The state of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana was bifurcated in the year 2014. With the loss of capital city Hyderabad to Telangana state, the state of Andhra Pradesh is in the process of building a new capital city Amaravati by re-visualizing development in its three regions. As a result, Andhra Pradesh is experiencing large scale acquisition of land in the three regions (south, north coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema) for the purpose of new capital city Amaravati, special economic zones (SEZ), power plants (solar, wind, nuclear), pharma cities, airports, mineral extraction, new ports, information technology (IT) parks and other commercial and residential projects. In addition, the decline of agricultural incomers, severe droughts, non-incorporation of local labour in the industrial and developmental projects in each region have further pushed the workers into several informal employment both in rural and urban areas, resulting in precarious, insecure and vulnerable situations. This complex situation has led to an unprecedented scale of involuntary migration and various forms of intense exploitation forms of transit labour in all three regions. Read more
Vijayawada is a city located on the banks of the Krishna river in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which is one of the five South Indian states. This city was one of the few important provincial cities even during the colonial period. Vijayawada today is a high-growth city as it is part of the new capital city region, where the new capital ‘Amaravati’ is being built in about 50,000 acres by the new state of Andhra Pradesh. In order to understand Vijayawada city and its trans-formative phases, it is important to analyse the coastal Andhra region where it is located. The agrarian economy primarily revolved around the two river basins – Krishna and Godavari (comprising four districts Krishna, Guntur, East and West Godavari) contributing 60 % of the agricultural produce in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. As the region has adequate canal irrigation facilities, it is economically well developed. Scholars have traced a significant increase of cultivable land both in krishna and Guntur districts at two intervals, first, when the barrage was constructed across the Krishna river by Arthur Cotton in the year 1852, and secondly when the Nagarajuna Sagar dam was constructed in 1960s (Rao 1985; Reddy 1989). The region’s growth curve took another major turning point with the green revolution since mid-1960s, intensifyingcommercial crops and generating surplus from the agrarian economy. This process subsequently lead to rapid urbanization, as a result of which number of urban centres – Vijayawada, Guntur, Mangalagiri, Rajamundry, Kakinada, Tenali, Machilipatnam emerged in the region. The nexus between land and water played a significant role not only in economy but also in politics and the social sphere (Parthasarathy 2004), thus contributing to the development of social and cultural capital to use Bourdieu’s concept (Jenkins Richard 1992). The economic, social and political networks constituted the basis for the upper castes to emerge as educational entrepreneurs in and outside the region by 1980’s. read more
Amaravati Master Plan: High on Speculation & Weak in foundation, Amaravati, the planned new capital of Andhra Pradesh, is to be set up in a highly fertile, multi-cropped area in the Guntur–Krishna belt where the water table is just 15 to 20 feet below the surface. The Government of Andhra Pradesh has been aggressively pursuing land pooling through a series of not-too-friendly measures to acquire land for the capital which will be located in a low- to medium-risk flood area. Where the Singapore consultancy’s master plan for the new city, Amaravati, falters is in not visualising the need to accommodate low-income residents and the informal sector in the new capital, and in its exaggerated projections of employment generation in the information technology sector. read more
This paper examines Amaravati, the proposed greenfield capital of the bifurcated Andhra Pradesh state, against the backdrop of the rise of urban mega-projects across Asia, and the tendencies towards land speculation they have unleashed in Indian cities. It offers a critique of the land pooling mechanisms as they have played out on the ground in the affected villages. It argues that voluntary land pooling on such a large scale has been made possible through a coordinated use of coercive tactics and legal measures, including the land ordinance of the Government of India, which was re-promulgated three times and provided a credible fallback in the AP government’s dealings with farmers. Land pooling also facilitated a regime of co-option with absentee landowners aligning, on caste lines, with the ruling party.
Globalization has brought forward new modes of governance and technological options to urban local bodies in India in the last two decades. New governance mechanisms inspired by neo-liberal thinking make claims about making cities function better, substantially improving basic infrastructure and public services, and increasing local democratic participation. But a study conducted in two non-metropolitan cities in Andhra Pradesh indicates that the state has promoted public-private partnerships, outsourcing and contracting out in a way that serves private interests rather than social interests. The disparities between poor residents and non-poor residents have increased and caste plays an increased role in decision-making bodies, though through a so-called inclusive participatory approach. Read more
Three key dynamics have come to the fore in the fresh cycle of capitalism that is unfolding in the new state of Andhra Pradesh. First, capitalist accumulation is happening with a weak articulation and incorporation of labour. Second, capitalist development is being visualised in a city-centric paradigm with a weak vision of integrating the hinterlands. Third, these two dynamics are perceived by the state and the ruling elite to have little opposition, a kind of thesis with a weak antithesis. This paper provides a critique of these emerging dynamics in the hope of imagining a more inclusive Andhra Pradesh. Read more
This article traces the trajectory of agrarian relations in terms of class and caste in Andhra Pradesh from 1956 to 2014. The analysis shows that land remained in the control of upper castes in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema in Telangana, landownership came into the hands of Other Backward Classes primarily due to peasant movements. The contradictions of agricultural workers, tenants, and the landless with the rich peasant class led to intense caste conflicts in coastal Andhra, factional violence in Rayalaseema, and struggles against the state and propertied classes in Telangana. Read more