Hyderabad and hinterland

By Asaduddin Owaisi
For centuries, Hyderabad has remained interlinked with its hinterland (Telangana) and one cannot be separated from the other.

Founded by Sultan Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah, the fifth Qutub Shahi king, in 1591, Hyderabad has evolved into a bustling city over the last four-odd centuries.

Today, Hyderabad is the fifth-largest city in India, after the four metropolises. In the last five decades, it has witnessed enormous growth not only in terms of area and population but also economic activity and socio-educational profile.

In its hoary past, Hyderabad was known as the city of gardens, a city of minarets (Charminar), a city of pearls and bangles, a city of nawabi culture and grace. Though Hyderabad has made rapid strides in the emerging fields of information technology, business process outsourcing, pharmaceuticals and medical care in recent times, it retains much of its basic core characteristics, its cosmopolitan culture, social ethos, traditions and tolerance.

Hyderabad continues to remain a link between north and south India, displaying its Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (composite culture) and, simultaneously, its distinct Muslim identity. Hyderabad has exploded on all sides but its south-western parts (old city) are where most of its Muslim residents live and cherish their religious, socio-cultural and linguistic heritage.

The core city owes much of its civic infrastructure and magnificent structures to the Asaf Jahi era that ended with the police action in September 1948 when the erstwhile Nizam’s dominions — the biggest and richest princely state — merged with the Indian Union when the Indian army marched in. It was the vision of the sixth and seventh Nizams — Mir Mahbub Ali Khan and Mir Osman Ali Khan — that transformed Hyderabad into a modern city.

Railway lines, railway stations, suburban rail services, bus services, airport and air services, roads and bridges, drainage and a stormwater drain network, reservoirs and piped water supply, electricity and streetlights, telephone network, postal services, radio station, industrial estates, the state legislature and high court buildings, professional colleges and Osmania University, allopathic hospitals, libraries and even the city’s first master-plan — all this, and much more, is part of Hyderabad’s legacy, left behind by the Nizams.

After the police action and more particularly after the formation of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad’s march into modernity has accelerated. Dotted with major industries, public sector undertakings, defence and other strategic establishments, Central and state research and training institutions, a string of universities and scores of professional colleges, Hyderabad has emerged as a knowledge powerhouse and economic hub.

This spurt in the city’s socio-economic profile has been made possible by large-scale migration of people — professionals, entrepreneurs, scientists, technocrats, artisans, businessmen, casual workers, job-seekers, students et al — not only from Hyderabad’s immediate hinterland (Telangana) but also other regions of the state as well as from other states in the country and even from abroad.

In the growing economy spawned by a changing demographic profile, the Muslims have kept pace and progressed in sync with their proportion to the city’s population as the basic ecosystem has remained the same, facilitating inclusive growth. However, Muslims’ share in modern and public services is somewhat lower, and this is a matter of concern.

No wonder Hyderabad’s population has swelled from just around 15 lakh in 1961 to 77 lakh by 2011, while its borders have extended from 169 square km to 650 sq km. There is more heterogeneity in Hyderabad’s population today than anytime before. Riding on Telugu pride and identity in early 1980s, Telugu Desam founder N.T. Rama Rao sought to make the city into a centre for Telugu language, culture and heritage, including its booming film industry. Urdu-speaking Muslims never felt threatened by this new emphasis on Telugu identity because of their inclusive culture.

Today, Hyderabad is a key destination for IT and ITES companies, besides being the bulk drug and pharma capital of India because of the huge concentration of IT/ITES and bulk drug/pharma companies in the metropolitan area. Hyderabad accounts for IT/ITES exports of Rs 40,000 crore, bulk drug and pharma exports of Rs 25,000 crore and engineering goods and other exports of Rs 15,000 crore annually.

Tremendous growth in industrial, business, trade and export activity has made it one of the top cities in terms of contributing revenues to the state and Central governments. Our estimates show that the Hyderabad metro region generates Rs 40,000 crore towards the state’s total tax revenues of Rs 70,000 crore and another Rs 40,000 crore towards Central tax collections of Rs 60,000 crore from AP every year. The total tax yield from Hyderabad thus works out to Rs 80,000 crore annually.

Hyderabad’s district domestic product (DDP) is the highest among all districts in Andhra Pradesh. The metro region’s share in the state gross domestic product of Rs 6 lakh crore is over 40 per cent, largely due its burgeoning share in the services sector. Hyderabad’s economy has been growing faster than rest of the state, though the pace has slowed down in the last couple of years, due to the political turmoil that the state is witnessing on account of the Telangana statehood demand.

Many people across the country feel that Hyderabad’s future is interlinked with what the powers-that-be do to tackle the demand for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. The protagonists and opponents of the demand want to project the idea that Hyderabad is the bone of contention — some sort of a birthday cake, which can be cut and taken away by them, in case of bifurcation of AP. But Hyderabad is not someone’s jagir to be gifted away or taken over at will.

We, the Hyderabadis, are the real stakeholders in this issue. Hyderabad cannot, and will never, be allowed to be made into a Union territory if the bifurcation of the state becomes politically inevitable. For centuries, Hyderabad has remained interlinked with its hinterland (Telangana) and one cannot be separated from the other. The hinterland has geographical, demographic, cultural and political contiguity to Hyderabad. Moreover, UT status for Hyderabad will adversely impact its inclusive growth.

It is not out of place to mention that no Telangana state (if it is formed) will survive without Hyderabad. But we strongly feel that the concerns of the people of other regions and other states who have made Hyderabad their abode need to be given due weightage and adequate safeguards provided to them to protect their interests —economic, business, social, cultural and linguistic — if Andhra Pradesh is ever bifurcated. [Express Buzz]

The writer is All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president, and represents Hyderabad in the Lok Sabha

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