Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Tamilnadu. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Tamilnadu. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

TAMILNADU'S PARADOX - Alarming malnutrition pushing children out of school - I

By M H Ahssan

Tamilnadu leads the country in nutritional interventions and yet has alarming levels of hunger in children. Research indicates that is a very likely cause of poor schooling achievement and drop-out rates.

Despite several schemes, chronic malnutrition persists in Tamilnadu and this is very likely a major cause for continuing poor performance and high dropout rates of children in Tamilnadu’s government schools. Ironically, the state leads the country in nutritional interventions and has improved its standing in comparison to other states in the last two decades since the scaling up of nutrition schemes. Yet, nutritional status have only marginally improved and in some cases like the anaemia count going up, perplexing activists, policy researchers, and funding organisations.

The state is a study in contradictions: It gave the country its direct nutrition intervention in the form of the Noon-meal Programme (NMP), and yet has alarming levels of hunger, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute's India State Hunger Index (ISHI) of 2008. The index gave the state this rating from a choice of: low, moderate, serious (6 states), alarming (10 states including TN), extremely alarming (Madhya Pradesh). The ratings are based on the prevalence of calorie-energy deficiency, child mortality and the number of children below the age of 5 who are underweight.

One out of every three persons ate less than 1,632 calories a day (much lower than the national Below Poverty Line cutoff of 2,100 calories) in Tamilnadu. Every third child below the age of 5 in the state is underweight (low weight for age) and the under 5 mortality rate of is 3.5 per 100 births.

The National Family Health Survey data of 2008 show a similar trend: Almost one-third (31 per cent) of children under age five in Tamilnadu are stunted, or too short for their age, which indicates that they have been undernourished for some time; 22 percent are wasted, or too thin for their height, which may result from inadequate recent food intake or recent illness and 30 per cent are underweight, which takes into account both chronic and acute undernutrition.

Seven out of every 10 children below the age of 5 have iron-deficiency anaemia (IDA) according to the NFHS. IDA has actually increased from 69 to 73 percent in the 0-3 age group from the last survey of 1998. Only 40 per cent of the households have access to adequately iodised salt and Vitamin A deficiency persisted despite prevention programmes.

The effects of such acute and chronic undernutrition are well established. Increased mortality, poor cognitive and motor development and other impairments in function as fallout of undernutrition, show Dr Stuart Gillespie and Dr Lawrence J Haddad of IFPRI in their book The Double Burden of Malnutrition: Causes, Consequences and Solution. “Children who have been severely undernourished in early childhood suffer a later reduction in IQ by as many as 15 points (Martorell 1996), significantly affecting schooling achievement and increasing the risks of drop-out or repeat grades.”

Impact of stopping noon meals for over-14
Activists of Right to Food (Tamilnadu) also chalk up a higher drop out rate of close to 40 per cent in the higher classes also to the cessation of noon meal schemes after the age of 14. S Kanniyan, RTF-TN convenor, says with decrease in agricultural work in the villages, more and more women have taken up contract work in construction industry. “Many children no longer have breakfast because their mothers need to be at work early in the day. Classroom hunger is a serious cause of concern. When the child comes hungry to school, her learning is going to be impacted. Often teachers do not understand the reasons for poor scholastic achievements and instead punish the students; which only pushes the child into dropping out,” he said.

The noon meal is made available in higher secondary classes only to students belonging to MBC, SC/ST castes. Often older children are ashamed of the caste and socio-economic status identification their noon meal plates accord them and prefer to skip the meal altogether, says Aruna Rathnam, Education specialist, UNICEF. “Younger children are more enthusiastic about noon meals, especially since the introduction of eggs two times a week, because of hunger. For adolescents, the lunch hour becomes a question of peer acceptance and socialisation. Many students prefer to eat packaged food of poor nutritive value to the prepared meals in schools," she says.

Even in the below 14 category, the efficiency has come under question. A review of Tamilnadu's Noon-meal programme (NMP) implementation shows that the per-day-per-child expenditure is 35 paise, for vegetable, condiments and salt. TN FORCES, an NGO that works throughout the state with day cares and crèches, says vegetables or oil or other seasoning are often not present in the Anganwadi centres. Sometimes even salt is brought from the home of the beneficiaries. TN FORCES is the state wing of Delhi-based FORCES.

K Shanmughavelayutham, TN FORCES convenor says that only two-thirds of children who are eligible for the nutritious meal scheme get coverage. Despite that, the nutrition schemes are unable to meet the needs and the government should commit at least 3 percent of the budget for nutrition, he says.

Both Right To Food and TN FORCES have been seeking an improvement in infrastructure and quality of food given to children. “After the death of a child in Melvalampettai Higher Secondary School after a vessel holding hot sambar toppled onto him, we sought improvements to NMP kitchens in schools. A committee that inquired into the incident that happened in 2006, said NMP urgently needed upgraded, smokeless kitchen and a safe serving/eating area. The improvements have been slow in coming.

“Nutritionally too, the scheme needs a re-think. Rice that is used is from the Civil Supplies department and is so heavily processed that it is shorn of all nutrients other than starch. The only other food children get is red gram (masoor dhal) in the sambar, not even oil. The meal, though supposedly provides one third the calorie need of the child, does little else in the form of minerals or vitamins," they say.

Tackling the challenge of Anaemia
Another issue that has the child health organisations worried is that of iron deficiency anaemia (IDA). According to NFHS-3, in the below 5 years group, a majority -- 64 percent – is anaemic. This includes 27 percent who are mildly anaemic, 35 percent moderately anaemic, and 3 percent with severe anaemia. Children of mothers who have anaemia are much more likely to be anaemic themselves. And in the state, those numbers are also of concern: various health surveys put that between 53 and 69 percent for pregnant women.

Dr Devashish Dutta, Specialist in charge of Health, UNICEF office for Tamilnadu and Kerala says maternal anaemia impacts maternal mortality. It could also lead to pre-term deliveries, abortions and growth retardation with nutrition to the unborn baby being less than sufficient, he says. “Anaemia reduces the capacity of the baby to survive, through diminished immunity, poor growth and development. Poor immunity leads to the child falling ill often, which in turn impacts her nutritional status leading to further reduced growth and immunity, and hence more illness and so on. When the child grows up to have children, the vicious cycle of anaemia leading to low birth weight, poor immunity, frequent illnesses, retarded growth, development and malnutrition is repeated," says Dr Dutta.

Gillespie and Goddad, in their book, further aver: “Infants with low birth weight are born with low iron stores, depleted by two to three months. Because breast milk cannot meet their iron requirements, it should be supplemented with iron starting at two months of age....

"Iron supplementation of anaemic preschoolers improves their cognitive and physical development.”

Unfortunately, the under-five group is outside the purview of the IDA prevention programme in Tamilnadu, that focus on adolescent girls and pregnant women. Nor have issues like links between poor iron absorption and Vitamin A deficiency and worm infestation been integrated into the scheme.

“Protein deficiency in the diet can also cause anaemia, given that iron binds with a protein called globulin. Often more than one deficiency co-exists indicating that the nature and quantity of food available or feeding practices were poor," says Dr Dutta.

Even in the case of adolescent girls who receive the weekly supplementation of Iron and Folic Acid tablets, activists are not happy. A daily supplementation dose will not have as many side-effects as the weekly dosing, which are often accompanied by black stools, gastro-intestinal discomfort, and malaise. “Ideally, the supplement is had in the night after dinner with another food with vitamin C like lime juice or sweet oranges. But the government has asked us to ensure that the IFA is taken in our presence, so we give it with the noon meals. Occasionally, some girls feel nauseous or vomit after taking the tablets. Then encouraging others to consume it becomes an issue," says S Tamilazhagi (name changed to protect identity), an Anganwadi supervisor in St Thomas Mount Panchayat union, that abuts Chennai Metropolitan area to the west.

Some anganwadi workers who are involved in distributing IFA tablets in neighbouring Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur districts say the supply has been erratic over the past two years and others allege that after initial testing of haemoglobin levels in 2005-2006, the government has subsequently failed to study the impact of the programme.

“The distribution of tablets or testing for haemoglobin levels depend on the initiative of the VHNs and Anganwadi workers. Often the service delivery is interrupted because of government chooses to implement other non-nutrition related schemes through us. For example, we are also to talk to the adolescent group about nutrition, reproductive health, menstrual hygiene and entrepreneurship development," says N Gomathi, a leader in the TN VHN Association.

(Click here to read - Part - 2)

Saturday, May 25, 2013


By M H Ahssan / Hyderabad

Television news in the southern part of the country has largely become the preserve of the various political dynasties, with a glut of channels acting as mouthpieces of the owners rather than objective news broadcasters. INN brings us the true picture. 

A joke in Tamilnadu one has heard several times is about how Tamilians ensure they get the right news.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Price of rice, price of power

By M H Ahssan

Most governments that stressed welfarist measures gained in last month's elections. Food prices and cheap rice are crucial, though not the sole issues.

Now that we have a Cabinet whose assets total close to Rs.5 billion on its own declaration, with Ministers worth over Rs.75 million each on average, it will be worth watching how it rises to the challenge of identifying with the poor and the hungry. That Rs.5 billion figure, painstakingly compiled by the National Election Watch, a coalition of over 1200 civil society organisations working across India, covers 64 of the 79 Ministers. The other 15 are Rajya Sabha members whose updated assets are yet to be computed.

True, these figures are skewed by the fact that the top five Ministers alone are worth Rs. 2 billion. However, as the NEW points out, the rest are not destitute. In all, 47 of the 64 are crorepatis. And the remaining 15 won't harm the score too much when their totals come in.

Together, they will preside over the destiny of, amongst others, 836 million Indians who "get by with less than Rs.20 a day" (National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector report, August 2007). This challenge will unfold in a Lok Sabha where the average worth of an MP is Rs.51 million. Again, this average too, is skewed by a chunk of 60-70 MPs of the 543 whose asset worth is relatively very low. On the other hand, many have notched up large gains in wealth during their first term as MPs.

In a complex and layered verdict driven by many factors, one seems clear: most governments that stressed welfarist measures - particularly cheap rice and employment - gained in last month's election results. This was regardless of which party was leading them - the Congress, the BJP, the BJD, the DMK or any other. Some of these measures might not have led to large numbers of people going out to vote for those governments. But they at least lowered hostility levels amongst the voters in a hungry nation. As Madhura Swaminathan points out, the FAO data confirm that "no country comes close to India in terms of the absolute number of people living in chronic hunger."

The hungry have had it pretty bad. The rise in food prices was extremely steep over the last five years, one of our more adverse periods in decades. Between just 2004 and 2008, the price of rice rose by over 45 per cent and of wheat by more than 60 per cent. Atta, edible oils, dals, milk and even salt saw rises of between 30 and 40 per cent. Lower or near-zero inflation has seen no drop in food prices. That the media never saw hunger and cheap food as a major poll factor says more about them than the issue.

The DMK's colour television set giveaway - the focus of much derisory media attention - was never a fraction as important as its provision of 20 kg of rice per family at Rs.1 a kg since September 2008. That too, for anyone with a ration card, without dividing people into the APL or BPL groups. Tamilnadu had already been providing rice at Rs.2 a kg for some years. It also took the NREGA seriously. The State government gained on both counts.

In Andhra Pradesh, like in Tamilnadu, the Congress government of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy was helped by the presence of a third party - Chiranjeevi's Praja Rajyam - which drew a lot of anti-Congress votes, crippling the rival Telugu Desam Party. But YSR's was also a government which in its first year restored lakhs of cancelled BPL cards and issued lakhs of new ones. (The Hindu, Sept. 29, 2005) In nine years, Chandrababu Naidu's government issued no BPL card till the period just before the elections. That in a State where hunger and food have been huge issues even in urban areas.

Andhra Pradesh was where rice at Rs.2 a kg began with Naidu's father-in-law, then Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao. NTR's charisma was never in question - but rice at Rs.2 a kg helped, more than any other factor, to convert it into votes. Chief Minister Rajasekhara Reddy in fact stole the TDP's clothes when in April 2008 he brought back the Rs.2 a kg rice scheme - a year before the national polls. This was at 4 kg per person (or 20 kg per family of five). An earlier generation of Congress leaders had trashed NTR's pet project as a "costly gimmick." But Dr. Reddy took a more sensible line and gained from it.

During Mr. Naidu's years in power, so lavishly praised in the media for his reforms, the public was repeatedly hit by massive hikes in power charges, water rates, food prices and other costs. He has not managed to live down his record or regain credibility in 2009.

His adversary ran a decent NREGA programme. In the backward Mahbubnagar district, distress migrations fell as many found work under the NREGA. This at a time when food prices were biting. So much so that people in their 70s turned up at NREG sites for work - their Rs.200-a-month pensions blown away by the rise in food prices. Even on that front, though, the Andhra Pradesh government earned some credit. When it assumed power, there were 1.8 million people in the State getting old-age, widow and disability pensions - a paltry Rs.75 each. This was raised to Rs.500 for disabled people and Rs.200 for the rest. Hardly enough - but a lot more than before. And the number of people getting these pensions rose four-fold to 7.2 million. The State also has one of the country's better pension schemes for women.

In Orissa, Naveen Patnaik played his cards most effectively, gutting the BJP and corralling the Congress. But he also gained hugely from giving people cheap rice. In the burning hunger zones of Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput, 25 kg of rice had been offered to all families at Rs.2 a kg since mid-2008. In the rest of the State, this was restricted to BPL families. The government also gave out 10 kg of free rice to the poorest families in the KBK districts. This had a major impact in curbing starvation deaths. Mr. Patnaik also increased the numbers of those coming under pension schemes - and housing projects for the poor - quite significantly. (At the same time, he implemented the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations before the polls, sewing up the middle classes as well).

Sure, these were not the only issues on which people voted, but they played a big role (In the case of YSR and Mr. Patnaik, there was another factor that helped this along. The positive measures in both States were present and visible. The negatives - and they are explosive, like massive human displacement, SEZs, dangerous mining projects - are in the pipeline. Disasters waiting to happen but which will take two or three years to do so. Unless, of course, those policies change.)

In Chhattisgarh, however repugnant the ways of that government in many spheres, Chief Minister Raman Singh took a personal interest in declaring 35 kg per family at Rs.3 a kg. His government then unilaterally "increased" the number of people below the poverty line to almost 15 million - in a population of 20.8 million (2001 census). That is, close to 70 per cent of the population was "declared" BPL. This was done several months before the 2008 Assembly elections. It helped the government in both the State and national polls.

The Left Front in West Bengal failed on both fronts. The State saw rioting at ration shops last year as the Centre cut allocations of grain sharply. Yet West Bengal, which tops the States in rice production, moved towards provision of cheaper rice only early this year. Too reluctantly and too late. Its performance in the NREGS was also very poor. Hunger was a factor in the rout of the Left Front.

So what should those in power read into the poll results? That they have a mandate for more liberalisation, privatisation, high prices and other such reforms? Or that the price of rice could be the price of power? That jobs and security are vital? Food prices and cheap rice are crucial, though not the sole issues. Governments cannot bank on such moves already made to bring them perpetual gains. But the whole process is a step ahead and has raised the bar on public expectations. Sharp reversals could prove suicidal.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Poverty Forced Her To Live On Brick Bites In Tamilnadu

By Selvanatham / Chennai

Born into a poor family with no means for two square meals a day, an octogenarian and her family members had no option but to subsist on pieces of bricks, mud and ash for a long time — and now she has become addicted to it. “I was born in a poor family and at times we had nothing to eat. We used to eat pieces of bricks, mud and ash. Even after my marriage to a daily wage earner, the situation did not change,” said Saraswathi, a resident of Vishwapuram in Thoothukudi in Tamilnadu, who works as a domestic help at several houses in Muthammal Nagar.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

J. Jayalalitha - The Iron Lady of Tamil Nadu

Birth Name: J. Jayalalitha

Informal names :
Ammu, Puratchi Thalaivi

Actor turned Politician

Birth on Feb-24-1948 at Mysore

Father � Jeyaram, Mother - Sandya


Bishop cotton Girls High School, Bangalore.
Church Park Convent, Chennai.

Awards and Achievements
1972- Kalaimamani award from the government of Tamilnadu.
1991- Was conferred the Degree of Doctor of Literature(D.Litt) by the University of Madras.
1992- Dr MGR Medical University conferred the degree of Doctor of Science.
1993-Madurai Kamaraj University conferred the degree of Doctor of Letters.
2003-Tamil Nadu Agricultural University conferred the degree of Doctor of Science.
2003-Bharathidasan University conferred the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa)

Fine arts:
As a dancer well versed in Bharata Natyam, Mohini Attam, Kathak,Manipuri.

Influential persons in her life
Mother Celine(school head mistress)
Her mother for her career in films.
Dr. M.G.R for her career in politics.

Has a large private library with a huge collection of books. Likes to watch old tamil, hindi and english movies. Once mentioned that she was impressed by the book "Wild Swans".

Debut movie:
Kannada film:'Chinnada Gombe'
Telugu film: 'Manushulu Mamathalu'
Tamil film : 'vennira aadai '
With MGR: "Aayirarhthil Oruvan"
With Shivaji: 'Galaata Kalyaanam'

Political Entry :
First as the Secretary of the AIADMK, then was nominated to the Rajya Sabha.

Chief Minister
First Tenure: 24-06-1991 to 12-05-1996,
Second Tenure: 14-05-2001 to 21-09-2001
Third Tenure: 02-03-2002 to -12-05-2006
Fourth Tenure: May 2011

Portfolio's handled by her as C.M. Public, General Administration, Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, other All India Services, District Revenue Officers, Home, Police and Minorities Welfare.

Schemes for the welfare of women
Cradle baby scheme.
All women police station.
Personal Highs
In 1982 when she gave her maiden speech about 'pennin perumai' which was applauded by Dr. M.G.R and In 1984 her Rajya sabha maiden speech which impressed Mrs.Indira Gandhi

Other Facts and controversies
After completion of Matriculation in 1964, she won a scholarship from Government of India for higher studies but did not accept it as she took up a career in films.

Played 'herself' as a politician/chief minister in the movie 'Neenga Nalla Erukkanum'

The first Woman Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.
She was elected from Andipatti Assembly constituency in February 2002 to become the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu.

About her life
"One-third of my life was dominated by my mother, the other part - a major one - was dominated by MGR. Two-third of my life is thus over. One third remains and this part of my life remains for myself but there are some responsibilities and duties to be fulfilled".                             

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Political Twists & Turns In Tamilnadu: Perfecting The Art Of Switching Sides To Stay Afloat In Power Pool Settlements

By Sujata Pillai | INNLIVE

TAMILNADU POLITICS The birth of new alliances in Tamil Nadu this election once again proves that politicians don’t hesitate to find strange bedfellows at will. Ever since smaller regional parties began to flaunt their distinct vote banks in 1998, ideology has taken a backseat during polls.

The PMK, which consolidated its base in the Vanniyars belt in the north and north-west regions has the reputation of hopping camps almost in every election since 1998, barring the 2006 Assembly election when it remained in the DMK camp.

Monday, March 18, 2013

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Saturday, April 20, 2013


By Shreya Reddy / Hyderabad

By scrapping the Bayyaram mining leases in Khammam district and announcing a decision to hand them over to the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy queered the pitch for the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

In fact, the TDP, which has been crying hoarse over the allocation of Bayyaram mining leases for quite sometime, was caught napping when the State Government announced its decision. Aside from this, the State Government announced that it would insist the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL), the public sector company that runs the Vizag Steel Plant, to establish a benification plant and also a steel plant in Khammam district.

Monday, April 27, 2009

FEMALE INFANTICIDE: Think of the mother

By Kalpana Sharma

Even the most calculating and hard-hearted woman will not be indifferent to what happens to the child she has birthed. This is the reason that female infanticide remains a phenomenon restricted to only a few areas while sex selective abortions are rampant.

"Don't kill your daughter. The government will raise her," says Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Renuka Chowdhury. "It's a matter of international and national shame for us that India, with a growth of nine per cent, still kills its daughters," she adds.

Few will dispute the minister's sentiments or the concern that has prompted her to suggest the 'cradle scheme' to correct the skewed sex ratio in this country. She has appealed to women contemplating aborting female foetuses to instead bring them to full term and then hand them over.

Her concern about India's image is also not misplaced. At a time when the Indian media is full of stories of India's success in business, and prayers for its success in sports, the world media seems to have discovered precisely what Ms. Chowdhury speaks of — the fact that we also specialise in killing girls, or rather preventing them from being born. In the last month, leading newspapers in Britain and the U.S. have carried stories on this issue.

The 'cradle' idea has already been tried in Tamilnadu. The 'cradle baby scheme' was launched in 1992 to deal with the high incidence of female infanticide in some districts, namely Madurai, Salem and Dharmapuri. Women were encouraged to surrender their daughters rather than killing them. Over time, 188 reception centres for such babies were set up in primary heath centres and government hospitals across the state.

Mixed success
The scheme met with mixed success. While there appeared to be a drop in the incidence of female infanticide, it also became evident that women who had earlier killed their daughters now had the option of sex selective abortion. They managed to avoid giving birth to daughters altogether. So the need to kill them after birth did not arise. The scheme was unable to address the societal attitudes towards women that encourage and justify female infanticide.

This illustrates the problem that the current scheme is likely to face. It will not deal with the strong son-preference that lies at the root of the incidence of female infanticide or sex selective abortions. In fact, it changes little in terms of mindsets.

Also, while initially the plan might have worked in districts where female infanticide was prevalent, it will be far more difficult to implement in the hundreds of districts around India where sex selective abortions have skewed the sex ratio to such an extent that there are less than 800 girls to every 1,000 boys under the age of six in some of these districts. To persuade women to go through nine months of their pregnancy with a child they do not want, and then to abandon it, is expecting a lot. After all, so long as the pressure to produce sons remains, these women will have to continue trying. Does this mean, they have to go through multiple pregnancies to full term? Or does the minister hope that doing this once will cure the families of the urge to have a son? Women have always paid the price through their bodies for dominant social norms — such as the belief that only a son can be the rightful heir of property. This norm is so deeply ingrained that even a liberal education does not seem to alter it.

Expecting women to go through multiple pregnancies and abandon their girl children seems not just unrealistic but impossible. After all, even surrogate motherhood has faced innumerable problems as in the end, the women who conceive and give birth cannot bear to part with the infant after birth. Even the most calculating and hard-hearted of women will find it tough to go through the process of pregnancy and then be indifferent to what happens to the child she has birthed.

This is the reason that female infanticide remains a phenomenon restricted to only a few areas while sex selective abortions are rampant. Even though abortions also take a toll of women's health, they are rendered more impersonal because they happen within a few weeks of the pregnancy. Whereas killing or abandoning an infant after giving birth takes much greater physical and emotional toll on the mother.

Renuka Chowdhury must be commended for keeping the issue on the front burner. But she must be well aware that this kind of scheme, and the investment it will require, will not deal with the problem. Instead, the resources can be used to set up a machinery to ensure that the existing law, which prohibits sex selective abortion, is strictly implemented. Checking if all sonography machines have been registered could be one obvious way to start. In some places, where a vigilant bureaucrat has done this, there have been noticeable results.

Changing the mindset
But in the end, even the most strictly implemented law will not change the mindset, specially of the propertied classes who want sons to 'carry on' the family. This belief that the family is somehow not 'complete' unless there is a son has to somehow change. In the decade leading up to the 2001 census, it certainly did not change, as was evident from the Census statistics. We will now have to wait until the 2011 census to see if the multiple campaigns to promote the "girl child", to encourage parents to educate their daughters, to condemn the giving and taking of dowry and to expose those in the medical fraternity who knowingly transgress the law to facilitate sex selective abortions will have made a difference. These are social processes that cannot be assessed within a short period.

What is absolutely clear is that India cannot shine, or be poised to take off, if millions of girls are prevented from being born. This hateful reality must change if we are ever to consider ourselves a modern, democratic and just nation.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Agri-Innovation: The Wonder Climber For Areca Nut Trees

By Srikrishna D / Bangalore

A new mechanical device that makes areca nut harvesting less labour-intensive and hence affordable could solve one of the major problems faced by farmers of the crop. 

In recent years, labour scarcity has emerged as one of the foremost challenges in farming. One crop that has been most affected by this is the supari, or areca nut. Areca nut trees attain a height of about 60-70 feet. It is mandatory to climb the trees a minimum of five times a year for a successful harvest - twice for the preventive spray against fungal disease, and thrice to harvest the areca bunches. The spraying is done in monsoon, while harvest time is typically in summer.

Only skilled labourers can carry out these farming operations. They have to climb the trees using muscle power. In an acre that has 550 trees, a labourer has to climb a minimum of 100 to 150 trees.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Fermenting India

India these days seems to be in ferment. If one picks up a newspaper one gets hit by headlines that certainly do not bode well for the country, at least, not in its immediate future. While one can discern a severe churning taking place in the country’s social, political and economic life, the government, at the same time, is largely perceived to be drifting along.

Protests against governmental actions/inactions both, at the Centre and in some states have been raging for months. Tamilnadu in the South has witnessed an agitation against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant that is only few months away from attaining criticality. The pathetic fate of far-away Fukushima in Japan and its ill-fated victims have justifiably induced fear in the surrounding villages of Koodankulam. People in general have become resistant to the idea of nuclear power and fearful of the nuclear power plants.

Another anti-nuclear protest by villagers earlier this year in the idyllic Konkan region in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri District against a mega Nuclear Power Park had boiled over for weeks and had even become violent. Acquisitions of fertile lands under an antique law for mining, industry and power – thermal or nuclear – in pursuit of double-digit GDP growth gave rise to agitations of farmers and tribal communities in several states. The government has been hard put to subdue them.

The country has also seen protests in the North-East, in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, as also in the Himalayan states of Himachal and Uttarakhand against construction of dams for irrigation and generating hydro-power. While people, especially rural and tribal communities, have become more alert about safeguarding their rights and livelihoods, the governments, both at the Centre and in the states have been tardy in shedding their autocratic attitudes and have failed to take people into confidence before conceiving projects that impinge on their wellbeing.

Today, with information being available at the remotest of outposts ordinarily people refuse to be taken for granted by governments and their functionaries. A decades-old movement for creation of the Telangana state (to be carved out of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh) has gathered strength and is continuing now for months with no solution in sight. The Congress Party which had merged the region with the then newly-created Andhra Pradesh more than half a century ago against the wishes of the locals and against its own better judgement has now been facing the music. With passions running high, life in the state and its capital, Hyderabad, is paralysed with considerable impact on it administration and economy.

The social activist Anna Hazare’s two successive fasts, with unprecedented country-wide support, for enactment of a strong “Janlokpal” (anti-corruption ombudsman) law and later the government’s capitulation are recent history. India Against Corruption (IAC), led by Hazare and his team, are still hitting headlines. It has decided to canvass against Congress candidates at the 2012 state polls if the Parliament reneged from its commitments given during its last session for legislating for a strong “Lokpal” – the reasoning being the Congress leads the coalition at the Centre.

Although the context might be different, IAC’s efforts of swinging elections away from the Congress remind one of the campaigns of The Tea Party in the US during the 2010 Congressional elections. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s first tenure appeared sedate until, of course, the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, insisted on signing the Indo-US Nuclear Deal even at the cost of losing support of one of his important allies – the Left – risking his government’s survival. The government did survive and win the “Confidence vote” only after the “cash-for-votes” scam exploded in the Parliament in 2008. The Congress-led ruling combine’s brazen efforts to soft-pedal investigations into the scandal invited a scorcher from the apex court. And yet, the trial that was hurriedly commenced, based on seemingly skewed investigations, appear to be farcical as none from among the beneficiaries – the Congress-led UPA government – of the scam has so far been hauled up. After IAC’s massive anti-corruption movement the government’s attitude appears somewhat brassy.

UPA I’s survival by dubious means has come to haunt it in its second avatar. All the scams that are currently hogging the headlines are of UPA I-vintage. The biggest of them all – allotment of 2G spectrum – saw a cabinet minister, a member of parliament (both of a southern ally) and a few corporate honchos into the jail, besides embarrassing the Prime Minister who tried to hide behind the nebulous “coalition compulsions”. He was, nonetheless, forced to act by an aggressive Supreme Court. Later, even the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) got into the act, putting the finger at the loss of incredible hundreds of thousands of billion rupees.

The relentless media exposes of scams of another few hundred thousand billion rupees during the run up to the Commonwealth Games in 2010 forced the Prime Minister into action to have it investigated by a former CAG. Having shot himself in the foot, he lost credibility. And, it led to a curious crisis of confidence that stalled governance and induced a policy-paralysis even as sycophants of Sonia Gandhi undermined his stature by repeated assertions about eligibility of her son to occupy the highest executive position.

Today, the busiest organisations are the courts, especially the Supreme Court, and investigative agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation and other police outfits. While virtually every day there are reports of court orders pulling up a public organisation or an individual, every new day brings also the news of a big wig either being put in the coup or refused bail. A large number of politicians of different hues are in Delhi’s infamous Tihar Jail. While the Law Minister, strangely, feared for drop in investments with so many corporate heads in jail, the apex court was taken aback when warned by a government lawyer of destabilisation of the government if it went after high functionaries like the home minister, a case for whose prosecution contributing to the 2-G scam is also currently being heard.

A recent headline spoke of “scams, graft (are) hitting growth”. Indeed, GDP growth has slowed down. Scams and graft could well have been very important reasons. No less important has been the reason of inflation which has been biting the industry and the common man, the very aam aadmi, whom the UPA swore by. The prices have gone through the roof and what hurts the most is the food inflation that has moved beyond 10%. The declining value of the rupee has pushed a few more millions below the poverty line. And yet, the government unmindfully has sought to peg the poverty line at a ridiculous Rs. 32 .00 and Rs. 26.00 per day in urban and rural areas, respectively, fuelling fresh controversy.

None in the government seems to have bothered to enforce checks on the inflated prices of essentials like vegetables and food grains. While the prices of agricultural produce rule high squeezing the common man the farmers commit suicide and, ironically, the cartels and middlemen make their piles. Even, the middle classes have got the wrong end of the stick with repeated hikes in interest rates to combat the prevailing inflation, pushing, inter alia, housing and automobiles out of the reach of many.

Economic growth has, on one hand, been accompanied by growth in numbers of billionaires, enriched ministers and MPs/MLAs, rising numbers of private aircraft, luxury yachts and high-end luxury cars on the roads and, on the other, by huge numbers of discontented and resentful poverty-stricken, malnourished and hungry – by some estimates around 60 million (77% by the reckoning of the late economist Arjun Sengupta) – in rural and urban India. Jobs remaining scarce, petty and other crimes have shown an inordinate rise. Snatchings, thievery, rapine, kidnappings etc. have become common. Worse, while mafias stalk the honest and whistleblowers, murder and rape have registered a sharp rise. Security of life and property has become tenuous.

Polarisation in politics has bred acute intolerance for a contrarian view. Two prominent IAC activists were assaulted – one was beaten up on camera for holding views on Kashmir disagreeable to the extreme right and the other for canvassing votes against the Congress if it did not fulfil its commitment of legislating for a strong Lokpal. While unbridled pursuit of economic growth has made only the rich and the unscrupulous prosperous and happy, it has spread unhappiness and misery among a very large section of the people. At the same time, it has demolished the anchors of Indian society in a mad rush for money; the get-rich-quick syndrome is eating into its moral fibre. Ethical life in India today has been shoved on to, no, not the back seat, but the boot. Reversing this now well-established unholy trend might well be an impossible proposition.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Kudankulam Nuclear Plant: Ready To Produce Power?

Will the Kudankulam nuclear power plant finally become operational this month as assured by the Prime Minister? INN takes an in-depth look at the long history of delays and conflicts that has plagued the project since its inception. 

Almost 11 years after concrete had first been poured in the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) in March 2001, India still awaits the 2000 MW electricity that the plant could generate. Six months after nuclear fuel-enriched Uranium was loaded into the core of the plant, with repeated tests being run to satisfy all safety parameters, Kudankulam is still on the brink. For the nuclear protesters that brink denotes a lurking disaster while for India's nuclear establishment, it is the power that could relieve a crippling shortage that has come in the way of growth.

The stalled project had seen its share of delays right from the beginning. A product of the Indo-USSR pact in 1988, the first hurdle came in the form of collapse of the USSR. Clearances, in line with the laws of those days, were obtained in 1989 and land acquisition completed by the 1980s. The plant had to be renegotiated with Russia in 1997.

But a different set of rules for environment safety were in place in 1997, under the Ministry of Environment and Forest. Any project that cost over Rs 50 crore needed to go through an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and a Public Hearing, after the copy of the EIA was given to the public/panchayats (local body governance) of the village in which the project was to come up. The notification mandated any expansion and modernisation of existing projects and new ones should go through a process of EIA by an expert committee chosen by the Ministry of Environment and Forest. The report had to be placed before the State Pollution Control Board, which would then convene a public hearing to find out objections to the project. Schedule I of the notification included nuclear plants and allied industries.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, the Indian company that is implementing the project, had also proposed four more plants in the site. A fresh inter-Government agreement was signed in 2008. While the two plants for which permissions were already in place did not have to go through additional processes, the other four proposed plants had to. Permissions for those four plants had come only in 2012 after much deliberation and changes in the safety plan, after EIA and public hearing.

Home-grown industry and its safety
The civilian nuclear energy programme in India is 62 years old with one of the safest records in the world. There have been no Chernobyl-like or Three Mile Island-like accidents, events that were believed to be caused by human factor. India also collaborated with the likes of Canada, France, USA. However with the Smiling Buddha operation in 1974, the country faced a nuclear apartheid. Countries that had then helped India set up reactors backed out of their commitments, setting back many projects. The fast breeder reactors, for which India was working with France, were delayed. A smaller test breeder reactor has been in operation for almost 30 years now, but the 500 MW Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is yet to go on stream, the nuclear establishment attributing this delay to the manufacturing of a first-of-its-type equipment.

Since then the nuclear energy programme has been almost entirely home-grown and has often been praised elsewhere for the ingenuity and experimental facilities that is matched only by Russia. In that sense, Kudankulam then would come to mean a collaboration between two of the best in the world.

But then the project attracted so much opposition that it was almost derailed twice, and while the last rounds have come very close to commissioning, it has not reached that state. The residents of Idinthakarai, a village 6 km outside the 5 km sterilisation zone, have called for the project to be abandoned. In September 2011, the anti-nuclear movement started gaining momentum, forcing the State of Tamilnadu to call for a suspension of works in a ready-to-be commissioned project.

Summer of discontent
Tamil Nadu was going through an unprecedented power shortage, with an installed capacity of 11,640 MW including from Central projects like Neyveli Lignite Corporation through power sharing agreements, and the state experiencing a 4,460 MW deficiency. The demand from the Power Utility was projected at 13,450 MW for 2013-14.

The Tamil Nadu Generation and Transmission Company – TANGEDCO – had to resort to extensive power cuts throughout 2012, some extending up to 12 hours in rural areas to manage the crisis. The crisis continues in 2013, with the state being energy-starved this summer also.

There has been little capacity addition since 2000 in the state and opposition to projects like the 1600 MW Jayamkondan Lignite Power Project had meant that the state quickly went from energy surplus to buying power from the North Eastern States. Demand had increased from 6000 MW in early 2000 to 12000 MW within a decade. Many of the thermal plants are operating only at 50 percent capacity and dwindling resources at Neyveli Lignite Corporation poses its own problems. The state needed to add capacity and add it quickly.

This prompted the Chief Minister to do a volte-face on her stand that KKNPP can only be commissioned after allaying the fears of the locals and seeking immediate consent. The consent came a day after parliamentary by-elections to Sankarankoil constituency, in the district of Tirunelveli, the same as Kudankulam in March 2012. It was an election fought over the poor management of power crisis. The AIADMK-government leveraged its victory to give consent to the project. It also upped its ante by demanding all of the 2000 MW for the state, negating the original power-sharing contract.

Both the AIADMK and its bitter enemy the DMK had contributed to the power crisis, by not adding capacity and by distributing freebies promised during elections like TVs, blenders, grinders and fans (and where fans were redundant induction stoves). These energy intensive appliances added another requirement of 250 MW per day, according to some TANGEDCO estimates. But with the by-elections won, the AIADMK government put the ball firmly in the centre's court.

Expert group struggles to win over
The centre was urged to win over the support of locals after allaying fears. Well-respected scientists including the former President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam were part of that effort. An Expert Group that went into safety aspects presented its report to the State Government. 

That report addressed how the Fukushima meltdown happened and how the design of the Kudankulam plant does not allow for that kind of events to happen. The Japanese plant was shut down when the 9.03 Richter scale temblor hit the North Eastern Japanese island; the six tsunami waves that followed cut off power supply to the plant that resulted in a level-7 meltdown. The earthquake was so powerful that it moved the entire main island of Japan, Honshu, by 8 ft and shifted the earth on its axis. Of note is the fact that entire Japan sits on seismic zone 5, while Indian authorities says Kudankulam sits on zone 2, the least prone to earthquakes.

When the Boxing Day tsunami, caused by a 9.1-earthquake off Sumatra, Indonesia, struck the Eastern Coasts of the Indian peninsula, two nuclear establishments saw some flooding. The Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) at Kalpakkam (70 km from Madras) was minimally affected. Water entered one of the 220 MW plants, which had been manually shut down safely. The residential colonies for the workers fared worse with five employees of the Madras Atomic Power Station drowning..

Kudankulam plant also saw tsunami water entering its incomplete premises. Kudankulam's neighbouring fishing villages were minimally affected by the tsunami.

The Expert Committee then pointed out the low seismicity of the region, the plant safety features including the higher elevation of the building and diesel generator to cool, double containment, measures to prevent explosions caused by release of hydrogen gas, like those that happened in Fukushima, to prove their point that Kudankulam is no Fukushima waiting-to-happen. The Nuclear Establishment has also agreed to implement the safety plan that the International Atomic Energy Agency proposed. Yet, these assurances were not good enough for the protesters.

The activists still demanded that the project be scrapped and even sought that the blueprint of the reactor be made public, an unprecedented step. This time around they also wanted it scrapped on the basis that it went against public sentiment. Their rhetoric revolves around nationalistic sentiments of Tamils and has received widespread support among parties that have espoused those values. After the main parties of Tamil Nadu, the ruling AIADMK and the DMK, toed the line of the expert group report, the Tamil Nationalistic PMK and the MDMK have extended support. This movement has also attracted the attention of supremacist elements involved in the Tamil separatist movement, like Naam Thamizhar Iyakkam.

Close to commissioning
While the Nuclear Establishment was looking at an October 2012 commissioning, the residents, organised under the umbrella of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), filed a case in the High Court seeking the scrapping of the project. When that case was thrown out, they went to the Supreme Court to stop the loading of fuel into the plant. The court refused to stop the loading, but reserved its order pending the satisfaction of safety norms.

The residents then resorted to a sea siege. There were many incidents of disturbances of law and order, including a charge against peacefully protesting villagers. The atmosphere around Kudankulam continued to be rife with rumours.

With the plant expected to be commissioned by the following month, local media started reporting leakage of radiation claiming 40 lives. Those reports were then rescinded the next day and apologies issued. Sri Lankan anti-nuclear groups became involved at this stage claiming leaks and the Sri Lankan Atomic Energy Authority, which has radiation detectors installed near the Indian coast, had to issue a denial.

Moving toward transparency
In the last decade, India has signed the 123 Indo-US Nuclear Treaty with the USA, which mandates it to separate civil and military nuclear facilities and to open up its civil facilities to scrutiny by the IAEA.

As a last step of activating the pact, the government had to legislate The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010. With these steps the Nuclear Establishment of India hoped it could work toward removing some of the cynicism about its safety record and accusation of secrecy. These measures, however, have not even been recognised by the anti-nuclear movements in the country that quote the example of Germany and wants India to stop all civil nuclear energy efforts.

Those for nuclear energy have also demanded greater transparency in the working of the Nuclear Establishment. Most of the officials from the regulatory body, AERB, are from the nuclear establishments themselves. That expertise on nuclear energy does not exist outside the realms of the Department of Atomic Energy has been a concern. Many of the dialogues between the establishment and anti-nuclear activists have therefore been trenchantly inimical - a rather technical “he said-she said” than ones trying to move towards consensus building. And the one catastrophe that Kudankulam has already left us with is that of public relations.

For instance, the first ever nuclear project to have undergone a public hearing was the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor in 2001. When the public hearing was on in the presence of the Kancheepuram district Collector, the anti-nuclear groups organised residents to complain of the incidence of congenital deformities, believed to have been caused by radiation. These were listed by Doctors for Safer Environment. The then Collector, also a medical doctor, had requested that these be documented instead of blanket accusations being levelled. However, when this reporter spoke to those doctors and asked why the report was not published in a peer-reviewed journal, instead of being presented to journalists first, they were reluctant to answer questions.

On the other hand, the Nuclear Establishment maintains that radiation levels in Kalpakkam were much below those minimum requirements mandated by the AERB and that they are much below background radiation already present.

In recent times, the anti-nuclear protesters have also called into question the design/safety criteria that were taken into account during the design process.  Most reactors were designed taking into account storm surges, given that the east coast is prone to cyclones. But that the entire region is considered to be low-seismicity zone and not tsunami prone, unlike the Pacific Ocean, is pointed out as a poor design factor. Protesters have also put forth the view that a scientific body like the DAE and its constituents cannot afford to pick its safety concerns. It is true that these contentions of theirs have not been sufficiently addressed by the establishment.

Since the fuel loading in October 2012, NPCIL has run many tests and has submitted their results to AERB. The AERB has also called for many tests to be done in thoroughness. People who are observing the process see it as strategies to assuage the Supreme Court, where a PIL against the KKNPP filed by Prashant Bhushan in September 2012 is still pending. The Supreme Court had observed that the plant could be put on hold at this stage - when it is about to be commissioned - if it is not satisfied with the safety measures.

In all of this, the commissioning of the plant has simply been pushed beyond one deadline to another; The AERB has been periodically stating that the plant would be commissioned shortly; now, the latest assurance comes from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who has promised Russian president Vladimir Putin that the plant will be operational this month.  However, given the long history of roadblocks, and the fact that the verdict of the Supreme Court in the case against the power plant is still pending, one can only wait to see when the assurance becomes reality.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fate of AP and Thoughts on Kamma, Reddy and Kapu!

By Gudipoodi Srihari

Today you find every one conscious of the fate of A.P., making this issue a debate point, as to whether or not the state would be split into Telangana and Andhra. Some feel if it happens it is a retrograde step, going back to the early days of 1954, when Andhra State was first formed with Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu as its first chief minister functioning from Kurnool as state Capital. We earned the statehood after the martyrdom of Potti Sriramulu, who laid his life for this cause, fasting unto death.

At that time other part of Andhra Pradesh was existing as Hyderabad state, with Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, as chief minister, after military action undertaken by the then central Home minister Sardar Patel, the Iron Man. He redeemed the state from the hands of the Sixth Nizam, a ruler then, ending the Muslim rule and uniting this with Indian Union.

That was also the time when the patriots in Telangana were struggling to realize this dream of retrieval of land of Telugus for Telugus. They included great names like Burgula, Madapati Hanumantha Rao, Jamalapuram Kesava Rao who was known as Telangana Kesari a la Andhra kesari -Tanguturi Prakasam and many more persons aspiring for this merger of Telugus of Telangana with Telugus of Andhra. At the same time, the Communist party of India was also craving for the formation of 'Visalaandhra', combining Telangana with main land of Andhra.

History of Telugus says that 'Andhra' is the original word found in 'puranas' too. Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru was convinced of the need of formation of states on linguistic basis. Accordingly the state of Andhra Pradesh was formed with Burgula, also a staunch linguist, acceding to the realization of this dream. Parts of Hyderabad state joined with Karnataka and Maharastra and states were formed on linguistic basis. Everything had settled down well, for good. This is the flashback before the formation of the State for Telugus called Andhra Pradesh on November 1, 1956. It was a real struggle for Andhras to get the state out of the hands of C.Rajagopalachari, who was working against the interest of re-organization of states on linguistic base. At that time, Andhrites were more in number in Madras city and hence demanded to make Madras as the capital of Andhra relinquishing the rights of Tamils on the city. But Rajagopalachari succeeded to keep the city of Madras with Madras state, later named as Tamilnadu. It was said that Andhra leaders preferred to forego the city in the interest of forming their own state of Andhra. Hence Kurnool became their capital.

The story repeats now. Some argue to keep Hyderabad independent state on the lines of New Delhi , administered by central government. This time the division is among the Telugus themselves. The issue now is not the language but the backwardness of Telangana, compared to Andhra. But few know the conditions in Telangana at the time of formation of A.P. Today's Telangana is much advanced, compared to the situation in fifties, some say. Most of the barren land in Telangana area came under cultivation purely because of the migration of farmers from Andhra area. Some of the enterprising men of Andhra area sold their properties there and settled in Telanagana parts in districts like Nizamabad, Khammam, Warangal and even Karimnagar. At the same time persons from the equally barren districts of Rayalaseema too migrated to these parts and launched industries and contributed to the industrialization of Telanagana.

A peep into history tells us that this backwardness in the Telangana was the result of the rule of Nizams and the domination of landlords, working for the Nizam, maintaining their fiefdom. But the large parts of Deccan and the coastal belt of Andhra was all nothing but Andhra, once called Trilinga Desam. Muslim rulers attacked Golconda and other areas and appropriated these lands, thus segregating from the rest of Andhra. They also invaded and appropriated some parts of Kannada and Maratha lands and finally they too added to the Hyderabad state, in the last Muslim rule of Nizam. This rule lasted almost three centuries till the rule of last Nizam. All this land also constitutes main Telugu land. Orugallu ( Warangal) was the birth place of pure Telugu (Achha Telugu), without any Sanskrit words in the sentence or verse. That was pure Telugu. Children were being taught verses and prose in this Achha Telugu, along with the Sanskritized Telugu. One should understand that invasion of the land called Telangana of Deccan plateau by Muslim rulers divided us, though our language and culture being the same. The changes in Telangana culture and language were due to the culture of the invaders. The end of the rule of last Nizam, paved way for the rule of Telugus for Telugus and by Telugus. The merger of Telangana with the rest of the Telugu land called Andhra which included Rayalaseema completed the map of Telugu Desam, that is Andhra Pradesh or 'Visalandhra', call it anyway you like.

Today Hyderabad has turned into a global city, purely because of the efforts put in by all Telugus and also people from other parts of the country. Like the way coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema are parts of Telugu land, Telangana too is part of same Telugu land. The Telugu and Telugu culture are binding factors. I am sure that majority people in Telangana too believe that the change in their lives and the progress they made in different walks of life are the result of this combined strength of Telugus.

Why then this demand for separate Telangana. - Not once but twice? This is not the demand of the people but of the hurt politicians – hurt because they were put away from the seat of power. Or felt belittled or ignored. The only way left for them to take revenge is by dividing the land, like the way children of the same mother demanding their share like the Amana brothers did. It is because of the aspirations of the politicians, who for one reason or the other raised the bogey of separation. The first agitation for a separate Telangana in 1969 was raised by persons who lost political power. They thought that if Telangana is separated, some of them could become the rulers of Telangana. It was power game but not special love for Telugus and Telugu land.

Now a new situation has developed. The eastern parts of Andhra, central coastal people and Rayalaseema too started demanding separate states. Every one of them is taking this as clue to the disgruntled Telugus of Andhra coastal belt those wanted their land ides to separate Telangana. Which means our state is seeking for breaking into four parts. This is surely an alarming situation, if they are really serious. Andhra Pradesh is now fifty years old. We celebrated its Silver Jubilee recently. Quit people belonging to other parts of the state those settled in Telangana and Hyderabad .

In Nizam days the government recognized a person as Hyderabadi, if he lived in Telnagana for a minimum of 15 years. Only then they were getting seats in educational institutions. Now you find many persons born and brought up here. Their elders contributed to the economy of these parts. The separate Telangana agitation and separate Andhra agitation met with natural death because of the wisdom shown by the rulers in the center and state. Jalagam Vengal Rao ruled the state almost at this time of jinx and set everything in order and implemented the six point formula announced by Indira Gandhi., besides taking other measures in trying to keep balance between these two parts - Andhra and Telangana. Andhra Pradesh state fell back to normalcy even during the long rule of Telugu Desam party.

Again the political ambitions of disgruntled politicians raised their heads. In his second term of rule, Chandrababu Naidu, appeared to have ignored the importance of Telangana leader K.Chandra Sekhara Rao and gave him an insignificant portfolio in his cabinet, like he did in his first term rule after he snatched the power from NTR. Rest is history unfolding before our eyes.

This time it was the turn of KCR to launch a separate Telangana Party with the name Telangana Rashtra Samiti and seek separation from Andhra.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi and Congress joined hands shared seats and contested last General elections and defeated the ruling party- then TDP. The governments in state and centre brought some of the TRS leaders to power.

Meanwhile the BJP leader A.Narendra also tugged with KCR. Both were ministers in the center and some of TRS MLAs joined state cabinet. KCR and Narendra kept up the pressure on Sonia Gandhi to break the state. As a protest, the TRS ministers in Assembly first resigned. Later after some time, KCR and Narendra also resigned on pressure.

The language has changed into threats or hurling insults against Andhra leaders in public meetings. The incumbent Chief Minister is the main target, like Brahmananda Reddy in the first agitation held by Telangana Praja Samithi. Challenges and counter challenges between M.Satyanarayana Rao and KCR and again between K.Kesava Rao and KCR forced KCR to resign his MP seat and contest for Karimnagar seat raising the bogey of Separate Telangana. He became a hero overnight after winning the seat with huge majority.

There were examples of many other leaders winning parliamentary seat with bigger majority without any promises. P.V.Narasimha Rio was one. If this bait of 'every vote you give me is for separate Telangana' was not there the result would have been different, some say. Yet this winning with stunning majority has now become an issue to claim that entire Telangana people seek separation. This time the coastal and Rayalaseema Telugus reacted fast. Now every region in Andhra Pradesh wants separation. What is wrong in asking for it, says KCR. This means the bread of Andhra Pradesh should be cut into four parts – Telangana, east Andhra, Central Andhra and Rayalaseema.

How funny the entire theme is reduced to! This is slowly gaining farcical look. Funnier is the way, like the stock market, the real estate market goes up and down in these areas, according to the news they receive about the formation or no formation of Separate Telangana state. Those who hold huge properties in Andhra area change sides and seek separate Andhra. And those who have huge properties in Telangana area express their opposition for the division of Andhra Pradesh. There is no leader to lead Andhras in coastal area. Therefore Chiranjeevi's name is kicked up as possible contender launching his own party, which still continues to be no more than a rumor. Even the Telangana men in congress began playing double game, thinking that KCR would simply walk away with Telangana.

What is the role of people in this whole drama? They are all silent voters. For one who witnessed many elections, one realizes that the wind of change comes not by judging the rule of the party but by a wind of sentiment. Presently people think that Telangana sentiment is working. If this emotion dies down and elections are held after a big gap giving enough time for the people's mind settles down, you will find different results. No wonder the wish of the Telangana people might also tilt in favor of united Telugu land, after assessing their living standards and growing opportunities in Andhra Pradesh. Better everybody keeps silence for some time and allow the formation of second SRC. There is talk of rising of Kapu power if Chiranjeevi gets into politics. The Kammas too aspire for power. So are Rayalaseema's Reddy rulers. Otherwise, why this talk of too many separate states in A.P emerge? The two earlier agitations took a toll of big life. It is time for the UPA in the center to take strong decisions, with pragmatic outlook.