Kavitha’s argument out of tune?


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.
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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.
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The KCR vs CBN battle


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.
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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.
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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. 

Why Salman Khan is not `Wanted’ by the Owaisis


By T S Sudhir
Move over Salman Rushdie, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) has a new Salman to practise darts on. Salman Khan aka Sallu Bhai.
Ever since Salman Khan kept his commitment to indulge in kite-flying with Narendra Modi and what’s worse, called him a “good man”, the party from Hyderabad has been seething with anger. Little surprise considering Modi is all negative for the Owaisi brothers – Asaduddin and Akbaruddin.
But what’s surprising is that the MIM has chosen to risk asking its followers not to watch `Jai Ho’ that releases this Friday, considering Salman is like God to many youth from the Old city area, who copy his physique, mannerisms and hairstyle. MIM now wants them to change their approach to Salman Khan – from `Maine Pyar Kiya’ to `Maine Pyaar kyon kiya’.
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At a public meeting four days back, party president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi was all fire and brimstone. Targeting the actor with choice expletives, Owaisi dismissed him as a mere “nachle gaane wala actor”. Asking the audience not to watch his “behudapana”, Owaisi said, “Naam Salman rakhne se koyi Salman nahi ban jaata, Salman to Rushdie bhi hai.”
The BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu has dismissed Owaisi’s outburst as a matter of no consequence, accusing him of suffering from Modi-phobia. It indeed does seem surprising that the Owaisis would get so perturbed and worked up over a mere endorsement of Modi by an actor. Are the Owaisis so insecure in their citadel of the Old city area of Hyderabad that they think that a certificate from Salman Khan to Modi would be enough for the BJP to make significant inroads? 
It was also surprising to see the elder Owaisi borrow a leaf out of his younger brother Akbaruddin’s book, in terms of style and rhetoric. Remember, a year ago, Owaisi junior had got into trouble with his alleged communal remarks that were seen as damaging communal harmony. For someone who otherwise stresses on development agenda in his constituency, Asaduddin Owaisi’s vitriol seemed out of sync.
That Salman did not bother to temper his positive remarks about Modi has irked the MIM leaders even more. He made the point in a TV interview that if Modi has been acquitted by the courts, why should he say sorry. That’s a position unacceptable to the MIM. The party decided subsequently that it will not speak on the issue, since that will be akin to giving Salman Khan more publicity, something its leaders decided he did not deserve.
Asaduddin Owaisi explained that even if it had been any other actor, he would have reacted the same way, since Modi is anathema. “It did not have to do with his being a Muslim,” he said. Owaisi described Modi as a “kaatil” and “zaalim” in his speech, an attempt clearly to polarise the Muslim vote in Hyderabad against the BJP’s Hindutva brigade. The response to `Jai Ho’ over the weekend will show how much the Dabangg star is Wanted by his Hyderabadi fan and whether they make a distinction between real and reel life.

Why Seemandhra leaders are living in a fool’s paradise


 

tssBy T S Sudhir
Can someone politely tell the elected representatives from Seemandhra to shut up? Because it is quite pathetic the manner in which they continue to fool the people of the two regions of Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, talking of how they still can prevent Telangana from happening, first by blocking the Bill on Andhra Pradesh’s reorganisation in the Assembly and then Parliament. Fake bravado, thy name is the Congress leader from Seemandhra.
Facts on the ground are that the state assembly is only expected to “express an opinion”, not vote for or against the draft Bill. Two, with the BJP committed to supporting formation of Telangana, a few Seemandhra MPs aren’t likely to add or subtract much from the total number of `Ayes’.
Let’s face it. These leaders have been checkmated by the more persistent lot from Telangana who despite their political differences, were united in their goal of achieving statehood for their region. Yes, the Congress leaders from Telangana found KCR’s verbal volleys offensive but they did not let those ego battles come in the way of ensuring they did their bit.
But not so the `power-ful’ Seemandhra MPs. Ever since December 23, 2009, when they forced the Congress to take a U-turn on its Chidambaram’s Statehood at Midnight announcement, they were drunk on their ability to ensure Telangana will never happen. In private conversations, they pointed to their moneybag status and the fact that apart from a political relationship, they also enjoyed business relationship with the people who mattered in Delhi.
But the manner in which the Congress High command treated this lot is a case study in political management. The same business interests were used to get some of the MPs to behave themselves. While they were allowed to indulge in posturing in public, in private, they did not step out of line, to ensure their self-interest did not suffer.
The leadership also split the group on caste lines. A minister like Panabaka Lakshmi, from the SC community, was not interested in calling it quits because the leadership started wooing her and ministers like K Laxminarayana, Balaraju in the state, as a foil to the Reddys who have always dominated Andhra Pradesh politics in the Congress party. These leaders saw an opportunity for themselves in a Congress keen to indulge in some social engineering.
The Rayala Telangana proposal that was mooted by a section of ministers in the Group of Ministers came in handy to divide the lot more. Suddenly the MPs and ministers from Kurnool and Anantapur were willing to break ranks with the United Andhra Pradesh lobby and join a Telangana state. Now that the cabinet went back to its Telangana-only plan, these leaders, are back with the original group – grumpy and sheepish. But the cracks have only widened.
First-time ministers like KS Rao, Chiranjeevi, Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy went through the motions of resigning but continued to stay in their chair, arguing that the PM had told them to do so. The real reason was that there was not much to gain by pressing for their resignations to be accepted because the Congress back home was being demolished completely and being a political nobody in Delhi did not make sense. The leadership played on the lal batti obsession of these leaders. Ditto with the ministers in the state cabinet.
The fight over which city will be the new capital of the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh also came in handy to divide the united AP group. While Kishore Chandra Deo pitched for Visakhapatnam, the Rayalaseema group plumped for Kurnool. Others rooted for Vijayawada-Guntur. The fight is only likely to intensify now that an expert committee will ask for suggestions. Good way to keep everyone busy.
It is not that only the Congress representatives have behaved irresponsibly. You have the TDP MP N Shivaprasad saying Chandrababu Naidu will withdraw the TDP letter affirming its support to bifurcation if the Congress would reverse its decision then. Are political parties and their decisions on crucial matters taken so whimsically?
Both the TDP and the YSR Congress declared a bandh in the 13 districts of Seemandhra – in a sense, abdicating its position in Telangana. Almost as if everyone living in Telangana is in favour of the manner in which the division of the state is taking place. TDP called for a 48-hour bandh, so the YSRC also extended its bandh to the second day, citing people’s wishes to do so. This competitive bandh politics is going to get the people who advocate an united AP nowhere. They only inconvenience the common man in these regions.
Meanwhile, the language is getting shrill. Those who are settled in Hyderabad from other regions are already complaining of subtle and not-so-subtle threats issued online. It won’t take much time for it to get offline, they fear. The message is that anyone who is living in any part of Telangana can speak anything remotely critical of the division at his or her own risk. Intolerance is reflecting itself in the kind of intemperate language being spoken. If Brand Hyderabad has to survive and flourish, it is important that such voices do not get any encouragement in the new state of Telangana.

Andhra Pradesh political chess championship. Game on.


tssBy T S Sudhir
If the exit polls on every television channel are anything to go by, the voters of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi have done the votaries of pro-united Andhra Pradesh a huge favour. Even though the Group of Ministers (GoM) has recommended the formation of Rayala Telangana state (includes ten districts of Telangana and two districts of Rayalaseema) in its 70-page report, the moral authority of the UPA government to divide Andhra Pradesh will be severely eroded post December 8, if the Congress indeed gets mauled in the four states. Especially when there is absolutely no consensus among the main stakeholders in the state on division and ever since July 30, when the Congress decided to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh, much of the population has been protesting – both off and on the street.
It is indeed an ironical situation that the GoM, consisting of several senior Congress ministers has recommended Rayala Telangana state, when its Chief Minister, Deputy CM, PCC chief are all opposed to it.  (Read blog : Why the idea of Rayala Telangana state is back on the table)
If the BJP does win all four states, expect a spring in their step. The party is already on record refusing any support to anything but Telangana state with ten districts. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti has called for a Telangana bandh on December 5, to coincide with the Union cabinet deliberating on the GoM report. Both Chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and Jaganmohan Reddy will see this as a ray of hope. That Andhra Pradesh may indeed not be divided – atleast not till elections 2014 in April.
Posturing for public consumption apart, every political party is actually playing to a plan. To ensure they return to the Lok Sabha and the state assembly (or assemblies) with the maximum number of elected representatives.
First the Congress. Easily the party that is in quite a spot of bother. Not only it has made matters difficult for itself by deciding to go in for a hybrid version of Telangana by dividing Rayalaseema when there is no demand from any quarter to do so, it also has to deal with its own chief minister, who has raised the red flag. The party believes Rayala Telangana will get them electoral dividends, besides ensuring against the demand for a separate state of Rayalaseema in the future.  
The party’s Delhi leaders are confident that despite the BJP’s opposition, they can cobble the numbers in Lok Sabha. The Upper House could be a tricky issue where the party does not have the numbers and that is where the issue may lie till the elections. The Congress will go to town saying they did all they could, and put the blame on the BJP. And Andhra Pradesh will vote as one state.
This suits the TRS as well which realises that the Congress no longer has the momentum and therefore isn’t too keen to fight the elections along with the Congress. Today’s bandh is nothing more than an attempt to reclaim the position as the sole spokesperson of the Telangana region, a spot that the Congress was threatening to usurp since the July 30 decision.
Feelers have been sent from the TRS to the BJP and vice versa and there are many who believe that a Narendra Modi-KCR combination, blasting the Congress for “betraying the people of Telangana for not giving what they asked for” will work well for the alliance. The TRS can also bargain for a good share of the seats with the BJP. Yes, it may affect the minority vote in districts like Nizamabad and Karimnagar but TRS leaders believes the minuses are offset by the pluses. (Read blog : KCR goes back to agitation mode)
The BJP claims that it is being wooed by at least three parties in Andhra Pradesh – TRS, Telugu Desam and YSR Congress. Chandrababu Naidu, fighting with his back to the wall in Seemandhra, is banking on an alliance with the BJP, should it succeed in blocking the bifurcation bill in Parliament. The TDP believes that a Modi-Naidu jugalbandi will connect well with the people of Andhra Pradesh.
Jaganmohan Reddy’s praise of Modi as a “good administrator” after his release from Hyderabad jail was not an off-the-cuff remark. It was a calculated comment that he wanted to be noted. While Jagan is certain to fight the elections alone and will hope to do well in Seemandhra, even his political friends admit he could join hands with any party that can form the next government in Delhi. The argument is that he has been out of power for too long now and he needs political friends in Delhi to ensure the CBI is off his back.
For the moment, however, the BJP and Jagan are not working the phone lines. Channels of communication, if necessary, will be opened only after the results in May. The BJP, wiser from the Yeddyurappa experience, says joining hands with Jagan now will give a handle to the Congress to attack it. Besides, it has its own suspicions about the kind of deal Jagan is alleged to have entered into with the Congress.
Kiran Kumar Reddy would be a confused man. If he had branched out to form his own outfit, he could have challenged Jagan in the Seemandhra space. But now by staying in the Congress, he is unlikely to return to power as the voters of his region are unlikely to trust his party with their votes again.
Meanwhile, away from all this political moves, bank manager Narasimha Rao is frustrated that he cannot travel to Sanga Reddy in Medak district because none of the outstation buses are plying due to the Telangana bandh. But ask him about what he thinks of the bandh politics practised by all political parties and he clams up. Fear written large on his face, he would much rather let his vote do the talking than invite the ire of any activist by taking a position publicly. 

Why the idea of Rayala Telangana state is back on the table


 

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By T S Sudhir

 

“Can’t say” was the cryptic reply by Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief minister, Damodar Rajanarasimha, when asked if the idea of Rayala Telangana state was gaining currency with the Group of Ministers (GoM). Rajanarasimha’s reply, which also conveyed a crestfallen frame of mind, was a clear indication that the Centre was hardly open about what it planned to do with Andhra Pradesh. It was only when Rajanarasimha was asked for his reaction to a possible Rayala Telangana state by a Congress leader during his visit to Delhi last week that realisation dawned on him that Rayala Telangana as a proposal had not been dumped.  

 

Since July 30, when the Congress Working Committee bit the bullet on Telangana, the Centre has engaged largely in a cloak-and-dagger like operation, as if hatching some conspiracy in the dark night. Realising that the extreme positions made Andhra Pradesh a political minefield, it has attempted to divide with an attempt to rule. 

 

The idea of Rayala Telangana is back on the table with precisely that reason. If implemented, Kurnool and Anantapur districts of Rayalaseema region will be added to Telangana state, making the division of Andhra Pradesh equal in Parliamentary terms. Both Rayala Telangana and Seemandhra will then have 21 Lok Sabha and 147 assembly seats each. 

 

The intention clearly is to kill several birds with one stone. And the man responsible for pushing Sonia Gandhi towards Rayala Telangana is Kiran Kumar Reddy, whose open revolt has jolted the Congress leadership. 

 

At the moment, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister has the upper hand, with 153 MLAs from Seemandhra (who will vote against the Bill) versus 119 from Telangana. If the draft bill on Rayala Telangana is sent to the Andhra Pradesh assembly for approval, chances are that all the 28 MLAs from Kurnool and Anantapur would support the Bill, altering the equation completely. It would make the grandiose plans of Kiran Reddy defeating the Bill on the floor of the House that much more tough.

 

It is very important for the Congress High command to ensure the state assembly clears the draft Bill. Because it fears President Pranab Mukherjee, a stickler for rules, could play spoilsport if the assembly negates it. A thumbs down in the assembly could also create legal hurdles.

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Union minister from Kurnool, Kotla Surya Prakash Reddy submitted resolutions passed by 1700 gram panchayats in Kurnool and Anantapur expressing desire to merge with Telangana rather than be with coastal Andhra. The argument is that they would not like to lose out on the advantage of being associated with Hyderabad as the capital. 

 

Also the fear is that Rayalaseema will stand to lose out as both culturally and in terms of prosperity, it is very different from coastal Andhra. It will be like poor cousins to coastal Andhra. Most people predict that sooner than later, if Telangana state is created, Rayalaseema’s four districts – Kurnool, Anantapur, Kadapa and Chittoor – will seek to branch out as a separate state, from coastal Andhra.

 

Rayala Telangana will reduce the clout of both Jaganmohan Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu who will fight with each other in a reduced political space in Seemandhra.

 

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) can be marginalised in a Rayala Telangana state. Straightaway, they will come a cropper in the 28 seats in the two Rayalaseema districts, which the Congress can hope to sweep. 

 

Interestingly, at an informal meeting of pro-Telangana irrigation and agriculture experts over the weekend, some reportedly expressed the view that Rayala Telangana should not be dismissed as it would give the complete control of Srisailam dam to the state. If only Telangana state were to be formed, Srisailam dam would be divided into half between the two states. 

 

Given that the Seemandhra leaders have been making a noise about making Hyderabad a city state or Union Territory, this would split their opposition to the idea of division. Creating a hybrid state instead of a pure Telangana would also allay fears about safety of people from non-Telangana region in Hyderabad. 

 

Leaders from Kurnool and Anantapur who were resigned to a long spell in the political wilderness – given the anger against the Congress on the streets since the decision – can once again hope to return to positions of power. Because the division is no longer about anything else but Hyderabad.

 

For the past three weeks, Intelligence Bureau sleuths have been gathering opinion about bifurcation, including Rayala Telangana from votaries of Telangana. Though TRS leaders concede that the Centre is giving the Rayala Telangana proposal serious thought now, they are also suspicious that the Congress is playing mindgames. They think it is psychological warfare being played to force TRS and BJP to relent on their rigid stance on status of Hyderabad. The bone of contention is who should look after law and order in Hyderabad during the ten years that it serves as the common capital. TRS and BJP want it to be under the Government of Telangana while Seemandhra leaders want it under a neutral authority like the Governor, reporting to the Union Home ministry.

 

Both the TRS and the BJP have conveyed their opposition to a Rayala Telangana state, stating they want only Telangana state with ten districts, with Hyderabad as the capital. Their argument is that Rayalaseema with its distinct culture, does not have much in common with Telangana. Besides, how fair it would be to divide a region for selfish political gains. 

 

Which is why the doubt in many minds if the Congress is playing a double game out here. Use Rayalaseema only as a bargaining chip, a mere tool in its use-and-throw policy. That once a Rayala Telangana draft Bill gets through in the assembly, give in to the BJP demand by reverting to the original Telangana proposal in Parliament. BJP has just four members (three plus one associate member) in the Andhra Pradesh assembly and does not really matter while its votes count much more in Parliament. 

 

In this furious game of cards, no one is really saying `SHOW’ yet. The guessing game is still very much on. 

 

When NASA landed in Crater Hyderabad


By Tenali Rama
 
Is it an UFO? Or is it a set created for Krrish 4, wondered people in this southern city of India. An inter-planetary probe, launched by NASA to study the formation and structure of craters in the solar system, has landed in the heart of Hyderabad. Going strictly by scientific parameters, the state-of-the-art instruments on board the rover have chosen craters on Hyderabad roads as the ideal location to conduct the study.

“We are not at all surprised that our rover has landed in this southern Indian city. The circuitry of the onboard computer is programmed in such a way that it locates the most fascinating craters in the planetary system and lands there,” a spokesman of NASA said.

 
But if NASA scientists expected to study the craters of all shapes and sizes in peace, they were in for a rude shock. Telangana votaries have asked NASA to clarify if they support bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and only if they do, they will let them explore the craters. “We feel this is a Seemandhra conspiracy to run down Hyderabad as a centre of craters and prevent investment from flowing into Hyderabad once it becomes capital of Telangana state,” said a Telangana votary.
 
“I want Hyderabad to be given in the same state as it was before 1956. Which means no craters on the roads,” declared K Chandrasekhar Rao of the TRS. “These Andhra rulers have reduced Hyderabad to this state.”
 
Seemandhra activists have meanwhile said Hyderabad should be made the joint capital of Telangana, Seemandhra and NASA. “Our children can join NASA directly in Hyderabad instead of going all the way to the USA,” said a group of MPs. In a representation, the Seemandhra lobby has asked that the Centre should look after the subject of craters in addition to law and order in Hyderabad. Another idea that has been mooted is that the craters should be divided in 60:40 ratio in the common capital of Hyderabad between Seemandhra and Telangana governments. “We can lease out our craters and NASA and earn precious foreign exchange for India,” said a Seemandhra leader. 
 
Former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu said it was he who put Hyderabad on the world map. “You are thoroughly mistaken. I got Bill Gates and Bill Clinton to Hyderabad. They praised Hyderabad as a happening city. Today NASA is coming. But it is coming looking for craters. Where we are going? Idi chaala baadhakaram (this is very unfortunate),” Naidu said. The former chief minister has demanded an all-party meeting to discuss NASA’s landing in Hyderabad. 
 
Left parties have called for a Hyderabad bandh, protesting against American imperialism in the heart of India. “Allowing NASA to land in Hyderabad shows that the UPA government has completely sold itself to the Obama administration,” said the CPI and CPM in a joint statement. Meanwhile, Maoist sympathisers have condemned the NASA rover’s arrival, alleging it is an attempt to keep an eye on Maoist activity in the Dandakaranya region from Hyderabad. 
 
(Inspired by a Facebook post by Suresh Dharur)