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Telangana looks ahead to the future

After decades of struggle for statehood, millions of residents in the Southern Indian region of Telangana have celebrated their new-found independence.

HYDERABAD: After decades of struggle for statehood, millions of residents in the southern Indian region of Telangana celebrated their new-found independence.

Telangana becomes India's newest state -- its 29th -- and sees the splitting of Andhra Pradesh into two.

IT hub Hyderabad will continue to serve as the capital of both states for the next 10 years.

Telangana champions hope statehood will bring greater economic development in a region long neglected by successive state governments.

The campaign for statehood in Telangana, one of India's most economically deprived regions, began in the late 1950s.

But demands were ignored when India merged the region with the former Andhra state in south India.

Since then, even as Andhra Pradesh flourished, the people of Telangana have felt increasingly neglected by successive state governments.

This resulted, they argued, in higher education levels and development in Andhra.

Now the hopes of Telangana proponents have been fulfilled, ending decades of struggle, conflict and pain.

"We are very happy," said M Kodandaram, chairman of Telangana Joint Action Committee. "It has been a very long struggle and a collective effort, and after so many sacrifices finally we have achieved Telangana.

"This is a very important event in the history of Telangana."

For 63-year-old K Chandrashekar Rao, who had led the movement for a separate state since 2001, it was a 'tryst with destiny'.

Rao took oath as the first Chief Minister of Telangana, along with 12 ministers who were sworn in, including his son and nephew.

The chief minister starts his office in good stead, having taken his Telangana Rashtra Samithi party to victory in April, defeating his Congress Party rivals by winning both Assembly and Lower House elections.

India's newly formed government has committed to developing both states in a cohesive manner.

"We congratulate the people of Telangana," said Prakash Javadekar, India's newly appointed Information and Broadcasting Minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party. "We will go ahead with the development plank.

"We firmly believe that both the state of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will co-exist peacefully."

But political observers feel that beyond the goal of statehood lie multiple interests which will have to be accommodated.

They say adequate distribution of resources and job creation are needed to improve Telangana's socioeconomic conditions.

"I hope the new government will try to resolve the power shortage, and get our due share of water and create employment for the unemployed," said Rama Krishna Reddy, a member of Telangana Joint Action Committee.

The splitting of Andhra Pradesh marks the first time in India's post-independence history that a state with the same language has been divided.

For the inheritors of Telangana, this event brings new challenges for its government and its 35 million inhabitants.  

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