As the dithering over the Telangana statehood issue continues,businesses in Andhra Pradesh which frequently find themselves caught in the middle have found a way to get around the problem by acknowledging Telangana on their boards.
Those leading the way are corporate colleges and private coaching centres,a highly lucrative business in Andhra. And one of the biggest among them is the Sri Chaitanya Group,which runs IIT and medical entrance coaching centres,junior colleges and several other educational institutions. Recently it launched Telangana Sri Chaitanya Institutions,a franchisee.
By incorporating Telangana,it has not only won peace with protesters who frequently erupt over the demand for a separate state but also cleared the way for its entry into the rest of the region identified as Telangana,besides Hyderabad,where it already has 33 centres.
The Narayana Group of Educational Institutions,another big name in the state for IIT coaching,is planning to follow next. It has 45 branches in Hyderabad and surrounding areas.
The founders of both Sri Chaitanya and Narayana,B S Rao and Dr P Narayana respectively,hail from coastal Andhra and their centres in Hyderabad and neighbouring districts have been facing the brunt during Telangana agitations. With huge investments in multi-storey educational complexes,state-of-the-art classrooms,and other infrastructure,threats from Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and pro-Telangana leaders that they would force all Andhra institutions to shut down unnerved the managements.
Rhetoric like Telanganawale jaago,Andhrawale bhago prompted attacks by Telangana activists on their branches in Hyderabad and surrounding areas.
Director of Schools,Sri Chaitanya Group,Sricharan G says: Telangana Sri Chaitanya Institutions is run by our ex-employee Kotesh Rao. We provide all the support to him to run these institutions. There has been a shift in enrolment with worried parents seeking admissions at centres away from the state capital. It is important for us to help students maintain their rhythm and concentration on studies.
Another director of Sri Chaitanya says that they had also found that during the frequent shutdowns and postponement of exams due to the Telangana agitation,many students from Telangana districts had come and enrolled at their branches in coastal Andhra,especially Vijayawada.
The parents and students had aspirations and they did not want the Telangana agitation to disrupt their studies. From this we picked up the idea that to protect the future of all our students enrolled in centres in Hyderabad and around,we need to take Telangana along with us, says the director.
Director of Schools of Narayana Group Dr Pawan K Samba claims that 40 per cent of those who crack IIT-JEE are Andhra students who train at professional coaching centres. Disruption in studies due to agitations and shutdowns puts a lot of stress on the students. We have to work around it and ensure that their focus is not disturbed, Dr Samba says.
Both institutes have also decided to show some leniency towards lecturers and faculty hailing from Telangana if they want to participate in protests and shutdowns. Earlier,they were summarily dismissed,but the formation of the Telangana Corporate College Lecturers Forum settled that issue.
This year,Andhra accounted for 39 of the top 100 ranks in IIT-JEE,including seven among the first 10 ranks in the open category at the all-India level. Many of these students were from Sri Chaitanya Group and Narayana Group.
We are into education,we dont have anything to do with bifurcation of state or otherwise. We have Telangana students studying at our centres in Andhra and Andhra students studying at centres in Hyderabad, B S Rao,Chairman of the Sri Chaitanya Group,said in a statement.
There were rumblings in the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC),which is steering the statehood agitation,when the educational institutions began talking Telangana. TJAC members felt that the silence from the TRS,whose chief K Chandrasekhara Rao issued many threats to corporate educational institutions,meant that they had come to a tacit understanding. KCR,however,said a decision would be taken whether to allow Andhra-based educational institutions to operate branches in Telangana once the separate state is achieved.
Sri Chaitanya Institutions has some one lakh students while Narayana Group has 60,000 students across Andhra. The fees ranges from Rs 2 lakh for residential students annually to above Rs 50,000 for day students.