Telengana versus Coastal Andhra

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Home | Agitation

Andhra’s is a case of a single linguistic cultural region being engulfed by political conflict and sub-regional movements based on disparity in development and presumed inequality in economic opportunities.

Andhra was created as a separate state in October 1953 and in November 1956 the Telugu-speaking Telengana area of Nizam’s Hyderabad state was merged with it to create Andhra Pradesh. The hope was that being part of a large unilingual state would cement the Telugu people culturally, politically and economically, at that time certain Telengana Congress leaders, as also the States Reorganization Commission, had some reservations about the merger because of Telengana being relatively more underdeveloped, its level of development being nearly half that of the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Telengana’s per capita income was Rs 188 compared to Rs 292 in the coastal districts, the number of hospital beds per lakh of population was 18.6 while it was 55.6 in the coastal districts. The literacy rate in Telengana was 17.3 per cent as against 30.8 in the rest of Andhra Pradesh. Similarly, Telengana had only 9 miles of roads per 100 square miles, the comparative figure being 37 miles for coastal Andhra. Unlike coastal Andhra, Telengana’s sources of irrigation were scanty, consisting mostly of rain-fed tanks and wells.

A powerful movement for a separate state of Telengana developed in 1969 based on the belief that because the politics and administration of the state were dominated by people from the Andhra region (Andhrans), a separate state is the only solution to their problems.

The major issue in this context became the implementation of what came to be known as Mulki Rules. The Nizam’s government in Hyderabad had accepted as early as 1918 that in all state services those who were born in the state or had lived there for fifteen years (i.e., Mulkis) would be given preference, while restrictions would be imposed on the employment of outsiders.

At the time of the merger of Telengana with Andhra in 1956 the leaders of the two regions had evolved a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ providing for the retention of the Mulki Rules in a modified form, a fixed share of places in the ministry for Telengana leaders, and preference for students from Telengana in admission to educational institutions including to Osmania University in Hyderabad. The discontented in Telengana accused the government of deliberately violating the agreement while the government asserted that it was trying its best to implement it. The latter argued that sometimes properly qualified persons were not available from Telengana region because of educational backwardness in the old Hyderabad state.

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