Telangana is addressing human trafficking: K.T.Rama Rao

Ritu Jha-

K. T. Rama Rao, Telangana’s minister for information technology and industries and son of the state’s Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, launched a program called ‘Mana Ooru Mana Badi’, or ‘our village our school’, at a meet-and-greet event at the India Community Center, Milpitas, California and urged members of the diaspora in Silicon Valley to donate to schools in their native villages.

Satish Pasupulate, founder of the Sacramento Telangana Association (STA), told indica, “If someone donates Rs1 crore, the school will be named for them. Basically, this portal has all Telangana schools listed with information.”

However, Rama Rao said the donation can even be as little as $1. All donations will be listed on the portal, he promised.

“Being a Telanganite, I would like to donate to my school,” Pasupulate said. “For 75 years Telangana schools have been neglected. Now with the TRS [Telangana Rashtra Samiti] government and under the leadership of KCR and KTR, as the chief minister and his son are popularly known, they have come up with the ‘Mana Ooru Mana Badi’ program. I request and encourage all Telangana NRIs to contribute to the schools they came from.”

In his 40-minute address, the minister gave a summary of Telangana’s development where the per capita income is Rs1,24,000, rising 130 percent since the state’s founding. There is 24×7 power supply across the state and many startups have emerged in the past eight years, some of which have gone on to become unicorns (privately held startups with a valuation of $1 billion or more).

“Seven years ago, right here, in this same room, I had introduced the newborn state of Telangana,” KTR told his assembled audience of over 700 people. “Today, I feel happy and proud to introduce ‘Triumphant Telangana’ to you all.”

He requested the diaspora to come forward and invest in Telangana. He explained the IT ecosystem developed in Hyderabad and said the government is promoting IT entrepreneurship in tier 2 cities as well to reduce the burden on the state capital Hyderabad.

KTR spoke of how the government had resolved the long-pending power supply issue in the state and 24×7 free power is now being supplied to farmers even as industries get uninterrupted power supply. He said very few states in India can brag about this.

He also highlighted the government’s work on resolving the drinking water crisis in the state and improving health care. “Every single household in Telangana today has potable water,” he said. “And the success of the Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project has helped the state to surpass Punjab in crop production. Today, we are the granary of India,” he said.

On the number of medical colleges in the state, he said, “Telangana had only three medical colleges [when the state was formed] but in the last seven years, the government has set up 10 new medical colleges and 20 more will be set up soon.”

If the crisis caused by demonetization in 2016 and two years lost to the Covid-19 pandemic had not happened, and “the government of India had helped the state, I would like to believe we would have achieved even more”, the minister said.

Taking questions from the women’s wing of Silicon Andhra on human trafficking and the safety of girls — both Telugu-speaking states, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, rank second in India in human trafficking — KTR said his state had launched Operation Smile to counter this[human trafficking]. “We are focused on [curbing] human trafficking,” Rama Rao said. “Not only does it happen with adult women but children are also victims.”

He said many such incidents take place in the guise of providing employment and other opportunities, but many women also go to the Persian Gulf region to be employed as domestic help, he said.

“I am not disputing the problem,” the minister said. “More awareness and confidence-building measures are needed.”

One of the members of the women’s wing later told indica that they want Telangana to institute strong laws against child trafficking. “We have faced such issues in the US as well,” she said, adding that many cases also go unreported.

According to the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report: India, released by the U.S. State Department, Telangana did not provide full compensation to any of 1,174 victims of bonded labor rescued from exploitation between 2012 and 2019 because it did not convict any traffickers under the Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act 1976.

However, in June 2020, 12 victims of bonded labor in Telangana received full compensation two years after they were removed from exploitation.

Jhansi Reddy, from the women’s empowerment panel of the Telugu Association, told indica they urged KTR to launch defense classes in school for girls so they can protect themselves. The minister promised to look into it.