No matter how much I discuss this topic it comes to forefront as the topic of contention between Telanganas and Andhras. The Telangana separation issue has now become Who-Gets-Hyderabad issue. In my previous article ‘Hyderabad a Union Territory?’ I discussed why a city belonging to a region should not be seen as distinct entity from that region. A city is supposed to invite settlers but that should not lead to settlers separating the city from that region. Such a precedent is ominous for development of any city on this planet. That shall usher a new trend in xenophobia where no city will now allow settlers.
Here I discuss few other aspects that are discussed regarding status of Hyderabad.
Right now people of Telangana are poised to attain statehood. This fight for separate state started in 1950s itself and has taken fifty years to attain. Telangana was one of the three regions of Nizam State, also called Hyderabad State. One of the prime jewels of this region was Hyderabad city. When Telangana merged with Andhra State to form Andhra Pradesh, it was decided to treat each of these regions distinctly, though they were in the same state. Those agreements were flouted much to the chagrin of Telangana people who felt betrayed. This saga of betrayal is a long and protracted one. Telangana people have launched a people’s movement, democratic movement, legal movement and electoral movement, all of which failed.
The current issue of contention is city of Hyderabad. Who should get it? Should Telangana get it? Should Andhras get it? Or should Hyderabad be converted into independent state or union territory?
This is not the first time this happened in India where the ownership of capital city had come into question. Gujaratis launched a major protest to get Mumbai for themselves. There were many Gujaratis in Mumbai and it was a cosmopolitan city. The locals may even have been in minority in that city. However, the city was retained by Maharashtra.
Right now, there are many cities in Andhra region, like Nellore, Rajamundry, Vijaywada, Vizag, or Kakinada. Nobody discusses the fate of these cities because it is easily concluded that these cities belong to Andhras. But they do discuss the state of Hyderabad, because rest of Andhra sees Hyderabad as their capital city first and city of Telangana second, while Telangana people see it as their city first and capital city second.
It’s very clear now for everyone why there is so much opposition to formation of Telangana. Samaikhya-Andhra agitation can be easily called We-won’t-give-you-Hyderabad agitation. It is no longer a cloak and dagger affair. Everyone understands this now - Andhra doesn’t want to give up Hyderabad to Telangana. They are going to fight this tooth and nail. If they don’t get it, they don’t want anyone to get it – they would then want to convert Hyderabad into a Union Territory or a new State.
So there are many claims made by Andhras to possess this city. There are three important ones.
#1. Andhra people paid for taxes that build this city
To start with, let’s get this clear. Hyderabad was not an empty city in 1950s. The city was already a famous city in the world of a well known kingdom having its own airline. Hyderabad’s Salarjung Museum was a world-renowned museum, and many landmarks of the city like Hussain Sagar, Charminar, etc, were already built by then. City was served by many man-made water tanks in the nearby lying areas outside the city. Osmania University was a very big university. Hyderabad city was the affluent, cosmopolitan, and cultural capital of that region.
Hyderabad also grew on various fronts after it became capital of Andhra Pradesh. The initial growth came about because of Center’s interest to create strategic cities in India, and Hyderabad got its share of institutes and infrastructure. The growth in the last twenty years has been tremendous but that has been the case for many other cities in India due the onset of liberalization policies in the country.
No doubt Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana people contributed to the taxes that were used by the state government to fund the growth of Hyderabad city. But then, every other city in Andhra region was also funded by the state government which took taxes not only from Andhras, but also from people of Rayalaseema and Telangana. At any point of time, taxes from all regions are used to build various cities with the hope that the cities in turn contribute to the growth of those regions.
While it is true that taxes were collected from the entire state to build the city of Hyderabad, it is also true that Center gave lot of funds to each state to develop their capital cities and infrastructure. That money is collected from people all over India. If Andhras can claim the city just because they paid taxes, should all those Indians living outside Andhra Pradesh also get a part of Hyderabad now? As a corollary, should Telangana people lay claim to the cities of Andhra like Vizag, Rajamundry, Kakinada, Vijayawada, Nellore because they contributed to taxes that were used to build those cities?
During the time of British Empire, only few major cities were built in India. The taxes were collected from various parts of India. Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, though they currently belong to Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, were built using taxes collected from people across Indian subcontinent, including those people residing or migrated to current Pakistan and Bangladesh. When Maharashtra got Mumbai, did it compensate all Indian and Pakistani people who paid these taxes?
Contrary to what people believe, a city does not belong to its tax payers. If that is case, then so many Indians living in San Jose of California can easily claim that city for themselves. A city belongs to the people of that region, not its taxpayers.
Contribution of tax payers of Hyderabad is meager compared to the sacrifices of local regions who have contributed to growth of the city by providing the water, the succor, and the power. They also gave up large tracts of land, contributing Secunderabad and other new regions and new areas that came from districts of Telangana.
Moreover, Telangana contests that the only growth that happened in its region is that of Hyderabad while the rest of Telangana languished in poverty, underdevelopment and neglect. Should Telangana ask for compensation for the development that happened in Andhra at the cost of neglect in Telangana?
#2. Andhra people invested into the this city heavily
Can a certain section of people claim a city just because they have invested heavily into it? Can they take credit for developing the city because they have invested in real estate projects and businesses?
Regions all over the planet keep the doors of their cities open to all kinds of settlers both national and foreigners to settle down in their cities. Intel, TI, Cisco, and many foreign companies have invested heavily into Bangalore. Ambanis and many Gujaratis have invested heavily in Mumbai. Does that mean they can take credit for the development of the city and then use that to make a case for separating those cities from their regions? Can people of Jharkhand who have invested in Bihar claim Patna?
Andhras, how much ever they have invested in Hyderabad cannot claim Hyderabad for themselves or for their mother region of Andhra. In fact the investments of Andhras into the city of Hyderabad are insignificant. Most of the city was developed during the time of Nizam, followed by investments from the Center, followed by funds coming from many banks and investment groups. Most of Andhras’ investments have gone into getting assets for themselves which will continue to be held by them.
Modern countries have not given away their cities to investors, not as yet. Investors invest in a city to serve their vested interest, not out of altruistic or charitable reason. They are entitled to take their investments out whenever they want to. Intel, Cisco or TI can take away their investments out of Bangalore anytime selling of their assets.
There can be no compensation made for any investment if the city changes governments or changes states. If someone thinks that their investments are not going to give good returns they can sell off their investments, not seek compensation from the government.
#3. Many people including Andhra people have made this city their home
Just because Andhras made Hyderabad their home does not mean they can now claim it for themselves. Imagine Bangladeshi settlers in Kolkata claiming certain parts of the city for themselves. Will that change if they are Bihari settlers or Gorkha settlers?
A city continues to belong to the region it resides in no matter how many settlers it invites to settle in. Hyderabad continues to belong to Telangana no matter how many Gujarati, Andhra, Rayalaseema, Telangana or Tamils live there.
[The related posts are at: Case for Telangana, Telangana II, Telangana III, Telangana IV, Telangana VI: Hyderabad State?, Telangana VIII: You need to make a case, History of Telangana I, Telangana X: Congratulations!, History of Telangana II, Telangana XI: Why so much opposition?, Telangana XII: Ignorance, Bad Faith and Low Opinion. Telangana XIII: Let’s stay United!, Telangana XIV: Letter to Andhra Brothers, Telangana XV: Concerns, Telangana XVI: Samaikya Andhra, Telangana XVII: More Concerns, Telangana XVIII: Betrayal, Telangana XIX: Hyderabad a Union Territory?, Telangana XX: Welcome the Change]