Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why India should celebrate Telangana?

[This article is intended for the audience who are outside Andhra Pradesh and trying to figure out why this new state is being formed.]  

Demand for Telangana is a sixty year old demand.   It has erupted in major agitations and movements over the last six decades in various forms.   The current movement spanning the last four years happens to be the greatest and biggest people’s movement in India after the Independence Movement.  It has galvanized millions of people into participating in thousands of rallies and protests, in hundreds of major agitations which saw outpouring of people in lakhs.  It also resulted in nearly thousand suicides.

If you think Anna Hazare Movement saw outpouring of youth onto streets of India for a genuine cause, then imagine a movement which is thousand times bigger spread over four years.   If you think Indian Independence Movement touched the common man, then imagine a movement which has reached grass roots far more extensively than that, touching almost every man, every woman, and every village in the region. 

Think of a movement which saw the leaders of Congress, the right-wing BJP, left wing Communist Parties, the Muslim parties, former naxalites, all sitting on the same stage fighting for the same cause.  Imagine a movement where farmers, bankers, rickshaw pullers, lawyers, fruit vendors, businessmen, are all marching for the same cause. 

Imagine a movement which spawned hundreds of books, thousands of songs, and movies.   Imagine a movement that has foisted young men and women onto the stage, where they spoke to an audience for the first time.  Imagine new leaders and activists born.  Imagine creating singers out of ordinary boys and girls.  Imagine various creative expressions of protest, Dhoom Dhams, the celebration of songs and dance spanning over months and weeks going into late nights, where women and men participate in gusto, Vanta Varpu, where a stretch of hundred kilometers of road is used for cooking and dining, and human chains going for hundreds of kilometers. 

Telangana Movement is one of the greatest democratic expressions this subcontinent has witnessed in the last few decades.  It has created thousands of Joint Action Committees (JAC) all under the aegis one mother JAC.  There’s a JAC for each district, each village.  There are JACs for bankers, for lawyers, for miners, for auto-drivers, for pharmacists, for doctors, for engineers, for lecturers, for students, and so on.  Imagine them springing into action with receipt of a single SMS. 

Telangana Movement has created a generation of responsible citizenry, politically aware youth, authors, singers, and balladeers.  It has spawned a generation of intellectuals who debate the constitution of India to its deepest details.  It has made many of us better human beings, able to appreciate the concerns of the common man, an ability to empathize with people’s movements world over.

Here I address some of the usual concerns raised by observers in India.

With such state divisions, we will disintegrate India.

Unlike what most Indians believe, division of state is not the same as disintegration of India.  In fact, no state division has resulted in disintegration of India.  Barring for losing territories in its wars with its neighbors, India has never disintegrated.  It has only added new territories like when Goa or Sikkim joined the Union.  No state has ever opted to get out of India though such fears were good enough to stop North India from imposing Hindi onto Tamils.

Looking at history of India we see that state division has been a continuous process.  Let’s take a look at the formation of states in India by year:

1.            Andhra State (1953)
2.            Andhra Pradesh (1956)
3.            Karnataka (1956)
4.            Kerala (1956)
5.            Tamil Nadu (1956)
6.            Maharashtra (1960)
7.            Gujarat (1960)
8.            Nagaland (1963)
9.            Punjab (1966)
10.          Haryana (1966)
11.          Himachal Pradesh (1966)
12.          Manipur (1972)
13.          Meghalaya (1972)
14.          Tripura (1972)
15.          Sikkim (1975)
16.          Arunachal Pradesh (1987)
17.          Goa (1987)
18.          Mizoram (1987)
19.          Chhattisgarh (2000)
20.          Jharkhand (2000)
21.          Uttarakhand (2000)

India is a strong and vibrant democracy because it allows reorganization of states through a constitutional procedure enshrined in Indian Constitution as Article 3.  As a testament to the fact that India is a living democracy, and not a dead or static one, the above states have been created to satisfy legitimate aspirations of people of India who wanted to define themselves through a regional identity while maintaining their proud identity of being Indian.  Formation of these states has not led to disintegration of India and it has not made the people any less Indian.

Shouldn’t we remain united? Why we should divide?

If unity is important, then we would have only one state in India with only one district.   If unity was important we would never have created Gujarat, or Haryana or Himachal Pradesh.  In fact, Andhra State (not Andhra Pradesh) would not have formed out of Madras State in the first place. 

Unity cannot be imposed at the cost of sacrificing our diversity.  India is not a homogenous population.  It has group and regional identities which are as important as national identity itself.   We are a united nation only because our local identities are recognized – that’s how the new generations of Indians look at themselves.   For the sake of unity, Bengalis would not like to be grouped into a big state in which UP, Bihar and Orissa are all combined.  Bengalis, I assume would like to have their state West Bengal, the way Gujaratis would like to have their state called Gujarat. 

Can small be good?

Haryana was formed out of Punjab and is doing well.  Gujarat was formed out of Bombay State and is doing well.  Recently, with creation of Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chattisgarh, it became clear that small states could do much better than big states.   Uttarakhand has averaged 9.31% growth annually, Jharkhand 8.45%, and Chattisgarh 7.35%, some of them more than national average.  Per Capita of Chattisgarh is 29,000 while it is 18,000 in Madhya Pradesh.  Infant Mortality in Uttarakhand is 44 compared to 67 in Uttar Pradesh.  Literacy Rate in Jharkhand is 61 compared to 55 in Bihar.

Smaller states are able to give better administration, allow for electing leaders with more accountability, and give empowerment through better representation of various regional identities.

When will these state divisions stop?

Those who ask such a question expect our nation to be static.  But a thriving democracy allows creation of new states and new districts according to aspirations of people or for administrative purposes.  The neglected, the backward, the discriminated regions may want to create new states while those groups who don’t feel the same may see advantages in a bigger state.  

India with nearly 1,200 million people has only 29 states while USA with 300 million people has 50 states.   Telangana, after formation, will have a population of 35 million.  If it were a country, it would rank 36 out of 242 countries in the world, making it more populous than Canada, Australia or Malaysia.  We already have very big states.  Creation of more states is a natural process and it cannot be put to a stop.  Nobody put a rule out there that we cannot have more than 28 states as if it is a magic number. 

In fact, India is going to see creation of many more states in the near future.  At least another 20 states could be created in the next 10 years.    And if that happens, we should welcome it, not always give the silly excuse that as a nation we will disintegrate.  Some people ask- when will this division stop? Why won’t this go spiraling out of control? Why won’t there be 100 states or 1000 states?

Most people do not understand why India continues to be a united nation.  It stays united not because its people are coerced into staying together, but because Indians continue to have faith in this country.  We are all willing citizens of this country, not the oppressed subjects.  India will not break up so easily just because we create few more states.  In fact, creating more states will result in reaffirmation of our faith in this country that it will address our genuine problems.

There will come a time when regions will no longer find an incentive to create smaller states, because they tend to see advantages living big states.   That day, an incentive to create smaller states will naturally stop.   We have a long way to go before that happens – we are not there yet.


  1. Sujai,

    I never agreed with your argument that "your vote does not count". I think you reacted based on a short term unpleasant experience. In the case of Telangana, it is ONLY the VOTE that mattered. Of course, Congress party may have a very narrow perspective of Telangana, but ultimately the decision is based on the voting power of Telangana.

    I hope you agree....


  2. Romanticism is strong with this piece. I've read your series on Telangana and have liked them for their clear and balanced explanations. Maybe it is because of spending a lot of time on your blog I began to sense an attitude of 'let's sneer at andhra folks who are not from Telangana' undercurrent in your writings. Again it may be me or my damaged eyes. Anyway best of luck this the proverbial light at the end of the struggle.

    Venkata Subbaiah

  3. In Democracy always word of mob aka majority has value. If a MP or MLA wins election by 1 vote where 5 people contest in it. It means 79% of people in the constituency rejected that person aka only 21% people accepted him. Its always mobs word which rules.
    I feel there is something wrong in the building blocks of this system.

    By Prithvi

  4. These are just numbers not references.... from which place have you quoted the statistics of the newly formed states? That information would be helpful in giving credibilty to the article.

  5. you believe then, Gorkhaland is a genuine demand? -because they too "would like to have their state called Gorkhaland. " (provided, you are well-acquainted with the Gorkhas and their 100-yr old demand and endless sacrifice for the nation!)
    "Unity cannot be imposed at the cost of sacrificing our diversity. India is not a homogenous population. It has group and regional identities which are as important as national identity itself. We are a united nation only because our local identities are recognized – that’s how the new generations of Indians look at themselves. For the sake of unity, Bengalis would not like to be grouped into a big state in which UP, Bihar and Orissa are all combined. Bengalis, I assume would like to have their state West Bengal, the way Gujaratis would like to have their state called Gujarat. "

    Mr. Gorkha

  6. I agree with you that TG movement is one of the greatest movements after Indian independence and it is the aspiration of 3.5 crore people. Turns out that the samaikyandhra movement is even bigger in magnitude as we have seen during the last 10 days. This is the aspiration of 4 crore people. We saw that students, lawyers, doctors etc are forming JACs and fighting for one cause.

    This cannot be an artificial movement staged by some evil Andhra industrialists as KCR and his chemchas like to project. This is real movement coming from real people who are deeply traumatized by congress' unilateral decision. Many SeemaAndhra students have already lost their lives.

    I personally don't think congress genuinely wants to grant TG state. They are playing very dirty politics with the people of the state. DigVijay will keep making statements that they are committed to granting TG and there is no question of going back but behind the scenes, they will prolong this process till the next general elections.

    1. Enough of "udhayamams". Can we get into the business of dividing the state, assets and liabilities, please? After all, all of us have a life to live, haven't we?

  7. I read this somewhere: If only Andhras (I read this as politicians -- cos' common man is effectively powerless) had shown half as much love for telangana as their lust for Hyderabad the state would have remained united. The other side of the coin should read: If only Telanganas (again read politicians) had showed half as much of their commitment towards development of their region as their greed for money and power, Telangana would have long been formed.

  8. Dealing with The Cost of Divison - All Political Parties Meet in Hotel Taj

  9. Dear sir,Your article is good only for studying,You are all forget that basic thing is we are Indians.You are really dreaming but reality is that as the developed Uttarakhand ,is it not could it really fight the recent natural disaster,and whose money these all new state capitals/states will develop.Do you really think how much our country/state is under debt.corruption is the back bone of our country only the slogans are seen every where.Our country has the out burst in population,and how many Industries have come up,and how many got jobs.This is main due to in our country jobs are only there after the reservations,local feeling,caste feeling ,religion feeling in this scenerio how many open jobs are there.So please dont write these articles which creates hatred.Our neighbours are eagerly waiting for a chance to let down India in every way.

  10. Our neighbours are eagerly waiting for a chance to let down India in every way.

    Are you telling me that creating new states is weakening our country?

  11. All the money and infrastructure went into Hyderabad. Now Telangana want Hyderabad as their capitol. Rest of the Andhra need to build new capitol. It is very unfair for common man in Andhra. In Mahabaratha Kauravas did same thing to Pandavas.


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