Almost everyone I know from Andhra and even outside is busy buying land, and as much as possible of it. A lottery is awaiting the announcement of the new capital of Andhra, and everyone understands that land prices will rise sharply wherever it is going to be situated. Real estate sharks, financiers, and almost anyone who has money to spare are investing in land. CM Chandrababu Naidu’s fascination for Singapore is further escalating wild speculations. Black money in thousands of crores is flowing into the region and organised crime syndicates and builders’ lobbies are all busy. Naidu may remember that developing Hyderabad did not translate into political dividends. If he now hopes a more glitzy and sleek city will win him votes, he may be making the same mistake again.
Perhaps it is time for him and other leaders to think outside the box, and in ways that are inclusive and appropriate for the country. Instead of building a new capital of brick and mortar, he could consider a virtual capital that uses modern technology to serve all the functions of the seat of government without rooting it to the ground. The secretariat and offices of various ministries do not need to be in one place. The perception that officials need to meet regularly and work together is exaggerated and in any case better achieved by online meetings and exchanges. E-mail, Skype and video conferencing will achieve such discussions cheaply and conveniently. Moreover, if the ministries are distributed across the state, one perhaps in every district, if public institutions are similarly spread around and every taluka gets a component of the government, the impact will be comprehensive.