Nishanth Rao with Rajitha Madam

Common Problems Staring at Karnataka and Andhra (Rayalaseema)

Admin Note: Nishant Rao, Author, is now Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Exercise) officer of 2014 Batch, and his native is Mangalore, Karnataka.

Northern Karnataka (KA) and AP (especially Rayalaseema region) share many things in common. The rulers of Satavahanas, Vijayanagara Kings and later the Nizam ruled over both the states.Hence its no surprise that a huge chunk of KA (the north-east part) is known as Hyderabad Karnataka region. Along with shared history is shared geography (same aridity, soil, poor monsoon, poverty) which has resulted in striking similarities in the problems faced by the people in the region and for which common solutions can be pursued.Let us look into some of the problems.

States of South India.
States of South India. (Image from The Economist)

After Vidarbha, this region (comprising districts of Raichur, Bidar, Gulbarga, Bellary,Yadgir¸ Anantapur, Kadapa, Kurnool) is the most arid region in India.

Rayalaseema Districts - Anantapur, Kurnool, Kadapa, Chitoor
Rayalaseema Districts – Anantapur, Kurnool, Kadapa, Chitoor
Six districts of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region — Gulbarga, Yadgir, Bellary, Bidar, Raichur and Koppal
Six districts of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region — Gulbarga, Yadgir, Bellary, Bidar, Raichur and Koppal (source)

The coastal regions of KA and AP receive copius rainfall but this region gets only one-third of that received by coastal regions. Hence they face drinking water scarcity resulting in fluoride accumulation in the residents and cattle deaths, scarcity of groundwater resulting in reduced vegetation and deforestation is the indirect consequence.

Farmer suicides is another aspect plaguing both the states. While the fertile coastal Andhra is conducive for paddy cultivation, thanks to the Krishna-Godavari river system, coastal Karnataka is equally fertile due to South-West monsoon. Hence cashew and coffee cultivation is possible. No wonder the farmers are prosperous and could have an educated 2nd generation. Even the poorest farmers in the coastal regions will have atleast an acre of farmland. On the contrast, farmers in Eastern Karnataka (check Bayalu Seeme – Wikipedia) and Rayalaseema (check Rayalaseema – Wikipedia) are caught in the vicious cycle of crop loss (due to poor monsoon and almost primitive irrigation system) and harassment from moneylenders, ultimately leading to their suicide.

AP and KA follow Maharashtra in the top 3 states with farmer suicides.

Karnataka state map with districts.
Karnataka state map with districts.
Map of erstwhile united Andhra - Depicting Coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana
Map of erstwhile united Andhra – Depicting Coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana

Social indicators are equally weak. (Check this The Hindu article)

Children suffering from goiter and kwasiorkar is a common sight in Bellary. Though I haven’t visited Rayalaseema districts, I have been told that it’s a common phenomena there too. One of the highest literacy gap between male and female is reported in Hyderabad-Karnataka.

In the field of education too, almost all institutions of higher learning are located outside this region. While Hyderabad, Vishakapatnam is famous for engineering and management institutions, in AP; Mangalore, Manipal, Bangalore, Dharwad boast of the same in Karnataka.

The tourism sector, Manufacturing sector, Software hubs are virtually absent in eastern KA and Rayalaseema. Hence the entire workforce is dependent on agriculture,which as discussed above, is very weak. This (non-diversification) is the basic reason for backwardness and poverty.

For all the problems, I feel that a common board needs to be setup which will have the Chief Minister’s of both the states as members. A separate mention needs to be done about the progress of social schemes in the state budget for these regions. Implementation of Article 371-J is the first step to bring eastern Karnataka on par with the western and southeren region.

A similar constitutional provision could be introduced for Rayalaseema.

Regional disparity should be addressed and the vision of social and inclusive development along with economic growth should be achieved, in these both Regions of South India.

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