The Economic Times: Telangana's 1st year: Innovation & investment driving state

Lalu Prasad's mother tongue is Telugu. The 32-year-old auto driver in Hyderabad is unsure when his forefathers, originally from Begusarai in Bihar, landed up in the city of Nizams. He speaks broken Hindi, calls himself a true Hyderabadi and is dead chuffed to belong to Telangana, and not Andhra Pradesh. Then he goes on to explain how rich the city of Hyderabad is, in stark contrast to the poverty on the other side of the one-year-old border. Prasad may be glad he's in a new state, and its illustrious, funds-flushed capital, but he's also quick to add: "The new status [of statehood for Telangana] will be more meaningful if my son gets admission in a good school. I want him to speak English when he grows up." Prasad reflects the mood of the common people taking part in the grand celebration of Telangana completing its first year. People are jubilant, but once the celebrations ebb they'll also go home wondering what the state's robust finances will mean for their own well-bein g. For the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)-led state government, which in the month of March presented a budget for fiscal year 2015-16 with a Rs 531 crore surplus (against a Rs 7,300-crore deficit in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh), the state's finances are its key strength. Money is not a constraint in doling out subsidies and creating new jobs. On the first anniversary of the formation of Telangana earlier this week, chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao (popularly called KCR) announced the creation of as many as 25,000 new government jobs and building 50,000 two-bedroom houses for the poor, among other welfare measures. Realising that the poor employability of people from Telangana may haunt the new state in the years to come, the one-year-young government has laid down a policy to dramatically change the education system of the state. "We are planning all educational institutions in Telangana to be residential with English as the medium of instruction," says chief minister KCR (see interview on the next page). KCR concedes his government can't give jobs to every individual. But according to his simple arithmetic, Hyderabad will continue to woo big-ticket investors and the state's economic vibrancy and private sector job market will only grow in the years to come. Untangling Telangana JD Seelam, a Congress leader from Andhra Pradesh and former Union minister of state for finance, claims KCR government's philosophy is more to do with randomly giving away goodies rather than articulating any vision statement. ... Read More...