Hyderabad is bleeding, quietly. The UPA government at the Centre knows it and so do the state government and the chief minister. Leaders cutting across political parties ranging from TDP, TRS, BJP to the two communist parties, the MIM and the YSR Congress are aware of a once-healthy Hyderabad suffering now. The civil society is aware of it too, but is just indifferent or helpless.
Those who have inflicted wounds of uncertainty on a robust Hyderabad possibly believed they would be able to put the city back on its glorious track soon, failing to realize that some injuries do not heal at all. And even when they do, they leave the victim incapable of regaining its original form and vigour.
Hyderabad has over the last two years become habituated to sudden announcements of shutdowns. Every few days, Hyderabadis are put through the ordeal of bandhs and flash strikes. The fear of violence exploding any time lurks in the air. With frequent cancellations of classes and examinations, the prestigious Osmania University has lost its pride of place as an excellent educational institution. It now resembles a fortress or even an open-air prison surrounded by hundreds of armed guards, the campus becoming synonymous with violence and not education.
The cloud of uncertainty hangs over schools, offices, commercial establishments with managements unsure whether or not they should pay heed to bandh calls. And when some take chances, the rowdy elements among the agitators ensure they pay for it through a broken window pane or a roughed up salesperson, punished for doing his job.
The last two years of agitation reflect the dent it has made on the real estate market, with only weak signs of recovery in the foreseeable future. There are no buyers and rents have slipped considerably.
Not long ago, Hyderabad was one of the most favoured destinations in India attracting investments across industry sectors. But in the last two years, the heavy inflow of projects and funds has turned into a trickle. Unable to wait any longer for the conducive business atmosphere the city once offered, major corporate houses, including MNCs, have either put their expansion plan on hold in the city or have moved their new businesses to other states such as Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Haryana.
There is yet another indicator of the brand-image of Hyderabad losing its sheen. Some airlines have quietly reduced their operations from Hyderabad indicating that the city is slipping from the itinerary of businessmen and tourists.
With no unanimity in the cabinet and a chief minister with little control on his ministers, the future of the city remains uncertain even as lawmakers are busy nurturing and giving shape to their belief that this is the time for them to squeeze the best possible deals out of the government.
The Centre’s delay in deciding the future of the state is part of its bigger design on Andhra Pradesh. The Congress believes that by going back on its words on the creation of Telangana, setting up one committee after another, asking for unity among the lawmakers in the state on T issue at one time and at another demanding consensus it can gain time to play its dirty game. It has already forced the Seemandhra leadership not to up the ante any further and is hoping that the lawmakers in Telangana would run out of steam in due course during which time, they hope, the circumstances would throw up a solution acceptable to a considerable majority. This stratagem emanates from the fact that the lawmakers have failed to involve the Congress high command.
In the meantime, the idea of Hyderabad is being used as a football. Some kick it saying that it should be made a Union Territory. Some others kick it saying that it should be made a separate entity, may be a city-state. Still others believe that they can achieve the goal of making it the capital of all two or three separate regions. Nobody is asking Hyderabadis what they want. Whoever are the players and whatever is their endgame, the biggest concern in Hyderabad is how to put an end to this atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. If the present situation continues we may lose Hyderabad as a city of peace, progress and prosperity for ever. That is a real danger. TOI