Saturday, August 10, 2013

Spare students from agitation: Round Table on new State

A Round Table of civil society leaders, retired administrators, former judges and media luminaries today unanimously appealed to all sections in Seemandhra region to ensure that students do not lose an academic year because of the ongoing agitation against bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. It also asked Government employees not to go on strike as proposed and inconvenience the very people whom they are supposed to serve.

People are free to express their opinions freely and fearlessly without resorting to violence, disrupting lives and fuelling hatred and animosities.

The Round Table wanted the Government of India to appoint an official committee in place of the ruling party panel to address grievances of all sections of people in the wake of the decision to split the State. Since wisdom is not the monopoly of only legislators or officials, the Government should associate the civil society in arriving at decisions and implementing them.

The Foundation for Democratic Reforms and the Lok Satta movement convened the non-partisan Round Table to discuss what needs to be done to facilitate a bright future for people of all the regions in the wake of the Delhi decision to carve out a separate Telangana State.

Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan set the tone for the four-hour-long discussions by asking participants not to indulge in a post-mortem on the decision to divide the State but focus on offering constructive suggestions. “The future is what matters and the past is inconsequential in the present context,” he underlined. He said that formation of a new State is neither a panacea nor a catastrophe since it is merely an administrative and political arrangement. But the move presented a golden opportunity for unveiling policies that transform people’s lives.

There was broad consensus among participants on the need to ensure the safety and security of people living in Hyderabad city irrespective of their origin through appropriate legal and administrative arrangements. Although the Constitution guarantees citizens the freedom to live and work anywhere in the country, there are apprehensions among large sections of people in the city on their future with which they have developed an attachment. The arrangements are necessary against the backdrop of harassment of people belonging to Kerala and Bihar in Maharashtra and those of Hindi-speaking States in Assam in the past.

The participants pointed out that Rayalaseema needs special attention because of the special problems it faces. It is deficient in rainfall, landlocked and economically backward. It now feels orphaned in the wake of the loss of a metropolis like Hyderabad. Permanent, credible and effective arrangements should be made to resolve its problems here and now so that bigger problems do not crop up in future.

Some of them felt that nothing short of formation of a separate Rayalaseema State along with Telangana answers their needs.

The participants agreed that mere formation of a State or two will not bring about a change in people’s lives unless power is decentralized, corruption mitigated if not eradicated and services extended as a matter of right.

Some participants pointed out that there is no provision in the Constitution for making one city as the capital of two States and it therefore warrants a Constitutional amendment. They also called for some sort of Constitutional arrangement for the sharing of the revenue from Hyderabad city between the two States for some period.

Some of the participants suggested formation of an independent water authority as envisaged in the Constitution to ensure fair distribution of river waters among States.

Those who took part in the marathon discussion included freedom fighter Chennamaneni Rajeswara Rao, former Justice Lakshmana Rao, K. Nageshwar, MLC, retired top officials K. Padmanabhaiah, K. Sujatha Rao, K. Aravind Rao, T. Hanuman Chowdary, K. Satyanarayana Murthy, M. Padmanabha Reddy, S.R Vijayakar, Venkata Rao, Professors Kancha Ilaiah, Madabhushi Sridhar, Sasidhar, Visweswara Rao, journalists Pothuri Venkateswara Rao, K. Srinivasa Reddy, K. Ramachandra Murthy, Kandula Ramesh, Telakapalli Ravi, N. Seetharama Raju, Devi Priya, NGO leaders and social activists J. Lakshmana Reddy, Mazar Hussain, Chalasani Srinivas, Dr. V.B.J Chelikani Rao, S. Ramachandra Reddy, Katragadda Prasuna, Putta Surender Babu, K. Chiranjeevi and P. Chengal Reddy, Lakshminarayana, Dasaradhasrami Reddy, Devi, Rev. Dr. J. Charles, K.Pratapa Reddy and Anwar Khan.

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