People ask why there’s so much frenzy over the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. And they point out how Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand were created without any great fuss. The comparison is naive. The fact is that the issue is no longer about the creation of a separate Telangana; that is how it might have started out, but today the issue is who gets the keys to the city of Hyderabad. There is simply too much money and power at stake in this great IT and pharma hub for any of the political players (and other assorted interests) to give up without a fight to the finish. The fact that we’re seeing such chaos today is not, as some talking heads on TV have suggested, because the creation of Telangana has come as a surprise to anybody. For the past couple of years, everybody in Andhra Pradesh has known it was coming—and that it would come in 2013, probably some time between October and December, timed with the 2014 elections in mind. No, the real reason for the current chaos is the inevitable, desperate, last-ditch battle for control of Hyderabad. Because it’s a battle where the stakes are enormous, where winner takes all, and the devil takes the hindmost. All of which says a great deal about the state of our polity today, not to mention the state of our nation.
Time to reorganise?
The British, in the 1860s, created a policy that was wonderfully named ‘The Policy of Masterly Inactivity’. In short, doing nothing, but doing it with style. Which is sometimes not a bad policy to follow: Indira Gandhi favoured it, and P.V. Narasimha Rao perfected it. It’s a policy the Congress party has pursued in connection with Telangana over the years, as part of its cautious approach to avoid a proliferation of states, which dates back to the 1950s. But now the time has come for us to seriously consider a Second States Reorganisation Commission. For one thing, the 28 states we currently have (excluding Telangana) to govern a population of over 1.2 billion seem to be stretching administrative resources very thin. The United States, by contrast, has 50 states to govern a population of 310 million, and if we go by that benchmark, for example, we’d have 200 states, each with a population smaller than Uttarakhand. (The population of UP is over 200 million—two-thirds the size of the US—which may well explain the state of its governance.) Such a reorganisation of states would, of course, be a complex exercise that would need to be carried out with a largeness of mind and heart, guided by economic, sociological and administrative factors—and not merely for political or “emotional” reasons. The question is, when will we be ready for that?
Money, money, money
There seems to be a wonderfully synergistic business model that has evolved here over the past two decades: one brother is a minister; the second brother runs a diversified business empire; and if there’s a third brother, he’s in the Opposition, just by way of insurance. In the absence of a brother, you can always look to someone else from your family/community/caste, in that order. As business models go, it seems pretty robust. Meanwhile, the amount of money swirling around in the city boggles the mind. And signs of it pop up everywhere. A client, during a meeting about customer segments, informed me: “Upper income group means a net worth of Rs 100 crore. Anything less is just middle class.” It turned out he wasn’t being flippant. More recently, a neighbour of mine who seems to do nothing very special said to me, casually: “You know, people like you and me, who have a net worth of Rs 100-200 crore....” I suppose I should have been flattered to be included in this peer group. And yet a banker friend told me that his bank was shutting down its wealth management department in Hyderabad because of a lack of business opportunities. When I expressed surprise, he explained patiently, “Sure, there’s a lot of money in Hyderabad, it’s just that it’s not necessarily available for investment in shares and mutual funds”, suggesting, of course, that it tends to be in cash. Interestingly, even the vision of Hyderabad’s beggars seems to have ballooned in proportion: a man came up to me on the road some time ago and asked for money. While I was fishing unobtrusively in my pocket for a suitable amount to give him, he told me he wanted Rs 20,000.
Interesting counter-factual: When Potti Sriramulu agitated for a separate state for the Telugu people to be carved out of the Madras presidency in 1952, he demanded Madras city as its capital. Instead, the new Andhra state got Kurnool, before the capital ultimately shifted to Hyderabad in 1956. If Andhra had indeed gotten Madras as its capital back then, the creation of Telangana would have probably been a whole lot easier.
A businessman with interests in Silicon Valley tells me that land in parts of Hyderabad is more expensive than land in California. Jai Hyderabad!
Anvar Alikhan is a Hyderabad-based advertising professional and columnist.; E-mail your diarist: anvaro AT hotmail.com
Apropos Anvar Alikhan’s Hyderabad Diary, I must say the very word Hyderabad stirs deep emotions, memories of the past, and hopes for the future in thousands of people from Rayalaseema, coastal Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It’s thought of as a land of opportunity, a destination for higher studies, for jobs, for making it big. Sans Hyderabad, AP would be like a garden without a rose.
Anyone who thinks that being less than 100 Crores in worth is 'middle class' in a city like Hyderabad either has been smoking some really good stuff or needs to get out of his airconditioned home a bit more. If there was that kind of money there, Hyderabad would look more like Beverly Hills and not the way it does- like war torn Monrovia.
Why cannot Governments (of Seemandra and Telengana) try to deal this problem by making Hyderabad as second Capital of India?
Alternatively, build a new city in Seemandra in the dry plains of Rayalaseema (near coast)and that process will generate no less than a million jobs..
Let us follow China in this regard. india's population has gone up from 35 crore in 1947 to 120+ crores in 2013, yet we have not really built many new cities (except maybe Gurgaon, Noida and Navi Mumbai).
"Sitting down to plan every bit of detail after announcing the bifurcation is like putting the cart before the horse."
Blame NaMo for spoiling the 'masterly inaction' policy of congress. If only he hadn't announced his visit to Hyderabad, Congress would have had to hastily announce the bifurcation.
"We've done the math. A divided state will ensure 12-15 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana in 2014. It is the best deal."
If Congress is convinced it is NOT the best deal, they still have a "UTTER NONSENSE" lifeline.
Re: Re: 7/D-41
The report referred to in my previous comment is "The Togetherness of Division" in the current issue of Outlook.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT