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Nirmala Ganapathy
Thursday, Jun 5, 2014

Asia

Introducing Telangana, India's 29th state

The Straits Times | Nirmala Ganapathy | Thursday, Jun 5, 2014

Newly-formed Telangana state policemen march past the new state's coat-of-arms during Formation Day celebrations in Secunderabad, the twin city of Hyderabad, on June 2, 2014.

HYDERABAD - At the stroke of midnight, firecrackers went off, sweets were distributed and people waved flags and cheered on the streets of IT city Hyderabad and other nearby cities and towns. They were celebrating the official birth of Telangana, India's 29th state.

Later yesterday, Mr Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao, the chief of local party Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), who led the political struggle for statehood, was sworn in as chief minister, along with 11 ministers.

And the jewel in the crown of the new state - carved out of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh - will be capital city Hyderabad, used as a base by the world's tech giants, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

Under the terms of the split, Telangana will share the information technology hub as its capital city with Andhra Pradesh, which has been given 10 years to develop its own capital.

The birth of the new state ends a separation movement that began more than five decades ago that sometimes turned violent as people grew resentful that their aspirations were ignored. In a 1969 unrest, for instance, 300 students were killed by police.

But the decision to allow the split was taken by the former Congress-led government out of hard political calculation to stem its dwindling popularity in Andhra Pradesh more than anything else.

Desperate for backing in the south, Congress had hoped this move would shore up support for it in the Telangana region in the general election last month.

But it was to no avail as voters instead rewarded the TRS and Mr Rao, who in his 13-year political battle for the split, went on many hunger strikes.

The TRS won 11 of the 17 seats in the Telangana region in the general election, while the Congress won only one seat.

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