Hyderabad Zindabad: City to thrive & survive whatever be its political status
Sreekala G, Sai Deepika Amirapu & Hema Ramakrishnan, ET Bureau, 10 Jul, 2011

For a city that came up as an alternative to Golconda, Hyderabad has done quite well for itself in the past 430 years. While Golconda lies as a magnificent ruin, Andhra Pradesh’s capital towers over the Deccan , proclaiming its vitality and zest for life. Hyderabad has overcome wars, invasions and disease, emerging stronger from each trial. Today, as it faces another test, it seems to be charming its hot-blooded claimants into submission. As the Telangana agitation reaches a crucial phase, Hyderabad is back in the spotlight. The proponents of Telangana, where Hyderabad is located, say the city should be the capital of a new state that they hope will be carved out of Andhra Pradesh. For the people of the rest of Andhra Pradesh , there is deep unease. They have huge stakes in the form of emotional, cultural and financial investments in the city.

But as the agitation has ebbed and flowed, the debate about the fate of Hyderabad has transformed too. Where once there was passionate rage and possessiveness there is now a more sanguine, inclusive mood. “Hyderabad has accepted different cultures. People from the coastal region have migrated here and contributed to the development of the city just as people from other parts of the country (have),” says K T Rama Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the party that has been at the vanguard of the fight for a separate state.

The TRS will not settle for a Telangana that does not have Hyderabad as its capital, but Rao is mindful of the fact that Hyderabad’s continuing prosperity cannot be ensured by the residents of Telangana alone. “We are not asking anybody to leave the city. We want the city to develop and would encourage investment from all sections.”

After all, Hyderabad is the state’s golden egg laying goose. Of the state’s sales-tax collections of around Rs 30,000 crore in the last fiscal, nearly three-fourths came from Hyderabad alone. The city is also one of India’s prominent information technology hubs, contributing most of Andhra Pradesh’s Rs 36,000-crore revenue from software exports. Hyderabad is also home to 1,300 IT firms, including the likes of Facebook and Microsoft.

Migration & Mulkis

Hyderabad’s history makes it a city unlike other metropolitan centres such as Chennai, Kolkata or Mumbai. “These cities started as trade centres whereas Hyderabad emerged more as a cultural and romantic capital symbolising communal harmony,” says G Haragopal, a civil liberties activist and former professor at Hyderabad Central University. Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah of the Qutb Shahi dynasty promoted Telugu literature and trade links by sea through the Machilipatnam port over four centuries ago. Later, when the Mughals took over in 1687, Hyderabad was just another city of the Mughal empire, administered from Aurangabad. After the death of Aurangzeb, the Asaf Jahis declared themselves as independent rulers of Hyderabad state.

But internal strife among the Asaf Jahis made them form alliances with the British and the French. The British, who took over coastal districts, developed these areas with huge investments in irrigation around the Krishna-Godavari river basin. The Telangana districts, ruled by Asaf Jahi Nizams, missed out on this advantage. Farmers were then invited from coastal Andhra to settle and cultivate lands downstream of the Nizam Sagar dam. That was the first phase of migration to the Telengana region. It was in sync with the expansion of the capitalist farming class in central coastal Andhra districts. The Andhras (folks from the coastal districts) and the Mulkis, as the locals of Telangana were called, are said to have got along well at that time. “Almost everybody spoke our dialect of Urdu, wore sherwanis and enjoyed ghazals. We learnt to relish the sea food of the Andhra region,” says Basheeruddin Babu Khan.