Thursday, September 6, 2012

‘This region has had a raw deal’

"The Union government’s decision to amend the Constitution to provide a comprehensive solution to the backward Hyderabad Karnataka region is historic. However, the backwardness of the region is historic too,” said historian and academic B.R. Konda.

“Places like Bidar and Gulbarga were among the most important cities in medieval India. But they got a raw deal in modern times. This region that has been far behind old Mysore or coastal Karnataka on various human development indicators never received the attention it deserved. It was discriminated against in every sector and failed to get its share of resources too,” said Prof. Konda. He points out that when Mysore University was established in 1916, the whole of Hyderabad Karnataka had just one high school. Students of my generation had to go to private teachers in madrassas, maths or temples to learn the alphabet and arithmetic. The first government schools in Bidar were started in 1954,” he said. English education did not arrive in the district till the late 80s, he added. He explained that there were historical reasons behind this. The Nizams were not focused on education, healthcare, employment generation or industrialisation till very late in their regime. Administration reforms and welfare measures started only after 1900. “But we can only say they had little time to implement their plans,” he said. The type of government and the objectives of politics in Hyderabad were very different from British India or progressive States like Mysore or Travancore. Neither was the administration benevolent, nor was the political awareness among our people high as the anti-British movement did not spread to this region. The only thing we can blame is our destiny,” he said.

On linguistic basis

“To start with, the State reorganisation committee, led by Justice Fazal Ali, had recommended that the Hyderabad Karnataka region should be made into a separate state, with Hyderabad as the capital, and not be merged with the Mysore state saying “development should be the criterion for unification and not emotional issues like language”. However, the Union government decided on linguistic division of states after the fast unto death of Telugu leader Potti Sriramulu. Secondly, we were never welcome in the Mysore state. A committee, headed by the then Diwan Sheshadri Iyer, said that joining Hyderabad Karnataka would be a burden on the state. Even the Union government’s decision to merge HK region with Mysore was met with resistance. Members of the Mysore Assembly debated for three days before passing a resolution of conditional approval,” he said.

“Thirdly, when the Union government introduced amendments to the Constitution to grant special status to Telangana and Marathwada in 1956, the HK region was left out. The argument that these backward regions needed special treatment, would naturally apply to HK region. These three regions were earlier part of the Nizam state and suffered the same fate. It is easy to see that when the Hyderabad Nizam state was broken up into three parts, each part had to be dealt with in the same manner, in equal measure. All the benefits and facilities available to the people of Telangana and Marathwada should have been made available to the residents of Hyderabad Karnataka. But neither did the government extend the same benefits to this region, nor did any of our legislators or leaders demand it. The level of political awareness found in Telangana was not found in HK. Thus we lost the first opportunity for special status,” he said.

He said the idea of a development board for Hyderabad Karnataka was mooted by a committee for development of backward areas, headed by N. Dharam Singh in 1982. But the Hyderabad Karnataka Development Board was not formed till 1992. “The demand for a special region was officially made only in 1996, when the former Minister Vaijnath Patil raised the issue in the form a private member Bill in the Assembly in 1996. Similar efforts were made by K.B. Shanappa in the Rajya Sabha in 2009. The Hyderabad Karnataka Horata Samiti, led by Vaijnath Patil, carried out a sustained campaign for special status and now the movement seems to have come to its logical end,” Prof. Konda said.