Wednesday, December 09, 2009

If you think it's bad in the United States . . .

. . . and I will confess: I am deeply concerned about our runaway federal government--you should get a look at things in other parts of the world.

For example . . . Andhra Pradesh, India.

I received an email this morning from the president of Mission India (United States) who forwarded the following email from a key contact in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India:
We need your prayers for our tomorrow 10th Dec. The panicky state government has brought 9000 para military and rapid action force from New Delhi to meet any challenge in view of the fluid situation in the state. The Joint Action Committee of the Students and some of the political parties have planned to take a big march towards the State Legislative Assembly to present their demands. They are mobilizing people in a large number. There is a possibility that the Maoists might also play mischief in the agitation tomorrow. We are waiting for the update tonight to know more about the situation. I do not know how many of our staff will turn to the office as the whole life in Hyderabad will come to stand still not even an auto is going to ply on the roads. All the roads leading to Hyderabad from all corners have barricades stopping the inflow of any people into the city.

The civil unrest is going to be intensified tomorrow and literally Hyderabad will be under the control of police. The health of KCR who is on fast unto death is deteriorating and the doctors say that he might slip into coma if he continues the fast. Both the central and state governments have not yet made their stand clear with regard to the separate statehood for Telengana.
I wrote back:

Who is KCR who is on this “fast unto death”? –Sorry I'm so “out of it”!
And he wrote to me:
Hello John. No, you are not “out of it.” I don’t know the actual name of “KCR” either! It’s the initials of a politician in Andhra Pradesh who is leading the political movement that is demanding statehood for the Telengana region – which is about the northern third of A.P. Everyone just refers to him as “KCR” – a fairly common practice in India. Another practice that is not unusual is suicides over these kinds of issues. When the Christian leader of AP died in a helicopter accident two months ago, it was reported that in the following days, 50 people committed suicide!

The AP politicians might be over-reacting however this conflict could cause severe disruption.
Another recipient of his email wrote to him, and he forwarded it to me:
Thanks for your e-mail this morning. When reading it I wondered “What’s going on”? I am sure that those of you at the office are in the know. But [the recipients of your email] may not be.

The article below from June 8, 2009 gives some background.

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India: A Region's Independence Hampered by National Interest

June 8, 2006 | 0013 GMT


India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party recently announced its backing for a Telangana state independent of Andhra Pradesh, reaching a rare accord with the governing Congress party, and challenged the latter to prove its commitment to the cause. The Congress party won the state of Andhra Pradesh in the 2004 general elections as a result of its alliance with the secessionist Telangana Rashtra Samiti party. Although Congress inserted Telangana independence into its election manifesto, it has not acted upon it in the two years since the election, and it has no incentive to do so.


The Telangana region of India’s Andhra Pradesh state has been campaigning for separation from the state for decades. The Telangana separatists claim that the 1956 decision to merge the region — then known as Hyderabad state — with Andhra Pradesh created a state too unwieldy to be governed properly. The movement believes the region has been shortchanged by policymakers and has not developed as the same pace as the rest of Andhra Pradesh. The secessionist movement gained a formal voice with the formation of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) political party, which developed a national presence when it allied itself with the Congress party and won 26 assembly seats in the 2004 general elections.

The Congress party formalized its support for an independent Telangana in its election manifesto, but supporters of the Congress-TRS alliance have been disappointed by the lack of progress towards that goal. As the Congress party itself won 185 seats in the 2004 state elections, it has no electoral compulsion to mollify the TRS. Though Congress won the state of Andhra Pradesh in 2004 as a result of the party’s alliance with the TRS, the smaller party does not have sufficient strength to place any overwhelming political pressure on Congress.

Now, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced its support for Telangana’s independence and challenged the Congress party to demonstrate its commitment to the cause. However, the Congress party has no incentive to seriously pursue an independent Telangana. Doing so would disrupt the party’s larger national objectives because of three factors: the city of Hyderabad, Telangana’s religious demography and the Naxalite problem in the region.

Hyderabad has been Andhra Pradesh’s state capital since the state’s formal creation in 1956. Today, it is one of India’s major economic hubs and has developed into one of the country’s two primary technology centers (the other being Bangalore). Many large multinational firms, such as IBM, Dell Inc. and Microsoft Corp., have established a presence there. In 2004, Hyderabad’s software exports reached the $1 billion mark. The 2005 World Knowledge Competitiveness Index ranked Hyderabad the most competitive of Indian cities. Given Hyderabad’s credentials, Andhra Pradesh would be loath to give up such an important source of economic power and prestige.

If Telangana secedes from Andhra Pradesh, the TRS would be pressured into boosting development revenue for the province’s more rural districts. This could result in new economic regulations and tax laws affecting firms in Hyderabad — which the Congress-led national government does not want. The government has had to strive to persuade international investors that despite its leftist tendencies, it is still business-friendly. Thus, changes that could affect large firms in Hyderabad would be discouraged in New Delhi.

The Telangana movement is predominantly Hindu-led, and local Muslims have been less than enthusiastic about the idea of the region’s succession. Telangana was controlled by a succession of Muslim rulers for centuries before Indian independence, and though the region’s Muslim population is around 12 percent, an estimated 40 percent of the population in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad are Muslim. Muslims in Andhra Pradesh are satisfied with the status quo, and talk of a separate Telangana is disquieting enough to them that an influential Hyderabad-based Muslim political party, the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, has made an (unrealistic) call for the city of Hyderabad to be declared a state of its own in the event of Telangana’s secession.

Indian Muslims have traditionally voted for the Congress party, as Congress is viewed as the more reliable guardian of India’s secular traditions. Therefore, it would not be in Congress’ best interests to weaken its support in this constituency. The party is unwilling to deal with the Hindu-Muslim tension that Telangana’s independence would bring.

Yet another factor in Congress’ lackadaisical approach to the Telangana issue is the Naxalite movement. Since the late 1960s, the Naxalites — communist guerrillas — have led a widespread insurgency in hopes of fomenting revolution across India. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has declared the Naxalites the country’s biggest internal security challenge. One Naxalite group, the People’s War Group (PWG), has an established presence in Telangana and has gone so far as to publicly support the region’s independence. PWG claims to have established “special guerrilla zones” in both northern and southern Telangana, and many observers believe that TRS supporters are linked with the Naxalites.

New Delhi would not wish to be seen as caving in on the Naxalites’ demands for Telangana’s independence, especially since the Naxalite threat has consistently hampered India’s ability to attract more foreign investment and continues to wear down domestic security forces. An unwritten rule of Indian politics states that allowing one separatist group’s demands to be fulfilled would lead to a hundred more such groups coming out of the woodwork. Thus, the government’s slow approach could be an intentional choice meant to give regional anti-Naxalite policing strategies time to work.

The BJP, meanwhile, is clearly attempting to win the support of regional parties like the TRS as part of its overall electoral strategy. Therefore, it is not clear that the BJP would be any more likely to move forward toward Telangana’s secession if it were in power.


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Can you imagine?!? If you think politics here in the States is tough! How do you get anything done in India?
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