Saying no to Telangana

Saying no to Telangana

The justice B.N. Srikrishna committee for consultations on the situation in Andhra Pradesh (AP) has reconfirmed what reasonable Indians believed all along: The better future of AP, Telangana included, requires that the state remain united. Its emphasis on special measures to further the interests of the Telangana region is welcome. These measures should be implemented without ado.

At the same time, the idea of Telangana, in spite of its vigorous and somewhat violent advocacy, is a stillborn one. It is devoid of any merit, economic and social whatsoever. It does, however, have political merit. But that logic is not only pernicious, but is positively dangerous for the unity of this country.

To begin with, the agitation for Telangana was spearheaded by a combination of sub-regional politicians, lawyers and students. This is a classical recipe for those who believe that a separate state would give rise to opportunities for furthering political and administrative careers. Imagine a new state with its own state civil service, its own legislative assembly and all other administrative accoutrements accompanying a new state. This certainly would go a long way in fulfilling the aspirations of those who demand a new state.

Political units are, however, not organized for those who live in the present time alone. What about the future generations of Telangana: would they be better served once all the positions have been staffed and prospects for government employment have dwindled? Once a state reaches that stage, a renewed search for more government employment begins. That is also the stage when a state turns predatory: A large part of the state’s revenue is spent on funding the government machinery.

In all this, what has been forgotten is that the people of Telangana deserve better service delivery and more economic opportunities than have come their way since the creation of AP. The Srikrishna committee’s report is replete with statistics that show the deep socio-economic malaise that confronts this region. Its sixth option—a united AP with special measures for the development of Telangana—is probably the best choice.

Here, a word is apt on the consequences of splitting AP. No sooner is that done, than there will be demands for other smaller states. Most of these are irrational (Gorkhaland, a positive national security danger, Harit Pradesh and Poorvanchal in Uttar Pradesh are good examples of this trend). In fact, the danger after these states are created will be that ever more sums of money, manpower and other resources will have to be devoted for internal security tasks. India’s Maoists will ensure that administratively fragile new states have no breathing space.

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