separating hyderabad

sanjaya baru says hyderabad and other major indian cities like mumbai, kolkata, chennai and bangalore should be made union territories:

There is the story of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiao Bao’s visit to Mumbai in 2005. He had been told that Mumbai was “India’s Shanghai”. Looking out of his window as the plane landed, a bewildered Mr Wen asked an aide whether this was in fact Mumbai and wondered aloud, “Why do they call it India’s Shanghai?”

The sorry state of our best cities is a commentary on many aspects of India’s political economy and fiscal priorities. However, in recent years, there is recognition that we must reverse this, that cities are important and that there are huge positive externalities in urban development for employment generation and economic development.

Yet, the interests of a city rarely figure in the political calculations of most of India’s political parties. Kolkata and Mumbai stand testimony to the decline of two great cities as a consequence of the misplaced priorities of successive governments in these states. New Delhi has been relatively spared because it is the national Capital and a large part of its administration has been delinked from state-level political pressures and priorities.

It is against this background that one must appreciate the rise of cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad, howsoever limited their rise may seem against the even more impressive rise of south-east Asian cities. [italics mine].

howsoever limited. that's the part of the article that should make us pause and think a little. if sanjaya baru, who says that 'four decades ago, I also walked the streets of Hyderabad declaring, like many teenage students, Pachchi pulusoo khayengey, Telangana leyengey (We will subsist on soup, but secure Telangana)', believes hyderabad must be protected by converting it into a union territory, one needs to think a lot.

if things in the city remain as they are, when any politician could impose a bandh on its citizens on any given day...or forget politicians, any random teacher or professor who hasn't been to a classroom in long years or even any random student leader who hasn't finished his first year in college can call for a bandh and depend on politicians and their henchmen, for whatever reasons, to enforce it, i'm sure many more people would start agreeing with mr.baru before long.


Space Bar said...

i really think this trend of wanting to make gated communities of our cities is very dangerous.

SS said...

I agree with SB. Also, UT status might help Hyderbad but how does it help the rest of the state? This entire issue has brought into sharp focus just how lop-sided development in the state is. So much has been put into Hyd, and disproportionately lesser elsewhere. In any case I think the issue is beyond the development rhetoric. Will the healing ever begin??

And thanks for blogging so consistently and earnestly about this.

kuffir said...


agree with you. but indian cities are already gated communities in many ways. despite the heated claims of many on the left who talk of massive displacement in the countryside, and people on the opposite side (like the thackereys) that there's a flood of migrants into the cities every day. the growth in mumbai's population in the past couple of decades, for instance, is only partyly attributable to migrants. the locals had adding more to the numbers.

it seems like, large sections of india's rural population despite great poverty prefer not go to cities because they instinctively know they can't afford to pay the entry prices. only those who have enough resources, material or social, and have some degree of confidence about getting a job (or securing other means of livelihood) and shelter (even in the slums and jhuggis) seem to move to the cities..


agree about the lopsided development model, but not about the investment part. since about the early eighties or even earlier, public investments in hyderabad have actually been less than people imagine or even fantasize about. and even earlier, i'd say public investments in hyderabad (by the central and state govts)have been less than what has been made in many other major cities across the country.

what's happened in the last twenty years is that private investments in the city have reached substantals.. the growth in the city's elite-oriented public infrastructure that you see was mostly financed, you could see, by the growth in the city's economy.

there are others who criticize, and rightly, the development model adopted in the state..but they do it on same terms as the rulers. they still talk about large irrigation and large factories (in the public sector) without talking about primary education and drinking water and health. and they do it from secure positions in tenured jobs..professors, actvists financed by global ngos, babus... what do they have in common with paanwallahs or adda coolies? i've been thinking a lot about this movement which brings together these diverse, contradictory interests, and all the spiel about a people's movement. and i'm thinking, when these wise people know quite well few very local cultures have a chance of surviving in a madly sms-ing world, why are they arguing on the grounds of culture? i think, burma, more than cuba or venezuela is the world that inspires them...apologize for the rant.

kuffir said...

also apologize for the typos.

SS said...


Yes, agree with your point about public investment being not as much as we imagine it is. That primary healthcare, education, etc. are nowhere near the standards of many other cities. But is there a reason so many people flock to this city from other districts for employment, healthcare, education - from paanwallahs, vegetable vendors and coolies to middle-class families? People who lead a hand-to-mouth existence are unlikely to be misled by private investment alone, no? And isnt private investment also encouraged, made conducive, by the State?

"few local cultures have a chance of surviving in a madly sms-ing world, why are they arguing on the grounds of culture?"
This is a question that haunts me as well. It seems to me that the cultural argument is merely a smokescreen. The actual carrot being dangled before the students of OU is jobs. How that will be achieved is a scenario too grim to visualize.

SS said...

Also, what you say about development in Hyderabad vis-a-vis other cities in India is interesting, but seems to echo KCR's argument - that Hyd is no big deal. What is relevant here, I think, is the developemnt in Hyd versus dev in other cities of AP.

gaddeswarup said...

"What is relevant here, I think, is the developemnt in Hyd versus dev in other cities of AP."
I have been wondering about this. Motupalli was a famous sea-port during Kakatiya time. Masulipatam (Bandar; I think that this area was under Nizam at one time and was called Bandar Suba) was afamous sea-port off and on since Ptolemy's time. Somehow the new Madras and lalter Visakhapatnam took over later. I wonder how this happened, Were the ties between the coast and interior cut off once the coastal districts were taken over by the British?
There seem to be attempts to revive ports near Chirala and Gudur again. Land values have gone up. A friend who bought land near udur for five thousand rupees for one acre near Gudur about 16 years ago says now it costs around 25 lakhs. There are also gas finds. Perhaps new centres will develop along the coast where land values were not high before.

kuffir said...


'Also, what you say about development in Hyderabad vis-a-vis other cities in India is interesting, but seems to echo KCR's argument - that Hyd is no big deal.'

what i have been saying here, in my previous posts and my latest post, is quite simple: that it is *the people of andhra* who have built modern hyderabad. not pan-indian capitalists, not the state and central govts (though they might've played a role in facilitating this development).

i'm not echoing kcr, i'm assigning a bigger role to the people of andhra in the building of hyderabad than you and kcr. it's only the nature of the public debates on hyderabad that's not helping you hear what i'm trying to say.

what kcr and the separatists would like to hear is talk about 'assets', 'capital' and 'resources' and 'investments'. i've been trying to clearly point out that it is not 'assets' built by the nizams or the elected govts in andhra pradesh and delhi through their investments in hyderabad that are responsible for the growth in the city's economy. if you focus on assets and investments, the dispute between you and the separatists would eventually go down the route of how much and so on. i don't think that'd shed any objective light on who or what actually is responsible for the city's growth.

the mistake that many opponents of separation make is to walk into this debate without realizing that jayashankar and his ilk have already set the tone of it. and are prepared with readymade arguments to counter any simplistic claims on the basis of 'investments' made, or capital that the andhraites brought to hyderabad etc. any such indignant claims will only strengthen the feeling among the separatists that only 'andhra capitalists' are interested in saving their 'investments' in hyderabad. the ordinary people, the working classes, the youth, the dalitbahujans etc of andhra have lost or invested nothing in hyderabad so they are not/shouldn't be worried.

kuffir said...

to continue:

if one moves away from this misleading debate along the lines of capital, assets, investments etc, one'd realize that the claim of the people of andhra rayalaseema on the city of hyderabad is based on the same principle as that of the people of telangana. on the principle of sweat and labour, the fruits of which were taken away to hyderabad. now whle the labour of the people of telangana was siphoned away by an oppressive feudal regime and was used to build a bare watering hole, the labour of the andhra poor and dalitbahujans was siphoned away in a more democratic, but nonetheless exploitative, polity and was used to build today's hyderabad.

so, it'd be wrong to talk about investments only in terms of public investments or tax revenues-- one should also talk about things like sweat and labour, and about other intangible human elements that can never fully be captured in mere accounting terms.

while the jagirdars of telangana misused their loot by squandering it in extravagant lifestyles, to use a euphemism, the middle classes of andhra put it to much better use.

let me also explain why i consider public investments as not central to this issue of claims.

when i talk of public investment in hyderabad-- i talk of central and state govt investments in infrastructure & psus (including research organizations like the ccmb etc and universities like hcu etc).

central govt investments in public sector companies like hmt, bhel etc in hyderabad slowed down in the late 70s.. so did investment in research institutions like ccmb, etc and universities like hcu..

as for the state govt investments in industries, it stopped after various efforts to prop up allwyn etc. the telugu/urdu universities etc were some new educational investments..

now,public infrastructure like roads, airport, railway stations etc. the new airport is a public-private joint venture..the govt provided the land but most of the investment was made by the private partner.. new industrial infrastructure like hi-tec city and the rest.

kuffir said...

to further continue:)

one could go on, but the economy of the city hasn't grown *only* because of those investments. those investments mostly stopped by the late 70 as i said, and in the eighties, hyderabad's economy was a mere fraction of what it is now.

what has bought the current economic stature to the city is purely because of the small investments thousands and thousands of small middle class entrepreneurs, largely from coastal andhra and some from telangana and rayalaseema made in the city.. the success rate of new entrepreneurs is very low (lower than 10%) across the world. but it is those successful, raw middle class entrepreneurs from coastal andhra primarily who added this new economic muscle to the city.

like i've pointed out in my new post,no large business house in the country had invested much in the city or the state. so it is not pure, mature capital that forms the basis of hyderabad's economic growth but the mostly small savings plus the creative capacities of educated, middle class 'ordinary' people from farming families in coastal andhra which lies at its roots.

this distinction has to be observed: it is not capital by itself that builds economies, especially feudal third world economies trying to move into the modern age, but people's efforts to realize their own creative potential that catalyses any social or economic transformation. it is the productive capacities of the people of coastal andhra, to put it crudely, that built the new hyderabad, not the the capital they brought in or the state or central govts' investments here.

if you looked at them as purely 'andhra capitalists' as the separatists do, then you'd have to ask yourselves the question: why hyderabad, which was nowhere in the industrial race before the 40s or 50s or 60s or even the 70s and why not madras, or calcutta or mumbai or delhi which had bigger markets, and also established business infrastructure and institutions?

what most people who dismiss industrial growth in hyderabad as purely driven by capitalistic instincts of andhraite businessmen miss two points: first, the entrepreneurs who built successful businesses in the city (like in the pharma, high technology, i.t. areas), were not capitalists before they arrived here ..second, individually they didn't bring much capital here, only their education and some technical experience.

i have some personal knowledge of the kind of background and the kind of work some of these entrepreneurs in the pharma sector, for instance, put in.

'What is relevant here, I think, is the developemnt in Hyd versus dev in other cities of AP.'

that requires another post, in another time. but we should be happy that people in andhra and rayalaseema didn't have to suffer the kind of repression the people of telangana had to originally undergo so hyderabad could be built.

'But is there a reason so many people flock to this city from other districts for employment, healthcare, education - from paanwallahs, vegetable vendors and coolies to middle-class families? People who lead a hand-to-mouth existence are unlikely to be misled by private investment alone, no? And isnt private investment also encouraged, made conducive, by the State?'

there is only one reason why poor people essentially come to cities. because the cities offer work, while the number of working days in the villages (through agricultural activities) has declined rapidly in the past three decades.

while public investments made in a city like hyderabad or other capitals builds a base of organized sector workers (in govt and psus)who represent a market for businessmen who sell goods and work for some people who offer various services.. but it is the private investments in industries, businesses and trade which take the need for workers to higher levels.

SS said...

Sorry, didnt see your comments earlier. Thanks, much. I've reached saturation point on this issue. The more people I listen to, the more confused I get!

You should write a book. Seriously:)

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