The Tale of Two Floundering Democracies – Part I
One is the world’s oldest and one is the world’s largest. And how have they been faring!? Well you know who I have been talking about. USA and India. To a large extent democracy is seen as the sure path of governance of the people, by the people and for the people. But is it really doing that in an effective way? If we look at these two countries, they seem stumbling a lot in achieving this dream of ideal governance and triumph of freedom.
The true spirit of democracy is the promotion of freedom. Freedom lends to expression of artistic and creative aspects of thriving life and of an innate support for giving equal opportunities to all. But freedom often leads to opportunities for all types of people, whether or not their intentions are noble and sincere. People who think of shortcuts and exploits to garner personal wealth, fame and comforts! Or to hoodwink a section of people based on their caste, creed, religion, region or nationality. It is precisely for this reason democracy also stipulates the laws in the hope of reigning in these nincompoops who try to exploit the democratic institutions.
One of the pitfalls of democracy seems that the very elected representatives to further their cause basically start to eat the system. It is because they seem to acquire the skills of gospel speakers and leaches at the same time, promising people what they want and then suck the blood out of them without immediate pain. When they are sent to the houses to legislate the laws and uphold the freedom, overtly or covertly they make use of the system for short term gains. They favor the near and dear. They curry favors to their caste and butter their creed. They amass wealth to make sure their offspring will have better or even lavish life ahead. They wield the power which acts like as if they are high on cocaine or meth. It results in the gangrenous growth of scumbags all over earth! This is what is happening on both these democracies on earth. In this part I will explore the part about a perilous thing that happened in India. That is the acceptance of bifurcation of the state of Andhra Pradesh, by the ruling Congress party as the Central Government of India.
First let me discuss the situation in India and in particular in the state of Andhra Pradesh which is soon to be divided into two states. India has enormous resources and culture that could have made an awesome nation but for the two scourges that it is suffering from, which I detailed in my previous article. Now the focus of this article is the inevitable bifurcation of the state of Andhra Pradesh as Telangana and Seemandhra states. How the so called democratic institutions have been used to do this, which has very many consequences both in short and longer terms. First let me discuss the problem of Hyderabad. The primary reason why it looked lucrative to have separate state to Telengana region of people is Hyderabad. It is the crown jewel of the state which has been constructed on the basis of having resourceful people from all over the state and not just the taxes as being argued by some. This unfortunately cannot be fathomed by many a common people who succumb to the lure of getting their lives better by many a banal promises from rogue politicians. It has happened to places like Mumbai where the uprising of Shivsena has definitely stalled it’s growth to some extent, even when the city is not excluded from the state. People from Telangana who supported this cause might soon realize what is the folly of this, once their offspring start preferring going elsewhere for employment. But for many people who are looking for decent employment, Hyderabad looked an ultimate solution. Majority of jobs in Hyderabad are from private sector where they cannot give the jobs based on any affirmative actions. The other majority of jobs in Hyderabad are from public sector or central government which again cannot be based on regional basis. The number of jobs that are offered by the state government are a paltry minimum. They are being shown as a carrot to many emotionally and naively charged young people. All other jobs are from services which again will be directly influenced by who are the owners or employees of the core jobs are. In fact many businesses are from north indians who might not have particular fancy on giving them only to people of Telangana origin. So in all the gains to get Hyderabad for themselves may not be as rosy as the stupid politicians are making it out to be. To many they are trying to look like modern day Robin Hoods whose motto is to siphon the monies from the haves to have-nots! On the other hand for many people from Coastal and Rayalaseema districts this is ultimate robbery where they invested their lives, property and money in just one place called Hyderabad. So naturally they have a feeling they are being robbed. Hyderabad is what it is today because it is garnering taxes from all over the state which comprises of around 85 million people. Now it will have a sudden depletion of these taxes of only from 35 million, which will reduce the power that accumulated around it by as much.
The second major issue that will come into dispute will be the distribution of natural resources. Mainly river waters and fuel for electricity. The state already has major disputes with neighboring states where newer dams are being built to bring more land into irrigation. Now here comes another state in the middle of these to fight for another share exclusively for them based on region. Geographically there is a reason why the dams were built in the way they are now, to maximize arable land where it is delta and rich soil for crops. Also where it can be supplied by natural means of canals. The use of waters will be minimized if we obstruct the rivers in their catchment area. The cost of irrigation at the high altitudes is not economical and stopping water there will decimate the crops that are well in place in the delta area. But like all other reasons, will these be understood by those who are seeking bifurcation? Evidently not.
The short-sighted ness of this division will have other problems which include those to Telangana region itself! They will lose access to the entire coast which would be needed for any export and import businesses. Well no one will prevent anyone doing business but the development of the businesses go hand in hand with government support and local support and with the way all the investment done by the coastal and Rayalseema people in Hyderabad gotten redistributed, any support for businesses from Telangana will be as difficult.
So what is the main grouse of some from some of Telangana supporters? They say it is their self-respect. So by separating the state will result in a lot of self-respect? Let’s see the origins of this separatism in the recent history. It all started from KCR being ousted from TDP for not getting some ministry. Some say it actually started when YSR, the then oppostion party leader from Congress Party appealed to center in support of Telangana state, which might have spurred the opportunity to leaders like KCR who want to weild power. And then KCR teams up with the then opposition leader YSR and starts to ignite this ’cause’, mainly to unseat the otherwise invincible looking CBN. So YSR sends a petition to Congress High Command who are finding ways to unseat the then NDA government and it readily sees the leverage that it can use to go to people, along with other causes like Farmers problems who were going through the roughest time of their lives due to draught. During the elections of this time, congress overtly supported Telangana in many a forums and in that region where TDP has lot of support it successfully veers away a number of votes in it’s favor. Added to this YSR did a walk across the state to trumpet the cause of farmers which many believed that he is the savior of their lives. Thus Congress succeeds in unseating NDA and it’s partner in the state TDP. But after grabbing the power congress tried to pacify KCR and his cohorts with various positions in both center and state governments but seeing a huge opportunity KCR was not willing to lay low. In the first term of congress government, YSR manages to sideline the demand for the state in spite of KCR sucking the blood of the alliance. Towards the end of it’s first term and as elections loom KCR ups the ante and severs his ties with Congress. In the general elections of 2009, KCR this time adds his bandwagon to TDP. TDP which is hell bent on coming back to power and fearing PRP, which was hoisted by Chiranjeevi who thought he had massive following throughout the state, trucks with TRS and as a result loses even more credibility of it’s stance and doesn’t gain much. Some of it’s base voters anyway vote for Praja Rajyam Party and the parties hope to trump Congress fails. KCR, the moment the results were out, severs his ties with TDP and joins truck this time with BJP, another national party which thinks of various ways to break Congress vote banks are to divide the states. KCR launches a hunger strike, when the state was in turmoil due to the accidental death of YSR in a helicopter crash. The hunger strike triggers the Congress government in the center to initially accept the proposal, but reneges on it’s word when there was severe reaction in Coastal and Rayalaseema regions of AP. It appoints a fact finding Sri Krishna Committee to get a report as to what is best for the state and for the people. The Committee manages to be essentially vague to make sure neither side gets upset and serves to postpone the problem until the state gets close to next election time. Sensing that in the next election TRS might emerge really strong in Telengana area, The Congress government in center announces that it is for separate Telangana! Another significant step congress does a couple of years before was to woo Chiranjeevi, who garnered some 800,000 votes in last election and had some 18 MLAs in the last elections in the hope that he might be able to stem any losses in Coastal and Rayalaseema areas in case congress goes for bifurcation. This was all very much in the annuls of history now. Prior to this phase of this movement, there was a demand for the state of Telangana in the 60s, but it was subdued by the then congress leadership by offering power and special GOs. Those were the days where media was in the control of government, mostly radio and people are less prone to news outlets. This time around things are different. It is easy to spread a rumor or cast aspersions and political parties have dedicated TV channels and news papers. Another example of how freedom gone awry.
It is appalling to see that none of these maneuvers from all the political parties above have the welfare of the state in mind, both in short and long terms and that people are actually buying into some of these false promises being made by these parties. In the meantime there was another party hoisted by the son of deceased CM of the state, who launched it as well as a couple of media outlets to save his rear side from all the fraud and pillaging he did during the tenure of his dad. A sizable section of people and some leaders actually believe in accepting this douche bag as a leader and they seem to have a resigning attitude towards having a corruption as a way of life. The short promise of bringing corruptionless rule and promise of change by PRP by Chiranjeevi was extinguished when he did not have the courage or conviction to stand up to these follies and merged his party with Congress which keeps on doing what is necessary to win elections even at the expense of fragmenting the country and somehow trying to make the mosaic look pretty! At some point he was being branded as the next NTR for the state as savior!! NTR would have died for the cause of keeping the state one. He had the conviction to do so. In fact it was during his tenure Telangana got some reprieve from all the hegemonistic local power system of having the Patel-Patwaris and first time some progress in that region. He would have done what was emotionally needed to ebb the tide of separatism. But this is all surmise in his absence.
If we look at the legacy of TDP in this regard it utterly failed first to make sure KCR was irrelevant as soon as he quit the party and to make sure the right people are given power in the region. Instead it kept on pushing same old leaders and lost touch with the core people who actually recognized how TDP eliminated power centers in Telangana in the early days. In stead the leadership under CBN underestimated the collusion of KCR with YSR and Congress and paid the price. Later on because of the fear of becoming irrelevant in Telangana region TDP under the leadership of CBN even sides with TRS in 2009 elections and lends more credibility to the movement. Again here we see the muddle-headedness of putting party and politics before the welfare of people which was inevitably leading to the bifurcation of state. Since Congress was balking at taking a decision owing to the fear of facing the wrath of people from Coastal and Rayalaseema regions, TDP kept on harping it is up to Congress and it’s government in the center to decide on the fate of the State while encouraging it’s leaders from both the regions to stand for their cause. Now it is somehow hoping to gain from this situation.
There is this new party called the YSRCP which is trying to garner power based on the sympathy due to untimely death of YSR. At the helm of this is the son of YSR who most openly amassed huge wealth by misappropriations and rampant pillaging of people’s properties using the Quid Pro Quo arrangements with aspiring businessmen. Many people who got seemingly delightful benefits from the popular schemes hoisted by YSR during his tenure do think this guy will be their savior even if it is true that he plundered the state to amass wealth. It is pure gullibility at it’s best and covert or overt support of a megalomaniac in the making at worst. One can only hope people can look at least a few months beyond what would happen if this guy comes to power. This party’s stance on this issue is to trying to look like it is for a united state, but a kind of covert support for separate state in Telangana region.
Then comes the main ruling Congress party which at last took a gamble to say they would go for Telangana. Their main calculation is that the people from Coastal and Rayalaseema regions may not have the tenacity to continue their objection for separation and also the hope that they can placate the region with more promises of water projects and the hope that leaders like Chiranjeevi who might have the mass following can woo some of those voters to compensate for losses. Also that except for CPI (M) and MIM, none of the parties openly opposed the separate state so they will hope to look it to the people that they don’t have alternatives. They are offering to build a new Capital for the new state but it is very evident that it won’t happen overnight to get as many opportunities there are in Hyderabad, to the new capital. The basic core of Congress appeal to all aspiring leaders is that they will eventually get their share of the pie once you support the party. To this extent they use the divide and rule policy as much as possible without much regard for welfare or safety of current or newer generations of the people. Congress was the party which hoisted thugs like Bhindranwale in the name of religion and to counter the raise of Akali party in Punjab and later paid the price by the life of Indira Gandhi. Congress was the party which initially propped up LTTE (covert support by RAW to undermine Sri Lanka which was siding with USA during cold war times) and then later reneged on it and paid the price by the life of Rajiv Gandhi. Their short-sightedness is astounding and uncanny. So they think they are going to make the best out of their decision but this is going to cause lot of hardship for many people. And the long term prospects of the entire region as well as in the country are in great peril. It is only matter of time more separatist movements will be hoisted at the behest narrow minded leaders.
The other national party called BJP is all for small states, severely hoping to break up the vote banks of Congress and make forays into it’s bastions. Their right wing agenda is what they hope would use to make people think in united way, but the politicians from that party proving equally corrupt. Also they alienate the minorities easily in the support of majority Hindus and the only way they want to make the strength of minorities lesser is by making them even more minorities in smaller states. Their nonsecular vision of country is dangerous to India’s progress on the whole and in this issue is vastly detrimental.
Now let us come to the think tanks, more wise people and institutions. Let us take the more educated people, vetarans, scholars, teachers, poets etc. They all started looking at having distinct culture of theirs is synonymous to having distinct state. Is it really needed? When a country can hold so many different cultures, why can’t a state? Is it true that Telangana culture was really suppressed in the state of AP? Is it true that their slang was ridiculed? Isn’t the sense of humor used to ridicule all regions? The far east slang or coastal slang of the Telugu language was all ridiculed in movies etc at some time or other. Is it not true? The biggest debacle in this whole episode is that all this supposedly creamy layer of the society has bought into the argument of having a separate state and lent credence to it to many common people who don’t have all the data in their minds to decide either way. Hence the ‘popular’ movement. What a shame? If Telugu people can’t see the termites that are eating into their edifice of Telugu identity and prospects of them and the future generations, they are bound to lose all of them. They may get rendered to second class citizens as long as they can’t realize that the real obstacles to progress are the corrupt and colluding nature of politics that are decimating their future rather than having a separate region of power is going to solve their problems.
This will not be complete if I don’t mention the depravity of the many of the people and leaders who now wanting or ‘fighting’ for keeping the state one! Back when YSR and KCR were raking the muck up about the demand for separate state, many of these leaders hailing from the same parties and people supporting them from the seemandhra region never stood up to their ’cause’! They kind of tacitly approved this in the vain hope that somehow this gets subdued the way it got in the 60s. But what they failed to realize is that this time it is to break the monopoly of a regional party and other political interests rather than placation of a handful of leaders like it was in the 60s. Now they start agitating as the people are coming on to the streets. This shows the duplicity of their efforts to keep the state one. People who are agitating now also to be blamed for them supporting the very leaders that causing the division, earlier. One may say hindsight is 20/20. But when the party that is getting in truck with a separatist comes to you for vote and you gave them one, now it is time that you get betrayed. This is where I keep mentioning the very elected representatives capitulated all the more in an accentuated way as the people capitulated on getting local corrupt people to power. Again I refer to my earlier article here on how the corruption and caste are decimating India’s progress. It is also worth mentioning the uninspiring role played by newspapers and TV channels who just resort to sensationalism and gain of readership/viewership would only fan the emotions rather than talking reason. After all they are businesses. There are no journalistic standards or ethics in managing these outlets. Again because corruption and nepotism have become a way of life.
So here comes another stage or inflection point in this floundering democracy in this part of the world which is proving that popular sentiment may not necessarily lead to prospects and the democracy as a means to governance of the people, by the people and for the people that easily! However unfortunately there are no other saner means to achieve this too and this bumpy ride to salvation is perhaps inevitable.
PS: For those who are not familiar with some of the abbreviations used here is the glossary.
AP – Andhra Pradesh
BJP – Bharatiya Janatha Party
CBN – Chandra Babu Naidu
CM – Chief Minister
CPI(M) – Communist Party of India (Marxist)
GO – Government Order
KCR – K Chandrsekhara Rao
LTTE – Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam
MIM – Maslis Ittehadul Musalmeen
MLA – Member of Legislative Party
NDA – National Democratic Alliance
NTR – Nandamuri Tharaka Ramarao
RAW – Research And Analysis Wing
TDP – Telugu Desam Party
TRS – Telnagana Rastra Samithi
YSR – Y S Rajasekhara Reddy
YSRCP – YSR Congress Party