Burgula Narsing Rao was one of a kind

Burgula Narsing Rao was one of a kind
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Burgula Narsing Rao was one of a kind

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Burgula Narsing Rao has often been called a true son of Telangana and a true-blue Hyderabadi. I met him on several occasions during the research for...

Burgula Narsing Rao has often been called a true son of Telangana and a true-blue Hyderabadi. I met him on several occasions during the research for our film on the rocks of Hyderabad and found him generous with his time and his capacity to share knowledge of the lay-out of the land in all aspects. A great storyteller who kept me rapt with accounts of personal history which also happen to be muscularly tied into the area's history.

A fierce champion of the ideals of the freedom movement and in the mould of its greatest leaders and thinkers. One of the sharpest minds the city has seen. Witty and urbane and yet a son of the soil, his passing is an incomparable loss to Hyderabad. He would start from his origins in Burgula village near Hyderabad. From the feudal set up of his grandfather's time to modern day Hyderabad, he would describe the many eras in the history of the area, in vivid detail.

He had a scholar cum practitioner's grasp of this history and had a way of sorting it by decades, making it easy for anyone to follow it. He was always sharp in his criticism of the systems of social exploitation he saw in older times as well as those that are current in our own times.

His accounts were relayed with keen perception of feudal exploitative systems, British politics, the growth and spread of the freedom movement, the sharpening of communal tendencies, the coming of independence, the challenges thereafter. The bedrock of these accounts was a passionate commitment to the area and the first-hand experience of having lived through these times and participated whole heartedly in the struggles they embodied and the successes they achieved.

It was exhilarating to hear him speak of so many intellectual and artistic luminaries of Hyderabad and their engagement with the issues of the times. His involvement and contribution to the struggle for Telangana and social and economic justice for all, is well known and documented. But what made it so special was to hear it all from him. He mentioned how Maqdoom Moiuddin, his friend, condensed their goals in the now oft quoted lines:

Hayat leke chalo qayanaath leke chalo

Chalo toh saare zamaane ko saath leke chalo

(Take along all existence, take along all creation

If you go ahead, take along all of the world)

And another less known couplet that sums up the acute discernment of events by this group of leaders:

Na kisi aah ki awaaz, na kisi zanjeer ka shor

Aaj kya ho gaya zindaan main,

ki zindaan chup hai

(There is no sound of pain, no sound of chain What unfolds today in prison, that the prison is silent?)

The fire in his eyes when he recounted the details of the students agitation of which he was a prominent leader, changed easily to a twinkle as he recounted how he had to negotiate the fact that he was the nephew of the ruling Chief Minister Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, against whom they were making their demands.

On one occasion the Chief Minister uncle promised the agitating student leader nephew, that he would come personally and deliver on promises made to the students. 20,000 people had gathered outside Osmania hospital. But the Chief Minister was a no show! Burgula Narsing Rao recounts smilingly how he had to contend with people saying: "Chacha bhatija peeche kuch kar liye! Dono mil liye!

But the people trusted me and eventually the movement (which started from Warangal and spread to Hyderabad, Aurangabad, Marathwada and engulfed the whole state) was too strong and powerful to be ignored, and, all the students' demands were eventually met."

He states: "The foundation for the birth of the state, its roots, began there in the 1952 student movement. The entire movement was against the denial of opportunity to the people of Telangana. But we were not against anyone. We did not support the slogans that some raised of "Andhras go home" We agitated for fair opportunities in education and employment for the local people."

It would not be amiss to say Burgula Nasing Rao was one of a kind. We will miss him, his sharp intellect and easy wit, his generous sharing of knowledge, his fierce commitment to the land and its people.In gratitude, the deepest affection and wholehearted respect.

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