A focus on development of the region as a whole: Srikrishna panel
While looking into the demand for a separate Telangana State, the Srikrishna Committee emphasised that the issue has to be addressed through a series of policy measures, aimed primarily at the level of the sub-region, but including measures that would impact the neglected or backward areas within the region as well as most social groups positively.
“The Telangana movement can be interpreted as a desire for greater democracy and empowerment within a political unit. As stated earlier, sub-regionalism is a movement which is not necessarily primordial but is essentially modern — in the direction of a balanced and equitable modernisation. Our analysis shows that cutting across caste, religion, gender and other divisions, the Telangana movement brings a focus on the development of the region as a whole, a focus on rights and access to regional resources and further, it pitches for a rights-based development perspective whereby groups and communities put forth their agendas within a larger vision of equitable development. There are strong indications that if Telangana does become a separate State, a movement for separation is likely to follow in Rayalaseema, which remains the most backward region in the State,” the panel's report said.
Noting that if a State can handle demands of diverse groups and ensure that everyone grows, the report said the focus should be on means to ensure greater democratic decentralisation and equity of outcomes. “Until now, populist policies and social engineering have been two ways of addressing and containing demands of different social and political constituencies; genuine decentralisation would probably be a more resilient way of addressing the demands of different social groups and classes. It is not the size of the State that matters but the quality of governance and the responsiveness of the State to its various regional and social constituencies that is important,” the report said.
In Telangana, it said, regional sentiment has been predominant, cutting across caste, tribe, and religious identities and across social class groups. A major factor feeding into the mass support for the movement was the tremendous educational progress in Telangana among all social groups and classes, which feeds the desire for better jobs, better living standards and a greater say in decision-making in the State and region. At the political level, a politics of accommodation or what is today being called “social engineering”— the balancing of constituencies of different sorts (political, social and economic), may still be necessary. The Committee felt that greater regional autonomy and a more equitable regional division of political power are likely to keep the State together and allow it to grow for the benefit of all sections of society.
“Telangana region has certainly had a much shorter span of holding the position of Chief Minister — which remains the all-powerful position in Indian States and this could be redressed to remove the sense of political alienation,” it said.
“However, 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,” the Committee said.