Telangana,Self-respect, and Identity

Lets go back to 1982, to the political vacuum of Telugu’s land. To Begumpet Airport.

T. Anjaiah, the Chief Minister of Andhra, yet another Congress chief minister installed through the “revolving door policy” of the Congress high command, was humiliated at the Airport by a novice AICC General Secretary – Rajiv Gandhi. This was all that took NTR to raise the slogan of ‘Andhra self-respect’, launch the TDP in 1983 and ride his rath into power in Hyderabad within 6 months. Back room installation of Kona Prabhakar Rao, by Governor Ramlal only led to further consolidation of ‘Andhra self-respect’ in favour of the Telegu Desham Party.

Coming back to 11th December 2009, to another political vacuum of Telugu’s land since YSR died. Since P Chidambaram’s executive announcement about splitting the state of Andhra. Andhra’s Congress Chief Minister K Rosaiah said Sonia Gandhi and the Congress High Command will take the final decision on the future Andhra.

And  one question remains in spite of my respect for the Gandhi family – “Who is Sonia Gandhi to decide?”

One full circle for ‘Andhra self-respect’.

Creation of Telangana is a larger issue than the creation of another state in the country. It is a larger issue than the question that if a country with 300 million people can have 50 states, why should a country with 1200 million people have just 28 states? If Telangana is created, it will be the first time in India that a linguistic state is divided. It will shove us into an identity crisis which Pakistan faced when East Pakistan became Bangladesh. The parameters will change from religion to language. If Pakistanis in 1971 wondered if religion wasn’t enough to keep their country together, people in Andhra would wonder if language was not enough. In more ways than one, any identity crisis is good.

But isn’t there an issue of respect in the way the new state was announced. The center announcing its decision to create a new state, adding that the Andhra assembly would move a motion for creation of Telangana, takes a couple of things for granted. Even when the center has power to create new states, it is ok to do that in cases of states without a cohesive identity like UP or Bihar or Madhya Pradesh, but Andhra is different. From Potti Sriramulu’s hunger strike which led to the creation of Andhra Pradesh, to KCR’s hunger strike which has almost led to the division of the state – Andhra, like Tamilnad, Karanataka, and Kerala has developed a cohesive identity based on language. Generations since 1956 have been born into this identity. If changes need to be made to that identity, it should be done in Hyderabad, and not in Delhi. When P Chidambaram announced the decision to divide Andhra from Delhi, he was challenging the ‘self respect’ of every linguistic state in India, not just Andhra.

What does P Chidambaram’s decision mean? Does it mean India’s central government had a sudden rush of ‘morality hormone’ and understood that the people of Telangana did not want to continue in Andhra Pradesh anymore, that they were fed up of the injustices done by coastal Andraites including the second canal to Nagarjuna Sagar, that they never stood a chance for development, and government jobs as part of a greater Andhra. Addressing perceived underdevelopment is fine, but how much morality does the Indian government have to address a question of identity through an executive decision than through a composite dialogue process in Hyderabad. I repeat Hyderabad.

An executive decision in this regard, can be taken by a country which has some moral authority in dealing with identity issues. It is illogical and hypocritical for a country like India which usurps Kashmir valley, Manipur, and Nagaland against the wishes of people who have lived there for centuries, to announce an executive decision in Delhi that it will divide Andhra. (or Maharashtra or Gujarat or Karnataka or Tamilnad or Kerala). This decision should have been made in Hyderabad. I repeat Hyderabad.

Another worthy question to ponder is ‘What if YSR was there?’. We can speculate on that. YSR R.I.P.

What Next on Telangana?

The movement for Telangana has reached its critical mass, and tipping point. The reasons being –

First – India follows a Westminster form of democracy, and the best way to determine how people of a particular area think is by looking at how their representatives think. This is because the MLAs and MPs from a region basically want to get re-elected and hence will represent what their constituents want.

Based on this logic, the big majority of representatives from Coastal Andhra and Rayalseema want a united Andhra ,and almost all representatives from Telangana area want a separate state. Now, the case in point being Telangana, the opinion of the legislators from Telangana matters most. Plus on top of this almost all political parties including Congress, TDP, and Praja Rajyam have taken a favorable stand towards creation of Telangana.

Second – If someone is ready to sacrifice his\her life for a cause, that which is the highest sacrifice a person can make, it is very difficult for any country with a conscience to fight that cause. I’m not talking only about KCR, but the student protests that dotted the Telangana landscape for over 50 years, and which intensified at Osmania and Kakatiya in the past several weeks. (long before national media’s radar saw the impending crisis in Andhra). Three hundred and fifty students died for a separate Telangana in 1971. They were ready to do that again. That is critical mass.

Two approaches are possible now that the issue has reached critical mass. First, ignore the protests and take the Kashmir route where we have send in the army and decimated popular expression. This is doable but will be a long and winding road, and its effectiveness in Kashmir where democracy is still in its mewling and puking stages may not be the same in a large and important state like Andhra.

Second, respect democracy, create Telangana.

Arguments against Telangana at this point are irrelevant as every political party is divided right in the middle on this issue, resulting in a highly divided polity. The arguments vary from ineffectiveness of Telangana’s political leadership to the investments in Hyderabad.

Telangana’s political leadership and Water wars

Three Chief Ministers of Andhra have come from Telangana region – PV Narasimha Rao, Marri Chenna Reddy,and T. Anjiah. But the surprising fact is that they together served just 6 years in the state’s 52 year history. Then again Rayal Seema had 4 stalwarts  N. Sanjeeva Reddy, Damodaram Sanjeeviah, K. Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy, and Babu Naidu who served for 20 years but remains another under-developed area. So the issue could be less about political leadership but more structural like the historical backwardness of the Telangana area.

But instead of 6 years, what if leaders from Telangana governed Telangana for 52 years? Would they have been better given the limited amount of resources? This is a larger Indian question, but one thing is sure about political leadership – smaller states have done well, smaller states have gone to hell as well – it depends on political leadership. Given Telangana’s backwardness in terms of human development and resources for industry, any new government in the new state will have a large incentive to start another water war because the head waters of Krishna and Godavari are located in Telangana.

The question of Hyderabad

This is a little tricky, but the argument that people from other parts of the state  who work in Hyderabad will be insecure doesn’t hold much water. People from Coastal Andhra and Rayal Seema also work in Bangalore, Chennai, and Bombay, and they will continue to work in Hyderabad. This is as illogical as thinking people in Telangana will stop watching Allu Arjun or Mahesh Babu if the state is divided. The shared culture and language will I guess make Hyderabad different for a person from Andhra when compared to Chennai or Bangalore.

The case of Babu Naidu investing a lot of tax payer’s money in Hyderabad has not much meat. When Andhra was left without a metropolis after Madras stayed with Madras Presidency, Telangana with its capital of Hyderabad (Andhra’s capital was Kurnool) was merged with Andhra. Telangana’s resources were exploited under the Nizam’s rule to provide for Hyderabad, and the Andhra state benefited from this. When Hyderabad came to Andhra Pradesh in 1956, it was the 5th largest city in India. In 2009, its still the 5th largest city in India. Babu Naidu may have invested in it, but historically speaking – it’s fair game.

I know it’s easier said than done, especially for people losing their identity. But this  one issue will trigger debates in the southern states which go beyond the fifty year old- taken for granted-identity of language. And that’s change and And that’s good!

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16 Responses to Telangana,Self-respect, and Identity

  1. Hyderabad at heart December 16, 2009 at 4:04 am #

    Yes, Mr BVM, It is all about the leadership! Size is no reason to split a state – as you have rightly noted there are small states that have done well and there are small states that have gone awry. We are unified as a state given a common language and we don’t want to split due to political gains or games. We refuse to become another Gujarat where politics of religion has become the norm.

    You have identified three CMs from Telanaga. They may have ruled only for six years, but that is no measure of their power to influence. Those three people also include one of the only south Indian prime ministers of the country – the man who did drive unprecedented economic changes! If this is the case, the argument that Telangana is underrepresented is meaningless. Another CM you have named, Chenna Reddy represents a mockery of sorts on the Telangana issue. Before he came to power, the drove political unrest and a we want a separate campaign. Standard political drama – students et all. It included burning of buses and close to death experiences for people like my grandmother! It was all in vain, it was to get him to power – there was no telanaga afterwards!

    It hurts to see what they have done again. You are talking about the students – yes, my heart goes out to them. They are victims of these vain political aspirations – they would rather focus on real issues and drive development for the country and for themselves instead of being a pawn in this game. The state has been in shambles since this political drama intensified. People like KSR do it for a purpose – he has something to gain and its not difficult to slowly and steadily make people believe that there is something in it for them. As an Indian and citizen of unified Andhra (not the parts that the politicians want for themselves), I really wish all these politicians would rather focus their time on unified and equitable development of the state rather than creating and managing this unrest.

  2. scorpiogenius December 16, 2009 at 6:17 am #

    I have a slight difference of opinion w.r.t Hyderabad. Hyderabad may have remained the nth largest city in 1950 and now, but the profile of the city has undergone immense makeover in those years. Its like chalk and cheese…

    Naidu made Hyderbad into the USP of Andhra which the whole state made use of under YSR. The city contributes the lion share of Tax revenues for the state and more importantly produces a hulk % of the State GDP. This revenue was made use to improve the condition of the whole of Andhra, including Telangana, not to mention that Hyd is well rooted within geographical Telangana. After feeding the city to its full in the name of Andhra, now the state is being robbed of it, now is is that a fair-game?

    How do you think the divided Andhra is going to fare sans the city? Where is the revenue going to come from? Remember, YSR’s people-friendly rule and the benefit schemes depended a lot from the revenues from Hyderabad. Every state needs a magnetic metropolis to drive its economy, its a tried and tested model for development. The state, minus Hyderabad is going to take a beating.

    And how is Telangana region going to benefit from a new state? It is a land-locked, infertile, arid state. Even Nabard had reservations about the schemes being used for irrigation technique for rural Telangana. And you don’t need a new state to initiate irrigation, power and educational projects, do you?

    My thoughts: Telangana may benefit from the Hyderabad brand along with KCR, his family and his party but not the aam aadmi of Telangana. Coastal & Rayalaseema have to begin from scratch, and I don’t think this is going to be a beneficial act to perform, neither regionalistically nor nationalistically.

  3. Police Officer December 16, 2009 at 6:51 am #

    Root cause of Telangana issue is

    Coastal & Seema people have elected Industrialists as their MPs.
    They created thousands of jobs in Hyderabad & Telangana region.

    And Telangana people have always elected useless politicians viz KK, Kaka, KCR, KTR, VH, CH etc
    How many jobs did Telangana politicians create for Telangana people?

    And why did Prime Minister PV denounced Telangana people and represented Seema (Nandyal) & Maharastra (Nanded)?

  4. peter hyderabad December 16, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    Telangana is for us we do not belong to Andhra or Rayalseema. If you are worried about Telangana being not able to survive without Andhra, IT is a joke you Andhras want to be with us we don’t hopefully you can survive if you can then take the challenge and go your way, leave our resources for us. Jai Telangana!

  5. Police Officer December 17, 2009 at 12:14 am #

    Govt must make Telanagana region into a separate Nation.

    If Telangana people are unable to work & live in the most developed state in India,they’re NOT fit to live in India.

    Since 1948 Telangana people wished to remain independent or considered joining Pakistan. But Sardar Patel forcefully integrated Nizam’s Hyderabad State in India.

    In Barkha Dutt NDTV program, KTRama Rao, son of KCR said that non-Telangana people should work in Hyderabad on H1B type visa.

    And Telangana politicians (e.g Prakash) are demanding separate nation in the disguise of separate state in TV shows.

    Useless Telangana politicians viz Kaka,KK,KCR,KTR,VH,CH etc will destroy India by spreading separatism to UP,WB,TN,KA,MH,GJ

    And why did Prime Minister PV denounce Telangana people and represented Seema (Nandyal) & Maharastra (Nanded)?

  6. E Pradeep December 17, 2009 at 5:43 am #

    Beg to differ on a few counts. Dividing a state into 2 parts for better governance is nothing wrong – the states of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh have shown an increase in their prosperity after they were carved out from their parent states. Calling it a division similar to partition is getting too emotional in one’s judgement; it merely changes the administrative machinery of the state and does not divide the country.

    Telangana has a rich stock of minerals ans is fairly well-endowed in terms of natural resources; absence of Hyderabad does not make it an economically unviable state. Krishna and Godavari flow into Telangana also – the fact is that for this region has not received adequate power and other resources despite the need and it is this has affected the state. Coastal Andhra is not dependent solely on Hyderabad – you forget the position of Vijayawada and Vizag in the growth of AP as a strong regional power.

    Ofcourse, you could argue whether another government means that the administration will improve and that does not necessarily depend on the size but the fact that is that a smaller provice can help in a better demarcation of powers and a more efficient governance. A smaller state can be governed well but will it – that’s to be seen…

  7. scorpiogenius December 17, 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    @ E. Pradeep, I’m not certain about Chattisgarh, but Jharkhand is a state which has gone DOWN in all aspects after the carve-out. It is disappointing in a sense because the rich resources of that state is yet to be exploited. The govt and machinery have so far failed miserably to bring the law and order situation under control, esp the Naxal menace. Saying that I’ve heard some experts opining that you need to invest at least 10 years to see any noticable change after this ‘address change’. So fair-enough…

    Small states may be easy for governance all right, but you’ve to see both sides of the coin. The federal concept is going to get weaker with the birth of more states and more regional parties. Now an unstable Central Govt can put the whole nation on backfoot, so we need to think thrice, or more times, before heeding to such regionalistic demands.

  8. bvn December 17, 2009 at 5:22 pm #

    @Hyd at heart, I agree with you, we all wish ‘unified and equitable development of the state’ for all states. The issue here is that a part of the state perceives that it hasn’t happened to them in the past 52 years.

    @Aneesh, I haven’t looked at any revenue figures or other information here, that might be important. But while I did the post I thought it was not so important. As I said, the post talked about identity and self-respect in a federal environment. Is there a point in worrying about revenues when the question is about identity. Britishers would have invested heavily in HongKong or Gujaratis in Mumbai or Andhraites in Chennai – but politics and identity comes ahead of any future analysis of cash flow. I think so. If you ask how will Andhra survive without Hyderabad, that is a question we need to pose to every centralized model of development. And if we say Andhra will suck without Hyderabad, we are questioning the ability of one of India’s most entrepreneurial population. And how long can this issue be put in the backburner, how many more people have to die? Then again examples of Uttarkhand and Jharkand are out there, the agility that small states bring. And I wouldn’t use the Aam Aadmi word so lightly, and KCR and his family benefiting is a naive view of things. TRS has no direct benefits here except they will be a larger player in Telangana’s politics.

    @E Pradeep, I agree. Vizag and Vijayawada are powerful cities in the two remaining regions which can drive growth. That’s a balanced take on things. I mentioned division of Pakistan here because it is a crisis based on a basic identity – religion, and here language.

  9. Police Officer December 18, 2009 at 4:44 am #

    Hyderabad State was not even the part of British India. Since 1948 Telangana people are demanding separate Nation in disguise of separate State.

  10. Bharat December 19, 2009 at 11:54 pm #

    “Potti Sriramulu’s hunger strike which led to the creation of Andhra Pradesh, ”
    WRONG. Potti Sriramulu’s hunger strike let to separation of madras state into tamilnadu and andhra states. Not the formation of Andhra pradesh. I still don’t understand why we were forced to read about potti sriramulu when all he did was what kcr is doing now? because one is from telangana and another is not??

  11. Bharat December 20, 2009 at 12:16 am #

    See that hatred you guys have exposed in some of your posts? And you think all the political people from other regions are saints? like YSR, Babu, Lagadapati? Don’t they have some thousand of crores? They must be “some” business people to earn that kind of money honestly.

  12. Ajay December 21, 2009 at 9:36 am #

    I think I am launching the Travancore Raksha Samithi, want a membership? You can be the Ambassador to the US! 😉

  13. Police Officer December 22, 2009 at 12:50 am #

    G.O. 610 is unconstitutional and squashed by Supreme Court.
    G.O. 1845 is meant to release funds to recent FLOODS effected Coastal & Seema districts.

    Telangana Region is at 1 km high altitude than Coastal Region.
    River waters will flow from high to low altitudes. Common sense?

    Coastal ppl are NOT saying Gujarat exploited our KG basin oil reserves.
    Seema ppl are NOT saying Coastal ppl exploited their river waters.

    TN MPs got better Cabinet Berths in UPA than AP MPs.
    AP MPs are NOT saying TN exploited them.

    Why only Telangana ppl rant they’re exploited?

  14. praveen December 28, 2009 at 11:56 pm #

    Look andhra thammullu “Samaikyandhra” is possible only when all three regions(telangana,rayalaseem and andhra) people are willing to be united….but here situation is different,,none of them from telangana are supporting samaiykyvadam…then how can this happen……..
    Most of the people from andhra say that telangana especially hyderabad was developed by andhra…..but i disagree with this……because from starting onwards we are having many resourses like railways which the biggest in south india and airport in begumpet and many more….Only thing u people did was investing in hyd dat too for ur own development……
    you people came to telangana for livelihood , so mind ur businness and dont unneccessarily talk rubbish abt telangana…..its not 1969 ….it is 2009….kabardar,,
    HYDERABAD IS OURS(TELANGANA)……NO ONE CAN TAKE FROM US

  15. Police Officer December 30, 2009 at 5:40 am #

    Rivers waters, unemployment, 1st SRC, G.O. 610, underdevelopment, G.O.1845, self-respect, freedom etc r lame excuses.

    What Telangana ppl really want is ‘free’ money.
    Why Telangana ppl are afraid to work in Seema & Coastal regions?

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