Underlying theme of the Telangana drama

 N Venugopal, The New Indian Express, 13 Dec 2009

Telangana is today witnessing what seem to be its most momentous developments in the known history of this peninsular Indian pocket. Announcement of fast unto death by Telangana Rashtra Samiti supremo K Chandrasekhara Rao, scuttling of his efforts and detention on various charges including sedition even before he began the fast, indiscriminate arrests of scores of his party legislators and activists, unwarranted excessive use of force on protesting students in Osmania University, students across 10 districts of Telangana joining the warpath, bandh for two days and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s announcement of initiating the state formation process, leading to the withdrawal of KCR’s fast included the fast moving scenes in the eleven-day-long Act 1 of the drama. And this Act took away the precious lives of about 40 students and youths of Telangana.
Then began the Act II in which the players changed to Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema doing almost the same things — burning of buses and public properties, climbing up the microwave towers threatening to commit suicide, politicians threatening to observe indefinite fast, legislators cutting across party lines tendering their resignations, the Union Home Secretary going back on his own statement within hours, etc. The Act II still goes on at the time of writing this. However, in this unfolding drama, what is becoming more obfuscated is the underlying theme on which this drama is being enacted. Even as the root cause of the anguish of Telangana is being shrouded in the mist of vandalism or police’s use of force, the last two days’ agitation in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema tries to add newer elements to completely erase the original demands of Telangana. This context makes it pertinent to note why there is such a widespread agitation amongst Telangana’s people in general and students in particular. It isn’t that the agitation over the demand began on November 29 — the supposed date of KCR’s fast unto death — nor is it that the TRS is the first political formation to raise such a demand. To grasp the present Telangana agitation requires knowledge of at least three important points. The first one is the perception of exploitation of resources and discrimination in resource allocation. The second one is the consistent violation of promises given by the rulers to Telangana for the last fifty years — which is ever since the formation of the united Andhra Pradesh. The third one is the image of a distinct Telangana identity that doesn’t obey any master, doesn’t tolerate oppression and having defiance in its blood. Let us begin with the third. The late prime minister P V Narasimha Rao was also among those who voiced this image. In a convocation address delivered at Kakatiya University some three decades ago, he said there was defiance in the blood of Telangana. A recent study on the social history of the Deccan published by Cambridge University Press also supports the idea. There are at least two legendary figures in each century for the last thousand years who stood against authority and never bowed before misrule. Most of the Telangana supporters claim legacy to this heritage. While it might be discounted as an over-reading of history, it is strongly based on a well-researched and cherished social history. Coming to the first one, the Telangana movement of the past one-and-a-half decades has produced a lot of literature that throws light on the exploitation of natural resources of Telangana — be it land, mineral wealth, particularly coal, or water resources. In terms of educational and employment opportunities and allocations of public expenditure, Telangana was never accorded fair share. While Telangana constitutes 42 per cent of area and 40 per cent of Andhra Pradesh’s population, it never got as much a share in budgetary allocations. While Krishna and Godavari, the two major rivers pass through Telangana covering about 75 per cent of their route, irrigation projects are built to water the districts of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, at the cost of parched Telangana districts on the banks of those rivers. Indeed all these concerns were expressed before the States Reorganisation Commission in 1953. By that time, Telangana was part of feudal autocratic rule of the Nizams for centuries and lacking in all modern facilities like education, in contrast to coastal Andhra which was part of Madras Presidency under the British. Given this historical difference, the SRC admitted the apprehensions of Telangana representatives that the Telangana people might be exploited by their well-educated brethren from Coastal Andhra. The SRC in its final recommendation suggested that Telugu-speaking districts of the erstwhile Hyderabad state be kept as a separate state. However, the SRC recommendation was not heeded to and it was decided to merge Andhra state with Teluguspeaking areas of Hyderabad state on the principle of linguistic states. Then, of course, there was a proposal to write down safeguards to Telangana to assuage the apprehensions and it is known as Gentlemen’s Agreement signed in February 1956. Thus Andhra Pradesh was formed on November 1, 1956, on specific written conditions. Unfortunately each of the 14 safeguards was violated. The one condition that was implemented was the formation of the Telangana Regional Council that should have regularly monitored the implementation of the other safeguards. But surprisingly, the TRC was made toothless and its reports from 1960 itself demonstrate its helplessness. Safeguards in education, employment, budgetary allocations, and sale of land in Hyderabad — every aspect of special treatment, which was an accepted condition for merger, was violated. That’s how the frustration of Telangana people started growing, and by mid-1960s it became visible. The Jai Telangana movement of 1969 was in fact begun with a fast of an unemployed youth asking for implementation of safeguards. When it was not heeded, the movement started thinking of de-merger, and there began the movement for a separate state. Rather, the movement wanted a status quo ante November 1, 1956. The movement was brutally crushed by the government by indiscriminate police firings across Telangana killing 370 students and youth. There was an all-party meeting 1969 which drafted an agreement to address the concerns of Telangana people but the agreement was also dishonoured. However, the movement did not die down and after its political formation the Telangana Praja Samiti humbled Congress in 11 out of 14 parliamentary seats in the area in 1971 byelections. Even so, seeing this victory, the Congress saw to it that the TPS MPs joined the Congress en masse. Later Indira Gandhi announced a six-point formula as a special package to Telangana. The funniest aspect of this formula was the first five points were never implemented, but the sixth point, which removes the two earlier safeguards to Telangana, namely Telangana Regional Council and Mulki Rules, on the plea that they become redundant if the earlier five points are implemented. Even as the first five points were violated, the sixth was implemented in letter and spirit. Then came the Presidential Order and Constitutional amendment in 1975 to provide reservations for Telanganites in public employment but the necessary notification had to wait till 1986. Even the delayed notification was never implemented and till now there are at least five committees and commissions to explore the modalities. The saga of violations and deceptions galore. It would be suffice to cite the 2004 Election Manifesto of Congress, Common Minimum Programme of UPA, mention in Presidential address to parliament in 2005, Pranab Mukherjee Committee, Rosaiah Committee, 2009 Telugu Desam Party Election Manifesto and so on so forth. One has to look into this history to understand what has been going on in the streets of Hyderabad and all other towns in Andhra Pradesh.

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About ఎన్.వేణుగోపాల్

Poet, literary critic, journalist, public speaker, commentator and columnist on political, economic and social issues. Has been a journalist
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9 Responses to Underlying theme of the Telangana drama

  1. రహంతుల్లా says:

    కాకినాడ దగ్గర 30చ.కి.మీ.విస్తీర్ణంగల యానాం 1954 దాకాభారత్ లో ఫ్రెంచ్ కాలనీగా ఉంది.నేడు పుదుచ్చేరి కేంద్ర పాలిత ప్రాంతంలో భాగం.1954లో లో విమోచనం చెంది స్వతంత్రభారతావనిలో విలీనంచెందినా 1956 లో భాషా ప్రాతిపదికన తెలుగు రాష్ట్రంలో కలవలేదు.1948లో హైదరాబాద్ ను పోలీసు చర్యజరిపి ఇండియాలో కలిపారు.1949 లో అప్పటికి ఒక ఫ్రెంచి కాలనీ గా ఉన్న చంద్రనాగూర్, సమీపంలోని బెంగాల్ రాష్ట్రంలో విలీనం అయింది. కాకినాడ మునిసిపల్ కౌన్సిల్ కూడా యానాన్ని కలపాలని తీర్మానం చేసింది. 870కి.మీ దూరంలోని తమిళ పుదుచ్చేరి నుండి పాలన కష్టంగా ఉంది.పుదుచ్చేరికి యానాం ప్రజల ప్రయాణం ఆంధ్రలోని కాకినాడ నుండి జరుగుతుంది.దివంగత ముఖ్యమంత్రి రాజశేఖరరెడ్డి విగ్రహాన్ని యానాంలో ఏర్పాటు చేయాలని యానాం కాంగ్రెస్ తీర్మానించింది.ఇండోర్ స్టేడియం,కళ్యాణమండపం,ధవళేశ్వరం-యానాం మంచినీటి ప్రాజెక్టులకు రాజశేఖరరెడ్డి పేరు పెడతామని పుదుచేరి రెవిన్యూ మంత్రి మల్లాడి కృష్ణారావు చెప్పారు. తెలుగుజాతి సమైఖ్యత,భాషాప్రయుక్తరాష్ట్ర ప్రధాన ఉద్దేశ్యం యానాం ఆంధ్రప్రదేశ్ లో కలిస్తే నెరవేరుతుంది.తెలుగుతల్లి బిడ్డలందరూ ఒకేరాష్ట్రంగా ఉంటారు.సమైక్యాంధ్ర కోసం ఇప్పుడు ఉద్యమాలు జరుగుతున్నాయి గనుక భౌగోళికంగా సామీప్యత, 100% తెలుగు ప్రజలున్న యానాం ను ఇప్పటికైనా తమిళ పుదుచ్చేరి నుండి విడదీసి సమైక్యాంధ్రలో కలపాలి.కలిస్తే బాగుంటుందని ఆశ.

  2. వియత్నాం కమ్యూనిస్ట్ పార్టీ నాయకుడు హోచిమిన్ అన్నాడు “పెట్టుబడిదారీ సమాజంలో స్వేచ్ఛ, సమానత్వం, సౌభ్రాతృత్వం వట్టి కబుర్లే” అని. సమైక్యాంధ్రలో సమైక్యత కూడా వట్టి కబురే.

  3. saamaanyudu says:

    ఇదంతా పాత కథే అనిపించింది. కొత్తగా ఏమైనా చెప్పారనుకున్నాను.

  4. k.n Mohan says:

    I support the democratic right to form a state. A one- issue referundum will be the best way. Instead of calling for resolutions, it would be best to agitate on a referundum.

    Something in the blood theories are philosophical idealism similar to the martial races theories that Sikhs, Ghurkas, Rajputs, are innately martial people.

    Regarding other matters, it is not clear how the mobility of capital will be curtailed in a separate state ? Will the feudal KCR and his henchmen not become more pliable to capital in a smaller state and more under the thumb of the centre ? Will they stand up to open casts and economic zones ? Will they not be bought out by powerful interests , if Ramoji Rao can corrupt the TDP can he not influence TRS ?

  5. k.n Mohan says:

    Mr Praveen sharma seems to presume that a separate state is a socialist state.

  6. k.n Mohan says:

    Sorry there was no agitation for a separate state in the rest of Andhra Pradesh . The real problem for the rest of the state is that they had grown up with the idea that Hyderabad was their capital city and all travel routes, infrastructure, investment, employment and business are concentrated in Hyderabad. With approximately ten per cent of the state’s population, Hyderabad is the employment, educational, travel and marketing nerve centre of the state.

    TRS knows it is sitting on a gold mine and hence its attitude. The revenue, income and bribes from this huge purchasing power will be in its hands.

    The problem for the rest of the state will be building alternative sites of employment, commerece, investment to match Hyderabad. It is shortsighted to see it as a bid for exploitation. The “settlers” in Hydrrabad do not have as much to fear as those in the non-Telangana regions and hence they are not vocal.

  7. k.n Mohan says:

    I find the activity of the revolutionary parties – or may be former revolutionaries- most surprising. They seem to be followers of the ultranationalist “volk” ideologies trottesd out by the combination of the landlords and lumpen neo rich represented by KCR, Rajagopal and Devender Goud. A new rich section has emerged in Telangana in part by the social process ushered in by the Naxalites – and a few decades earlier in Coastal Andhra Pradesh. In Rayalaseema, the same landlord factionist section has emerged in the neo rich garb.

    All of them project the “volk” ideologies of the ultranationalists and fascists like the BJP and MIM. Telangana is not a community without contradictions and accusing non-Telanaga rich as land grabbers and the like ignores the glaring fact that Keshav Rao, Venkataswamy, Janardhan Reddy, Krishna Yadav, Deveneder Goud are all involved in similar activities either directly or through members of their families.

    Instead of advancing the movement towards questioning the very nature of the development that created the problem, they are playing second fiddle to the likes of KCR and his lumpen new rich accomplices. What they will contribute to achieving – if separated – will at best be a Chhattisgarh or Jharkand with a sizeable Muslim population. I would like to know how KCR is qualitatively any different from Madhu Koda ? He is not even a reformer like Survaram or Madapati.

  8. k.n Mohan says:

    The conflict could have been avoided with more balanced development – but all ruling class parties and vested interests in Telanaga and the centre have used the issue as a bargaining chip for power. It is saddening that Hyderabad was beginning to emerge as a centre for a new intellectual, cultural awakening in AP and is now torn asunder by hostilities. Better to part as friends than to live together as enemies.

    This is a blow to persons like me and we will live with it for the rest of our lives.

  9. zubram says:

    Is it possible to handover what ever you have got in your pocket if a person fix a pistol on your neck … well you will at least ask him”what is this?” or “what do you want” to know his mood. When the question is to division of a state within a week … how come it will be possible. The educated and unemployed MPs created that kind of situation.. And now they will have to go back and pacify them… It is too difficult.

    IIT should have come to Vizag and YSR given to Medak. who developed Hyderabad – its is TDP. So we will shift ISB, Airport, flyovers, Hi tech city, Kukatpally and many others and it will take time … to shift OR we need some compensation.

    All these ex and current ministers were in power for 50 years what they did for their regions. In comparision what andhra leaders did for us. We the public is doing our job and they are doing it on their own. You can not just ask to get out … and give me back my portion. I have done lot of interiors – like slabs, tiles, fittings, swimming pool etc., I will vacate but at what cost?? Dont I look for another house. who will decide when I will go? The person or madam who sits at Delhi or President Obama ?? Its me…

    http://andhraone.wordpress.com

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