Mainstream, VOL LIV No 47 New Delhi November 12, 2016
Ringside View of Telangana State Creation
Wednesday 16 November 2016
by Vinay K. Srivastava
Old History, New Geography by Jairam Ramesh; Rupa Publications, India; First Edition, 2016; ISBN:9788129139634, 8129139634; pages: 264; Price:Rs 536.
A noted economist, seasoned writer, senior leader and former Union Minister with an impressive academic track record, Jairam Ramesh, the chief architect of the Andhra Pradesh Reorgani-sation Act 2014, has come out with his new book, Old History, New Geography, that provides a ringside view of the process of creation of the Telangana State while presenting the background of the separation of Andhra from Tamil Nadu, creation of Andhra Pradesh, sentiments for Telangana, and the political and administrative exercises that led to the carving out of India’s 29th State.
The book cites three major reasons for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, namely, the fast- unto-death by KCR, hopes on the merger of the TRS into the Congress, and suicides and Opposition pressures on the Congress party. A large number of suicide cases in Telangana had moved the UPA Government to announce the process of division of Andhra Pradesh. The Congress-led UPA Govern-ment felt strengthened to go ahead with the division after receiving letters from the BJP, TDP and YSRCP in favour of the creation of Telangana.
The book recalls that with the sudden demise of YSR, K. Rosaiah succeeded him as the Chief Minister the very next day. KCR must have felt the pendulum had swung in Rosaiah’s favour. Desperate to keep himself politically relevant, he went on a hunger strike on November 29, 2009. The atmosphere in Hyderabad became surcharged. Osmania University, in the heart of the city and the centre of agitation, was in a state of ferment.
The book further points out that the all-impor-tant decision to create Telangana was probably taken at a meeting at the residence of Dr Manmohan Singh, the then Prime Minister, in the last week of June 2013, a few days before the Congress party passed a resolution in this regard. In the evening of that day the Prime Minister hosted a meeting with Sonia Gandhi, A.K. Antony, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Ghulam Nabi Azad, P. Chidambaram, Ahmed Patel and Digvijaya Singh at his residence. This meeting clearly decided that Telangana would finally be created, and this was later formalised by the CWC on July 30.
Jairam Ramesh was a key member of the Group of Ministers (GoM) set up by the UPA Government in October 2013 to prepare the legislation for the bifurcation. For the next seven months, he became the GoM’s prime mover and public face and was thus always in the crossfire as it strove to balance competing claims and differing demands to ensure a just and equitable outcome. He brings to the Andhra bifurcation story the authenticity that only an insider can.
The book sketches the efforts of Ramesh to affirm the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh based on parliamentary debates, the author’s meticu-lously maintained personal records and a variety of unrevealed primary sources. The book offers an account of the year-long debates and discussions leading to the creation of the Telangana State in February 2014. In November 1956, a unified Telugu speaking State of Andhra Pradesh came into existence and in February 2014, Parliament bifurcated it, to create two Telugu-speaking States, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Old History, New Geography provides the context, text and subtext of the bifurcation, which continues to be contentious and controversial.
Old History, New Geography is a narrative of history told first-hand by someone who was not only a witness but also one who actually shaped it. Combining an intensely personal account with in-depth scholarship, the book is a must read not only for academia but, crucially, also for the general reader seeking an understanding of contemporary India. Undoubtedly, the book is useful for researchers, academicians, economists and political thinkers.
Dr Vinay K. Srivastava is freelance writer and Associate Professor of Management in Raffles University, Nemrana. He is the Managing Editor of Arash, a journal of the ISMDR, and Secretary of the Indian Society for Management Development and Research. He holds a D.Phil from the Department of Commerce and Business Administration, University of Allahabad. He has authored a book, Privatisation of Public Enterprises in India, and edited a book, Public Enterprises and Changing Scenario. He can be reached at meetdrvinay[at]gmail.com