Telangana – Correct diagnosis, wrong cure – The Hindu

Correct diagnosis, wrong cure – The Hindu.

A piece on Telangana- India’s 29th state

Legitimate socio-economic grievances can take problematical political forms. Decades of neglect and denial of opportunities, especially in education and employment, have left the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh underdeveloped and backward. This inescapable reality explains the militancy of the movements that surface from time to time for a separate State. The region, which broadly corresponds to the areas that were under the princely state of Hyderabad, continues to fall behind both coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema in development indices. Dams and irrigation projects have helped to some extent, but the rural hinterlands on the Deccan plateau have resisted attempts to boost agricultural productivity and income. Rural unemployment and poverty are rampant. Leaders of the Telangana region, including many from the time of the first major agitation in 1969, have sought to frame these deprivation and development-related issues in the language of regionalism — as wilful, oppressive neglect of an entire region by those in power belonging to other regions. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the party behind the current agitation, is of the same mould. Although the TRS fared poorly in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections earlier this year, its president K. Chandrasekhar Rao has now managed to rally support by going on a protest fast. Such is the volatility of Indian politics that the mass mood can change within months, especially when an emotive issue is worked up by clever political footwork. The mishandling of the students’ agitation by the police has clearly aided Mr. Rao’s cause.

Sound political diagnosis must of course factor in the mass mood but cannot be determined by it. In most cases, the real answer to problems of under-development and backwardness lies in big efforts aimed at development and progress. Aside from the unwisdom of breaking up South India’s largest State, a separate Telangana will fuel demands for a separate Rayalaseema, for a separate coastal Andhra, and, maybe, even for union territory status for Hyderabad — and there will be no Pradesh left. The problem of uneven regional and intra-State development is one of the major challenges rising India faces but there is little to suggest that smaller States will make for a more even process of development. Surely, regional imbalances can be corrected without recourse to bifurcating or trifurcating a stable and potentially prosperous State — which came into being through historical struggle and sacrifice and showcases the virtues of post-Independence linguistic reorganisation. For a start, the Regional Development Boards could be given more resources and more powers. Successive chief ministers have avoided resourcing the boards with sufficient funds, for fear of creating regional power centres and undermining their own authority. This must necessarily change. The diagnosis is right: Telangana is backward and cries out for rapid development and the regional autonomy needed for this. But the cure pressed by a succession of militant movements — a separate Telangana State — will do serious harm to the patient.

Source: The Hindu  December 9,2009

When I first met Mr. Rahul Gandhi!

He is dynamic, young,energetic, full of enthusiasm and optimism, a star. That is how All India Congress Committee describes this young leader, speculated to be the next prime minister of the country. (Note: He hasn’t taken any prominent position of power in the cabinet but still congress bets on him for the prime minister-ship in General Elections of 2014.)

Born on June 19, 1970, this 39 year old is on a mission to fulfil his father’s dream about the nation. This half Indian claims to love this country unconditionally. Although new in politics, he managed to live up to the expectations, well at-least claimed to, until he recently made a few mistakes by making politically incorrect and  ignorant statements in public meetings rendering him unpopular among the masses. What he implied and what was made out of it, people stand divided on the thought.

Educated at Modern School, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi,he attained Bachelor’s in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University  and then moved on to Harvard jumped to Rolings and finally completed M. Phil from Trinity College, Cambridge. Some of these details are made known to the Indian public and can easily be found on the internet. However, claims have been made that the man in question can very well be lying about the same. Upon independent investigation done by Dr. Subramanian Swami, there was no record of any M.Phil thesis submitted by Rahul Vinci and/or Gandhi in University of Cambridge libraries. His Harvard stint is also regarded as a failure by Dr. Swamy. One may never know the truth, but one is free to chose what and whom to believe.

On his shoulders, this man carries the burden of being born in Nehru-Gandhi family, one of the most influential and most successful political families of India. After all this, he still manages to remain modest. Not even a single hint of attitude, extremely down to earth, humble and open, this man is all praises when you meet him in person.What makes him more appealing is the power of persuasion. He is a leader,without any doubts, but he is blessed with the ability to be able to connect with people. No wonder he has such a huge fan following. Whether its a façade or not, only time will tell.

It was on September 9, 2009 when I got a chance to see the man himself. I was charmed by the simplicity of this man. In spotless white kurta pyjama he sat there carefully observing the audience. All eyes were stuck on him, hundreds were gazing at him but nothing made him conscious. After the welcome address, finally, the moment came when Rahul was given the charge of the microphone. Gladly, he moved towards the podium and uttered his first words. ” I would like to start this as an interactive session, would want to know your opinion on matters and would try to answer all your questions to the best of my ability. You are free to ask me whatever you want.Towards the end of the session, I would like to have 5 minutes to myself where I will share some thoughts of mine with you and will leave you with certain issues to ponder over.” The voice was full of confidence, he was exuberant.

The session begins, first question “Sir..!!”.. “Don’t call me Sir, I’m Rahul, call me by my name”.. ” As you say. So Rahul, What is your leadership style?” with a broad smile on his face he replied, “My Leadership style? Well I don’t have any leadership style as such. Everyone is a leader in our country and we should be proud of this fact.(That is true, everyone is a leader in India and I feel that is a huge problem with us.) We just need to work together. I respect this country for its democracy. I just want to share my vision about this country with you and if you approve of it and work with me towards it we can achieve what we want”.

Next one was hilarious, “Rahul, do you have any slogan for the young like Obama had? the one that stated YES WE CAN!! ????” He again smiled and said, no I do not have a slogan for the youth but I believe in the youth of this country. Such slogans may be able to motivate you temporarily but real motivation comes from within. We all are capable of achieving the impossible, all what we need to do is to break open our shells, express ourselves and be perceptive.”

Now focus shifts from leadership to education. A girl in the front gets up and asks him “Why is there brain drain in India?” To this question Rahul had no clear answer. What all he could reply was,” We can not stop them who wish to pursue higher education abroad. Our constitution doesn’t permit us as it gives us the freedom of movement. We can not even pressurize people to return back as amenities offered there are much more than what we have in our country. But that doesn’t mean our country is less than any other superpower. The cost of educating a child in our country is much less than that in US, UK or Europe. We impart world class education at much lower costs. The west is always hunting for Indians. All what we need is respect for this nation. Once we start respecting our country, situation will not be the same.”

One of the most interesting comments made by him was on the population of this country for which he said “Don’t ever think the population of this country is its minus point. Ours is a young country as majority of the population falls in the age group of 12-45 which is productive and contributes majorly to the economy as compared to countries like France where it’s the elderly that dominate and hence forms the old country.” (Dude, you may be right about the age group, but seriously…we have too many mouths to feed. Its next to impossible to be able to provide for such a huge population. The already existing competition, basic principle of speciation and natural selection is the reason for majority of our problems.)

Next was involvement of political parties in educational institutions in the form of college elections. He strongly favoured this and tried to justify himself, which to an extent he was able to. Apart from this, issue of nuclear deal, sustainable development as well as lack of funds in science and technology also came up. He concluded by quoting his father. He did stop talking but his objective was still not fulfilled. He came down the stage, into the public and gave his email Id . He interacted with a few front rowers and even with a few foreigners. Before leaving he shared a few of his thoughts with us.

He said “World seems to be smaller now, it is connected.. thanks to the technological advancements. We are closer now and this closeness, this sharing of ideas and openness would pave way for a better future.

Be perceptive, be receptive, open up, break your shell, take the lead, think independently. This country needs all of us, it wants all of us to work together. Out of 6 billion people in the world we contribute 1 billion that makes 1/6th of the world’s population. We have a much larger responsibility to fulfill. Don’t just think, put your thoughts into action as well.” ( Hola! We were 6 billion in 2009.. and we are 7 billion in 2012.. OMFG!! Vasectomy .. we need vasectomy.. NOW!!)

And the man walks away..accompanied by his body guards. Room becomes dull again but he manages to leave us with a question. Something to think about.. are we all contributing any thing to our country? Do we even respect it?? He did make an impact, like every other politician in India does. The only thing which gives him an edge over the others is his pro-youth and youth targeted propaganda.

He does manage to win over the youth by motivating them to be the agents of much required change but his lack of tact in his public dealings and inconsistency are the evils that will haunt him for a long time.  The ‘Gandhi’ family name which he carries is a boon and bane at the same time. We can only come to know of his limtis and capabilities when his abilities are put to test in future. So, lets wait and watch if he is only words or there is some substance too.

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