Global Integration and Local Exclusion in High-Tech Spaces

C Ramachandraiah C. Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), Hyderabad

 

My arguments will be taking off from some of the previous discussions, and focus on the high tech zones, a symbol of the knowledge society. Hyderabad has been very high on the international IT map, at least among the Indian IT cities.  From 94 onwards till 2004 – 05, there has been so much talk about Hyderabad as an elite city, knowledge city, happening city, etc.  But my argument will be these hi-tech zones, hi-tech spaces or  Hyderabad as a hi-tech city or zones that have emerged in the last 10 yrs or so ,are basically reinforcing the existing inequalities.  In fact not just reinforcing, they are much widening the gap between those whose skills are not able to catch up and those who are taking off.

This is the outer boundaries the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority boundary which is about 2000 sq.km; it doesn’t exit anymore now. Now there is a Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority.  The CDA is the Cyberabad Development Area, about 52 sq km; it had a separate master plan till few months back, which was projected as the city of tomorrow. We had HADA (Hyderabad Airport Development Authority) where you have the airport. The BPPI is around the Hussainsagar Lake especially designed for tourism and all the surrounding towns are municipal towns.

 

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All these surrounding towns have been merged together now to form the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. Basically this entire shaded area becomes the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation now.  Again referring to the earlier map, the outer boundary that you see is 2000sq km has now become thrice bigger under Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Area constituted in August 2008 i.e. over 6850 sq km in five districts. So city is becoming bigger and bigger by swallowing the neighboring towns, villages into it.

 

 

 

In 1990s, Hyderabad had a very high visibility. IT and tourism are the very high profile sectors. This was the most happening city. It got clean city awards for four years from HUDCO. (I don’t know whether these awards are now given).   It boasted of having the highest tele-density in the country. We don’t know what the status is now.  It got best tourism city award, the Knowledge city hub. This also brought high profiles visit to the city – Clinton, Blair and so many others. If you had seen the AP Tourism Development Corporation’s website during Chandrababu Naidu’s time, the home page logo describes AP as the Kohinoor of India.  Now the present government has removed it. At least to that extent they are not claiming that any more.

How are these hi-tech spaces characterized? By social and spatial segregation, these hi-tech spaces enjoy very high levels of amenities as enclaves – for example the Infosys campus  or the swimming pool of Infosys or the Indian School of Business (ISB) – these enclaves arethe major points of contention for us.  Apart from academic activities I also participated in some of the social activism in Hyderabad city, especially on water issues, transportation issues. One of the serious objections we were raising was why do you need to supply so much water to the Indian School of Business which has less than 500 people at anytime of a given year, as part of a Memorandum of Understanding. This is a much less rate than what was supplied to the other educational institutions. One of the arguments that came forward was that they would like to provide American standard of life for people inside -- 250 acres of land and couple of villages were removed from there to provide for this standard of life. Further there are 17 villages in Cyberabad area, where housing, water and school education are the most difficult amenities especially water and education.  In fact if you ask in each of these 17 villages in Cyberabad area what is the biggest problem, they will tell you that drinking water is the single biggest problem.

 

This is the Cyberabad Development Authority-- the shaded area in the earlier map I have already shared with you. The two zones, one is the shaded areas containing all the IT companies and hi-tech city and the next one is this side where you have Wipro, Polaris – a high concentration of these ones. As you go to that hi-tech places, there is this International Convention Centre, the Novotel Hotel, a high profile center. An exclusive pipeline was laid to supply water for them. Similarly a pipeline was laid for about 5 km from the main line for water supply to the Indian School of Business. Here there was a Dalit colony. A water tap here – the two villages Khanamet and Izzatnagar. There was an agitation four years back by the local villagers there, that if they don’t get water and they would break that pipeline that was going to the Indian School of Business.  Here there is no drinking water facility and the local ground water is contaminated for this village.  Based on local political pressure, they provided a tap which gives you 24 hours water now that has been reduced to certain number of hours in the day. 

 

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The Hi-tech people say it is their pipeline and these villagers should not take water from there.  But the drinking water situation is so bad in that area. We have counted, if you stand for an hour in the queue, there is an un-ending flow of people coming from distances, by cars, jeeps, 2-3 kms away with cans filling it up there and going. That side is one of the duplex luxury apartments. This collection of water goes on as long as there is water in the pipeline.  All these huts that you see are of construction workers laying roads, other constructions etc., but people from nearby areas also come here… This is the pipeline. That road in fact goes to the hi-tech area. This is the water supply situation near public taps in Hyderabad. ( see ppt for photographs)

 

Then I want to make a special mention of the dalit colony that was existing next to Infosys.  They were there for nearly 25-30 years. They had Ambedkar’s statue there. They had ration cards. All that they needed was a right to their few square yards of land. Infosys wanted this land for the second phase of its expansion, and they were shifted to somewhere…. here… which is almost 15-18 kms away, with absolutely no facilties. Further their entire livelihood have been ruined because they do not get any work there.  They have to travel all the way using two-three modes of transportation back to these hi-tech areas to get some work engaging in either construction work or domestic labor. Recently I believe they have been displaced to further 2 km away because the outer ring road was going that way.  There is absolutely no way a poor low income housing colony can come up in any of these areas, other than inside the existing villages as now the land has become much more expensive.

dalit colony

 

 

 

I had said a little bit about water, now coming to the schools, a cartoon that was published in a popular Telugu daily after President Abdul Kalam visited an elite school in film nagar in Jubilee Hills.

 

As he was going, there was this government school boy who says (a very powerful cartoon for all the big things that Abdul Kalam was talking) please visit a government school also on your next visit. The condition of governments schools also…any of them…I will show some pictures to you…we are not showing the pictures selectively in a biased way because they can bias you. But if any of you is interested you are welcome to visit any government schools in Hyderabad and then see what kind of knowledge city will this be in future and what kind of inequalities and where these school children can fit in a new knowledge society framework.

Commercialization of education Andhra Pradesh (AP) is one of the worst states where school education has been commercialized to such an extent that an education mafia has emerged in the state. They dictate the education policy of the government. Apart from the corporate schools for the rich and the residential schools, global schools, schools in rented buildings, schools under trees, more students per teacher, more classes in one room, shifts system - one or more schools run from the same premises – if you want, one example is where nine schools function in the single building.

Infrastructure wise this is a survey based on 866 government schools this will be an understatement if you see the hygiene conditions at the schools. This is one photo from a newspaper three classes going on in one room. These are all very close by not far from CESS where we are here.

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This one is from “The Hindu” a school in a slum…this is how …these are recent photos…the earlier two were about two year old…. and this is the situation of government schools in Hyderabad. ( for photographs see ppt)  Thousands and thousands of students study in these schools whether it is Cyberabad area or anywhere.

Now even among the poor wherever they can afford they are sending their children to private schools because at least they would like their children to have a better future. So now on that pretext, the government has started closing down the schools or they are merging them to another one. They have fewer students so it is not viable, economical for them to appoint a full time teacher. When one school is merged with another school for students of the merged school, the school becomes 2 km further. So now the drop-out rate has gone up. And all these schools which are closed or are merged are in the low income, poor slum neighborhoods.

  This I take from photograph in one of Amartya Sen’s articles after the New Orleans floods. Ppeople were holding placards:t “We are Americans too”. I would like to draw that analogy for school children in Hyderabad. This is just across the road outside this campus where the school building has been cut to widen the road; for 600 children no alternative arrangement shown. It has been going on like that for more than a year. They all were demanding few months back why didn’t you listen to us? If they too say, “We are Indians too” is there somebody to listen in this country? No. All that I would like to conclude is that other than for voting, since we are also talking about democracy. All citizens are not equal whether it is knowledge society or non-knowledge society.

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Thank you.

Sastri: Most of us are not surprised by what we heard from you.

Ram: Yes I did not say anything new.

Sastri: Yes but it was something that was needed to be said and you have said it beautifully. No questions about that.