal is not enough, the BJP Central government from 2014 started its own snatch of discrimination against Telangana. It called the division ‘killing mother and saving the child’ and said the Telangana Bill was not passed properly. Added to it, it cosied up to residual Andhra Pradesh and kept Telangana at an arm’s length politically, in the first term after the merger. In the second term, it has become hostile outright. It has withheld central funds in a wilful manner, employed a deliberate political squeeze on the State – did not provide flood relief to Hyderabad and buy rice from the State, jeopardised Telangana irrigation projects with its draconian takeover of river water projects on Godavari and Krishna, did not sanction national institutes, medical colleges, Navodaya schools, so on and so forth.

It also made big political raids on the State to win the GHMC election and a few by-elections to corner the TRS to wrest the political initiative from it. It denigrated the State’s development with unsubstantiated allegations, personal attacks on the Chief Minister and his government, and treated Telangana in a very condescending manner, exhibiting unseemly political phobia. It is a very surprising political attitude of a Central government towards a newly formed State. Leave alone helping it, trying to squeeze it politically to subjugate it is very undemocratic and does not behove a national government.

In such circumstances, the progress made by Telangana is all the more commendable. The progress and achievements have vindicated in full the grievance, claim and aspiration of the progenitors and activists of the separate State. It is all because of the fine culmination of the State’s inherent economic strengths and pragmatic political leadership. Strategisation, bold conception and execution of projects, and the prudential management of the Budget proved to be key. For the good fortune of Telangana, all these things have come into play in the right measure at the right time to make the desired progress. Viva la Telangana!

(The author is a freelance journalist)

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Author: Howard Caldwell