Greater Hyderabad is the largest concentration of Telugus in the world. For Telugus to be a successful ethnic and language group in the world, Hyderabad and Telengana must be economically successfully. Since the division of the State into two, people would have realized that the promises made to the two States in Parliament and outside are not honored at all and no one really cares. We are on our own. One cannot predict political success. But one can definitely plan an economic success story. Actually it is very simple. If Telengana is to be successful, all it has to do is to ensure that things go on as usual. There will be automatic economic growth and prosperity.
The division of the State should not result in a breakdown of the present successful formula. Hyderabad is now a great Indian city and it should strive to continue as one. If Hyderabad thrives, then Telengana will thrive and the entire Telugu people across the world will be happy.
In the last 6 months, everyone has heard the leaders of the two new Telugu States on how they will change the States into a Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or even Japan and China together. We have heard of delegations from both the States going abroad and inviting capital to come there. We have heard of countless statements where the leaders of the two states have announced great plans, which are really impossible.
What is not possible?
- It is not possible to suddenly transform Hyderabad or Telengana into some foreign country. There are too many problems and the population is too large. To compare Telengana or Andhra to Singapore or Malaysia is not right. Why not try to be Telengana and Hyderabad instead of trying to become something else. ? Just because someone in Andhra is talking of such things, it does not mean he is right or knows what he is doing .
- It is not possible to set up huge steel plants in Telengana just because there is some iron ore in Telengana. Steel plants around the world are closing since demand is down. Even the price of iron ore has collapsed. Iron ore can be exported and that itself will be a great income for Telengana. But steel plants are out. Steel plants require land, water, ports, power and a market. Inland areas are out. That is the world- wide formula for making steel. The only place where steel plants can come up in India in inland areas is Jharkhand. There is no inland steel plant in Japan or Korea. China has inland steel plants because there is local demand. In my opinion, the Visakhapatnam Steel plant is a gigantic waste. It is artificially sustained by the government and subsidized. Government of India is trying to sell it off.
- Going for un-sustainable agricultural crops is also not economic. We must remember Telengana has a high number of farmer suicides. Instead, Telengana should go for high-value crops with drip-irrigation and latest techniques. Telengana had an agricultural revolution by going for large scale grape cultivation nearly 40 years ago. Telengana has the ideal climate for fruits, flowers and medicinal plants and herbs. Telengana should use its water resources carefully and not imitate other states which have wasted their water
- Telengana should not go for mega projects. Ether might be other Chief Ministers who re megalomanias. But eventually, such Chief Ministers in other States will be rejected. Telengana should carefully support projects which will benefit people immediately.
- Telengana should also not give away land to industry and business people. In India, industry and business only demand huge tracts of land. Actually such industrialists are real estate operators. Land forms very small portion of the cost. Telengana should create a Land bank. Telengana government should not squander away its land. The main aim of industry is to acquire huge plots of land and then store at and later use it to make money. No industry needs hundreds of acres of land. 40 years ago, government acquired 23,000 acres of land in Visakhapatnam for the steel Plant. The Steel plant uses only 3000 acres of land. The plant employs only about 15,000 people. Is it worth it. ? 20,000 families lost land for this useless purpose.
What Telengana can do :
- The greatest asset that Telengana is the city of Hyderabad. It is a magnet for enterprise. Telengana should make Hyderabad more attractive and reduce pollution and traffic issues. The government should invite everyone to come and settle in Hyderabad. Hyderabad is now a center of “Knowledge –industry “. The government should focus on improving Hyderabad and allowing it to grow. Conflicts should e avoided. The government should ensure that agitations should not take place in the city. The only thing that Telengana can imitate Singapore is the law and order of Singapore. Just enquire what happens in Singapore if anyone is violent or breaks a law. That is why Singapore is so powerful economically. Investments will come automatically.
- Encourage the IT sector: India exports every year a 100 billion dollars of IT and software every year. Telengana should try to get more of this business. With a little investment, lakhs of jobs can be created within a very short time. A huge plant takes years to become productive, but IT services can be expanded within months. The entire focus of the Telengana government should be on the IT sector. The theory of international trade is that countries should focus on areas where they have the competitive advantage. Hyderabad is the most ideal place for IT and software and Government should totally focus on it. I am surprised that Telengana government has not sent teams to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and other places and actively inviting software and IT professionals to work in Hyderabad. There is very little lobbying for the Hyderabad IT sector in Delhi.
- Focus on Tourism: There is an excellent tourism prospect in Telengana. A large number of jobs can be created in tourism than in any sector with very little investment. But I do not see such an emphasis. The government should bring in tourism experts to energize the sector. The example of Madhya Pradesh should be followed.
- Strengthen the Delhi Liaison office:
There is very little visibility of Telengana in Delhi. It requires the best talent of Telengana to project Telengana in Delhi with the Central government and focus on IT and tourism sector. Opportunities and time are being lost. Sycophants and un-productive people should be avoided.
- Focus on the education sector :
Nearly a lakh student from Telengana and Andhra are in Delhi every year to take tutorial classes. The fastest growing sector is education. Telengana has a number of State and Central universities and there is a big education base. If the Government encourages development of high class education, then the private sector will create thousands of jobs for local people. Instead of giving land for one big industry, the government should create areas. Where educational institutions can be set up. It is better to have a university than a steel plant.
- Medical tourism: Encourage medical education and development of medical facilities. With health insurance spreading, people want more hospitals and medical care. Government can encourage nursing colleges, medical colleges and hospitals and ensue they maintain high standards. Why not create a Health city where anyone who wants to set up hospitals or health related educational institutions will be encouraged? Hyderabad can become a great centre of medical tourism. Even today, thousands of patients from Andhra Pradesh come to Hyderabad only for medical attention. Do not spoil this sector.
- Send teams internationally to attract both Indian and foreigners to the IT and Tourism sector. There is no point in asking investment in steel plants and mines. That will not happen. Focus on what can be done. There is no point in aiming for impossible things.
Aim for the Low-Hanging Fruit:
Every government has to face elections. There is very little time before a government can do things. The intelligent thing is to aim for the low hanging fruit. Do things which are easy and which give relief. When a government does several small beneficial things, it adds up. People vote for good governance and not for big factories. The most difficult thing is to deliver good governance. This is because governments get bogged down in big controversies and big projects.
The golden rule for all governments is to go for the Low-Hanging fruit and get small results. They add up.