ANDHRA PRADESH A state in Southern India, Andhra Pradesh has a population of 75.7 million (as of 2001); its area is 106,000 square miles (275,000 sq. km.); its capital, Hyderabad. The major language is Telugu, which belongs to the Dravidian family of languages. The state in its present form was established in 1956, when it merged with the territory of the former princely state of Hyderabad. The other parts of the state had earlier belonged to the Madras Presidency of British India. Madras Presidency was a multilingual province in which the Telugu speakers felt subordinate to the political dominance of the Tamil speakers. They stressed their historic linguistic identity by referring to the Andhra (Satavahana) dynasty, whose realm had expanded across the Deccan, along the Godaveri River, from about the second century b.c. to the second century a.d. The Telugu linguistic movement spread in the early twentieth century and had its first visible success in the establishment of Andhra University at Waltair. Although Telugu is a Dravidian language, the movement for Dravidian solidarity, emanating as it did from Tamil Nadu, never appealed to the Andhras.
When Mahatma M. K. Gandhi reorganized the provincial committees of the All-India National Congress in 1920, the Telugu speakers demanded one of their own. Their activities remained restricted to the British Indian areas, however, because the princely state of Hyderabad was under autocratic rule until India achieved independence in 1947. Unlike other rulers who acceded to the Republic of India in 1947, the Muslim nizam of Hyderabad refused, hoping to win British support for his claim to independence based on the large size of his state and his own fortune and exalted princely status. Since this state was completely surrounded by Indian territory, however, there was no hope that either Britain or India would allow Hyderabad to live in splendid isolation. A "police action," as the government of India called it, forced the nizam to accede to India in September 1948, when the Indian army moved in.
From 1946 to 1951 the Telengana region of the state of Hyderabad was shaken by a militant mass peasant movement against their landlords. This movement, directed by Indian Communists, was finally called off in 1951. Meanwhile the Telugu speakers in the coastal areas had intensified their struggle for an independent linguistic state, which culminated in 1953 in the fast-unto-death of one of their leaders, Potti Sriramulu. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who had until then resisted the formation of linguistic states, feeling that they would pose a threat to national unity, relented, approving the formation of Andhra Pradesh, which thus became the first linguistic state in India in 1953, soon to be followed by many more. The amalgamation of Andhra with the erstwhile state of Hyderabad and the rise of the city of Hyderabad as the state capital shifted the political center of gravity from coastal Andhra to the western part of the state. Most people of the impoverished region of Telengana felt, nevertheless, neglected due to the preponderance of wealthier and more assertive coastal people. Recently the demand for a separate state of Telengana has been revived, particularly in view of the excision of neighboring Chhattisgarh from the state of Madhya Pradesh.
In the assembly elections of 2004 a new party, the Telengana Rashtra Samiti, led by K. Chandrasekhara Rao, scored a great success which was also reflected in the simultaneous elections to the central Parliament (Lok Sabha). Chandrashekhara Rao became a cabinet minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance. The excision of Telengana from Andhra Pradesh now seemed to be a foregone conclusion. The new state would include ten districts around the present state capital Hyderabad.
The Rise and Fall of the Telugu Desam Party
Andhra Pradesh long remained a bastion of the National Congress Party. A Congress politician from Andhra Pradesh, P. V. Narasimha Rao, became the first South Indian prime minister of India. But while his career flourished in Delhi's national politics, a new, vigorous party challenged the Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh. This was the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), led by the charismatic film star N. T. Rama Rao. TDP put an end to Congress rule in Andhra in the 1980s. In the 1990s the TDP was led by Rama Rao's son-in-law, Chandrababu Naidu, who emerged as a vigorously charismatic and efficient chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. He is a pioneer of "e-governance," impressing even Bill Gates, who visited him, with the information system stored in his laptop. Naidu literally has all of Andhra's vital facts and figures at his fingertips. Fascinated with information technology, Naidu neglected the poor peasants of Andhra Pradesh who obviously voted for the Congress Party in the assembly elections of 2004. The Congress leader, Dr. Y. S. Rajashekar Reddy, replaced Naidu as Chief Minister. The TDP won only 49 seats whereas the Congress Party and its allies captured 226 of the 294 assembly seats. The sudden fall of the TDP was as dramatic as its previous rise.
Andhra Pradesh is one of the poorer agricultural states of India. Its industrial base is still very small, mostly concentrated in Hyderabad. Naidu hopes to make Hyderabad an Information Technology-center to rival Bangalore. But this will not be achieved easily. In terms of per capita income, Andhra Pradesh is close to the national average, but its literacy rate is much below the national average. As far as urbanization is concerned, Andhra Pradesh is also far behind most other states of India. It has only three centers with more than 1 million inhabitants: Hyderabad, Vishakapatnam, and the Vijayawada-Guntur region.
"Andhra Pradesh." Available at <http://www.andhranews.net>
Narayana Rao, K. V. The Emergence of Andhra Pradesh. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, 1973.
Rao, R. P. History of Modern Andhra. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1978.
"Telugu Desam Party." Available at <http://www.telugudesam.org>