Telangana: Dimensions of Underdevelopment ఫిబ్రవరి 27, 2007Posted by Telangana Media in Reports on Telangana.
– S.Simhadri & P.L.Vishweshwer Rao
India is celebrating the ‘Swarna jayanthi’ of its independence even as it is passing through social upsurges in myriad forms, as responses to colonial and post-independent initiatives for economic development. The colonial model, pursued with centralisation as a transformatory process, has led to the breakdown of decentralised village economy and promoted the structures of extraction and domination. The prescribed accumulatory processes have manifested in societal and spatial dimensions that have heralded corridors and islands of prosperity by pushing vast territories into perpetual backwardness. Thus, the colonial process marked its uneven regional development on Indian territory.
Post-Independent India’s intelligentsia conveniently embraced the modernity by subjugating subaltern initiatives. the colonial model in the hands of emerging native classes accentuated the process of convergence in the spaces which were nurtured through colonial intervention. This has sown the seeds of socio-economic upsurge. the sharpening of tensions and the multiple contradictions has launched social movements across the nation. In fact, people have been agitating against one from of oppression or the other. “Internal colonisation”, one of the exploitative processes experienced after the “Decolonisation”, is causing resentment among the masses. Broadly, regional unrest is articulated on the line of nationalities and cultural and economic spaces. the cultural differences and regional imbalances in development are further accentuated by the alliances among the dominant classes. this has given rise to the people’s demand for separate statehood or territorial autonomy. The state often responds by unleashing repression against people who take up the cause of caste, class, gender, region and environment. Once again the voices are heard in the telugu landscape about the cultural invasion, resource misappropriation, state violence and regional backwardness. Therefore, the need to understand Telangana.
Andhra region as a constituent of Madras State has undergone the process of colonial development during 19th and first half of 20th centuries. On its part Telangana, while forming part of the then princely state of Hyderabad, has experienced feudal rule for a larger part of its modern history. In coastal Andhra, irrigation, railways and education have formed the colonial investment and facilitated the region to move into the capitalist development. With the early development of irrigation, delta Andhra received greater impetus in agriculture and resulted in agricultural surplus. This has gravitated the capital accumulation which in turn moved into new avenues of the emergent opportunities and therefore, the economic diversification in contrast to the stagnant economic process of Telangana. Infrastructure facilitated the delta people to acquire colonial education and spatial mobility as against the illiteracy and immobility of the people of Telangana.
The historical processes have thus led to the creation of two distinct regions with one as capitalist space and the other as feudal space. The early initiation of Andhra region into capitalist space accentuated the processes of commercialization of agriculture through the cultivation of sugar cane, tobacco, chillies and cotton. Telangana landscape, dominated by subsistence food grain cultivation with jowar, bajra, ragi, paddy, etc, suffered from the underdevelopment of its land and water resources. Commercial farming and agricultural surplus have facilitated the emergence of market and agro-industrial activity. The social and economic elite of the delta have also experienced nationalist, anti-Brahmin and linguistic movements. While the social elite from Coastal Andhra was mobilizing on linguistic regionalism against the Tamil domination in Madras Presidency, the Rayalaseema leadership resisted its merger with the developed Coastal Andhra on linguistic regional homogeneity. They feared the developed regional domination of Coastal Andhra and preferred to opt for independent statehood with the geographical contiguity of Rayalaseema with Nellore.
However, the Brahmin leadership of delta persisted with their demand for Andhra State and forced the Rayalaseema leadership to concede to be a part of Andhra region. Through the Sri Bagh Pact in 1937, the socio-political elite of Rayalaseema agreed on condition that irrigation and educational development of the region would be safeguarded. With myriad experiences under the colonial regime, the delta Andhra leadership set their eyes on the rich resources of Telangana and demanded the formation of Visalandhra. The parties with different ideological positions from Andhra put forth the demand for linguistic merger of Telangana and Andhra regions. The State Reorganisation Committee (SRC) (Appendix I) received the representation from the Andhra leadership on the utilisation of river water and other resources while making a case for the merger of two regions. On the other hand, the dominant caste leadership of Telangana initially vacillated on taking a position on the merger. However, they represented for the continuation of separate political existence of Telangana. Inspite of the SRC’s recommendation for retaining the Independent statehood for Telangana, the Telangana Congress leadership conceded to the central pressures and appended signature to Gentlemen’s Agreement (Appendix II) by ignoring the importance of river water and statutory safeguards to the regional backwardness.
The State of Andhra Pradesh (A.P) came into existence with the merger of feudal and capitalist spaces. The development model resorted to by the first linguistic state was on the lines of capitalist pattern which in fact came handy to the caste/class forces of Andhra region as they had accrued the benefits of the process as against the Telangana’s feudal landscape where all that was coming in the name of modern development, was totally new and alien to their living. The structures and logic of underdevelopment at the behest of the caste/class forces of developed Andhra region. A bird’s eye-view of Telangana in the context of regional disparities in Andhra Pradesh unfolds the macro/micro processes that are manifested in the name of integration and development. Massive influx of people is going on from Krishna, Godavari and Pennar deltas to the various corridors of Telangana. The abnormal growth of population during the sixties, in talukas of Mulug and Narsampet of Warangal district, Burgampad and Kothagudem of Khammam, Achampet and Godavari and Mahabubnagar, Nizamabad and Armoor of Nizamabad, Huzurnagar of Nalgonda, Utnoor and Luxettipet of Adilabad and east, west and urban talukas of Hyderabad, unravels the violent socio-spatial transformation. As the colonial model is pursued in post-independent
India in the name of modernisation, the Andhra people with colonial imprints could foresee the spaces of opportunities and this led them to move into new territories with multiple possibilities. They are concentrated in the areas coming under or one already under the irrigational commands, in commercially profitable black soil belts in deforested rich soil zones, in industrial centers and in rapidly growing urban centers. In the recent past, enterprising Kammas and Reddys of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions extended their hold over real estate business by buying up vast lands at nominal land values, building, constructing and leasing. They have also set up huge orchards and have gone in for commercial crops which have brought them massive profits.
Andhra entrepreneurs and industrialists have flocked to Hyderabad and surrounding areas to avail themselves of the subsidies and infrastructure given to “develop” the back ward, drought-prone areas of southern Telangana. Caste/class/regional forces of the state are converging in the state’s capital and further strengthening their monopoly over the levers of power. The polarisation of these forces only facilitates the siphoning off of the resources and initiatives in the periphery which give rise to the dependence logic of core-periphery development. Although Hyderabad is located in Telangana, it does not reflect regional character but serves as an outpost of internal colonisation. Water is transported for building activity in the capital city rendering the subsurface hydrological regime dry along the large tracts of streams and rivulets in the hinterland of Hyderabad. Granite quarrying for urban needs is scuttling access to the precarious common property resources of the villages leaving the large segment of population on the margins of living. The development model with focus on capital-based agriculture and industry has helped the rich as they had access to the decision making, power and infrastructure. the cast/class/regional interests are transposed onto the entire apparatus of the state and their growth is legitimised through the network of institutions and medial and projecting it as panacea for underdevelopment. However, the traditional occupations of the vast majority of people do not form part of this “development” plan. No attention is paid in retaining common property resources.
Banjar lands and grazing lands vanish from the map of the village. Sheep and cattle rearing, the inherent occupations of semi-arid region of Telangana is not a priority for the planners. Similarly, many other equally important occupations like leather, laundry, barber, weaving, tailoring, pottery, fisheries etc., do not find space on the developmental map. Drought and desertification have thus been made inalienable to the human environment and ecosystem of Telangana by the post-independent development planning. The Andhra-dominated bureaucracy has no inclination to implement the available ecological and environmental alternatives in Telangana. Thus, accentuation of inequality along cast/class/ environment/regional lines has become an inbuilt stratagem of the ruling classes to keep the poor and the back ward perpetually outside the domain of power and resources. The ongoing transformation, guided and financed by the World Bank and multinationals in the Telugu landscape in the name of economic liberalisation, sends shivers down the spine. The welfare domains of education and health are being privatised and the poor are being kept on the fringes of basic needs. Privatisation of power sector threatens not only the agriculture-dependent Telangana, but also dictates terms to any democratically-elected government. The monopoly of resources, power and developmental activity by the caste/class forces of the developed coastal Andhra region which kept Telangana backward will not only continue but will become deeply entrenched in this era of privatisation. This process should be taken cognisance of by all democratic people’s articulations, otherwise it would be a catastrophe for the under-privileged every where.