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Hyderabad: Then And Now

R.Ram Mohan Rao , V. Satyanarayan Reddy , N.Ram Kishan Rao

In the modern day world, cities are considered to be the harbingers of change and development. Urban development and economic prosperity are highly correlated. Cities are the centres of power—economic, political and social in our society. They are where the actions are in terms of development, economic prosperity and social change. This paper seeks to attempt a qualitative evalua­tion of the role of growth of Hyderabad City in effecting a change in the life of the people in the aftermath of the formation of Andhra Pradesh State in the year 1956.

Like all cities elsewhere, Hyderabad City has also experienced growth in terms of population and space. Growth of a city need not necessarily lead to development, whether it is economic or social. It needs to be stressed here that all that grows need not necessarily benefit the people. To make an analogy, growth of a city without concurrent development of the local people may be compared to growth of weeds in an agricultural field.

Growth of the city turns futile, if city’s growth is not planned properly, the target group of beneficiaries of development is not identified in a precise manner and the development of the local inhabitants is not envisaged. Growth is not always synonymous with development of the people. An overgrown city may better be compared with an obese man who has put on lot | of weight and is not able to carry his own weight.

It is also necessary to distinguish between development of the place with the 1 development of the people inhabiting that place. Development of place need not necessarily lead to development of people living there. Even if we assume that place development leads to people’s development, there exists every possibility that the benefits of development of place may not trickle down to the target group of people; instead they may be diverted to other groups. Whenever we think of development, the question that strikes us is, development for whom.

Even if we assume that growth is a desirable phenomenon, the growth of Hyderabad is certainly not disproportionately high or remarkable. Hyderabad City has been growing both in terms of space and people like any other city of its type. There is nothing phenomenal or special about it. The argument often mentioned in some quarters, that Hyderabad has experienced exceptional growth after the formation of a larger state does not hold water as can be deduced from the follow­ing table. It has to be emphasized here that the city of Hyderabad would have experienced as much growth it had done so far, even if it had not been made the capital of Andhra Pradesh.

City Index of Population Growth  1950=100
Hyderabad                             Bombay          Delhi              





379                                                          424583





Another fallacy, which needs to be refuted and challenged, is that the city is becoming more primate after being made the capital of a larger state and the primacy is steadily increasing. What is implied in this fallacious statement is that the city is growing at the cost of other cities in the state. This is simply not true. There is a definite decline in the primacy of Hyderabad city.

In the year 1951, before the formation of a larger state, the city’s population was 10 times that of the second largest city in the state. The primacy declined by the year 1971 and in the year 1991 the city’s primacy was reduced by half. The present indications are that it may decline progressively in future, since, Visakhapatnam is fast emerging as a counter metropolis in it’s own way. In reality, Visakhapatnam is the fastest growing million cities in Asia according to Census of India Organization.

The proportion of basic economic activities generally quantifies a city’s economic strength. Basic economic activities i nclude such activities like manu­facturing with markets outside the city, trade with other major cities, city building and money generating activities. As opposed to non-basic activities, basic eco­nomic activities bring in money and capital to the city. Hyderabad’s economic base, which was on solid foundation before 1956, has taken a nose-dive after the formation of the new state.

Its economic strength weakened considerably as a result of increase in non-basic employment in such sectors as services, local trade etc. and decrease in basic activities. It is worthwhile to note that no new large employment-providing industries came up during the last thirty years. The few-industries which were established by the Central Government in the fifties, have become sick and are on the verge of closure. It is not impertinent to mention in this context that the large number of migrants from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions have only sucked the city’s resources without contributing to it’s strength in any manner. In other words, the city did not gain anything from the migration of people; instead, it lost considerably.

As regard to development of infrastructure, less said the better. Population of the city more than trebled after the formation of the new state. Have the basic infrastructure facilities gone up in the same proportion? Have any new arterial roads come up? Has any mass rapid transportation system been given any concrete shape? The answer to all these questions is a certain no. Instead, the pre­existing excellent infrastructure of the pre- Andhra Pradesh era was squeezed to the fullest extent possible. The N.S.R. provided very convenient and efficient public transportation facilities prior to 1956. It was considered to be the best in the coun­try next only to B.E.S.T.

The much-talked about Light Railway System is still to take-off. We are not sure about the materialization of such a project. Of course, it is another matter to evaluate the usefulness of such a project in easing the fast deteriorating transpor­tation situation in the city. The planned construction of a number fly-overs may ease the problem of transportation for only a microscopic minority of city’s population- for the rich who move in cars. But for others- the masses, commuting to work will continue to be a nightmare. It would be revealing to analyze the locations of these fly-overs. They are meant to benefit certain privileged sections of the urban community.

Hyderabad, after becoming the capital of Andhra Pradesh, certainly under­went transformation. But this transformation was not in the direction of progress and social and economic equity. Rather, it brought in its wake, inequity, urban decay and degeneration. Vast tracts of the Old City which were once economically thriving and socially developed, have been turned into worst examples of urban congestion and urban blight. The authorities only ‘talk’ of urban renewal and ur­ban rejuvenation. No concrete action was initiated in this direction. Such public­ity seeking and eye washing efforts and actions like setting up of a separate devel­opment authority – Quli Qutb Shah Development Authority will in no way miti­gate the sufferings of the inhabitants of the so-called old city. No development authority will be able to bring in any noticeable change if it is not empowered sufficiently and provided with necessary financial resources. In the absence of such an action, no worthwhile and result oriented action plans for the gentrification and rejuvenation of the old city can be drawn up, leave alone implemented. Piece-meal approach will in no way bring in visible changes.

It saddens the Hyderabadis to see how once their beautiful city which boasted of country’s one of the first underground drainage system, is now a city of clogged arterial roads with grossly inadequate basic civic amenities and facilities. Where are those landscaped parks and gardens and tree-lined avenues, which gave Distinct identity to the city? What has happened to a number of lakes and tanks that dotted all over the city? Where are the fountains and similar urban features? They have all disappeared after Hyderabad became the capital of A.P. This is the price that the people have paid for “growth”.

It is true that a number of industrial estates and units have come up on peripheries of the city. Most of these units have been turned into sick units. The few which still make money, in no way contribute to the prosperity of the city. A tour of industrial estates in the north, north -east and eastern parts would reveal a lot, and furnish answers to the following questions. Who are the owners of these industrial establishments? What is the composition of employees in these units? Whom do these industries benefit? When a migrant establishes an industry or any other venture in the city, he staffs the entire work force with fellow migrants-right from watchman to the Managing Director. In such a scenario, where are opportu­nities for the local people to get jobs. The strong kinship feeling amongst migrants also prevent them from employing the locals. The question that natu­rally arises in our minds is about the utility and usefulness of the above described pattern of industrialization and urbanization. If the new industries and other urban economic establishments cannot provide jobs to the inhabitants of the city, what is the purpose and aim of this process? Should we infer that the purpose of Hyderabad’s urbanization is to provide a ready-made base and platform with all the necessary infrastructural facilities to the migrants to reap immediate benefits that can be had only in a metropolitan city of the size of Hyderabad?

Now, let us take a look at the pattern of development of residential colonies in the city and its peripheries. Most of the new residential development took place in the eastern, northern and north – western parts. The development in the south, which has always been the place of habitation of the local populace, has been very insignificant. The emergence of the new residential colonies put an enormous pressure on the civic amenities. In reality, the civic facilities which were planned to meet the needs of the local population of the city have been stretched to the point of breaking to meet the requirements of dwellers of these newly emerged residential colonies. It is not out of context to mention that an overwhelming proportion of these are migrants. The picture that emerges is that the original inhabitants of the city continue to live in squalor and decay; the migrants live in relative luxury in newly-built residential neighbourhoods appropriating the infrastructural facilities that were meant for the local people.

One of the traits of a metropolitan city like Hyderabad is the cosmopolitan nature of its population. A metropolis provides shelter to the people of diverse regions, languages and other cultural phenomena. Hyderabad was a cosmopolitan city in many respects till 1956. People from different parts of India- Kayasthas from Uttar Pradesh, Tamils employed in railways, Marwaris from Rajasthan and of course the Maharashtrians and Kannadigas from the neighboring states of Bombay and Mysore lived there. There was also a sprinkling of Andhra migrants, mostly in the lower rungs of administration.

The population comprised people belonging to various faiths and religious denominations. There existed a high de­gree of tolerance and respect for one another. Communal troubles were almost non-existent till a few years before the formation of the linguistic state. Urdu was the medium of communication amongst the people outside their homes. Almost the entire populace could speak at least two languages. However, the process of erosion of cosmopolitan nature of the city began in right earnest immediately after the establishment of new state. A highly tolerant city with a multi-lingual and multi-religious population was transformed into an almost monolingual, conser­vative and communal disturbances prone city in the course of forty years after reorganization.

Why has this happened? The answer for this question is not diffi­cult to fathom. There was a deluge of migrants from Andhra, most of them could speak only one language and were hitherto not exposed to cosmopolitanism. Hold­ing the reins of political power helped this segment of population to impose an alien dialect and life styles in an alien city in the garb of promoting Telugu cul­ture. But, the Telugu language and cultural forms were drastically different from those of the local Telugu population. An indication of the cultural invasion is the erection of statues of Telugu people in the city. The fact that the local people cannot even pronounce the names of these people, leave alone know who these people are. What purpose did this process of imposition of cultural forms serve? This amounts to cultural imperialism.

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