Should there be a separate Telangana state or not? While expressing themselves in various ways, family, friends, and acquaintances from Andhra Pradesh sheepishly admit that they are speaking without much depth. The events of the last few years seem to have had a stupefying effect on many of us. It might be useful to set aside the question of separation for a bit and, instead, ask a more primary question “Why is there a Telangana movement?”. Apart from the knowing and willful indifference of a few, there is a general tendency to blame it all on immoral politicians or crazed ideologues. This is not to say that such people do not exist, for they do, and have promoted nothing short of a persecution complex among a section of vulnerable Telanganis. However, equating the movement with them is a mistake. The effort has to be made to comprehend what they are channeling successfully. For those truly looking for the answer, there has to be a further question – “Why has the movement lasted, in one form or another, for more than 4 decades?” Whatever their merits or demerits, all answers will necessarily be based on the grievances.
I have tried to provide one kind of answer. There are no new research findings or insights. Exposition is brief. The list of grievances is not exhaustive. The attempt is to present some of the important ones in an easily accessible manner, along with references for those who would like to verify for themselves, and to stay away from exaggeration.
A. At a glance
A list of well established grievances behind the demand for a separate Telangana state is as follows:
– A history of broken agreements and violated safeguards
– Injustice in Government jobs
– Injustice in river water allotment and irrigation
– Cultural denigration and suppression
– Partiality in educational endowments and infrastructure
– Political domination
– Political manipulation and cheating
– Unethical and undemocratic attempts to subdue movement
I will now present brief notes and references that establish each of these. As a starting point, even as the methodology, sources, and conclusions of the Sri Krishna Committee (SKC) have been hotly contested, it is instructive to keep the following observation in mind:
““The grievances of the people of Telangana, such as non-implementation of some of the key decisions included in the Gentleman‟s Agreement (1956), certain amount of neglect in implementation of water and irrigation schemes, inadequate provision for education infrastructure (excluding Hyderabad), and the undue delay in the implementation of the Presidential order on public employment etc., have contributed to the felt psyche of discrimination and domination, with the issue attaining an emotional pitch. The continuing demand, therefore, for a separate Telangana, the Committee felt, has some merit and is not entirely unjustified.” Pg 453, Sri Krishna Committee report.
B. Getting a grip on grievances:
I. History of broken agreements and violated safeguards:
(i) Gentlemen’s Agreement, 1956 
– broken with respect to sharing of power, and safeguards on revenue surplus and jobs
(ii) Government Order 36, 1969 (GO 36)
– Supreme Court upheld Mulki rules as constitutional. Led to Jai Andhra Movement in 1972.
(iii) Six Point Formula, 1973 (SPF) 
– broken with respect to job safeguards, HOD appointments, accelerated development of backward areas.
(iv) Government Order 610, 1985 (GO 610)
– for remedying misallocation of jobs, to be implemented by March 1986, not implemented.
(v) Justice Girglani Commission Report, 2004 
– to study violations of G.O. 610, SPF, and Presidential Orders. Major deviations reported, remedial action recommended. Government passed orders in 2006, not implemented till date.
II. Injustice in Government jobs: The Justice Girglani Commission report (2004) identified tens of thousands of government jobs that were misallocated to non-Telangana persons at the expense of Telangana persons. When duration is taken into account, this translates to thousands of crores of loss of income for Telangana families. While the deviations exist across the board, the proportion of Telangana persons in higher level positions is even lower. These are in violation of SPF (1973) and disregard GO 610 (1985). These have been conceded by the Sri Krishna Committee (SKC) report, without paying deeper attention to the deviations reported by Justice Girglani.
Complaints about this misallocation were raised in 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s. Successive governments either ignored them or when forced, deputed committees for study. Each time the studies concluded misallocations were indeed happening and recommended remedial measures. Successive governments failed to implement these, and the complaints have continued through the decades. Consequently, there is a loss of trust that justice will be done in a united state.
“Such state of apparent absence of accountability enforcing devices or agencies has tended to create an attitude of indifference, some callousness with a sense of immunity and impunity in the implementation of the Presidential Order over the last almost three decades.” Pg 31, Volume I, Girglani Commission Report, 2004. The Presidential Order relates to putting into effect some clauses of the SPF.
“Finance (SMPC) Department G.O.Ms.No.24 dated 09-01-2002 shows 17,161 in the workcharged establishment in Irrigation Department alone. In addition to these the Commission has received following figures: (i) Roads & Buildings Department 5,849 (ii) Panchayati Raj Engineering Department 7,860. These three figures alone account for 40,870. Public Health Engineering Department and Tribal Welfare Engineering Department, Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply & Sewerage Board have not yet given figures. In 1994 when Act 2/94 was passed, in the white paper issued by State Government the figure of workcharged employees was less than this figure. This would show that far from vanishing with the completion of work this work force has become a permanent part of the State‟s work force and should have been treated as “civil posts” under the Presidential Order.” Finding 84, Page 132,Volume I, Girglani Commission Report, 2004.
III. Injustice in water allotment and and irrigation: The Telangana region has not received the proper share of river waters and irrigation projects. The catchment area of Telangana for Krishna and Godavari rivers is 68.5% and 69% respectively. The allocation, dependent on several factors, is much less. The problem is that the actual receipt is even lesser. Overall, major irrigation projects (paid for from Government funds) have benefited Seemandhra region at the neglect and loss for Telangana. Conceded by the Sri Krishna Committee report, but with a lack of proper analysis and explanation of the numbers..
On Pg 189 of the SKC report, the area under irrigation in the two regions is as follows
|Irrigation type||Telangana (lakh hec.)|| Coastal Andhra(lakh hec.)|
The figures look almost like a mirror image of each other! Well irrigation comes from private investment in digging or installing bore wells. Canal irrigation comes from Goverment funded projects. It is true that the Coastal region had a well developed irrigation system even before merger and some level of disparity can be explained by geological and historical factors. However, the numbers above need some explaining, and the SKC fails in this regard. When one compares the figures on Page 189 and Page 191 of the SKC report, while the trends for Coastal region are highly stable, well irrigation in Telangana has exploded in the last 20 years. So, there is a desperate need for water, which is not being provided for by irrigation projects, and farmers have been digging wells like there is no tomorrow. The situation is similar in Rayalaseema.
Experts have stressed  that the proper solution to this kind of imbalance is to have smaller and more effective irrigation projects which are implemented with local governments empowered to be in charge. This is what the Lok Satta Party is also emphasizing. However, as things stand, things are rigged at the top. Emphasizing the proper solution is good, but the disparity and injustice need to be widely acknowledged as well.
IV. Cultural denigration and suppression:
(a) The social and cultural icons of Telangana have not been promoted adequately (in literature, history, naming of artifacts etc.) (Who are the most famous Telugus you know? Where are they from? Who fought for the culture and freedom of Telugus in Telangana?). This leads to heritage and identity erasure. Even though highly condemnable, incidents like breaking statues on Hussain Sagar are born out of this.
(b) Central Coastal Andhra dialect promoted as Modern Standard Telugu or Pramanika Bhasha. Over time, widespread belief and arrogance that this is ‘real’ and ‘higher’ Telugu. Telangana dialect looked down upon and not considered worth being published in literature. Writers told to ‘correct’ themselves and use the ‘proper’ Telugu. This is also true of dialects from other regions. See  and .
(c) Popular art such as films and television almost completely dominated by Standard Telugu. Films showing Telangana speakers mostly as villians, sidekicks, eve-teasers or comedians. This is also true to some extent of people from other regions.
(d) Stereotype belief that Telangana people are lazy, lacking in education, and refinement. Claims that Andhra people have taught agriculture to Telangana. Claims that Andhra people have developed Hyderabad. “Telangana people are often considered subservient and lazy….”, Pg 402, SKC report.
V. Partiality in educational endowments and infrastructure:
For the five year period 2004-09,
“The data received from the State Government shows (Appendix 3.16) that the combined amount released to government and aided colleges together is Rs. 93 crores in Telangana while it is 224 crores in coastal Andhra (with college going population similar to that in Telangana) and 91 crores in Rayalaseema (with population share being less than half that in Telangana).” Pg 161, SKC report. Appendix is a separate document.
The level of disparity is glaring. College level education impacts the training and job prospects of a significant number of students. Form the data provided by the SKC on several parameters relating to education, it emerges that such discrimination has not occurred across the board but might be limited to certain areas.
VI. Political domination: There has been no Chief Minister of AP from Telangana in the last 20 years. In the last 30 years, a Telangana person has been CM for only 1 year (M Chenna Reddy in 1989-90). In 55 years as a united state, a Telangana person has been CM for 10.5 years (19% of duration). Population and proportion of MLAs from the region is a bit more than 40% (all information easily available online). The agreement on appointing Deputy CMs for balance of power has not been honored. SKC noted the same.
The 119 Telangana MLAs (out of 294 for all of AP) need to take a major portion of the blame for their failure to protect the region’s interests. However, it does not cancel out the fact that political domination has lead to bias and failed to do justice to the agreements that are basis for the merger and continuance as single state, and to ensure fairness in allotment of resources.
VII. Political manipulation and cheating:
(a) Successive governments responding to complaints with appointment of Committees, passing GOs, and providing assurances of remedial action, without adequate seriousness or commitment to implementation.
(b) In the 2004 AP assembly elections, Congress party entered into an alliance with TRS, mentioning that ““the Congress Party recognizes the growing emotions and aspirations of the people in the Telangana region” and “there are many good reasons for Telangana formation” as part of their election manifesto. After a resounding victory in the elections, the party did not even bring in a discussion on the subject in the Assembly in its 5 year tenure. As Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekhara Reddy’s comments began to show that the issue was firmly on the backburner, TRS broke the alliance in 2006. See Pg. 51, SKC report.
(c) In the 2009 AP Assembly elections, TDP had an alliance with TRS with the promise of supporting Telangana formation. The alliance could not garner a majority. In an all party meeting held on December 7, 2009, TDP reiterated its stand has not changed from 2009 manifesto and that it was absolutely committed to supporting a resolution on Telangana. In this meeting, of the other parties, PRP, BJP and CPI gave their assent for Separate Telangana formation. CPM expressed support for a United AP. MIM and Lok Satta remained non-committal or neutral. On the basis of this
majority consensus (whether or not it was a wise criterion is a separate question), the Central Government announced on December 9, 2009, that the process for formation of Telangana would commence. On the next day, December 10, both TDP and PRP reversed their position.
VIII. Unethical and undemocratic attempts to subdue movement:
In a secret chapter (Chapter 8 of the report) submitted to the Government of India, the SKC recommended unconstitutional methods to subdue the movement, including “softening” of TRS with inducements, making sure TDP stays away from discussions to prevent any kind of consensus, and using Seemandhra dominated media to manipulate the news in favor of maintaining status quo. This has been severely condemned by social activists, civil society and rights groups all over India as being unethical and undemocratic.
C. Tail piece
“..given the long-standing history of the demand for a separate state, the deep penetration of the sense of grievance and the widespread emotion around the issue, unless genuine steps are taken to address both real and perceived disparities, the demand is unlikely to go away permanently even if it is subdued temporarily.” pg 417, SKC report.
Should there be a separate Telangana or not? I don’t know, and don’t feel obliged to answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. However, it is clear that some of the problems will go away with separation. Those who insist that separation is not the right solution must acknowledge the genuine grievances and convince the Telanganis that they have the specific solutions and commitment to address them. I, for one, feel that the time and opportunity has passed. In any case, the need to make the Telangana movement better understood will remain. People of all regions of Andhra Pradesh deserve to know.
1. Gentlemen’s agreement (1956).
2. The Six Point Formula (1973).
3. Justice Girglani Committee report (2004): Volume I, Volume II, Volume III.
4. Justice Sri Krishna Committee (2010), Report, Appendix.
5. Meeting minutes of all party meeting on Dec 7, 2009.
6. Statement by Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan on SKC and cultural grievances of Telangana (2011).
7. Gautam Pingle, Irrigation in Telangana: The Rise and Fall of Tanks, EPW, 2011.
8. Telangana, Regional Identity, and the Telugu language, essay on the role of language in the discord among Telugu speakers (2011).
9. Chandra Babu Naidu’s statements on Dec 10, 2009.
10. Y.S. Rajashekhara Reddy’s comments on Telangana in 2006,