The chronic neglect in imparting scientific temperament into our people is now affecting this country, its social life, and its politics. India is suffering from a massive bout of intellectual deficit. This is coming out in various sections of our life. Either it is 2G Scam or Satyam Scandal, it is clear that numbers are being fudged, scientific and dispassionate scrutiny is missing, manipulation and misinterpretation of data is rampant. Now, it has affected the cause of Telangana as well.
We are now facing a new menace in this country, the intellectual dishonesty, where certain eminent people given paramount responsibility of deciding fate of millions of people are misinterpreting data to promote vested interest groups. Justice Srikrishna, a retired judge of Supreme Court, was given the task of making recommendations on the issue of separate Telangana or united AP. The report is out and it is becoming apparent that Srikrishna is subject to the same malaise that has affected Ramalinga Raju of Satyam scandal or Raja of 2G scam. It is also unfortunate that the media houses, some of them respectable ones, like THE HINDU, have also resorted to the same intellectual dishonesty. Instead of making a scientific scrutiny, they are just playing pawns to the same vested interests that have been dominating Telangana for the last 54 years.
Statistics like per capita have never been used by India to form new states or reorganize states. The basis for forming a state has always been to satisfy aspirations of people of certain region. Uttarakhand had a higher per capita than Uttar Pradesh and yet formed a new state. Andhra State, Gujarat, Karnataka were formed on a regional identity irrespective of any study into per capita comparisons. In fact, no such statistics were used when merging Telangana with Andhra State to form united Andhra Pradesh back in 1956.
In the current context, Srikrishna Committee was not given a mandate to set a new precedent or create a new framework to form new states in India. And yet, the data, its interpretations and conclusions from this report are being used by all, the national media, the newspapers, analysts, observers, and detractors to this movement within the state, to make arguments for or against creation of new state of Telangana.
The report establishes a case for proving that Telangana is not backward, and completely dismisses the arguments for discrimination, marginalization and suppression of Telangana, and callously ignores the aspirations of 35 Million people demanding separate state, through a systematic and deliberate set of specious arguments and devious conclusions. On the case of backwardness, it starts off on a premise of using a flawed statistic of growth rates without giving any reference to how and why such statistic should be used.
A correct picture of the economic performance can be well understood by reviewing the rate of growth by region.
And then it goes only to firmly establish the basis of using ‘growth rates’ as the most reliable economic indicator to understand if a region is indeed backward, though no such precedent exists. It then concludes the discussion by saying:
It is important to note that the GDP growth in all regions excepting coastal Andhra has experienced accelerated growth especially since2005 where as the growth of income in coastal Andhra has remained constant
These observations have led to other intellectually corrupt analysts and reporters in the national and regional media to make announcements like ‘Telangana is more developed than other two regions’. Economic Times writes that ‘in fact, Telangana leads the non-Telangana regions with respect to several measures: GDP per capita, infrastructure, health and environment.’ Even the most respected newspaper THE HINDU suffered from this intellectual malaise.
THE HINDU uses the above statistic from SriKrishna Committee to write:
What stands out in the Srikrishna Committee's report is its sagacity in debunking, on the basis of facts, certain dubious and time-worn theories that were in circulation.
The growth in per capita Gross District level Domestic Product (GDDP) between 2000-01 and 2007-08 was 58.4 per cent in all of Andhra Pradesh, while it was 63 per cent in Telangana including Hyderabad, 60.3 per cent excluding Hyderabad, 58 per cent in Rayalaseema and 54.1 per cent in Coastal Andhra.
To untrained readers which happen to be 99.9999% of the readers in India, it would appear that Telangana excluding Hyderabad is far more developed than Rayalaseema or Coastal Andhra. In fact, Telugu news channels and newspapers have been using this data to tell everyone that Telangana is not just backward but in fact it is more developed than other regions. That’s how the propaganda machine gets to the conclusion that that Telangana agitation is based in lies. Nobody bothers to question this interpretation. None of them asks why 9 districts of Telangana are considered backward by the Central Government if in fact Telangana is more developed than Coastal Andhra?
The devil is in the details and misinterpretations. The statistics have been misused by these intellectually corrupt people. I will not be surprised if in nearby future CBI finds out that this committee was not just intellectually corrupt but also financially corrupt.
Growth in per capita GDP or GDP to measure backwardness is a flawed statistic. Though almost everyone in India would concede that Orissa and Chattisgarh are some of the most backward states, using GDP growth one can easily prove that these states are more developed than the prosperous states like Punjab and Maharashtra. In the same way, one can prove that famine ridden and civil-war hit Ethiopia and war-torn and battered Iraq is doing better than United States of America.
One of the contentious issues between Telangana and Andhra region is the misallocation of water resources which has led to dry and barren lands for Telangana whose farmers have started to depend on expensive and unreliable bore wells to water their fields. Telangana continues to be one of the most farmer-suicide prone areas in India. The Srikrishna Committee Report refers to Telangana grievances as ‘alleged discrimination’ or ‘alleged injustice’ thereby clearly insinuating that they are unsubstantiated or misplaced. But on the other hand, while referring to the Andhras arguments, the authors describe them as ‘evidence’ setting the tone that it is going to favor Andhras.
Such bias continues throughout the discussion clearly indicating the purport of the report which is to say that there is no discrimination whatsoever towards Telangana in water allocation. Though the Committee was presented with concrete evidences in the form of numerous records by Telangana engineers that substantiate a clear discrimination, it is brushed off by the callous committee members.
The intellectual deficit appears once again. The report refers to ‘higher plateau’ of Telangana region for inadequate water projects thereby justifying the present condition where Telangana does not get enough water. This is the exact line Andhras use to tell Telanganas why they cannot get enough water: only because it is high up on the plateau. And it has found its way into the report as ‘evidence’.
On the other hand, the delegations and groups from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions have put forth enough evidence, both orally and through several presentations and memoranda, to suggest that the support for irrigation systems in Telangana region, keeping in mind that the region is on a higher plateau, has been substantial and that there should be no cause for complaint on this front.
Lack of scientific temperament amongst Srikrsihna committee members has come back to do irreparable damage to people of Telangana. If this report is ever used as a framework for keeping the state together under Option 6, all future endeavors to get water to Telangana region would fail because the excuse of ‘higher plateau’ of Telangana is cast in stone now.
A scientific report on Deccan Plateau is worth taking a look at.
In its western regions, the plateau averages about 2,500 feet (762 meters) in elevation; in its eastern parts, it averages 1,000 feet (305 meters). As a result of this difference in elevation from one side to the other, almost all rivers on the plateau flow from west to east and drain into the Bay of Bengal.
It is clear that the plateau is highest in Karnataka and Maharastra and it slopes downwards towards Telangana. Though Karnataka and Maharashtra are further higher up in the plateau they are given adequate share of water by various tribunals include the recent Supreme Court decision. Why isn't the same excuse of ‘higher up on the plateau’ not used by the tribunals to deny water to Karnataka and Maharashtra? It becomes evident that the committee members did not make any efforts to understand basics of geography or how water is allocated to each state. Instead they greedily adopted the intellectually corrupt arguments of Government of AP and Andhra leaders.
The report loses its credibility in facts when they quote that Andhra Pradesh had 6 Chief Ministers from Telangana whereas the reality is that only 4 are from this region. While hundreds of Telangana lawyers took to streets to protest blatant discrimination in the appointments giving concrete evidences to the Committee, the report writes that it “informally discussed the matter with two former Chief Justices of the Hon’ble High Court of Andhra Pradesh and it was learnt that there appears to be no basis for bias or prejudice and that all appointments have been made as per rules and procedures and in accordance with law.” Intellectual dishonesty continues to pervade throughout the report where ‘informal discussions’ are used to rubbish all the legitimate claims of Telangana people. It makes a mockery of itself when it says that “Bonalu, Sammakka-Sarakka Jathara are widely popular across AP”.
This report sets new precedents for Telangana and India, like using per capita growth rates for measuring backwardness, establishing legitimacy to the flawed argument that Telangana does not get water because it is higher up on the plateau, giving credence to unsubstantiated opinion that government employees of Telangana are happy with GO 610, for using informal discussions as evidences, and finally for creating a framework of using economic indicators as basis for creation of new states. There is a grave danger to this region and future of India if they take this committee’s report seriously. Such nonsensical precedents are harmful to Telangana and India in general and it is our duty, as Telanganas and Indians, to fight such intellectual corruption before it becomes endemic.