it's the economy, stupid

in 1999, when the congress chief, out of power and therefore of sound hearing, allowed the local legislators (from telangana) in andhra pradesh to form a separate pradesh congress committee for telangana region, it seemed like the congress was giving some thought to the question of telangana. a year before that, the bjp had passed a resolution at a party meet in kakinada in coastal andhra promising the bifurcation of the state.

now, ten years later, it should be evident to everyone paying some serious thought to the issue in the state that: no one outside the state, least of all in delhi, has been paying any serious thought to the issue. that should tell them a lot about how to go about solving their problems. and help them understand democracy, federalism and politics as practised in india better. and also make them rethink on pretty ideas like: india, citizenship, rights etc.

that rethinking might not cure anyone of suicidal tendencies, it might actually prompt more suicides, but... one could at least attribute more rational motives to those suicides. can't be anything but a cynic now.

but i still hope some serious thought would be paid to some basic economic questions of how viable bifurcation or trifurcation is. like the questions jayaprakash narayan raises in this article:

There are serious economic issues to be examined on the issue of carving out a separate State in Andhra Pradesh. First, the capital city is a serious bone of contention, and once people and investors lose faith in the future, it will decline rapidly.

This will hurt both Andhra Pradesh and India, because large cities are now important clusters of growth, and if a Mumbai or Delhi faces economic hardship, the whole nation will be impacted by the fallout.

Second, parts of the coastal region are agriculturally well-developed and have resources and surpluses. For instance, the coastal region generates surplus revenues in the power sector, and is subsidising power for farmers in Telangana and Rayalaseema. A separate State will be burdened by an unviable power sector.

Costal regions are always engines of growth all over the world. Telangana is land-locked, and losing the costal region would retard growth and opportunities. Again, this is the first time a land-locked region is seeking to separate from the coastal belt. When passions subside, the pain and deprivation will be felt.

Water resources are always a bone of contention in a monsoon-fed country. Even in a relatively well-managed city of Mumbai, enjoying abundant rainfall on the West coast, water riots took a life recently. In a water-starved region, river water disputes will escalate, and sharing of Krishna and Godavari waters will be a nightmare.

In the K-G basin off the Andhra coast, abundant natural gas reserves have recently been found, and are being tapped. Already, there is the challenge of sharing natural resources between the home State and the rest of India, and now Telangana will be further depleted.

Large, unviable lift irrigation projects — at a capital cost of Rs 3-4 lakh per acre and Rs 40,000 per year per acre maintenance cost — have been unwisely proposed in Telangana. They will be a permanent drain on the economy of the region, undermining it without ensuring benefits.

while agreeing with most of what he says on telangana, i'd like to add that coastal andhra and rayalaseema would also face serious problems if they choose to stay together or split further into two more states.

among indian states, one'd notice two approaches to the issue of development: one revolves around wanton exploitation of whatever natural resources are available and badly mismanaging their distribution in the name of building agricultural wealth and surpluses on the one hand , and using those surpluses in trying to build 'industrial clusters' or one or two urban engines of growth on the other. apart from the majority of indian states, the indian government itself practises that approach. the second approach is the one that had been followed in kerala for a long time, what i'd call the people-oriented approach. an approach that focuses on building people's capabilities, as amartya sen would say. the second approach is of course more democratic, needs and wastes less natural resources, and creates fewer socio-economic divisions.

given the fact that the debate on division still seems to be conducted mostly along a perspective born out of the first approach to development, one can confidently predict that all three regions of the state, divided or together, would always find problems in the management of the two key, in their view, resources: power and water. will try to look at the problems as i understand them, very briefly, in the rest of the post.

telangana, as dr.jayaprakash narayan points out, would face problems in the short to medium term in the area of power. building new capacities in thermal power (through coal, of questionable quality, from singareni in which the separatists seem to put much faith) would require time, and the shortfall could have a fatal effect on both the city of hyderabad and the progress of industrialisation in the new state and on agriculture. in the area of water, there is very little the new state could do to improve availability in the krishna basin region, comprising primarily the two very backward districts of nalgonda and mahboobnagar. the question of how much can be tapped from the godavari hasn't been fully answered by the separatists, but again as dr.jayaprakash narayan points out, the costs involved could be too high.

rayalaseema could face the worst water and power problems: its hopes hinge on more water from the krishna, which isn't there, and from the godavari which runs entirely through the telangana and coastal andhra region. the proposed polavaram project on the godavari is supposed to divert some water to the krishna basin region in coastal andhra so that rayalaseema could use more water from the krishna. in the event of division, the completion of polavaram, and of the implementation of the original allocation plans seems very... problematic.

the north coastal region in the state (including the growing city of visakhapatnam, a potential capital for the new state) another very backward region in the state, also depends on the completion of the polavaram project for its current and future water needs. any change in plans could impact negatively vizag's potential. two other districts in the south coastal andhra, prakasam and nellore, also have water-starved regions.

and there's also the question of not having a city like hyderabad to act as an engine or driver of industrial growth, which could severely affect overall economic development in both the regions. and building one new capital city, or two new capital cities, would cost much more than what most people seem to think.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you and at times I felt like I'm reading my own posts.

For short and mid term, as far as water resources are concerned, the situation in Andhra and Rayalaseema will be no different than what is now. But in the long run they need to get more water from Krishna and Godavari and that is where the problems will start.

Andhra Area

Curently any water released from NS is used by the ayacut in the delta area(or telangana area) and the rest is released to ocean via prakasam barrage (which can barely store 2 TMC of water). The balancing reservoir at Pulichintala storing 60 tmc of water will store the water for the summer and stop the water reaching Prakasam barrage. This will help increase water for the delta area. Pulichintala is supposed to be completed this summer but with the recent floods this is delayed. Now it appears to be completed by end of this year.

Godavari has abundant water and AP is yet to use another 900 TMC of its share. Although the middle basin of Godavari between SRSP(Nizamabad) and Pranhita is mostly dry, the tail end of Godavari after confluence of Prahnita has the most flow. No matter how much lift irrigation is done between Kaleswaram and Badrachalam, Andhra will get abundant water. Currently about 2000 TMC of water is going into ocean every rainy season. For comparison ,all the dams in Andhra Pradesh put together cannot store 2000 TMC of water. However, without Polavaram, they cannot store and distribute it to the uplands of Northern Andhra. If Polavaram is made a national project as a condition for separation, then it will be good for NA, otherwise Andhra's share will continue to go into the Ocean and NA will suffer.


Rayalaseema position is very bleak. Both Galeru Nagari and Handri Neeva to bring Kishna water to Rayalaseema will be stopped. Pothyreddy paadu gives some relief but it needs Srisailam to hit 880 ft before the water reaches the level of head regulator. Without these projects, Rayalaseema will continue to depend on rain and irrigation is not possible.


The entire lift irrigation scheme was started to pacify separatists, defying the basics of economics. Nobody had the courage to say that it is infeasible. It was like emperor's new clothes. The cost is enormous and the benefits are questionable. The best case for Telangana is to revive the tank system that Kakatiyas used so efficiently. They can also create mini hydel projects along the Godavari river from Kaleswaram to Badrachalam and lift drinking water for entire Telangana. This can help industries. Otherwise, separated or not, there is not much difference. Perhaps under separation, free from any blackmail, somebody will have the courage to tell the truth and abort these ill conceived lift irrigation schemes.

- Ved

SS said...

Thanks much for this, kuffir. Amidst all the political and emotional fog, clear-sightedness is difficut to come by.

There is also the question of sharing/dividing educational resources, esp. those in Hyderabad, and esp. the number of central govt. institutions in Hyd ...who can claim exclusive rights to them?

Sree said...

Completely agree with you. Thanks for the post kufr.

Hope separatists give some thought to economic implications rather than just
Self Respect
& Self Rule

kuffir said...


thanks for your detailed, insightful comment.

kuffir said...


i'd been hinting about this kind of , to use your words, a foggy situation arising for quite some time since my earliest posts on telangana. i'd seen it in my early childhood, in many ways more destructive than now, and signs of it during the ram janmabhoomi movement..and had never wanted to see it again.

sharing of educational resources? hehe.. i wish they'd give away hcu to rayalaseema or coastal andhra..or maybe tamil nadu or karnataka. i'd like to know how good is prof.haragopal's vision, hearing and other faculties these days. and of other champions of civil rights in hcu. how does he like the throttling down of the right to speech of public personalities, physical attacks on them-- does he think like the militant votaries of the movement that those people were making provocative comments that 'hurt the sentiments' of the 'people of telangana' and hence have no right to speak? is it ok with him and others like him in hcu that even public personalities' right to speech, forget ordinary citizens' right, should serve conditions set by some private groups, i wonder.

SS said...


Don't know about Prof. Haragopal; he's retired now and is strangely, suddenly, not all that visible on telly. But yeah, I hear you; UH is largely untouched by the Telangana movement. Altho' UH has always been traditionally "apolitical" and unaffected by agitations in the city, the current silence is a bit eerie because, according to some senior people at UH, the setting up of the univ in '74 was meant, partly at least, to appease Telangana ...

kuffir said...


thanks for your comment.

can't speak for petty minded individuals nor can i explain the very personal inadequacies and complexes which make them what they are.. their shortsighted triumphalism that overlooks a million personal tragedies slowly unfolding now...well, i can't appreciate that.

this self-respect thing is, as the marxists might tell you, a very petty bourgeoisie disease. if certain individuals from the educated middle classes from andhra or telangana can't stand each other, or are not broadminded enough to understand each other (and each others' cultures) etc well, i would say they need to sort things among themselves. yes the mass media produced by semi-literate money bags from a few districts coastal andhra do try to ride roughshod over other cultures/dialects. but i personally don't attribute the label of high art to them. nor do many reasonable viewers,listeners or readers, i think. it's phase that has outlived it marketablity, as we can see.

but those whose culture and language, and thereby their self-respect, are seriously denigrated by the mass media every day are the dalitbahujans and the women of andhra, rayalaseema and telangana. if anybody should be complaining, it should be them.

as for self-rule, isn't india a democracy? those concerned about democracy should be taking power from delhi and hyderabad and giving it to the villagers, not talking about creating more bureaucracies and power centres.

these is all standard propaganda stuff that's been drilled into even ordinary schoolboys and autowallahs and unemployed youth in the villages steadily over the last ten years by hundreds of activists.

in the particular blogger's writing you wouldn't find a single original thought or argument that hasn't already been voiced by the activists i talked about. was once unemployed enough to comment on one of the posts at the site..had to point out that coal from singareni isn't 'siphoned', or 'stolen', away freely to thermal plants in andhra-rayalaseema.. the plants, like other businesses which buy supplies, will have to pay for the coal because the workers who work in the mines will have to be paid wages.. if someone is willing to chuck elementary common sense to believe in illogical, unsubstantiated propaganda- what can one say?

kuffir said...


please forgive the typos:)


oh he's on television alright.. was in vizag yesterday at a meeting organized by a television channel. says he became a supporter of separation only in 2006. whatever his stand, i'd like to know when did he stop being a democrat..

Sree said...

but those whose culture and language, and thereby their self-respect, are seriously denigrated by the mass media every day are the dalitbahujans and the women of andhra, rayalaseema and telangana. if anybody should be complaining, it should be them.

I can't agree more...

if someone is willing to chuck elementary common sense to believe in illogical, unsubstantiated propaganda- what can one say?


I was very much surprised(dont know if that's the word i can use)to see many of my friends who are in IT believe in the said blogger's posts.
The more saddening thing is that some of them even put up quotes like "quit telangana" in their orkut profiles.

gaddeswarup said...

"as for self-rule, isn't india a democracy? those concerned about democracy should be taking power from delhi and hyderabad and giving it to the villagers, not talking about creating more bureaucracies and power centres."
To me, this seems to be crucial. How does one go about it?

kuffir said...

swarup garu,

'How does one go about it?'

there is already a system, constitutionally laid out for local governments at district, block/mandal and panchayat level..

the 73rd amendment clearly lays out 29 functions that can be effectively performed by panchayats-- these include water supply, education, health and hospitals, sanitation, minor irrigation and even small industries (not to be confused with cottage industries) etc...

the majority of state governments, except for progressive ones like kerala, have failed unitl now to delegate these functions to the panchayats..those which have made some progress have given away around half a dozen functions effectively, some are still trying to decide which functions they can give away without disturbing entrenched big interests etc..

the process of devolution involves three components-1) giving away the functions to the panchayats 2)giving the requisite funds 3) giving the required administrative and other personnel. all three components, as you can see, are important.

most state govts have only gone as far as to identify the functions and nominally recognize that they fall within the panchayats' purview but have refused to give away the required funds or personnel to the panchayats to perform those functions..the andhra pradesh govt, for instance has made vague promises about identifying ten functions, but in practice, not much has, funds etc, have been directed towards the panchayats. the whole exercise until now has been very unsatisfactory..in effect, what all this means is that that indian democracy or self-rule doesn't really exist in the villages.

gaddeswarup said...


anu said...

"The entire lift irrigation scheme was started to pacify separatists, defying the basics of economics. Nobody had the courage to say that it is infeasible. It was like emperor's new clothes. The cost is enormous and the benefits are questionable. The best case for Telangana is to revive the tank system that Kakatiyas used so efficiently."

a change or reversal to better practices is surely a possible dream given the region has had a successful historical precedence in water management. this, along with the actual empowerment of people in the villages, as Kuffir says, with power, funds and personnel, should make mobilizing opinions easier, as tank systems are known to improve the watershed area.

mismanagement of water can be hoped to be resolved, soil damage however, is not so easily reversed. while making a pitch for change in irrigation methods during these fluid times, a good hard look at the current crop cultivation methods of the region would be useful, planning towards more sustainable farming. the impact of high yield green revolution crops on soil and water is rarely taken into account. the high cost, high fertilizer load and consequent downstream effect of groundwater and soil contamination should be evaluated against the ‘gains’ of high yield.

Bhanu Prasad said...


You are being diplomatic to sujai's blog. He is yet an another narrow minded, illogical andhra hater.

It is odd that he runs and owns a Rs.30-cr company in Bangalore.

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