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The purpose of any debate should be to enrich our own views through the support or the challenge provided by the views of the others. But, there are two aspects to communication. One is the matter of output – the speaking and writing, involving problems or rhetoric, composition, logical presentation, coherence, definition of terms, knowledge of the subject and the audience and so on. However, most of the preoccupation with communication is directed toward the improvement of the output, so that we find on every hand courses in composition, in effective speaking, in the arts of plain or fancy talk, and how to write more dynamic sales letters etc. 

But the other aspect of communication, namely, the problem of intake – especially the problem of how to listen well - is relatively a neglected subject. This is the problem with the Telugus. Those watching and listening to the rhetoric in varied decibels, in the recent times, over the Special Category Status, must be a confused lot. The confusion is over the perceived benefits that people of Andhra Pradesh would secure if the Status is conferred on them. 

The confusion is also over whether a Special Package would be better as the Chief Minister, N Chandrababdu Naidu, had been saying till recently. Confusion is also reigning over whether the BJP has given enough to the State as is being claimed by the party's leadership. Above all, the real confusion is over 'how and why' they are saying all these things. It is common to cite the example of the behaviour of crabs while referring to the Telugus. Perhaps, they are fiercely independent and hence not united. Even more, it could be due to a deficit of trust. 

Let us just look at the issue of Special Category Status afresh. There is no dispute that it would be useful to the State. The dispute is over who scores brownie points. One should remember that recognition for a good, but non-useful suggestion or effort is known as a brownie point. In this instance, it is a fight for self-preservation because it is politics that matter here. It is these politics which prevent Telugus from embarking on the larger public good. One always cites the unity of Tamils or Malayalees in this regard. Even those above the Vindhyas make you feel guilty for not accepting Hindi as your lingua franca. 

The demand for SCS may be common to the present agitation. But the grouping also matters. A disjointed and dispirited demand does not work at all. It should be a combined and unified effort. Unless one marches to the goalpost walking hand in hand, it is not possible to achieve the required result. Thanks to the politics inherent to the agitation now, the issue has reached a terminological tangle. 

It is a situation where discussion is stalemated by conflicting definitions of key terms. Sadly, in the present discourse, the SCS protagonists are questioning the partners more, but not the offender. That undermines the very purpose of the demand as the exploiter knows how divided the Telugus are!


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