Andhra Pradesh: Opportunities & Challenges That Lie Ahead
Sadhguru: When the Republic of India was formed and the states were reorganised, it happened by redrawing the geographical boundaries of different kingdoms along linguistic lines. Unfortunately, now, due to administrative inefficiencies or regional prejudices, further breaking up is happening. If states are to be further broken up, it should be done in a well thought-out way, mainly taking administrative efficiency into consideration. This means we are changing the fundamental idea behind the States Reorganization Act.
The bifurcation of Andhra, though a long-term demand, was done in a rush and it happened like a tear, not a bifurcation. But it has happened and there is no point looking back. We can only look forward.
The Major Hurdles
Having said that, Andhra Pradesh has come with a certain disadvantage, and the break-up of administration and resources has not happened the way it needs to happen for smooth transition. A certain level of handholding from the Central Government will be a must for the development of the state. There are no major cities – the largest city is Vishakapatnam, which is a port city – and they have to build a new capital, which is an enormous task. Though the Chief Minister is highly inspired and enthusiastic and is capable of bringing various partnerships to build the capital, it is still an onerous undertaking. A new capital will not happen just with office buildings. It needs educational institutions, cultural centers, arts and craft movements, spiritual centers, and many other elements which make a city a living city.
Above all, 40% of the land in the new state is in the Rayalseema region, which is a huge tract of land quite inhospitable for agriculture, with cyclones battering coastal Andhra and extreme heat – as we are witnessing, many lives were lost in this summer's heatwave.
But the leadership has tremendous resolve, and the Chief Minister has a wonderful team around him with officers of high integrity and commitment. I am not a fan of any political party or politician, but Chandrababu Naidu is a livewire. It was very pleasant to see a Chief Minister so committed and sharp on everything. I have not even seen corporate leaders coming to decisions that quickly and clearly. The commitment and vision with which this new state is being approached is quite impressive.
The most important thing that the leadership should not forget is, it is largely an agricultural community. It has never happened that agricultural communities have suddenly shifted to industry and succeeded. So the state had to focus in a big way on making agriculture into a profitable industry. The best collaborations in that sector would be with Japan and Israel, and the Chief Minister is rightly looking in those directions. This is the best choice to make.
A Challenge and an Opportunity
Can we implement everything that is being envisioned? This is India so it needs to be understood, the fundamental infrastructure and atmosphere is not there. Getting everyone on line and making it happen is still a lot of work. The leadership has a clear-cut plan how to take it there, but unless the people stand up and support it, it will not go there. A leader’s business is to set the path and make the necessary arrangements. It is the people who have to ultimately walk the distance. To get that participation is the biggest challenge.
If the administration manages to get this participation from the people of Andhra Pradesh, this can be a landmark development in the country. This is a challenge, at the same time it is a tremendous possibility to create an entire new state as you envision it, rather than allow things to mushroom as they have in large parts of the country’s development. Here, there is a possibility to create a well-planned structure because there is not too much on the ground.
In the interests of the Telugu people and in the larger interests of the nation, this must happen successfully. Isha Foundation is willing to cooperate in transforming these 5 crore people into a peaceful, competent and inspired population, which is very much needed to make this stupendous task before the administration into a reality.
In the making of a new state and the building of a new great city, many tough and painful decisions will have to be taken. I hope the various political groups and people at large will understand and appreciate the sacrifices that they will have to make in creating a state that the nation will be proud of. The participation of everyone – those in the political, administrative and academic spheres, and the common people – is important. This is not the time to play politics. All of us should learn that playing politics should be limited to three months before the elections. For the remaining years, it is our business to support whatever government we have elected.
The making of a prosperous and above all joyful Andhra Pradesh is a sacred duty for all of us. Let us make it happen.