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Telangana has regional identity, distinct history

Telangana has regional identity, distinct history
Highlights

Fears about the emergence of Telangana as a separate State plunging the country into identity struggles have been expressed by the Communist Party of...

What is the vision of the TJAC for the future Telangana State? What is the vision of the TRS? Are they different, are they conflictual?

Fears about the emergence of Telangana as a separate State plunging the country into identity struggles have been expressed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) time and again. Even after the Congress Working Committee decision to concede the long-standing demand of Telangana people, the CPI (M) expressed anxiety about the country falling apart. What is preposterous is the demand that the CWC withdraw the decision on Telangana State.

Telangana has a regional identity and a distinct history Refusal to comprehend this history and the legitimate demands of its people is a refusal to understand the materiality of Telangana identity that subsumes in itself caste, Adivasi, community and even class identities.

Prof Rasheeduddin Khan’s concept of the federal nation is seminally important in comprehending autonomy and integration. The federal nation, by implication, is essentially a territorial and political concept in which emphasis is placed primarily on construction of regional or territorial communities.

Regionalism signifies the existence of a regional community -- a community of identifiable characteristics, for which regionalism is an ideology, an agenda and a method of protest. The basic objective of sub-regionalism is ensuring a fair and equitable share of partnership in the political power structure and economic resources of the State.

Region and regionalism, as Prof. Alyoshius points out, are in many ways prior to nation and nationalism. They are more natural and normal phenomena. Regionalism revolves around language and literary imagination and other issues of history, culture and religion are legitimated in relation to language.

Telangana was historically a region by itself for over 400 years. As it evolved historically, it consisted of Telangana, Marathwada and Karnataka districts as the Nizam’s Dominion. Until 1956, they constituted the Hyderabad State as a multilingual, multi-religious region. The merger of the two Telugu-speaking regions, the hegemonic exercise of power thereafter by the dominant Andhra elite along with the weak and subservient Telangana elite has led to a certain pattern of development that was city-centric and that systematically destroyed agriculture and rural areas of Telangana, resulting in loss of livelihoods.

Benefits of development must have a social dimension, in the sense of reaching out to the lowest denominator in the social hierarchy. Therefore, the Telangana movement raises crucial questions with regard to the development paradigm. The injustices experienced by its people are regional in the sense of one region exploiting the other [‘internal colonialism’], spatial in the sense of the natural resources of one region being exploited for the benefit of the other, and social as the exploited sections belong to the most marginalized sections: the Adivasis, Dalits, minorities and women. Telangana identity now demands respect to its language and culture.

Creation or merger of the Andhra State with Telangana in 1956 was the outcome of the desire of literate sections from the two regions, making language and culture of Telugu people [read Andhra people] as the basis for their demand. While the Andhra region was more literate, the print media in Telangana was weak as “it was educationally backward, particularly backward in the study of English.” Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, the then chief minister of Hyderabad State, wrote to president of the Indian National Congress UN Dhebar: “The slogan of Vishalandhra has been in the field for a long time. It had its emotional appeal. The supporters of cultural integration feel that it is better the two Telugu-speaking people living in contiguous areas should come together. For them, there is a great cultural advantage in a bigger province. This is entirely an emotional approach to which a section of the literary people attaches considerable importance.”

Today the Telangana identity represents a consolidation of the identities of castes and communities, their cultural and material desires, and the demand for political power to govern themselves in their own State.

Hyderabad city is an integral part of Telangana. The corporate-led development of the city has created large areas with no civic amenities, dried up and polluted its lakes, and enriched a small minority. It is the story of an unholy nexus of bureaucrats-politicians and land mafia that violated all norms of law and dispossessed a large number of people in the name of development. Leaders of Andhra State could learn lessons and develop a capital of their own which surely does not take 10 years. Two to three years are sufficient to build the three wings of government.

Crucial to this understanding of the Telangana movement is the question: What is the vision of the TJAC for the future Telangana State? What is the vision of the TRS? Are they different, are they conflictual? While the energies of both are consumed by working out strategies for Telangana now, it is equally important to work out a vision and hold it out for the public. The vision of Telangana must make a shift and present a development paradigm that is people- oriented and an inclusive. This needs to be debated and worked out.

(The writer is retired professor of Political Science, Osmania University)

A political gimmick to divide Telugu people

Government should have a vision and a mission for the country. The interests of the country in general should have supremacy over State or regional interests

The political parties in Andhra Pradesh are caught up between the devil and the deep sea! If they support division of the State into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, they will lose their very existence in the Seemandhra area. If it is otherwise, they will get extinct from the Telangana region. Of course, this situation is their own-making. It is a great lesson for them, if at all they want to learn, that they should not play too much with people.

The political leaders and people of Telangana may rejoice the achievement of their long cherished goal of a separate Telangana State immediately. But, in the long run they have to face multifarious problems. Similarly, there will be a vacuum in the revenues and resources of Seemandhra area and Telangana. When a State is divided, obviously, there will be economic, social and ecological disturbances as the State loses its cohesiveness.

The division will immediately send ripples of separation to other states of the country where there are impending separatist movements. Even the announcement of CWC about the formation of Telangana unleashed agitations in Assam and West Bengal. Many more are in the offing.

Formation of Telangana is not the end of the problem for the State. Rather, it is the beginning of major problems both within the State and throughout the country. There is an imminent danger of Rayalaseema falling out from the left-over Andhra Pradesh. Similarly, Adivasis of Telangana region may

demand Gondvana, for which they have been agitating for decades. The divided units will not have any bargaining power in the parliament, whichever party is in power. Their voice will be a minority in both the lower and upper houses of the country. Numbers do matter in politics however democratic the country may be.

Water wars have already started between one State and another and these divided states will be no exception. Water crisis will have a strong impact on the agriculture of both the states. Power generation and distribution will have a definite setback for years to come. Neither the Centre nor the State has a magic to wand to bring up projects soon! Let us realise that there are still projects of First Five Year Plan of the country incomplete.

It took many years for the jute industry of the country to recover from the shock of the partition of India and Pakistan. So would be the case with the industrial growth of the divided states. The well-knit administrative structure and the cordial camaraderie of the employees will get shattered and they will be plunged into a sense of insecurity. In spite of many political struggles, employees have always been united having friendly relations among themselves. Division will destroy that peace and amity among the employees.

Division, undoubtedly, disturbs the academic atmosphere in the State and the future of the students will be at stake. For myriads of years Telugu people had lived together right from Sathavahanas (200 BCE to 220 ADE) till the Nizam gifted away the Circars and Rayalaseema to the British. Telugu people had a reunion in 1956 with the formation of Andhra Pradesh.

Is division a solution to the backwardness of a region? If it were so, into how many pieces our country is going to be divided? Who will be happy with the division? Will it really do good to the people of Telangana region?

Instead of spending trillions of rupees for the construction of a new capital, can’t that money be spent for the development of all the backward districts in the State? That is statesmanship. Division is a political gimmick.

The Preamble of our Constitution exhorts promotion of fraternity among the people of India assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation. Is “division” in consonance with this lofty ideal of our constitution?

It is not just the interests of the people of Seemandhra that are going to be endangered with division. More damage would be caused to the Telangana region. Division is the problem of the entire State and not of a particular region. It is high time all the people of Andhra Pradesh thought of the impending danger to the state vis-à-vis all the regions.

Government should have a vision and a mission for the country. The interests of the country in general should have supremacy over State or regional interests. When it is a matter of the interests of the State versus country’s integrity, obviously the interests of the nation are of utmost importance.

Emotions die soon. Sentiments will not last longer. But, it would take a long time for the divided states to recover from the immanent losses. At this juncture, the country needs statesmen who think for the “Tomorrow’ of the State and the country rather than politicians who look for the next elections.

(The writer is a retired professor of Andhra Loyola College, Vijayawada, and a management consultant)

Issues and Responses

With Seemandhra people up in arms against the Congress decision to bifurcate the State, various issues that have never been discussed openly are coming into sharp focus from the three regions. We have run a five-part series highlighting the Srikrishna Committee Report’s observations on key issues and asked our readers to respond. Starting today, we publish views from people who have reacted and written to us. They are either directly related to the subjects mentioned in the Report or on bifurcation.

Readers are welcome to send in their opinions for publication. They should be written in English and to the point. Please mention the complete address with phone number. Also attach a passport size photograph and mail to letters@thehansindia.in

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