A metropolis in numbers
Burnt crackers and flowerpots lie strewn around the lanes of Siddiamber Bazar, a wholesale hub in the Old City. Paper and iron scrap merchants, jewellery showroom owners and foodgrain sellers here, who have lived in uncertainty since 2009, can finally celebrate. “Hum logaan saalon se dil pe patthar lekar baithe the, ab sukoon hai (hearts were heavy all these years, we can breathe easy now),” says metal scrap dealer Asad-ul-Qureshi. A vocal pro-Telangana man, Asad has been part of many bandhs and protests for the cause. Pointing to a sari showroom down the road, he says, chuckling, “Woh shop ek Andhrawale ki hai, usko bhi jalaane pade patakhe (that belongs to a businessman from Andhra, he too had to join the celebrations).” As the Lok Sabha passed the AP Reorganisation Bill on February 18 amid pandemonium, Hyderabadis held their collective breath. Their fate was unfolding on TV—and off it. Those from Telangana shed tears of joy; Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra watched with resigned acceptance. A new chapter in history had begun.
“A thick line has already been drawn between me and my colleagues from Telangana,” says 41-year-old G.V.S. Chintamani, a graphic design strategist who has worked in Hyderabad for 20 years with corporates such as Deloitte and Satyam. Chintamani’s father was born in the Madras Presidency and his mother in the Visalandhra region, both now part of coastal Andhra. He was born in Madhya Pradesh (now Chhattisgarh) and studied in Bihar (now Jharkhand). “It is my hard work and determination that made me successful. But now, in Hyderabad, I am always asked where I come from. People immediately assume that my Andhra roots gets me jobs,” says Chintamani. “Twenty-three minutes was all it took to pass such an important bill. It gives me the jitters to think what lies in store,” he says.
History unfolds Army tanks roll into Hyderabad; Potti Sriramulu fasting for a united Andhra Pradesh; and KCR for Telangana
His colleague, 32-year-old Swapna Produttur, a technical lead at a cloud computing firm, says the people of Telangana no longer have to wait for a chief minister from Seemandhra to develop their villages. “We’ll do it ourselves,” says Swapna, who studied in the Adilabad district of Telangana. Students there have to practically educate themselves because of lack of staff. There are no roads, no teachers, no educational institutions. “All that will change now,” she emphasises, aglow with hope.
The mixed bag of emotions is visible all across Secunderabad and Hyderabad, home to people from all three regions of Andhra Pradesh. Others—Marwaris, Anglo-Indians, Bengalis, Punjabis, Parsis, Sindhis—complete its cosmopolitan landscape. But even as some Hyderabadis line themselves strongly on either side of the divide, many feel the division won’t make any real difference, except political battles for the benefit of TV cameras. “All these heroic displays of pepper spray weaponry are for public consumption,” says a corporate communications consultant, refusing to be named. “We are a nation of deal-cutters. We love cutting deals behind closed doors, just as the Statehood Bill was passed behind closed doors. At the end of the day, industrialist-politician Lagadapati Rajagopal will cut a deal with either the Congress or the TRS to safeguard his business interests. For entertainment purposes, TRS MLA K.T. Rama Rao and Rajagopal will abuse each other on TV debates.”
Hyderabad’s industrial base—comprising pharmaceuticals, hospitals, construction, real estate, education and hospitality—is driven mostly by investors from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. Big names such as Dr Reddy’s, Suven, GVK, GMR, Apollo, Kamineni, Aurobindo, Star Hospitals, Lanco, Indu Group, Ramky’s, Sri Chaitanya and Narayana institutions are all from Seemandhra. Dr Reddy’s, for instance, has eight FDA-approved units in Hyderabad. “But nobody expects TRS supremo K. Chandrasekhara Rao to drive the money-makers out,” says Chaitanya Rao, an MCA student. “It is not as if Lanco Hills or Dr Reddy’s units will be packed in bubble wrap and transported overnight to Nellore and Vijayawada.”
Photograph by Narendra Bisht
With the final hurdle cleared, OU student leaders are gearing up for the electoral battle. Manne Krishank, 25, spokesperson for the OU joint action committee, is all set to join the Congress. Declaring that he will contest the Secunderabad Cantonment assembly seat, Krishank says his first attempt will be to ensure jobs for domiciled locals in private companies. “The youth of Telangana will get justice,” he promises as he joins a crowd of 10,000 celebrating in Osmania University.
Not all share the enthusiasm, though. Mehdi Ali Khan, a BTech student at Symbiosis, Shameerpet, feels it’s too late for new jobs. “Thanks to the unrest and bandhs,” says the 21-year-old, “all the MNCs have migrated to other states. Hyderabad has taken a huge dent to its HiTec City image. What’s the point of Telangana when there’s no growth in private sector jobs?”
However, B.V.R. Mohan Reddy, chairman of Infotech Enterprises, says that while he is sad that Telugu-speaking people have been divided, separation will not have any impact on industry. Hyderabad will continue to grow on account of outstanding infrastructure, cost competitiveness, skills availability etc. Seemandhra will also be benefited. “Large investments in building a new capital, educational institutions and hospitals among others will steer economic growth,” he says.
The Telugu film industry which is almost completely based out of Filmnagar and Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad again has a majority of coastal Andhra populace among its citizens. “Yes, there would be complications for the film industry,” says director Teja. “Shootings and releases are likely to be affected. Politics and cinema are fields where a lot of emotions and people are involved. As long as one does not cross into the other, things will be fine. But that won’t happen, will it,” he asks, wryly.
Krishank too feels that keeping law and order under the governor is foolhardy. “This will lead to a Delhi-like situation,” he says. “We cannot have the chief minister of Telangana sitting in protest against the police or governor to enforce justice like Arvind Kejriwal did.” The 10-year clause will also involve other complications. Students from both states will be writing the common entrance tests such as Icet and Eamcet under one pool for 10 years. The high court too would be common for both states. “It’s like forcing a husband and wife to stay under one roof for 10 years even after a divorce,” says Syed Amin Jafri, MIM MLC.
The prospect of self-rule, however, remains a liberating thought. Heritage conservationist Sajjad Shahid says that Hyderabad city has for decades now been overrun by Andhra industrialists. “There has been a systematic suppression of Hyderabad’s built heritage, culture, Urdu language, and art. Now, the people of Telangana need not be dependent on the largesse of others. Leave us to ourselves and let us protect the residual remains of our heritage,” says Shahid.
Dost Mohammed Khan, now 60 and owner of an IT firm, was a schoolboy when he witnessed police firing against Telangana agitators in 1969. The Hyderabadis, he feels, are finally getting their due. There is a homogeneity between Telangana and Hyderabad; ‘outsiders’, mainly from Seemandhra, have ruled the roost for long. “Our culture, food, language, festivals are completely different from Seemandhra. The new state will bring sensitivity and respect for true-blue Hyderabadis and will certainly stop the wanton destruction of Hyderabad’s built heritage. The way the metro line is being laid with little respect for our monuments is a classic example.”
Narendra Luther, author of Hyderabad: A Biography, says he does not see anything cataclysmic unfolding in Hyderabad except a limited political struggle. “The division of assets will be gradual. Government servants will be apportioned to the two states and revenues will be distributed. The apprehension that Andhraites will be unsafe is completely unfounded. Hyderabad and life here will be the same as before.”
There are four Lok Sabha seats under the GHMC area—Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Malkajgiri, Chevella—and 24 assembly segments. While Andhra Pradesh has always had single-party governments, post-bifurcation, coalition politics is inevitable. MIM’s Owaisi says he foresees many independents and small parties representing BCs, SCs emerging in Telangana. In that case, parties like the Telugu Desam, Congress, YSR Congress, MIM, BJP, CPI, CPI(M) will need to make place for strange bedfellows in alliance formation.
Telangana and statehood, however, have not really been voter issues in GHMC; the TRS does not even have a presence here. Infrastructure development and civic needs are core issues. Perhaps gearing up for the new era, the MIM is now repackaging itself as a welfare-based generic party trying to outgrow its community-based identity. Posters of Owaisi highlight his work in education and municipal administration.
Animated discussions in Irani cafes and biriyani joints in the twin cities now centre mostly around who will be the future CM of Telangana. Kiran Kumar Reddy’s belated exit failed to generate any empathy. His would-be party is seen as a non-starter, even among united Andhra protagonists. Kiran Kumar, who has already moved from the CM’s camp office to his quarters in Old MLA colony, Banjara Hills, is lying low for the moment, not announcing any new party.
As emotions continue to swing back and forth between euphoria and sadness, one thing is for sure, history’s been rewritten for Hyderabad. It’s only the contours of the specific chapters that have to take shape.
By Madhavi Tata in Hyderabad
The birth of Telangana symbolises the triumph of the subaltern perspective over the phoney ones of Sanskritisation and Marxism (Colour of Elation, Mar 3). Already there is talk of another entity or autonomous governing units for the state’s substantial tribal population. Democracy and empowerment are finally reaching the grassroots. A certain ‘identity’ equilibrium is being attained wherein cornered cultures are being given a voice. There is palpable fear amongst established sections of society regarding a total overhaul of the structural and functional modalities of existing norms.
Anoop Hosmath, Mysore
The Telangana movement in a way reminded me of the anti-Hindi agitations of 1965. Interested readers could go through Scattered Fates, a novel on the second partition of India. It is available free online.
C.D. Singh, Mumbai
I am very disappointed with the creation of Telangana. To me, the strength of our nation lies in our unity, not in splitting or getting separated. Hyderabad owes its rise to the united efforts of people from Telangana and Seemandhra. This has now been dealt a severe blow.
Deepti Shaganti, Secunderabad
Now we know it’s not easy to resist whimsical pressures and provincial sentiments. Yet, our past leaders did stand up to the test. Never did they play to the gallery or lose sight of their long-term objectives and future vision, even if it meant being unpopular. This is in stark contrast with the politicians of today who have sacrificed national interest at the altar of electoral politics.
C. Chandrasekaran, Madurai
There is no doubt that all political parties played to the gallery in the creation of Telangana. But now that the state has come into being, there is no point in sulking. Instead people in both regions should concentrate on the development and growth plan for the betterment of both states.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
The creation of Telangana is the most blatant example of votebank politics, and one of the most self-centred and shortsighted policy moves of the UPA government.
Dr George Jacob, Kochi
The Congress plea is that it had promised Telangana in its 2009 poll manifesto. But what could be the justification for the party sitting pretty on the matter all these years and bulldozing the Andhra bifurcation bill on the verge of a general election just to get trs chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao into the UPA fold. Not only has the government split the state, but also the hearts of the people and the party itself. Governments of the day should not be free to go ahead and create new states at its will according to its political convenience. Recommendations of a State Reorganisation Commission, made after thorough scrutiny, discussions and consultations with all concerned, must be binding.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
A close scrutiny of those who stormed the well of the Houses of Parliament reveals that all were from Andhra and almost all were billionaires holding high stakes in Hyderabad and areas which would go to Telangana. The state’s bifurcation has exposed the ruling elite fighting to retain its grip over India’s politics and economics. Belated wisdom dawned upon the Congress only when the epiphany struck that the creation of a picayune state would be a powerful instrument not only to contain local satraps but also to create new ones in a smaller-sized Telangana.
J.S. Acharya, Hyderabad
It’s unfair to force Seemandhra, the loser in the bifurcation game, to share a capital with Telangana. Parochial passion is bound to raise its ugly head in Hyderabad against the people of Seemandhra. The Centre should help Seemandhra build an independent capital as soon as possible.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
What was unusual about this bill was the manner in which the Congress and BJP joined hands to push the bill through, vying as they were with each other to win favour with the electorate in Telangana.
K.S. Padmanabha, Secunderabad
Our great cities—and Hyderabad is certainly one of them—must not be tethered to the states in which they are geographically located. No better way to foster a sense of belonging and a pan-Indian identity. As for division of states, there have been hits like Chhattisgarh and misses like Jharkhand.
Ashok Lal, Mumbai
Countries like the US and UK encourage talented people from all over the world to live and work there. This is why these are rich, advanced countries. In my own country, we have the Shiv Sena wanting ‘Madrasis’ out of Mumbai, the aap wanting college seats in Delhi reserved for Delhiites and now kcr telling me to leave Hyderabad because my ancestors come from Krishna district.
R. Lala, Kavutaram
Incase you wish to relish the best biriyani then
Paradise in hyderabad is only answer. Another
real thing Hyderabad is Ramojis film city.
SBI has a carorepathi costomer branch in this city.
So Hyderabad is Unique, twin city.
Hyderabad will again become cosmopolitian , it has turned into a monolitic cultural centre..with clear domination of settlers from Andhra, until early 80's it was perfect melting ground for all cultures .........
DLN >> Hyderabad is not a mere state capital; it is one of India's biggest metropolises and its ambience has always been cosmopolitan
I always felt that if there is one City that truly deserves to be the capital of India in that being accomodating ethnic communities from all of India, it would be Hyderabad (and also Kolkatta but the decades of Left Tyranny has destroyed the soul of the city).
The good thing is whoever rules Telengana, has to keep the economy of Hyderabad thriving for without this city and its enterprise, Telengana would be economically nothing. Let us hope for a right/free enterprise leaning government in Telengana and only then the city will thrive, else we have the history of West Bengal and Kolkatta and same can repeat.
And for Seemandhra - this could be the moment of reckoning and a wake up notice for the state - people from Seemandhra have proved their abilities across the seas in all places in all professions, in all situations - but they (be it Kapus or kammas or reddys or dalits or OBCs or other community/caste folks) have not much invested in industrialization of their own homeland all these years. Why? TIME TO CHANGE THIS
How conveniently presstitutes at OLI digested the remark by VKS.
"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell the country for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press. We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes”.
JOHN SWINTON, NYT
(Courtesy Media Crooks)
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