The Telangana agitation was born out of the brazen breach of ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ by successive chief ministers hailing from the Andhra region. In the initial stages of Andhra Pradesh’s formation, teaching posts in government-funded schools and similar opportunities awaited Andhraites as qualified people were not available in Telangana since the medium of instruction was predominantly Urdu in the region. But, by the time Telanganites came of age in the new educational framework, their Andhra brethren continued to grab a lion’s share of the opportunities.
The two States of Andhra and Telangana portion of Hyderabad were merged conditionally. But the conditions were not honoured by the dominant group and the backward group began to lose its legitimate share in the development process. Discontent began to naturally simmer in the region. The dominance of Andhraites has been manifest in politics, business, education, employment and culture. In order to protect the employment opportunities of Telanganites, zonal system of recruitment was put in place. The successive governments strived for the balanced development of the State. That Telangana has not been deprived of its share in the overall developmental process has been amply testified to in the Sri Krishna Committee report.
However, the process of Globalisation or Economic Reforms introduced in 1991 saw a major shift in the government policy vis-a-vis employment opportunities. The reforms drastically cut government expenditure and ushered in large-scale privatisation. Apart from the Union government, the States were also granted autonomy to negotiate with the world financial institutions for loans. The TDP which came to power in the State in 1994 took cue from the Central government’s policies and began to focus on disinvestment in the government sector and encouragement of private investment. The main focus was on IT sector and infrastructure development to attract private investment. In order to meet the conditionalites of financial institutions, the government expenditure was unprecedentedly cut down which signalled closing doors on employment opportunities in the government services. Outsourcing and contractual employment where the selections are arbitrary, became order of the day and frustration set in among the youth.
The emerging employment opportunities in the IT-related services needed specialised knowledge and training which were offered by private institutes in Hyderabad. While the well-to-do sections took advantage of the new-found opportunities, the youth particularly of Telangana rural areas from non-English medium background stood marginalised with no or meager opportunities in the government services. The incompatibility between the existing educational structure particularly in social sciences and humanities and the emerging IT-related employment opportunities only further fuelled uncertainty in the youth. With no assured alternative sources of income, they either embraced Naxalism or took a plunge into the movement for separate Telangana.
The sweeping changes in economy gave fillip to private sector and helped the elite sections of the society. The small farmers and small time business people also stood to lose. The dispensations that followed the TDP in the State could not create confidence in the people of Telangana on the safety of their future in united Andhra Pradesh. Alienation of government lands on an alarming scale to the private parties and 109 Special Economic Zones, etc. meant massive displacement and marginalisation of vulnerable sections. Thus, the youth especially in the Universities of Osmania and Kakatiya came to the opinion that they can safeguard their rights and opportunities only if a new State is carved out to adopt suitable policies for their betterment.
If the future Telangana State is free from capitalistic interventions and the rulers evolve pro-people programmes, it would tend to benefit the deprived sections in terms of employment and other benefits. But if the same old capitalistic polices are adopted, creation of Telangana would be futile. If the Telangana politicians focus on IT and advanced sources of development without ensuring the minimum progress of the people, it will spell doom for the deprived sections of Telangana once again.
The employment opportunities available in Hyderabad in the private domain are open for people across the country and hence, the Andhraites do not lose. However, there may be teething troubles for the residuary State as it will take considerable time to regain the losses following the bifurcation. The development processes are so intertwined between the regions that separation would result in losses to the Andhra region inter alia in terms of revenue generation.
Scramble among Stakeholders of T
The capitalists of Telangana see a vested interest in the creation of a separate State. The capitalistic policies at macro economic level in the State of Andhra Pradesh helped predominantly the Andhra and Rayalaseema capitalists while their Telangana counterparts drew a raw deal. Some of the Congress Members of Parliament who are vocal on State creation had been losers in the bid for contracts thus far. Hence the demand for Telangana is a mixture of interests. But who would share the spoils of this political war? With money playing a lead role in the politics of the globalisation era, the new dispensation in Telangana has to oblige the capitalists who would claim to be the champions of the creation of new State. Setting aside the demands of capitalists, can the new government design an alternative model of development to oblige the frustrated youth who are promised more than one lakh jobs by the politicians of Telengana? Common man in Telangana is roped into the movement with the promise of uninterrupted power supply while the region faces a power deficit of more than 2000 MW. To make up for the shortage, power has to be purchased to that extent and new power projects must be set up for which investment would be invited from private parties. Construction of one crore houses is promised to woo the subaltern sections of the region. Are these pragmatic propositions? While the entire revenue of the united Andhra Pradesh is Rs one lakh crore, is it possible to create government jobs to the extent promised? Would the revenues be adequate to meet the salaries of the prospective employees? Can a political dispensation negotiate the demands of capitalists and the common man effectively? So far no political party or a group spearheading the Telangana movement came out with a pragmatic and balanced model of development. The emerging opportunities in the proposed State would continue to be in the private sector for which a majority of the Telangana youth are not prepared given the incompatibility between their qualification and that which is demanded. Construction of one crore new houses needs huge funding. Mobilising such fund is not as easy as making captivating promises. But once the State is created, the youth is bound to be betrayed as the meager revenues, shortage of power supply, travails of farmers who have been enjoying free power would compound the troubles of the State.
Youth in Andhra region have also been the victims of the politics of globalisation. But the politicians keep them in stupor. The conditions of subaltern groups in Andhra region are no better. They only fall short of focused channels of ventilation. Thus, what is required is an alternative model of development which can judiciously negotiate between the interests of common man and the affluent sections of the society.
(The writer is Assistant Professor, Centre for SAARC Studies, Andhra University)