This Monday, India’s 29th and newest state, Telangana, officially came into being, having been split off from the state of Andhra Pradesh, the rump of which has retained that name. This is the culmination of one of India’s longest and most contentious domestic political movements, the agitation of several groups in Telangana for separation from Andhra Pradesh. These efforts finally came to fruition this political cycle, mainly because of the political calculations of the ruling Congress Party rather than any sympathy on the part of the central government for the cause of Telangana.
The creation of Telangana is especially notable because it is the first time an ethnolinguistic group — the Andhra or Telugu people — have been divided into multiple states outside of the vast Hindi speaking belt in northern India (Bengali speakers make up the majority in two states, West Bengal and Tripura but that is due more to recent demographic shifts in Tripura, which was not originally a Bengali majority region). This itself was seen as contentious as it sets a precedent for the reversal of the logic that has governed India’s states since the States Reorganization Act in 1956, which aimed to create one state per major language, with the exception of the vast Hindi belt. One of the many criticisms of the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh came from Telugu nationalists who did not want their people to be divided into two states.
The genesis of Telangana lies in India’s complicated political history which has ensured that many ethnic groups have spent little time united under the same administrative unit. In the case of the Telugu people, the last time they were arguably united under a single administrative structure was during the Kakatiya Dynasty, which fell in the early 14th century to the Delhi Sultanate. Afterwards, most of today’s Telangana came under Muslim rule under the Bahmini and Golconda Sultanates before eventually coming under Mughal rule and its successor state, Hyderabad. Various sources have described the socioeconomic situation of Telangana during the past few centuries as exploitive and feudal, a situation culminating in a Communist-led peasant revolt before the Princely state’s annexation into independent India.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
Meanwhile, today’s Andhra Pradesh developed independently of Telangana, becoming a part of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire and its successor principalities before being directly ruled by the British as part of their Madras Presidency. Unlike in Telangana, ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad, the British collected revenue directly from peasants without the aid of feudal middlemen. This led to a more prosperous, developed region, mainly due to better administration, a fact reflected in today’s statistics. For example, Andhra Pradesh without Telangana has suddenly become one of India’s most literate states, with a literacy rate of 91.1 percent as opposed to Telangana’s 66.5 percent.
These sorts of disparities are at the heart of the Telangana movement’s argument for a separate state and give truth to the fact that one cannot simply wish away inherited historical differences. The argument is that a separate Telangana can focus solely on its own development and infrastructure while in the previously undivided Andhra Pradesh the region was neglected by the state government, dominated by politicians from the more prosperous coastal regions. Critics point out that on its own, Telangana is an arid, landlocked region that will be cut off from the greater revenue of Andhra Pradesh. Furthermore, creating a new state will require additional expenditure for a new government and bureaucracy, instead of that money being used on development.
Nonetheless, from a larger point of view, the separation of Andhra Pradesh into two states is demonstrative of positive trends. It signifies a change in focus among Indians from identity politics to developmental issues. It is not illogical for the same ethnic group to be spread out over many states because of the various developmental and geographical differences present in India. India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru was rightly suspicious of single language based states, worrying that those would fuel regional and possible separationist aspirations. He resisted the creation of such states as long as he could. This is not to argue that numerous language groups should be thrown into the same state as this would make administration and education difficult, but rather that ethnic groups should be distributed among various states, similar to the way that the same linguistic group in Switzerland is spread out over many cantons but with few multilingual cantons.
India badly needs some centralized, strong decision making at the federal level instead of the centrifugal regional forces that have paralyzed policymaking. These forces are especially strong in states such as Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Splitting up single ethnic group states dilutes regionalism and has the effect of preventing any one strong regional boss from dominating an entire region while not cooperating with the center. Thus breaking up provinces can paradoxically help centralization by preventing the concentration of power in large states despite the fact that it creates more units for the government to deal with.
Despite the increased administrative costs of setting up new governments, there is much to be said about improved governance for smaller states. Some Indian states such as Uttar Pradesh (population of around two hundred million) have as many people as countries such as Brazil and are quite unwieldy. Smaller states would be more responsible to individuals and more focused on a smaller, more specific region, helping development. Administration in the new, small states of Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh has improved since their creation in 2000. In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, there are numerous contentious issues yet to be resolved, such as the final status of the former state’s capital Hyderabad, which must be shared by both states for 10 years and the division of the former states’ revenues, properties, and employees. Nonetheless, the division of the state sets a welcome precedent for India and will hopefully improve governance in both the new states, though the manner in which it came about — for the electoral convenience of a single party — was of course, undesirable.
Akhilesh Pillalamarri is an Editorial Assistant at The Diplomat.
Telangana, as you all know, is the proposed 29th state of India. Telangana is a region in the state of Andhra Pradesh and is going to exist as separate state from 2 June 2014. It is very important to know the history of Telangana and the background of separate statehood demand. At a time of many statehood demands, Telangana issue is among the most probable areas from which questions can come for UPSC interview this year. As the matter deals with the federal structure of India, the topic is important for IAS prelims as well as mains too.
Telangana Region : Location and immediate history
Telangana was for a long time part of the erstwhile Nizam’s princely state of Hyderabad. But in 1956 Telangana region of Hyderabad State was merged with Andhra Pradesh state. From 1956 to 2014, Telangana existed as part of Andhra Pradesh. The region accounts for 119 seats of 294 in the assembly of AP and 17 Loksabha seats out of 42.
Andhra Pradesh Map showing Telangana, Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra : Courtesy: FirstPost
Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 commonly called Telangana Bill is an Act of Indian Parliament proclaiming the bifurcation of the Andhra Pradesh state into two states, Telangana and residuary Andhra Pradesh. The Bill was rejected by Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on January 30, 2014, but was passed in the Lok Sabha and in the Rajya Sabha and got attestation by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee.
Seemandhra is used to refer to the joint regions of Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra(Costandhra) in Andhra Pradesh. Most of the area is void of industries and central government establishments. The term came into wide use during the Telangana movement, as a way to refer to the parts of Andhra Pradesh that would remain if the Telangana region separates from the state.
About Telangana History and Telangana Movement
It is not easy to cover the entire Telangana-Andhra issue in a single article. It has multiple dimensions, social, political, economic and historical. This is a humble attempt to touch only a few important points.
- About the name: The name Telangana is believed to have been derived from the word Trilinga Desa. Telangana region is flanked by three ancient Shiva Temples at Srisailam, Kaleswaram and Draksharama.
- About the name : During the reign of the Nizams in Hyderbad, there was both Telugu speaking as well as Marathi speaking areas in the kingdom. The Telugu spoken region was called Telugu Angana to differentiate it from the Marathi speaking areas.
- History : The region of Telangana has historical connections with Assakajanapada (considered one of the 16 great janapadas of early India), Satavahanas, Vakataka, Vishnukundina, Chalukya, Rashtrakuta, Western Chalukya, Kakatiyas, Qutbshahis and Nizams. Nizam gave Rayalaseema and Coastal Andra regions to the British under subsidiary alliance in 1799 ( which later became part of Madras Presidency) while Telangana region remained with Nizam’s Hyderbad.
- Telangana Rebellion : Telangana revolt, was basically started to secure a better deal for the peasants who had to face many hardships under the Nizam and feudal lords of that time known as Doras, mostly hailing from the Reddy and Velama community. Telangana rebellion soon became a full-fledged struggle against the Nizam himself and this resulted in the demand of merging Hyderabad with India.
- Operation Polo : When India became independent from the British Empire in 1947, the Nizam of Hyderabad did not want to merge with Indian Union and wanted to remain independent under the special provisions given to princely states. The Government of India annexed Hyderabad State on 17 September 1948 in Operation Polo. The Telugu speaking people were distributed in about 22 districts, 9 of them in the former Nizam’s dominions of the princely state of Hyderabad, 12 in the Madras Presidency, and one in French-controlled Yanam.
- Potti Sreeramulu and demand for a separate Telugu speaking state: Telugu speaking population existed in Madras presidency as well as Hyderbad state. Potti Sreeramaulu, a freedom fighter, hailing from Nellore district, led the agitation to carve out a separate state for the Telugu speaking people of that state.
- Andhra State in 1953 : The new Andhra state came into being on October 1, 1953 with Kurnool as the capital, comprising seven districts of the Coastal region (Nellore, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, East and West Godavari, Guntur, and Krishna) and four districts of the Rayalaseema region (Chittoor, Kadapa, Anantpur and Kurnool). [PS: Telangana was not part of the Andhra State in 1953.]
- State Re-organisation Commission : The States Reorganization Committee (SRC), which had Fazal Ali, KM Panniker and HN Kunzru among others, recommended the formation of Visalanadhra, which would merge the Telugu speaking areas of the existing Hyderabad State with Andhra State. The recommendation was made on the basis that having Hyderabad as a permanent capital would be more suited for Visalandhra, while also giving access to mineral resources, and the large Godavari-Krishna basin under unified control.
- Paragraph 382 of the State Re-organisation Commission : SRC said “opinion in Andhra is overwhelmingly in favour of the larger unit; public opinion in Telangana has still to crystallize itself. Important leaders of public opinion in Andhra themselves seem to appreciate that the unification of Telangana with Andhra, though desirable, should be based on a voluntary and willing association of the people and that it is primarily for the people of Telangana to take a decision about their future.
- Nehru on Telangana : Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru initially was sceptical of merging Telangana with Andhra State, fearing a “tint of expansionist imperialism” in it. He compared the merger to a matrimonial alliance having “provisions for divorce” if the partners in the alliance cannot get on well.
- Gentlemen’s agreement : The Gentlemen’s agreement of Andhra Pradesh was signed between Telangana and Andhra leaders before the formation of the state ofAndhra Pradesh in 1956. The agreement provided safeguards with the purpose of preventing discrimination against Telangana by the government of Andhra Pradesh. The alleged violations of this agreement are cited as one of the reasons for demands of separate statehood for Telangana.
- Reason behind Telangana Movement: There was a distinct difference between Andhra and Telangana regions. Since Andhra was part of a colonial Madras Presidency, education levels and development of this region were better than in feudal Telangana. People from Telangana were against merger with Andhra state as they feared they would lose jobs to them. Cultural differences, too, remain even after 60 years of togetherness. Under Nizam’s, and before that, under the Qutb Shahi rule, the culture and language in Telangana bore influences of north India. Emphasis on festivals are also different. With faster development in the rest of Andhra, a strong feeling was gaining ground in Telangana that it was being exploited and that the region’s surplus was being transferred to finance development in the rest of the state.
- First Telagana Movement (1969) : The first Telangana movement intensified in 1969. Primarily a student-driven protest, it turned historical for the number of people who took part in it. Over 350 students were killed in police firing and lathi charge.
- Jai Andhra Movement (1972) :Jai Andhra movement is a 1972 political movement in support for the creation of Andhra state.The activists demanded that the safeguards for Telangana region be removed for continuation of Andhra Pradesh.
- Role of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) : K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), a member of the Telugu Desam Party, quit TDP in 2001 to champion the cause of a separate Telangana state and founded Telangana Rashtra Samithi.
- Srikrishna Committee (2010) : The report discussed six solutions to the problem. The preferred option was keeping the State united by simultaneously providing certain definite constitutional and statutory measures for socio-economic development and political empowerment of Telangana region through the creation of a statutorily empowered Telangana Regional Council. The second best option was bifurcation of the State into Telangana and Seemandhra as per existing boundaries, with Hyderabad as the capital of Telangana and Seemandhra to have a new capital.
- Grievances of Telangana proponents : Proponents of a separate Telangana state site perceived injustices in the distribution of water, budget allocations, and jobs. There are allegations that in most years, funds allocated to Telangana were never spent. As per Srikrishna committee on Telangana, since 1956, Telangana held the position of CM for 10.5 years while Seema-Andhra region held it for the rest (47+ years as of 2014), with Rayalaseema region holding the post for 27 years and coastal Andhra representing 20 years.
- Opposition against formation of separate Telangana State: There was a movement in Seemandhra region opposing the Telangana state formation. Though only an opinion is required under Article 3 of the Indian Constitution, a resolution was adopted by voice vote and the bill was rejected by the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly and Council on 30 January 2014 as the majority of the legislators were from Seemandhra region.
- Constitutionality on state creation power : According to Article 3 of the Constitution of India, the power to form a new State vests with the Parliament, provided that the Bill creating such a State is introduced on the recommendation of the President and he has referred it to the legislature of the affected State “for expressing its views thereon.” This linear interpretation of the Article would render the view that the Andhra Pradesh Assembly will have no legal effect and the formation of Telangana is solely the prerogative of the Government of India.
- Important provisions of Telangana Bill : The Bill envisages Hyderabad as the common capital for ten years. The Andhra Pradesh Governor will be Governor for both successor States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The Polavaram Irrigation Project will be declared as a national project and the Center will take under its control the regulation and development and the Tungabhadra Board will continue to monitor the release of water to high level canal, low level canal and Rajolibanda diversion scheme.
- Six Point development Package : PM had announced 6-Point Package for AP’s Successor States. In a bid to address concerns of the Seemandhra region, government announced grant of special category status including tax incentives to the residuary state as part of the six-point development package.
- President’s rule : The President signed the proclamation to impose President’s rule in Andhra Pradesh following the Union Cabinet’s recommendation. Mukherjee gave his nod to place under suspended animation the Andhra Pradesh assembly whose term is slated to end on June two. The decision to impose the President’s Rule in Andhra Pradesh was necessitated by N Kiran Kumar Reddy’s resignation as the chief minister on February 19, 2014 as he was opposed to division of the state to carve out Telangana.
- Politics and Political Parties : Main players in AP are Indian National Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi and YSR Congress. It won’t be the usual Congress versus Telugu Desam Party (TDP) fight anymore as in the united AP. Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) under K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has emerged as the main party of the region, taking credit for the achievement of the new state.
- Elections in 2014 : Andhra Pradesh will have Lok Sabha and assembly polls as an undivided unit and the candidates elected will automatically become legislators of their respective states after Telangana comes into being on June 2.