The Srikrishna Committee Report: A Waste of Time
Srikrishna Committee report while retaining the status quo has sought to disprove the claims of most Telangana protagonists. It makes no specific recommendations and has thrown the ball back to the politicians to decide
Mohan Guruswamy Delhi
The long awaited Srikrishna Committee report is finally out. It makes no specific recommendations and has thrown the ball squarely back to the politicians to decide. Thus, even though it was completed in time, it has largely been a waste of time. All it did was to keep Telangana tempers bottled up for some months. Now be ready for the explosion.
The Report's tendency is towards retaining the status quo with some palliatives to assuage the sentiment widespread in the Telangana area. To serve this end it has sought to disprove the claim of most Telangana protagonists that the Telangana region remained backward and under-developed even after more than half a century as a part of Andhra Pradesh. It has marshalled numbers and has used data to support its case.
As a professionally qualified economist and policy analyst, I know very well that facts can be used to prove or disprove pretty much any proposition. The Srikrishna Committee has used the economist on board to good effect and he has done a pretty good job of what he obviously was tasked with. But what the good Dr Abusaleh Shariff misses is that the issue is not one of regions as much as it is about people. The essential grouse of the Telangana protagonists is that the Gentlemen's Agreement of 1956 was not adhered to and the people of Telangana were systematically excluded from the development process and were given short shrift in the political process.
Two examples are all it takes to establish this. At the time of integration, it was promised that the Telangana would have a Regional Council that would oversee the development works and most importantly all land transfers. This was to ensure that wealthier migrants from the coastal Andhra region did not buy out the individually poorer people of Telangana. This has happened in every Telangana district where large migrant populations from coastal Andhra have bought up vast tracts of the best canal and tank irrigated lands. All around Hyderabad city people like Ramalinga Raju of Satyam accumulated thousands of acres of land. The migrants will argue that land was bought legally and everything was paid for. That is exactly what the Jewish settlers in occupied Palestine say.
Now if the Srikrishna Committee spent some of its time studying who owned how much, it would have got a pretty good understanding of what the Telangana protagonists are really talking about. Instead it went out of its way to make a case that all was well in Telangana and that the area had done well. An area is about geography and a people's fears and aspirations are the stuff of politics.
It was this fear of being swamped, widespread among Telangana people, which was very apparent to the States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) (1953-55) headed by Justice S Fazal Ali. The SRC's recommendation is as follows: "the residuary State of Hyderabad might unite with Andhra after the General Elections likely to be held in about 1961, if by a two-thirds majority the Legislature of Hyderabad State expresses itself in favour of such a unification.