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By T S Sudhir
`Hidden agenda’ is a term that is being spoken about quite a bit in Telangana these days. The reference is to the real intention of the Telangana government in undertaking an ambitious household survey on August 19. The day has been declared a holiday and to ensure everyone in the 84 lakh households stay home on Tuesday, buses are unlikely to ply, petrol bunks will be closed and all offices – government and private – have been asked to shut shop.
The Telangana government says it wants to find out about the socio-economic status of its 4 crore citizens. The aim it says is also to get rid of anomalies like the existence of 1.47 crore ration cards for its 84 lakh families. Fair enough. That is indeed a honourable objective and law-abiding citizens should ideally have no qualms about being part of an exercise that seeks to get rid of bogus cards and thereby save public money.
The doubts arise because no one quite knows what the government plans to do with the data. When the government of India has access to almost all your financial details through the PAN card and knows your address details through the Aadhaar card, where is the need for yet another survey that asks for exhaustive details of your bank account numbers, property details, how many vehicles you own, their registration number, even how many air conditioners and pigs, cows, ox, dogs and poultry. The manner in which questions are raining cats and dogs, don’t be surprised if many citizens chicken out of revealing so much information.
Because the fear – and legitimately so – is whether this data will be safe. The opposition BJP and TDP have raised this bogey, further scaring the people. Those settled in the state capital from Andhra Pradesh do fear being targeted, though the controversial question “Where did you come to Telangana from?” no longer figures in the survey form. With the trust deficit, continuously fanned by the political class, suspicion is a dominant emotion.
A TRS leader Srinivas Taduri pointed out the government should know what every citizen is doing. Particularly in the light of ISI activities and bomb blasts that have happened in Hyderabad in the recent past, he said. I suppose he does not expect any citizen, even if he is part of an ISI sleeper cell, to put `Terrorist’ in the occupation column when the enumerators come visiting. Intelligence gathering does not happen through such surveys, that is a police job.
What is needed is someone right at the top, preferably the chief minister, to talk directly to the people to explain what he plans to do. Assuage their feelings, address their fears, concerns, apprehensions. KCR’s maiden Independence Day speech from Golconda Fort may give him just the right opportunity and platform.
By T S Sudhir
Is it an act of sedition to say Hyderabad and Kashmir were forcefully annexed to the Indian Union post independence in 1947? Is it an act of sedition to suggest that India must accept the reality (meaning to say – recognise the reality of the LoC) and move on?
My mind, with limited knowledge of law, says not really. Both points were uttered by K Kavitha, TRS MP from Nizamabad and daughter of Telangana chief minister, K Chandrasekhar Rao at a media conclave in July. For which now, on the orders of a lower court in Hyderabad, the city police has booked Kavitha under three different sections of the IPC, one of which is for sedition.
Yes, there is an error when relating history on Kavitha’s part and equating Hyderabad with Kashmir is certainly wrong. The Maharaja of Kashmir did want to remain independent like the Nizam of Hyderabad. But when the Pakistan raiders overran his kingdom, he turned to India for help and agreed to make his kingdom a part of India.
That was not quite the case with Hyderabad where the Nizam had to be shown the might of India to fall in line. Police action in September 1948 ensured the kingdom of Hyderabad – which is largely present-day Telangana – became part of India. But again here, it was only the Nizam who became a reluctant Indian citizen. Because his subjects fed up of the atrocities committed by the Razakars, wanted Hyderabad to merge with the Indian Union. So to say “forcefully annexed” is not entirely rooted in history. The 7th Nizam, Mir Osman Alik Khan was merely the ruler of Hyderabad, he wasn’t Hyderabad.
The second comment is more of a suggestion, a solution to somehow take things forward. But to make it seem as if PoK is akin to a land having been grabbed and you give up the fight against the land grabber, is not quite the thing to say, more so when you are an MP. This is about patriotism, even if it is a tad impractical. Yes, it is highly unlikely that India would be able to get PoK vacated by Pakistan but you do not agree, like a meek country, to shrink in size. Certainly not a big brother like India.
The intent behind Kavitha’s remarks, to my mind, is not wrong. But they certainly go against the idea of India. An India who is strong. An India where the people mattered more than what an autocratic ruler did. For Kavitha to reduce the issue to a petitioner trying to have his day of glory, is not really what one would expect from someone like her.
By T S Sudhir
On Thursday morning, Swamy Goud was among the grieving parents, having lost his 6-year-old son Darshan in the accident in Maisaipet village of Medak district, where the Nanded passenger had collided with the school bus of Kennedy school, killing 14 students. 24 hours later, his son Darshan came alive.
Confused? So was Swamy Goud because when he went looking in the hospital for Darshan, the hospital authorities heard `Darshan’ as `Dattu’ and handed him Darshan’s classmate, Dattu’s body. Goud could not recognise his face as it was terribly disfigured as a result of the impact of the collision. He performed Dattu’s last rites, thinking it was Darshan.
On Friday, when Darshan gained consciousness at Yashoda hospital in Secunderabad and revealed his father’s name, Swamy Goud was called. And his joy knew no bounds when he saw an injured but smiling Darshan at the hospital. Rebirth could not have been more dramatic.
But it was grief for Dattu’s family whose elder sister Bhuvana (whose Telugu text book with her name written neatly on it, I saw at the accident site) also died in the tragedy. Dattu’s father Veera Babu had taken away the body of his daughter and presumed that his son was being treated in one of the hospitals in Hyderabad. But it was only when he checked the records, the authorities realised that Dattu’s body had been taken away by mistake.
There have been many people offering to help Vamshi, the 7-year-old boy whose father told him not to become a farmer before killing himself. This story was telecast on NDTV. (See story here)
I have asked my local contacts to get the young mother of Vamshi, Kanakavva, to open an account in a bank so that whoever wants to can make an online transfercan do so. Sharing those details.
Vamshi (7-year-old boy)
s/o Beena Maina Kanakavva (phone:007674984223)
State Bank of Hyderabad, a/c number 62347984726
|Bank Name||Branch Name||IFSC Code / MICR Code / Branch Code||Address||Contact|
|State Bank Of Hyderabad (SBH)||KODAKONDLA||SBHY0020447 / 502004117 / 020447||KODAKONDLA, GAJWEL TEHSIL
|Phone: 8454238321, , email:firstname.lastname@example.org|
By T S Sudhir
They are technically next door neighbours but in the convoluted ten-year lease agreement drawn up between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu also is a non-paying guest in Telangana till June 2, 2024. His landlord, K Chandrasekhar Rao is okay with the arrangement but bristles with indignation when Naidu demands that `his’ and his brethren’s security be taken care of by the Governor and not by KCR. Naidu cites that KCR has an eye on the properties of people who hail from Andhra Pradesh and therefore Naidu does not feel safe in KCR-land.
The first CM of Telangana accuses Naidu of being a bad guest. “Definitely we will take good care of him. But he thinks he is still the CM of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh which does not exist any more. He needs to get out of his political hangover,” jabs K T Rama Rao, the IT minister of Telangana and also KCR’s son.
The Union government where Chandrababu Naidu is a partner, has sent a proposal to the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments, suggesting the setting up of a Common Police Board. This entails that the board that will consist of the commissionerates of Hyderabad and Cyberabad, will no longer listen to KCR’s orders but that of the Governor. The occupant of Raj Bhavan will also have the right to appoint and transfer any police official within the common capital jurisdiction.
Understandably KCR is upset because while the AP Reorganisation Act mentions that “the responsibility of Governor shall extend to matters such as law and order, internal security” it also states that he shall consult the Telangana ministers and then take a decision. This proposal makes it seem as if the Governor is being made the super CM of Hyderabad city. Under the constitution of India where law and order is a state subject, the Hyderabad arrangement will stick out like a sore thumb.
Only a few days ago, Naidu had written to the Centre complaining that the Telangana government was going after properties of people from Seemandhra. It was a reference to the demolition of buildings in Cyberabad area and also accusing Telugu actor Nagarjuna’s N convention of encroaching on lake area. The TDP is also upset at the manner in which two Telugu news channels – TV9 and ABN – owned by non-Telangana proprietors, have been off air for a month now because they aired content that the TRS government found objectionable.
KCR believes Naidu is trying to get back at him using the Union government as a shield. The ploy, the TRS thinks, is to weaken the Telangana government so that the TDP-BJP combine has a better electoral chance in 2019. There is already a huge sense of competition that is raging between the two states to attract investment and the elections after five years will also be a test of who fared better.
For now, KCR and Naidu are behaving less like statesmen and more like players in a bitter domestic feud. The bifurcation has done little to heal the wounds and on just about every contentious issue, the two states are like daggers drawn.
Picture abhi baaki hai.
By T S Sudhir
Less than a month since the official division of Andhra Pradesh, many firms established in Hyderabad and in other districts of Telangana state are looking east. Owned by those from the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, their reasons to move out of Telangana however, vary. While some want to be part of the development process of the residuary Andhra Pradesh, others are smelling a good business opportunity if the new state offers generous tax incentives. Some others feel they will be short of opportunities in a Telangana state that will like to give preference to its own entrepreneurs.
Sanjay Devulapalli and Sai Ramesh started Malloc Solutions, an IT company, in Hyderabad in 2007. Sanjay is from Telangana while Ramesh is from coastal Andhra. Now with the borders redrawn, the partners have decided to branch out as well. The decision was also motivated by Ramesh’s desire to work out of Visakhapatnam, his hometown. So Malloc Solutions will now set up a unit in the city of destiny in addition to its operations in Hyderabad.
“We have been thinking about in the last three months since the elections happened. For me, it was a business decision. If the state of Andhra Pradesh is going to give some exemptions and encourage business, especially since we are into e-governance, we see an opportunity,” says Sanjay Devulapalli. “For me, it was most definitely an emotional decision to go back to Vizag,” says Sai Ramesh.
The reasons are different for Lakshmi Prasad, prinicipal consultant with Soham IT services. He feels he is being treated as a second-class entrepreneur in Telangana state.
“Yes, we are also going for business reasons but there is an underlying emotional reason as well. I have studied in Nizamabad in Telangana and have been here since 1983. Yet I feel that the manner in which the state is divided, there is now a glass ceiling. The emotional factor is impacting our business. Even the clients are backing out and looking at us as Andhra companies and have second thoughts about doing business with us,” says Prasad.
A few entrepreneurs especially in the manufacturing sector, who did not want to be named, said a few Telangana clients are withdrawing orders, indirectly pushing those with Seemandhra roots out. What is worrying them also is the demand of the Telangana Joint action committee that is placing restrictions on the kind of labour they employ. Prof M Kodandaram, Chairman of the TJAC says, “About 70 to 75 per cent of the jobs pertaining to skilled and semi-skilled category should be reserved for local people. This includes operators and people below that.”
But not everyone is convinced that shifting to Andhra Pradesh at the moment is a good idea. IT honcho Raghu Sakuru says none of the cities in Andhra Pradesh compare in terms of infrastructure with Hyderabad and therefore, it makes little sense to move out of an established IT centre.
But the Chandrababu Naidu government is already gloating over the early gains, in terms of a spike in firms queuing up to register themselves in Andhra Pradesh. “Naidu has international image and is a brand. Industry has confidence on him about permission and law and order. That is why businessmen are more attracted towards Andhra Pradesh,” says C M Ramesh, TDP MP. Jitender Reddy, leader of the TRS parliamentary party pooh-poohs the claim saying Telangana is a new brand while Andhra Pradesh is an established brand. “These are teething problems in Telangana. It is a hare and tortoise story. They will do things in a hurry. We will do it slow and steady,” says Reddy. Telangana IT minister K T Rama Rao is already in overdrive, trying to woo industry to help the government add lustre to Brand Hyderabad.
But just as Rome was not built in one day, Andhra Pradesh will face a long gestation period. Not just infrastructure, even quality manpower faces a question mark in Naidu land and that will prompt many from the state, working in Hyderabad, to stay back despite the problems. But the early flight of entrepreneurship, even if it is a trickle, is not something that will help Telangana’s brand equity.
By T S Sudhir
It has been nearly four days that two Telugu news channels – TV9 and ABN – are off air in Telangana. Reason : They annoyed the powers-that-be with their programming last week and the cable operators, miffed at the manner in which Telangana elected representatives were spoken about, took them off air.
All through the Telangana agitation, the TRS had huge issues with the anti-Telangana and anti-TRS line that many in the media fraternity adopted. Their ire was directed particularly at vernacular media – both print and electronic – that were owned by people from coastal Andhra Pradesh. In fact, when the state was bifurcated and subsequently a TRS government was elected, one of the biggest concerns was the lack of a powerful pro-Telangana media – both print and electronic. I will come to that in just a bit.
In this case, the satirical programme that was aired on TV9, by the admission of many of its own senior staffers, crossed the line. The language used for the MLAs of the new Telangana assembly was derogatory, highly objectionable and in bad taste. It spoke of how the MLAs who were of the standard of seeing touring talkies had been elevated to the level of watching a movie in a multiplex. It insinuated that some of the legislators fumbled while taking oath because they were in high spirits. The tone and tenor of the programme was that this political establishment was incapable of ruling a state.
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar was livid. And perhaps understandably so. And like most of his ilk, converted the barbs into an attack on Telangana as a whole. MLAs in the Assembly spoke of moving a privilege motion against the channel inspite of TV9 apologising for the programme’s content. But before any of that could happen, operators took the decision to pull the plug off the two channels. It is anyone’s guess about whether it was a suo moto decision or on the prodding of the powers-that-be. ABN also bore the brunt reportedly because of content critical of the TRS.
What does this mean for the uneasy relationship that exists between much of the Telugu media and the Telangana establishment? Two steps back because the response of the TRS has taken the confrontation to one between institutions. One would have expected the elected representatives to respond more maturely to situations. The Congress and the TDP has now spoken against the decision to blank out the channels.
Yes, the self-righteous media started this slander campaign but it could have been blunted better by making them apologise, say 20 times in a day for a month. That would have hurt their credibility much more than pulling the plug. This makes the common man on the street think the government through the operators is employing strong-arm tactics.
The perception that has gained ground is that TRS is sending a very clear message. Mess with me at your own risk. And that the next time, any channel or publication will be more than careful about what it puts out.
A section of the TRS also believes that in the absence of a strong media that talks in its favour, a perception will be built that the residuary Andhra Pradesh state is doing better under Chandrababu Naidu, as compared to Telangana under KCR. The gameplan of such a media exercise would be to pump up TDP’s chances in Telangana when polls take place in 2019. The TRS is trying to blunt that by ensuring it starts its own newspaper at the earliest.