Vijayawada, located on the banks of mighty Krishna is an important centre of culture and commerce in Andhra Pradesh. Historically, Krishna delta played an important role in the evolution of Andhra consciousness starting from the legend of Srikakula Andhra Maha Vishnu followed by the Satavahana rule from Amaravathi close to Vijayawada. The region is influenced by vedic religion, budhism, Jainism at different times. Many famous centres of Budhist culture and learning developed on the banks of Krishna in the region. Famous Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna lived in the region. Vijayawada was the capital of Raja raja narendra chola before he moved his capital to Rajamahendravaram (Rajamundhry) on the banks of godavari. The city of Vijayawada combined with its twin city Guntur is the second largest urban conglomeration after Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh.
Vijayawada-Guntur region has heavily influenced the evolution of modern Andhra Pradesh. It has provided a critical mass for vibrant cultural, political, and entrepreneurial growth in Andhra Pradesh. It’s considered the political and cultural capital of Andhra. The region was politically heavily influenced by communism in the first half of 20th century. All sorts of progressive reformist ideas found resonance in the region during that period, from communism, atheism to feminism. Communists from Vijayawada region participated and logistically supported communist armed struggle against Nizam. After independence congress gradually regained influence in the region though influence of communists, socialists remained until NTR came up with TDP.
Though Vijayawada was under communist influence politically there was another stream in the region that promoted the spirit of enterprise. After anicut on river Krishna in second half of 19th century, the Krishna delta region witnessed a boom in commerce and trade in commodities. In 1941, Velagapudi Ramakrishna, a former ICS officer pioneered industrialization in the area with his KCP group. The agriculture surpluses from the region found their way into cinema, transportation and agri based industries. The influence of the region on telugu cinema and modern telugu literature is hugely disproportionate. Pioneers of telugu cinema like producers, directors, actors, writers, singers came from this region.
The region is also an example of private initiative in education, though heavily discriminated by the regimes for being on the politically wrong side, the people of the region always valued education. With private initiative they brought Loyola academy to Vijayawada and gave them land, donations to establish Andhra Loyala College in 1953, then few more colleges came up in the following decades. It was Siddartha Academy that pioneered professional education in the city, they established first private engineering college in the state in 1977. From there Vijayawada-Guntur region has pioneered professional and private education in the state with individual and community efforts. Each year more than one lakh students from across AP come to Vijayawada for college and pre-college education. Education became one of the biggest contributors to Vijayawada economy.
Being centrally located the city is also a hub of transportation, small and medium automobile component manufacturing, metal works. The city has vibrant culture of business and enterprise; many big business enterprises in AP have their roots in Vijayawada. The entrepreneur from Vijayawada-Guntur region, always on search for opportunities, migrated to all important cities in the south like Chennai, Banglore and Coimbatore. In AP they have huge business stakes in Hyderabad and Vishakapatnam. Also, the region has huge NRI population and their contribution to regional economy is no less.
Vijayawada is a rebellious city. After independence the city lost out to Kurnool as capital inspite of being an economic and cultural hub for pure political reasons. In a sense it is the most discriminated city of its league for political reasons despite having enormous potential to tap. The city was nerve centre for Jai Andhra agitation for separate Andhra state that followed telangana agitation in late 60’s. The agitation was so severe that no government writ ran for months. Finally, AP govt under P.V.Narsimha Rao shot some 400 agitators to bring it down, the following day leader of the movement Kakani Venkatratnam died of heart attack. After jai Andhra the city fell into the grip of gangs. Gang wars between communists and other sponsored gangs to wrest control of city became regular feature. In two decades these gang wars acquired caste dimensions after a series of murders culminating in caste riots in 1988.
In 90s Vijayawada came out of gangster culture, it’s a peaceful and vibrant city now with residents much more focussed on economic development than ever before. It has everything in place except the will of the government to do something for the city that has contributed so much for evolution and progress of AP. The city badly needs an up gradation to existing airport and a port in Machilipatnam. The city has achieved so far on its own with enterprise and private initiative. Now it needs some initiative in infrastructure from government to jump into next league, when it happens Vijayawada-Guntur region will be unstoppable. The region has already acquired pan-andhra colors with migration from all across Andhra.
The city of victory deserves to be capital of Andhra if at all the state is bifurcated. It has everything, the history, culture, motivation, majesty, beauty, nativity, resources, energy and the unexplained X-factor. May Goddess Kanakadurga and mighty Krishnaveni bless the city to achieve new heights.