The Telangana turmoil


'Telangana is my birthright' reads a slogan on Osmania University campus / A Radhakrishna.


"In this day and age with technology at our disposal we can govern even from the moon, so why small states for better administration?" was the question of a 'status-quo' ist.


Telangana, if formed with its current 10 districts will be larger than Kerala or even West Bengal. It is a vast region in a large state - Andhra Pradesh. Fifty years after the formation of Andhra Pradesh, the administration with all the available technology has not given a sense of belonging to the people of this region.


"Linguistic States cannot be dilated, we Telugus are one and so the idea of two Telugu speaking states does not even gel," asserted a good-natured scholar.


The neglect of Telangana, particularly of its language and culture is palpable. Telugu films often use Telangana Telugu for comedy or to portray villainous guile. In all my travels in the Telangana districts, I have heard some of the sweetest and may even say, a distinctly chaste Telugu. The people are very affectionate and have clung on to their traditions - both folk and classical - with great zeal. They instantly compose little verses, which they gladly sing and dance even if the composition cries about the poverty or about lack of rain. All these have only a 'nukkad' value here and that's the neglect.


"Inherently, the people in these districts are not enterprising - their agricultural skills were rudimentary, they could not bring in newer small or big technologies to enhance production. Tangible changes happened, post 1956, only with the migration of dynamic people - workers and investors," claimed a hard-nosed economist.


The region lived under utter shameful feudal oppression for centuries. The razakar violence is fresh in the minds of several families even today. This was followed by Left extremism, which was a product of years of neglect and resultant hopelessness.


The violence, destruction of person and property could not be justified but only extended the oppression. Drastic land reforms could not benefit the poor who did not have the wherewithal to cultivate. Irrigation helped the resourceful and the enterprising but not the deserving poor who formed the bulk of the population. Farmers' suicide in Warangal and Nalgonda are well documented.


Soon came globalization with its urbancentric vulgar unnatural growth resulting in the further neglect of rural areas. Hence, layer over layer neglect has piled up, each strengthening the other.


"6 out of 15 Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh hailed from Telangana," anguished a seasoned political leader.


It is very well to argue that several Chief Ministers of AP hailed from this region. A rough calculation tells us that from 1 November 1956 there were about 15,414 days (leaving aside the current CM's tenure and days under President's rule) of governance under elected governments. Nearly 54 per cent of this time was under CMs hailing from Rayalaseema, about 25 per cent under CMs from Telangana and 21 per cent under CMs from the Coastal area. We can only conclude that both Telangana and Rayalaseema did not gain anything substantial on that count.


"Hyderabad, the state capital with a world class airport is here. Only regions which are far flung from the Capital, for want of attention, long for separate statehood. Telangana's demand is perplexing" said a leader from distant Delhi.


The development in and around Hyderabad is like a bubble, which an aam Hyderabadi is unable to grasp. He lives in his crowded warm 'basti.' We have heard of one hell-hole - Bholakpur - but there could be a few more. Anyone who argues that this contrast is because of globalization, is only talking of the top layer of neglect referred to earlier.


We have heard all this and more in denying Telangana its rightful role in the national arena for sixty long years. The demand for Telangana is drowned in the cacophony of the self-serving politicians, the din of the omnipresent 24x7 media and in the violent agitation. Violence is frightening away well wishers and policy makers.


10 Dec 2009 /