Expert panel against creation of new state
Even if Congress HQ is not convinced by the arguments made by senior Andhra leaders such as chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy against the formation of a separate Telengana — some have warned the BJP will stand to gain more — it should go back to the Justice BN Srikrishna Committee report on the issue. The report took into account all representations made to it and then juxtaposed this with factual data. It agrees many grievances of the pro-Telengana group — when it comes to getting its fair share of water, or political power for that matter — were somewhat legitimate. In the case of political power, Telangana politicians have held the chief minister’s job for 10.6 years versus 23.9 for Rayalaseema and 18.1 for coastal Andhra; but it held the deputy chief minister’s job for 7.8 versus Rayalaseema’s 5.7 and the coast’s 2.2 and the revenue job for the most time — 23.1 years versus 20.9 for coastal Andhra.
Most important, the report says, there is little truth in the view that Telengana has got a raw deal in economic terms, and that’s after you look at Telengana without Hyderabad. Telangana has nearly the same annual per capita income as coastal Andhra Pradesh — R 33,771 versus R36,496 — and with 9% workers who are graduates, Telangana ex-Hyderabad is better off than Rayalaseema with 7.4% and coastal Andhra with 8.8%; it has an 89% literacy among 8-24 year olds versus 88% in coastal Andhra; it does have less engineering seats though, and less MBA seats as well; and 8 doctors per lakh population versus 11 for coastal Andhra. But that may have more to do with the relatively greater development of coastal areas elsewhere in the country, and is unlikely to get fixed by a separate Telengana state.
The larger point is that there is no hard and fast rule that says smaller states do better than larger ones — Uttarakhand did well because of its special category status and tax breaks for industry, Chhattisgarh had its Maoist problem and, despite its minerals, Jharkhand has had a quick turnaround of chief ministers and little else. There is then the issue of Hyderabad since both coastal Andhra and Rayalseema have considerable business in Hyderabad and feel they will be shut out once the city is part of Telengana. Which is why, Srikrishna suggests a Chandigarh-type solution for Hyderabad with all regions using it as their capital. In the longer-run, given India's need to build as many cities in the next 20 years as it has today, it is not the ownership of Hyderabad which will determine Telengana’s future, it is what the political class does with development issues and attracting investments in the future. A legislatively empowered Telengana Council to ensure the state's water and other such local issues such as the need for more educational institutions are taken care of, as Srikrishna has suggested, are probably a better idea. And it won't set off the demand for more new states that have been festering for decades.