By Narasimha Reddy
These days I keep hearing the lament of Hyderabad dying for so and so reason. There is a ‘dominant’ viewpoint that MNCs, software companies, six-lane roads, tall buildings with glass facade, KFCs, Mcdonalds, malls, etc., constitute a state of vibrancy, and any disturbance to such an atmosphere is considered as sacrilege. This segment is worried that if this is disturbed, it will hurt the investment flow into Hyderabad.
Such a view does not consider a few of the following facts:
1. This cycle of transactions encompasses only less than 10 percent of city’s population and the economy of 90 percent is different.
2. Capital inflows do not necessarily come from MNCs, NRIs or foreigners, it is more from the large number of migrants, who move their critical financial investments to this city. Additionally, capital inflows of MNCs/NRIs are vulnerable to many factors and not necessarily only to political disturbances. Where there is profit, and higher margins, global capital moves in, irrespective of socio-political and socio-economic conditions. Oil producing countries are a good example. Political conditions have never made global capital ‘risky’, but the fiscal regime and its integration is a key factor.
3. In the last decade, six-lane roads and modern buildings have appeared at the cost of local natural resources, public funds and huge ‘local’ displacement of people from their places of living. This has increased urban poverty.
4. Contribution of Hyderabad’s ‘facade’ of growth has led to adverse impact on climate change, which in turn is leading to major health crises, individual and cumulative.
5. Uneven wealth accumulation, obnoxious display for material possessions and blatant consumerism has led to deterioration in social relations, fragmentation of family culture and increase in crime.
6. City management, in regulating growth, provision of services and maintenance of ‘common’ facilities, has taken a significant ‘negative’ impact, leading to water and sanitation problems. Corruption is all pervasive.
Politicians, bureaucrats and people who man the institutions that judges them are all beneficiaries of this uneven and unnatural growth of Hyderabad at the cost of natural resources and majority of poor people. They hold the power to decide, arbitrate and dictate the course of growth and development.
Given this state of injustice and inequity, I often wonder why people keep worrying about the ‘death’, or mauling of Hyderabad. Their worry about this hollow ‘brand’ Hyderabad worries me. Anyone who supports the growth of this anarchy is either a beneficiary (fully or partially) or ignorant of facts. Symbols of such growth anarchy are visible all around us – huge mountains of ‘wet and dry’ hazardous waste, polluted air and water, squatter colonies, rising variety and number of crimes, visible unemployment, increasing migration, etc.
Is Hyderabad dying this way, or any other way?