Form Telangana now – T K Arun అక్టోబర్ 7, 2011Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in agitation, Andhra, Andhrapreneurship, Articles, bandh, Congress, Economy, elections, Hyderabad, Identity, livelihoods, Polavaram, politics, regionalism, Telangana, TRS, Uttara Andhra.
Tags: 2014 elections, capital city, Gorkhaland, Rayalaseema, SJS
Form Telangana now
TK Arun, Economic Times, October 06, 2011
As Telangana burns, the Congress fiddles — with its electoral fortunes in all three regions of Andhra Pradesh and with credibility across the nation. The buzz is that the Congress wants to announce the new state only on the eve of the next assembly elections in 2014.
The calculation behind such thinking would perhaps be clear to the Hottentots, whose world of numbers used to have three elements: 1, 2 and many. The rest of us can only gape in awe.
The roadblock on Telangana, we are told, comes from West Bengal, in the form of Mamata Banerjee’s sensitivities on Gorkhaland: if Telangana is granted, it would strengthen separatist demands in Darjeeling. Neither the sense nor the sensibility on Telangana will change, as far as Ms Banerjee goes, by 2014. If the Congress can bite the bullet then, it might as well put its teeth to good use now.
Another argument is that the Congress cannot be seen to be buckling under pressure. Granted, the entire nation and Anna Hazare know the Congress is guided only by principle and never by pressure. That said, the worry that the Congress would, if it forms the new state under pressure, cede ground to the TRS that has been spearheading the agitation for Telangana is altogether misplaced.
Andhra Pradesh was formed under pressure, after Potti Sreeramulu died fasting for a separate Andhra state to be carved out of the erstwhile Madras Presidency, in 1952. Despite what today’s Congress logicians would deem to be abject surrender under pressure, the Congress formed all successive governments in Andhra Pradesh till the early 1980s.
Respecting popular sentiment is a core value of democracy, provided that sentiment does not conflict with equally core values such as protecting fundamental rights of individuals and groups. This qualification is, of course, what separates democracy from mobocracy. Respecting the wishes of the people of Telangana for a state of their own amounts to recognising and acting out popular sentiment, not yielding to pressure.
But TRS would certainly have the upper hand, to begin with. Dealing with that is normal politics. The way some Telangana agitators have turned into protection racketeers who take money for not targeting particular commercial installations is a source of popular revulsion that is waiting to be tapped.
Telangana has 17 parliamentary seats. The rest of Andhra Pradesh accounts for 25. The present state of administrative paralysis and the popular perception that the Congress’ penchant for fiery fiddling is responsible for the mess the state is in will ensure that the party loses all 25 seats in 2014, apart from the 17 where the TRS has the initial upper hand. Decisive, bold action can and will alter this.
The real bone of contention is Hyderabad. The only viable solution is for Hyderabad to be a shared capital for both Telangana and the truncated Andhra Pradesh, as a Union Territory for the time being. People call this the Chandigarh solution, forgetting the unmet promise to build a new capital for Haryana.
What makes Hyderabad such an object of covetous passion for people of Telangana and of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema is not its biriyani but the equally mouth-watering real estate investments in the city. The sensible thing to do is to create equally attractive real estate opportunities for enterprising Telugus, in the form of a new capital city built from scratch.
Fast growing India needs new towns to accommodate the millions of people who will need to shift from village to town, to man the industry and services that drive India’s growth. If half of India is to become urban over the next 15-20 years, India will need additional urban space to the tune of 18,000-25,000 sq km.
To house one crore people in a modern, high-rise town with a population density of 18,000 per sq km, you will need an area of 556 sq km. Identify such a place somewhere bordering both coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, plan the town meticulously as to roads, parks, parking, public transport, policing, sewerage, underground pipelines for power, telecom and piped gas, mixed land-use, regulation of commercial and residential spaces, housing for different income groups, municipal governance, energy conservation, water harvesting, solar energy, schools, hospitals, playgrounds, stadia, places of worship, places for political rallies, museums and mausoleums.
Parcel out the construction, including of connecting roads and airport. Fund it liberally from the Centre for roads, underground infrastructure, waste treatment. Adopt extensive public-private partnership for the rest. This process of building a modern, planned city will create enough income and growth opportunities to consume the passions now focused on Hyderabad. It would drive growth, create jobs, accelerate the economy’s structural diversification and yield rich political dividends.
This, of course, calls for a little more than a lazy fiddler’s muddled calculations