Wednesday, July 31

What I wish to happen to the Telangana state

Finally, the partisan and political movement bore a fruit by declaring a separate Telangana state. This is indeed joyful to the people here (I am writing this from Hyderabad), as there is a history of over half a century to this movement, seeing a rise and fall due to various reasons along this period. This post is how someone coming from outside the region, and whose immediate ancestors haven't experienced any of the feudalistic oppression or the exploitation that happened in this region, looks at the separatist movement, its implications and possible future.

I justify this separate state movement, indeed as a matter of pride, but economic pride rather than a political one. The state of Andhra Pradesh was formed with an intention that capitalistic classes from the Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions would invest in Telangana, and hence the region would see an economic upliftment of its masses who have been subjected to the extent of slavery during the Nizam rule. A political voice to the people wasn't provided until the first separatist movement in 1969, after which many economic and political solutions were tried in the region for a better and faster upliftment of the people here.

None of these political solutions gave good results, and the region started to improve, mostly due to the purchasing power of the immigrants, rather than that of the natives. Though post-liberalization saw growth of the middle-class, the weaker and poorer sections in the region were never equipped well enough to make use of the economic situation. Although this happened all over the country and is not limited to Telangana, it's still a problem looking specifically in a regional context. Even the "Hyderabad boom" that happened in the late 1990s helped mostly the privileged sections of the region, but not the ones whose upliftment was deeply necessary with the growing economic inequality. As a matter of fact, post-liberalization period destroyed the lives of the bottom sections, increasing farmer suicides which hit Telangana badly due to its small-scale peasantry.

Coming to the present movement, although the political exploitation of the cause cannot be ignored, this is indeed a people's agitation to end the oppression they are being subjected to and to become empowered. Note that I am talking only about the underprivileged, weak and poor sections of the region, and NOT about the capitalistic and privileged sections of the same region. There have been student suicides, whose deaths were pigeon-holed into martyrdom, but the common element in every one of those is poverty, unemployment, despair and inability to get out of financial problems. Hyderabad, with its income and infrastructure, couldn't uplift any of these students from their economic situation and improve their lives in this whole period.

So, what is the future of these people now, after a state is carved with Hyderabad as its capital (in the next few years), with its income going to be spent within the region itself? Would the income distribution be favored towards the ones who are in a desperate need for it? Will it improve the chronic indebtedness of farmers in the region? Increasing Government jobs, are in fact, a burden to the state, and will impair the spending power of people, as their salaries cannot be adjusted to inflation, maintain purchasing power over a period of time. Unless people get equipped enough to jump into the competitive market economy and have their share in generating revenue for the state, the situation cannot improve as a whole.

On the other hand, we have a capitalistic and political class from the region, who are eagerly waiting to jump into the market and grab their share, and selling the notion of "development" without addressing the real issues. This type of economy without trying to uplift the masses will further increase the income inequality, and will not improve the suicide situation. The popular reasons of the present agitation - Water, Employment, and Pride will not be addressed just because a new state is being carved and more income is pouring into the treasury. Economic policies targeted to improve people's living conditions and equip them well enough to make use of the economy to get out of poverty and unemployment are desperately needed now.

So, what do I wish to happen to the new state? I would wish people would continue this revolution until their lives get improved, turn it into a class-revolution instead of a political one, make their representatives put this in priority and empower themselves. This is a good opportunity given they have a city like Hyderabad to make use of. On the other hand, what I don't wish to happen is a Crony capitalistic class getting emerged in the region making use of the same Hyderabad, increasing the oppression of the natives, and creating destructive political causes like stopping migrations, building propaganda with distorted history and culture, and persecuting people from other regions.

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