A controversial bill that was passed Tuesday in Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of Parliament, will create a new state called Telangana out of the south-eastern state of Andhra Pradesh, essentially splitting the country. The Andhra Pradesh State Reorganisation Bill, which was proposed by the people of Telangana, has faced fierce opposition since its proposal in July.
Telangana used to be an independent existing state until 1956 when it was merged with two other states, Rayalaseema and Andhra, to form present-day Andhra Pradesh. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti, or TRS, has been fighting for the independence of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh ever since the merge in 1956. The announcement of the passing of the bill on Tuesday marked a victory for the TRS and for all of the people in Telangana who fought for their state’s independence. Parties and celebrations were thrown across the state’s ten districts in honor of both the passage of the bill, and the people who sacrificed to make it pass. Many people praised the Telangana Rashtra Samiti’s founder and president K. Chandrashekhar Rao, who earlier this month left Andhra Pradesh pledging to “set foot only in Telangana state.”
Before the bill arrived on the floor of Lok Sabha, the Deccan Herald described the house as if it “resembled a battleground.” The tempers of the main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), flared while the Parliament floor broke into disarray causing the live telecast of the bill to be cut off. Last week the lower House was left in shambles when an opponent to the bill pulled out the speaker’s microphone. Another angry legislator released a can of pepper spray into the room causing the House to empty, sending some lawmakers to the hospital. The scene was described by the parliamentary affairs minister, Kamal Nath, as “the most shameful day in our parliamentary history.” Violent demonstrations had taken place in the weeks prior to the bill’s appearance in Lok Sabha.
Many have opposed the bill citing possible economic consequences that could happen if Telangana became its own state. The ten districts of Telangana are rich in resources – over 45 percent of Andhra Pradesh’s forests are in Telangana. Others believe that the passing of the historical Telangana bill would split not only the state, but may have implications throughout the rest of the country as well. N. Kiran Kumar Reddy resigned his position as Chief Minister of Andra Pradesh, saying that the people he represented “would never forgive the Congress.”
As the events that are happening in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh continue to unfold, it may be important to think about the situation from another perspective. For example, what would happen if a part of a state in the United States wanted to gain its own independence and sovereignty from the rest of the state? Although that notion may be difficult to grasp, it is not all that far-fetched.
A proposal was approved on Tuesday in California by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, which allows the collecting of signatures for a petition that would split California into six separate states. Tim Draper, the man behind the proposal, explained that due to the state’s size and population, “California as it is is ungovernable.” If California were separated from the United States, it would have the eighth largest economy in the world. While the change would cause drastic changes in the Senate and the House of Representatives, Draper believes that having California split into different states would allow people “to be closer to their state governments,” while states could “get a refresh.”
Although Draper’s proposal may seem a little out of the ordinary, it is related to the passing of the Telangana Bill in India that split the state and the country. Borders and boundaries that have settled in over the past 5o years were simply be erased and lifted with a single vote. Even though the idea of splitting California, or any other state for that matter, seems impossible, Draper only needs a little more than 800,000 votes to get a spot on the next ballot.
By Tyler Shibata