Battle for Hyderabad : OUTLOOK Magazine డిసెంబర్ 22, 2009Posted by Telangana Utsav in Andhra, CharMinar, Congress, Culture, Economy, GHMC, Hyderabad, Identity, MIM, Mulki, Muslim, politics, Rayalaseema, Settler, Sonia, Telangana, TRS, universities, Y S Jagan.
Whose, The Nizam’s Jewel?
Where does a separate state for Telangana leave Hyderabad?
Pushpa Iyengar, OUTLOOK The Weekly Newsmagazine, December 28, 2009
Fifty years ago, as a young government officer, Narendra Luther remembers looking forward to going from Hyderabad to Kurnool, which was then the capital of the newly-formed Andhra Pradesh. At 77, after serving under every chief minister preceding N. Chandrababu Naidu, Luther, an author and historian, recalls the schism that has always existed between the people of Telangana and the rest of Andhra Pradesh. “Their hearts never met,” says Luther, recalling the lunch room in the secretariat 50 years ago where Telangana and Andhra officers sat and ate separately and exchanged derogatory references about each other. The Andhraites would go on about how Telanganaites were lazy, lacked any work ethic and were nawabi in their attitude. The Telangana ones, on the other hand, perceived the Andhraites as ill-mannered and discourteous. Though stereotypes, these epithets have persisted in the conversations and consciousness of both parties, tripping easily off their tongues at the slightest social situation.
“The only people afraid of losing Hyderabad, says the pro-Telangana lobby, are those who have real estate there.”
It is, therefore, only too easy to imagine the tension that has escalated between the people of the two regions after the midnight of December 9 when the Centre, rattled by Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s 11-day fast, gave in, at least provisionally, to the demand for a separate Telangana state. It set the political climate on a high flame; politicians once supportive of the Telangana cause—such as Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu and Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) leader, film star Chiranjeevi—had to do a complete about-turn. Junking the pro-Telangana stance they adopted as recently as the April 2009 assembly polls, they started rooting for a united AP. Chiranjeevi, in fact, bore some of the brunt of Telangana ire against those opposed to any splitting of AP, when theatres showing his films, or those featuring his son Ramcharan Tej and others from his extended family, were targeted.
At the core of the entire statehood controversy is the battle for Hyderabad. With its booming infotech industry, a world-class airport, India’s largest movie industry, institutions like Microsoft and the Indian School of Business, the city has been the showpiece of Andhra Pradesh for long. So much so that Chandrababu Naidu lost an election and chief ministership because he was seen to have lavished all his affection and attention on the capital to the exclusion of all other areas in the state.
Now, all the regions want to stake their claim to the 400-year-old city, inflicting on its denizens a serious crisis of identity. If the state were bifurcated, would they cease to be Andhraites and become Telanganaites? Or will the city become a shared capital of the two entities a la Chandigarh, and be given Union Territory status? Yet others wonder: Will Hyderabad as the capital of Telangana have the same brand value it has as the capital of Andhra, or will it mean a devaluation?
C. Parthasarathy, the chairman of Karvy Stock Broking Limited, says Hyderabad was indeed devalued by the chain of events sparked off by KCR’s fast and the accompanying violence that resulted in the hasty announcement of statehood for Telangana. One party appeased, the other went on the offensive as the likes of Congress MP Lagdapati Rajagopal went on fast for a united Andhra Pradesh and one TV channel, covering the event blow-by-blow, upped the ante by running ads playing on the Hyderabadi’s anxieties: What is left? Where will we go (referring to the land Andhras acquired in Hyderabad)?
Nor was the sight of a giant net covering the recently opened mall in Banjara Hills, GVK1, any more reassuring. The net came up after a Big Bazaar outlet in the nearby Hyderabad Central mall was vandalised in the violence during KCR’s fast. CII-AP chairman Y. Harish Chandra Prasad estimates that the violence during the 16 days, beginning from KCR’s fast, has led to losses of over Rs 1,000 crore. “Peace should prevail quickly as politicians instigating people is affecting business,” he says.
“Some suggest Andhra can develop a capital 150 miles from Hyderabad, develop the Guntur-Vijayawada belt.”
Hyderabadis sympathetic to the Telangana cause are dismissive of politicians spearheading agitations for unity saying they are driven by the urge to protect their real estate interests. Rayalaseema and Andhra politicians, many allege, own large land banks whose prices will plummet should Hyderabad lose its branding. Parthasarathy agrees that real estate will take a beating if bifurcation takes place, resulting in confusion and a substantial slowdown. But the negative impact, he says, will be a short-term one. The quality of leadership in the new state will determine the future, he adds. After all, when Naidu and after him ysr took over, there was a similar wait-and-watch policy till the signals emerging from these leaders had the industry raising a toast. And as Luther points out, “Once you are a CM, things are different. You enforce the same rules you were defying. In other words, Hyderabad as a prize will be something the government will have a stake in preserving.”
“The debate,” says K.G. Kannabiran, a member of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, and a Hyderabadi for nearly 50 years, “is mostly on all the rumours that Andhras will be driven out, that they’ll lose their assets, that they might lose Hyderabad. These have no rational basis. Hyderabad will not get devalued and outsiders won’t have to run away.” According to him, there are ways of protecting assets and the government can bring about a legislation to protect the interests of citizens.
Hyderabad was open to outsiders even during the reign of the Kakatiyas or of Sultan Quli Qutb Shah, says Zaheeruddin Ali Khan, managing editor of Siasat, an Urdu daily widely read by the Muslim population of Hyderabad. He thinks Muslims will be dominant enough if Telangana is formed because the districts in the region have a reasonable proportion of the minority community (17 per cent of the population) and will have a say in governance. “There are rich and poor Muslims in the city,” says Khan, “The former may be worried because they have a stake in the land deals made by unscrupulous politicians but the latter are not and go about their daily lives.”
Telangana deserves to rule itself, says Gita Ramaswamy, a publisher of Telugu books. Against any separation 30 years ago, she is firmly in its favour now, as there has always been a simmering undercurrent among Telanganaites which has now come to the fore as old resentments against outsiders who have demeaned them. Why, even villains in Telugu films often speak the Telangana dialect, reflecting the general bias in Andhra minds. Just last week, a Rayalaseema man tumbled into the Hyderabad Press Club and accused journalists of writing pro-Telangana reports. This, despite TV channels and newspapers being owned by rich businessmen from coastal Andhra and the Telugu film industry being a preserve of Andhras too.
As for Hyderabad, Telangana supporters say it will retain its status and brand value even in its new avatar and be just as attractive to investors. If anyone is affected, it will be the government employees if the state capital is shifted in the event of a bifurcation. Some, like Luther, say the government can develop a capital about 150 miles from Hyderabad. Others talk in terms of developing the Guntur-Vijayawada belt.
People admit to the entrepreneurial spirit of the Andhras and their contribution to the growth of Hyderabad as a business hub. Parthasarathy believes that if the state is bifurcated, the Andhras who have invested here will just move on. They will flock to the new capital because they will think in terms of a new city, new investments, he says. Hyderabad’s loss could well be the new capital city’s gain. Cyberabad could well become a city in its own right.
• Population: 40 lakh
• Literacy rate: 79.04%
• Tax revenue: 51% of state revenue
• IT exports: Rs 32,000 crore
Why Andhra And Rayalaseema Say No To Telangana:
• Telangana has all the central universities, an IIT and an NIT.
• Hyderabad is home to the state’s major airport, business houses, the film industry and medical facilities.
• A split would the people of coastal Andhra have to adjust to a fourth capital after Chennai, Kurnool and Hyderabad.
• Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema have demanded compensation of Rs 2 lakh crore for each of the regions towards their investments in Telangana in case Hyderabad is made part of the new state.
• Was statehood for Telangana announced hastily as a quickfix solution?
• Did CM K. Rosaiah err in arresting TRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao on November 29 ahead of his fast?
• Why did the Congress dilly-dally for nearly 10 days till the night of December 9?
• Did the Congress consult other parties?
• Was any Andhra leader present when the December 9 decision was taken?
• Why are parties like the BJP, TDP, PRP, who supported statehood, now opposed to the Congress move?
• If there can be nine Hindi-speaking states, why can’t there be two or three Telugu-speaking ones?
• What happens if the AP assembly fails to pass the resolution for the division of the state, especially now that 225 MLAs have resigned?
• Will Hyderabad as Union Territory be acceptable to all?
“If bifurcation takes place, real estate may take a beating. But the leadership of the new state will determine the future.”
— C. Parthasarathy Chairman, Karvy Stock Broking
“Nobody’s asking anybody to leave. Outsiders have always come here as Hyderabad has a nice climate and infrastructure.”
— D. Amar Chairman, Press Academy
“Telangana has come of age and Telanganaites want to rule themselves. There is no point dragging the issue.”
— Gita Ramaswamy Publisher, Hyderabad Book Trust
“The suicides that took place for Telangana recently aren’t part of the Telangana culture. That said, Telangana still isn’t a done deal.”
— Kancha Ilaiah Political scientist
“Hyderabad won’t be devalued nor will outsiders run away. The break-up will not result in the appropriation of poverty.”
— K.G. Kannabiran Member, PUCL
“Hyderabad’s place on the global IT map won’t change if there’s bifurcation. But Andhra inputs will be withdrawn.”
— Lalita Ghir Member, INTACH
“It is said that out of the 10 who come to Hyderabad, 12 stay on. That character of the city, built over centuries, will remain.”
— Narendra Luther Ex-civil servant and historian
“Brand Hyderabad won’t get devalued. The political leadership is more mature than in ’69 when 370 lives were lost.”
— Y. Harish Chandra Prasad Chairman, CII-AP
“Andhraites who came here and invested needn’t worry, only politicians who speculated on land will be affected.”
— A. Raghava Rao Director, Abin Advertising
“Hyderabad was open to outsiders even during the Qutb Shahi and Kakatiya dynasties. That character won’t change.”
— Zaheeruddin Ali Khan Managing editor, Siasat
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