Andhra Pradesh - end of an era

Hyderabad, July 30 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh, in the shape it existed for nearly 57 years, will now be cast into history with the centre Tuesday deciding to carve out Telangana state.

The state came into being on Nov 1, 1956, with the merger of Hyderabad State, as Telangana was then known, with Andhra State, which was the first Indian state to be formed on linguistic basis.

Telangana, a part of erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad, is inhabited by Telugu-speaking people.

Andhra State with Kurnool as the capital was earlier carved out from then Madras State in 1953. This followed the sacrifice of Potti Sriramulu, who died in 1952 after 56-day hunger strike in Madras demanding a separate state for Telugu people.

Hyderabad was selected as the capital of the united state of Telugu-speaking people. Despite having a common language, Andhra and Telangana have vast cultural and socio-economic differences.

Within Andhra state, the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions have cultural dissimilarities.

With its arid land and disadvantages in irrigation, Telangana remained backward. The drought-prone Rayalaseema region, notorious for the killings among factions for several decades, is also backward.

The coastal Andhra, with its fertile land and abundant water resources, is prosperous of all three regions. The industrialization in Visakhapatnam and surrounding areas, development of several ports and the gas reserves in Krishna-Godavari basin in recent years have all made the region economically more developed.

All the three regions were part of unified kingdom under Qutub Shahi rulers during 16th and 17th centuries. The Nizams, the rulers of Hyderabad State, ceded Rayalaseema and Circar districts (as the coastal Andhra was then known) to the British. They became part of Madras Presidency during British rule and Madras State after India's Independence.

Spread over 275,000 square km, the present Andhra Pradesh ranks fourth among Indian states in terms of geographical area. It is the fifth most populous state with a population of 84.6 million as per 2011 Census data.

The population of Telangana, comprising 10 districts, is 35.28 million. It includes seven million population of Hyderabad, which emerged as a major IT hub during the past two decades. The region has geographical area of 1.14 lakh sq km.

Andhra, which has nearly 1,000 km long coastline, comprises nine districts and has 34.19 million population. Rayalaseema, which comprises four districts bordering Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has a population of 15.13 million.

A new chapter will open in the history of Andhra Pradesh with Andhra and Rayalaseema retaining the name.

With some organizations demanding separate statehood to Rayalaseema and threatening to launch a movement, political observers say Andhra Pradesh may witness another period of violence and bloodbath.

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