Targeted Discrimination in Telangana

With the creation of a separate Telangana state, there were a lot of celebrations in the newly formed state. The people of the newly formed state have lot of hopes and the new government has a lot of work to do. Despite the necessity to concentrate on the road ahead, Telangana government seems to be more interested in continuing TRS’ official policy – claim victimhood.

There have been a slew of comments and decisions against people of Andhra ancestry from Telangana government since TRS assumed office. One of the duties of central government in our federal structure is to ensure a harmonious environment between peoples of different states. Historically, central government failed in this regard. There have been umpteen cases when people from other states suffered because of perceived exploitation. But in all these cases, there was no direct involvement of state apparatus in any discrimination. The case with Telangana is entirely different with state government encauraging it.

APSRC Act 2013 has been reduced to a joke with neither of the parties showing any interest whatsoever in respecting the central legislation. Some active citizens and bloggers like S Sudhir Kumar have been writing about how the central legislation is being reduced to being a waste paper! With neither of the states respecting anything in APSRC Act 2013, there is little doubt that the act has had no effect except to bifurcate the state. One would have expected that APSRC Act 2013 provides for safeguards against any discriminatory legislation in Telangana. With the situation at hand, it seems even with such safeguards, they would have been completely disregarded.

Almost every national media house has been blind to the discriminatory comments from Telangana government. Local media, though active on the issue, has been completely biased to one of the two sides leaving a gaping hole which must be filled with an objective analysis of the situation.

The Nativity Question

Nativity debate started by Telangana government is going in directions that were unforeseen. During Telangana movement, back in 2009, KCR made some statements that people of Andhra living in Telangana may not be affected if a new state for Telangana is created. In many debates on TV and in newspapers too, leaders of TRS were quite clear that the movement is to aim at developing Telangana and nobody needs to fear the consequences. However, there were remarks made by TRS leaders and KCR himself on several other occasions about returning to 1956 definitions of geographical structure and social conditioning of Telangana regions. The case here is simply that of “death by confusion and obfuscation”.

One would have expected central government to provide necessary safeguards in APSRC Act 2013 to obviate any legislation discriminating against “a or any set of people”. Our country has so far seen targeted schemes for various reasons but the case with Telangana is to legislate to deny a state privilege to “a or any set of people” based on ancestry! This is probably the first case of state sponsored targeted discrimination in India.

Several recent statements from Telangana government (mind you, Telangana government and not TRS) have been nothing but discriminatory in principle. If Telangana government were to say, we want to target these schemes to sections of Telangana economically backward, socially backward etc., it would probably stand the test of public scrutiny and may even border at being humane. But that Telangana government insists that it would like to legislate to “deny” something to people of a particular ancestry is alarming, and in a way, disgusting!

The 1956 rule states the condition of nativity as a) the person should be born in Telangana and b) that the mother and father of the person should have be educated in Telangana. The flaw in the rule is its application in retrospection. Applying nativity rule retrospectively is plain unjust. If nativity rule were to simply state birth in Telangana, it would have been a just claim. KCR didn’t leave enough room for himself to arrive at any such just nativity rule in the run up to the general elections. The whole debate on nativity rule is simply an outcome of KCR’s political ambitions.

Most people make the mistake of clubbing land reforms proposed by Telangana in the same bracket as discrimination. This is a wrong notion. It should be kept in mind that “land reforms by state governments” cannot be called discrimination, especially because 7th schedule of Constitution of India makes it not just a power but also a duty of a state government. There is a motivation behind this provision and this post is not the appropriate place to discuss it.

Telangana is not similar to J&K

While all this drama was unfolding in the telugu speaking region of the country, TRS MP K Kavitha made bizarre statements in an ideas exchange program organized by the national newspaper Indian Express. The statements are pertaining to J&K. She seems to have tried to make an equivalency between J&K and Telangana as the oppressed. The equivalency is fake to start with but the J&K separatists and pakistani media were the only ones who were excited with these statements.

Jammu and Kashmir and Telangana were both forcefully and at the same time annexed to the Indian Union. When I say I feel strongly, it’s because we were both separate countries, but were merged with the Indian Union after Independence. In 1947, we were not a part of India.  After 1947, we became a part of India. Then the troubles really started. None of our people was very rich before. So it’s from the people’s perspective that I’ve started reading about Jammu and Kashmir. We need to solve issues, particularly the Kashmiri Pandits’ issue which is put up in the agenda of the BJP. They say we can all take them back home, but it is just a political statement. You have to create a safe environment before you take them there. We need to come out clean on Jammu and Kashmir. Few parts were not ours, we should agree, we should redraw the international lines, and move on. Development is suffering and you see frequent bombings.

….

On the issue of not owning land or property, Kashmir and Telangana have similar laws. We also had a condition, a council, which said that no outsider could hold land in Telangana. But when N T Rama Rao came to power and scrapped the council, he violated the Constitution, nobody was there to hear our voice, it’s all gone. But Kashmir still has that law and council, so natives have that protection. But when you want to completely remove it, we have to seriously think of the capacity of the natives regarding the issue. The same thing we had in Telangana, but once it was removed, we suffered very, very seriously. So when we are talking about the property rights of Kashmiris, the opinion of the natives should be sought. [Link]

There is a white lie in the above statements made by Kavitha Rao. The lie is about land rights in Telangana. The gentlemen’s agreement of 1956 places only one condition on buying immovable property – that all sale of agricultural land in Telangana is to be controlled by a regional council and that the council itself was to be abolished after 5 years. The land rights that Kavitha Rao mentioned is restricted only to agricultural property and doesn’t extend to non-arable lands.

So, when Kavitha Rao said that it was NTR government that abolished the council (I cannot corroborate as of now if it was NTR who really abolished it), she is actually telling the world that what NTR did something that should have been done back in 1961 itself! The real motivation behind these statements seems to be to imply that the people of Andhra ancestry deprived people of Telangana from becoming rich.

However, all these claims and unreasonable statements went unquestioned. Even the national channels, which make claim upon claim that they are best reporters of national news and better than every other news channel in India, didn’t question these statements. It must be remembered that K Kavitha Rao took oath in the Lok Sabha that she will uphold the sovereignty of the Republic of India. One cannot fail to see that she violated her oath and was making statements against the nation.

Student Scholarships

The most jarring instance of the targeted discrimination that Telangana government is moving towards is in the case of education. Andhra Pradesh like other states, gives student scholarships. A student to be eligible for these scholarships should satisfy the nativity clause i.e., “the student should be native of the state”. Consider for instance, Prathibha scholarships. To prove the nativity, the necessary documents are

The candidates have to submit the following in case of Fresh applicants:

  1. Filled in application form duly signed by applicant & Head of Institution.
  2. Enclosing the following attested certificates along with application form (copy of marks of the qualifying exam),i.e Intermediate/Degree or equivalent Residence Certificate issued by concerned MRO for a period of 4 years or study certificate for 4 years ending with qualifying exam in A.P.
  3. In case of government employees: (i) Latest income certificate from the employer and (ii) form -16 for the assessment year <academic year>
  4. In case of private employees: (i) Form-16 for the Assessment year 2012-13 and (ii) Latest income certificate from the concerned M.R.O issued after <first day of calender year>
  5. In case of Non Salaried parents: a latest Income Certificate from the concerned M.R.O stating that the income from all sources including income from non taxable like agriculture etc.
  6. In case of AP candidates who passed qualifying exam outside AP, have to submit 10 years of Residence Certificate of their parents in AP issued by concerned M.R.O

Please note point number 2 – “Residence Certificate issued by concerned MRO for a period of 4 years (or) study certificate for 4 years ending with qualifying exam in A.P.”. The nativity clause, as one can see in Andhra Pradesh is all about residence or from where the qualifying exam was taken. Point number 6 in fact gives sufficient room for students to explore options outside AP.

Telangana’s new rules change this completely by adding one more layer on the eligibility criteria especially through retrospective analysis. The biggest gripe of most people of Andhra origin who settled in Telangana region during the past 60 years would be with this very rule. The case of targeted discrimination comes out strongly in how Telangana government proposes to treat students.

There is a bigger danger afoot if Telangana moves ahead with the nativity rule. If government of Andhra Pradesh too moves to a nativity legislation of the same type that Telangana government is proposing, wouldn’t it be the students of Andhra ancestry born, brought up and studying in Telangana who would be effected and that too negatively? Is this really good for the state of Telangana? The latter question is for Telangana government and people of Telangana to think about.

Telangana ministry’s true intentions would seem extremely cruel if some media reports are to be believed. One of ministers stated that the Telangana government would like to review bus passes to students belonging to Andhra Pradesh. If these reports are true, the state policy is very strongly oriented against students of Andhra ancestry. If this is not a case of targeted discrimination, what is?

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One comment

  1. […] civil servants from erstwhile AP’s civil servants. Instead, Telangana government pursued antagonistic policies and probably lost many civil servants who understood the inner workings of the bureaucratic […]

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