This is the first time I am posting an article written by someone else on this blog. Sometimes you come across an article so well written that it makes to just publish it instead of attempting to write one yourself.
Telangana and Justice Srikrishna’s Magic Report
Author: Nitin Harkara
The Srikrishna committee has now submitted its much-anticipated report on the “situation in the state of Andhra Pradesh”. The mere fact that the committee met the proposed deadline for submission of this document to the Government of India must be a signal achievement in the annals of government-appointed bodies. In the prevailing milieu where meandering activity takes precedence over timely delivery of results, Telangana’s people had probably resigned themselves to the inevitable request for an extension of the committee’s submission deadline. That such a request was not made, is evidence of apprehension on the part of an otherwise-uncaring Central government that even the normally-gullible masses would see through so blatant a delaying tactic.
There may be a tendency on the part of some in Telangana to view this committee’s report as a significant milestone in the region’s tortuous path to re-establishment as a free entity, as a state finally rid of its neo-colonial Andhra rulers. A word of caution is in order here: This document should not be seen as anything other than what it is, merely a clever ploy employed by Mr. Chidambaram and Co. to gain time. Time, they hoped, which would help them roll back the tide of Telangana’s resolve to achieve statehood and to realize dreams suppressed since the colonial takeover of their land and lives by coastal Andhra in 1956.
Truth be told, now that this report has been released for public consumption, it is clear that it is not worth even the paper it is printed on. The first four of the so-called “options” presented in the report’s summary have been carefully worded to be so completely out-of-touch with ground realities that they are laughable at best. Why then, were these even included in the document? The thinking behind these options is clear: The Centre has clearly stage-managed the contents of the report so that the options that are complete non-starters are presented first, and then characterized as being “impractical”. This then leads straight down the path of making the goal of a separate Telangana with Hyderabad as its capital seem equally impractical. We then arrive at the committee’s grand conclusion: Maintain the status quo of a united “Andhra Pradesh”, and provide guarantees, safeguards and more guarantees for Telangana as a part of Andhra – surprise, surprise...
There have been committee reports aplenty, dating back almost to the dark year of 1956 when Telangana was absorbed into the so-called “Andhra Pradesh” state, a gigantic exercise in deception midwifed into existence by Mr. Nehru and the Congress party. Every single report has highlighted the injustices meted out to Telangana and its people in every significant aspect of their lives. Every last one promised guarantees and safeguards. And every last one has been shelved, never to be seen again, and is gathering copious amounts of dust in the State Archives. If anyone thinks the latest whirl around the merry-go-round with Justice Srikrishna and his underlings is a harbinger of real change, he inhabits a make-believe world of pure tinsel fantasy.
The Srikrishna committee’s findings may add to the mound of depressing statistics already available on Telangana’s woes. They may even contain some inane talking points about the ever-present guarantees and economic sweeteners for Telangana. But that is all that these findings are: general, non-binding recommendations which, even if enshrined in law, will be tossed aside by an Andhra-dominated government as casually as were a myriad of other findings from other commissions and committees. Let us finally accept the unpleasant reality that we are an unscrupulous, dishonest society in the grip of a callous leadership with a general disdain for the rule of law. Options, recommendations and development packages are not the solution to the Telangana problem; they are merely palliatives for the short term. These tired half-measures have failed repeatedly in the past as they could not be enforced, and are doomed failure even in the future. Such meaningless bromides deserve to be rejected outright by the people of Telangana.
The Srikrishna report refers to the movement of 40 million inhabitants of Telangana for a state where they can rule themselves free of Andhra domination in the following terms: “has some merit and is not entirely unjustified”. That the wishes of the Telangana people can be so casually dismissed in this manner show that this committee’s report is little more than a mouthpiece for a Centre with virtually no interest in Telangana’s aspirations. The fact that the interests of a minuscule Andhra minority in and around Hyderabad seem to outweigh the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Telangana is a testament to the power of land-owning Andhra lobby and its power brokers with the city of Hyderabad firmly in their clutches.
In a classic case of double-speak, the report also speaks of “continuing the development momentum of the three regions”. The Centre and this committee must be astonishingly tone-deaf to have missed this blindingly obvious fact: the underlying reason for the agitation in Telangana is precisely that there is no tangible development momentum whatsoever in the region. The fact is that there never will be any significant development in Telangana as long as its resources and wealth are misappropriated and stolen by a dominant Andhra majority with control over the levers of political- and economic power. Nothing could be more detrimental to the developmental interests of Telangana at this time than maintaining the status quo and the sorry charade of a “united Andhra”.
The people of Telangana have now seen through the elaborately-constructed façade that is this committee report. They are also keenly aware that the committee’s blatantly biased “options” and recommendations are in no way binding upon the Government of India. No committees, options or recommendations entered the picture when Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal and Jharkhand were constituted as separate states. No more States Reorganizations Commissions are needed to further drag out the issue of re-establishing Telangana. The time has come for the Centre to put an end to these delaying tactics, and to this puerile game of cat-and-mouse with the people of Telangana.
There are some vital political decisions facing the Centre in the near-term with regard to the re-establishment of Telangana. A government that arrogates power to itself, shies away from making decisions based on the clearly-demonstrated wishes of patriotic Indians, and seeks to crush their voice by force runs the risk of its credibility and legitimacy being seriously eroded. Propping up an unsustainable status quo and holding the future of 40 million residents of Telangana in suspended animation merely to satisfy the rapacious appetite of a land-owning elite and Andhra politicians in Hyderabad is not parliamentary democracy, it is a massive fraud perpetrated endlessly on a long-suffering populace.
The people of Telangana are no longer asking whether they will ever be free of Andhra colonialism. They are only asking how soon they will achieve their cherished dream of statehood and acquire the ability to chart their own course free of the Andhra yoke. The path forward has never been clearer: Nothing short of a separate Telangana free of Andhra rule with Hyderabad as Telangana’s rightful capital is acceptable to them. They will speak soon, in one voice, as one people, united in this urgent quest. And the voice of Telangana will be heard, loud and clear, across the length and breadth of the Republic of India. May God bless Telangana. And may God bless the soon-to-be-free people of Telangana.