Capital concerns

Published : Feb 11, 2011 00:00 IST

The scene near Cyber Towers in the IT corridor near Hyderabad on January 7, when a 'Telangana bandh' was observed in protest against the Srikrishna Committee report. - P.S. SIVAKUMAR

The scene near Cyber Towers in the IT corridor near Hyderabad on January 7, when a 'Telangana bandh' was observed in protest against the Srikrishna Committee report. - P.S. SIVAKUMAR

AT the root of the differences over dividing Andhra Pradesh into Andhra and Telangana States is the status of Hyderabad, the capital city of the State. The stakes, economic as well political, in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad exceed the sum of the stakes in the next nine largest cities in the State.

Votaries of Telangana are unwilling to discuss the prospect of a separate State without Hyderabad. People of the Andhra region who are amenable to bifurcation are equally adamant that they should share Hyderabad as the common capital.

The demand of Telangana protagonists has to be viewed in the backdrop of the developmental activity in Hyderabad and Rangareddy, a district that encircles the capital. They account for 44 per cent of registered manufacturing and 39 per cent of construction activity in the Telangana region. Rangareddy district has 49 of the 103 special economic zones (SEZs) in Andhra Pradesh.

Moreover, owing to its cosmopolitan character, Hyderabad cannot be made an inseparable part of a specific region. The cosmopolitan nature of the city can be traced to the Nizam's period. The Nizam's government invited farmers from coastal Andhra to settle and cultivate lands downstream of the Nizamsagar dam.

This was first of the four distinct phases of migration to the city, according to the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, which was entrusted with the job of studying issues relating to Hyderabad.

The second phase of migration was in the late 1950s, when the Communists, after losing ground, encouraged their cadre to settle in parts of Telangana.

The third phase was in the 1980s, which saw investors and businessmen migrating to the city when the Telugu Desam Party was in power. In the fourth phase, the information technology-driven economic boom attracted educated professionals from all parts of the State to the capital. Migration went on during this IT boom in the 2000s as it provided a wide spectrum of employment opportunities.

According to the 2001 Census, about 1.4 million people, constituting about 25 per cent of the city's population, were migrants. The National Sample Survey (NSS) of 2007-08 noted that 35.7 per cent of the people in Hyderabad reported a different last usual place of residence from the one in which they were enumerated. Indeed, across Andhra Pradesh, 31.2 per cent of the people reported a different last usual place of residence. Aside from its implications on the regional divide, these numbers provide an insight into how people migrate in search of livelihoods. A key observation of the Srikrishna Committee is the crucial economic linkages between Hyderabad and the rest of the State. Take for example exports in IT and IT-enabled services (ITeS). As the industry is located almost solely in Hyderabad, the city has consistently accounted for 98 per cent of the total exports from the State.

This phenomenon is attributed to two factors: Hyderabad's importance as a centre for higher education and its cosmopolitan nature, which has helped attract trained and talented personnel. Employers come because trained people and infrastructure are here, and trained people come because the employers are here.

Linked intricately to IT and ITeS is real estate, where investments have been shaped by the former. Unlike other cities where the real estate market has until recently been dominated by local firms, the Hyderabad market has participation from across the country, the report says.

But, there is a strong perception in Telangana that people from the Andhra region are making huge investments in real estate development in Hyderabad and making big money. The committee itself finds a formal linkage between Hyderabad's real estate and the political leadership from the Andhra region. LANCO, an infrastructure and real estate company, is associated with Lagadapati Rajagopal, a Member of Parliament from Vijayawada; Gayatri Constructions with T. Subbarami Reddy, a former MP from Visakhapatnam; and Transstroy, which is building the Outer Ring Road, with Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, the Guntur MP.

In all the cacophony of regional differences, the presence of a large Muslim community constituting over 40 per cent of the city's population often gets ignored. The All India Majlis e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), the dominant political force among Muslims here, is a strong advocate of a united Andhra Pradesh. Its first option is the formation of a new State called Rayala-Telangana combining the Telangana and Rayalaseema regions. But if the formation of Telangana (without Rayalaseema) becomes inevitable, Hyderabad should be part of Telangana, it told the committee.

The committee sums up by describing Hyderabad in Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's famous view of India itself: An ancient palimpset on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed, and yet no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously.

S. Nagesh Kumar
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