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Apna Hyderabad – Whose City Is It జూలై 13, 2007

Posted by Telangana Utsav in Articles, Deccan, Hyderabad.


Have the winds of change sweeping across the city eroded the Hyderabadi identity? The transitional phase the city is caught in has ensured that one may no longer see a Hyderabadi in Hyderabad, says Roli Srivastava 

Some miss Irani mutton samosas, others sorely miss the lazy pace of life the city once enjoyed and many pine for its lost ‘tehzeeb’. But, it is not just a food rarity or a state of mind or even the prompt ‘shukriyas’ that has gone missing from the city of Nizams. In this melee of ‘outsiders’— people who have moved into the state from across the country — and new cultures, it is the true blue Hyderabadi identity that seems to have gone missing from Hyderabad. While the city is just about becoming greater and bigger, old timers say it is a matter of concern that much of its identity is already eroded. Compared to other big cities that have survived the influx of countless job-seekers and migrants such as Mumbai, Hyderabad seems to be losing Hyderabadis to the crowd already.

“People from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu have lived here for several years and some localities are in fact now known by these communities. But, they mingled with the city,’’ says M Bharat Bhushan, co-author of Hyderabad’s first citizen’s charter report, who now heads an organisation supporting a separate Telangana state, Telangana Utsav.

However, things started changing “post NTR era’’ as Bhushan puts it. “Hyderabadis are now a smaller number. And they are feeling isolated,’’ he says.

While some, like Bhushan, believe that it’s the “oppressive” nature of those from outside the city that is “suppressing” the Hyderabadi “pehchan’’, a few others such as advertising executive V Sridhar ditto the sentiment saying that a large number of Hyderabadis are now reduced to a “silent majority’’. “It is the vocal minority that seems to be articulating our beliefs, our culture, representing us in the pages of newspapers. But then, they are not the quintessential Hyderabadis from Mana Hyderabad,’’ Sridhar, 27, points out.

Describe it as a community that embraces all cultures or one not too confident of its own, the fact is that Hyderabadis have not been able to hold up their own.

“I wouldn’t be critical of what is happening. Hyderabad has always been known to absorb many cultures,’’ says city old timer Siraj Taher, but adds that while the city was once known for its “‘Ganga Jamni’ tehzeeb’’ — working of both gold and silver on jewellery — the analogy derived to illustrate co-existing cultures. The same may not be true now.

The missing sense of pride, say observers grudgingly, could be the root cause for the identity’s disappearance. For instance, while neighbouring states like Maharashtra have slogans of Jai Maharashtra, neither Hyderabad nor the Nizams have been given such tags of endearment, so far. A lukewarm Mana Hyderabad does not really make hearts flutter.

“But, Telugus in Hyderabad have no identity really,’’ says S Parthasarathy (name changed), a senior IT executive, who moved to Hyderabad a few years ago from Rajahmundry. After all, he says Hyderabad is known for its ‘tehzeeb’, its biryani or the Charminar — none of which actually belong to the Telugu community nor reflect its identity. “They reflect Muslim culture,’’ he says, adding that luminaries from the Telugu community have been relegated to mere statues even though politicians time and again have appealed to Telugu pride and coined phrases such as ‘Telugu Atma Gouravam’.

Nevertheless, sociologist P Kamala Rao insists that the city’s identity or that of its citizens hasn’t been lost yet. She admits, however, that it is now limited to the Old City and that the city does not really take pride in its identity and culture here.

“But, when they go abroad, they take pride and value their culture. They have associations like the Telugu Association of North America but nobody gives much thought to all this when here as they are busy with their daily lives,’’ she says.

However, the reasons for the fast eroding identity ranges from a large chunk of educated Hyderabadis moving to the US, the UK or other destinations such as the Middle East. The first lot of migrations out of Hyderabad in the fifties and sixties after the fall of the Nizams was the first casualty of what used to be the Hyderabadi identity. “Is it surprising,” asks an old timer adding that “if Hyderabad ceased to be a state where would be the question of a Hyderabadi identity ?”

Observers say that while many residents of Hyderabad moved out of the city soon after the fall of Nizams, quite a few migrated into the city in the initial years from UP and in recent years from all over the country.

“How could the Hyderabadi culture thrive when the cream had moved out of the city,’’ asks Shahid Ali Abbasi, professor of Islamic studies, Osmania University. He adds that the migration from Hyderabad wasn’t limited to foreign destinations. There was local migration too with “some of the effluent in the Old City moving to the other side of the river Musi’’, he says.

Also, the city never shared a common sense of identity. The Old City has remained separated from the new city and there is no interaction between these two ends, says filmmaker T Bharadwaj. “The Old City guys were steeped in Nizami culture, the ones in the new city brought in their own culture mostly the coastal Andhra variation,” an analyst adds.

Lack of political will, as in other issues, is blamed for failing identity as well. “GO 610, that protects locals, has not been implemented in the last 25 years. This is an example that Hyderabadis are not only being ignored but even being pushed out,’’ Bhushan says.

Sadly, it is the city’s lingo, Dakhani, which too has taken a beating with new cultures mingling in Hyderabad. While the lingo could have well acted as a common factor binding the two ends of the city, it is now used by a limited number of people. Urdu’s decline then becomes predictable.

Taher recollects a Christian priest friend whose conversation was peppered with ‘inshallah’ and ‘mashallah’. “That was the real Hyderabad when five people would collect and speak only Urdu,’’ he says.

The meaning of a real Hyderabad is clearly a personal one. While Taher speaks of the charm the city held for leading a comfortable even paced life with a fair sprinkling of weekend picnics, Bharadwaj can’t seem to forget the mutton samosas and Irani chai that were once so readily available. “I have been looking for those samosas for two years now. All we get now are the alu-samosas,’’ he shrugs. The perfect ‘pauna (tea with malai)’ too is hard to get, he says.

Bharadwaj admits that Telugu cinema has also failed to capture the quintessential Hyderabad, neither in its prime nor now. For the lingo, he says that Telugu artistes were not able to use it well enough and thus it never became popular in the regional cinema here.

So, while audiences saw Hyderabadis in actor Mehmood who hitched up his lungi and belted out ‘hum kale hai to kya hua’ or in Naseeruddin Shah, a colourful autorickshaw driver serenading a stiff upper-lipped Sanjana Kapoor in impeccable Dakhani in ‘Hero Hiralal’, such portrayals were missed in popular Telugu cinema. While the Hindi films and portrayals could have well been those of a cliched Hyderabadi identity that people agreed or disagreed with, the portrayals established an identity, nonetheless.

When Urdu RULEDEvery city owes a part of its identity to its educational institutions. Today Hyderabad could well be a mixed bag of languages from various corners of the country, but once many people here chose to speak in Urdu. City old-timer Siraj Taher reminisces about the days when people from all communities in Hyderabad spoke in chaste Urdu.From a Christian priest friend to a Punjabi, he recollects a wide range of people who spoke in Urdu with great ease.

Perhaps it was designed that the city spoke in Urdu. In fact, Osmania was the first university in the country to impart education in Urdu and had a dedicated department (Dar al-Tarjuma) to translate works in various languages into Urdu.

 “The translation institution was established to cater to the needs of the students and people from across the country were invited to offer their services here and given handsome salaries,’’ says Shahid Ali Abbasi, professor of Islamic Studies, Osmania University. He says books in Arabic, Persian, Hindi among other languages were translated into Urdu.

 “The books were on all subjects including engineering, medicine, history, mathematics, algebra, philosophy,’’ says Abbasi, who is also director of Dairatul Maarifil Osmania.

It all went on well until a “mysterious fire’’ claimed it all. “There occurred a mysterious electric short circuit and all the books and some important source materials and drafts were burnt to ashes,’’ he says.

Things started changing with time and soon English replaced Urdu as medium of instruction. The quintessential Hyderabadi culture of long chats over unending cups of Irani chai and mutton samosas is slowly becoming extinct  

Source:: Times Of India Hyderabad, July 13, 2007 Page 2



1. Asra - జూలై 24, 2007

It’s hard to find a Hyderabadi in Hyderabad now.The mushrooming BPO’s have also contributed to the identity crisis every Hyderabadi is facing today.The current progressing society doesn’t reflect it’s rich culture and heritage.On a internatnal scene Hyd is seen as a hub for software companies and BPO’s leaving it’s true cultural identity in the shackles of growth and development.The city has become so impersonal and difficult to relate to.There divide between the new city and old city is so conspicuous that people have to literally travel to charminar to get a real feel of Hyderabad.

2. Krishna T - సెప్టెంబర్ 4, 2007

My openion : Hyderabadis should raise their voice for their identity. In earlier days, there is low availability of educated manpower in our region as that specially migrants from Andhra are came to our Historical city. At present whever you see there were existence of Andhra migrants.” If you go to rome be as roman” this is a famous quotation. But these migrants will not mingle with locals, morever they rubbed their culture on us and criticised the same. I observed in Door Dharshan teleschool programme a teacher asked the students which is our big festival then the students have given wrong answer, later the teacher said that is Sankrati is big festival of ours. In our region Dashara is big festival that is every one know. off course we are celebrate Sankranti but not in the volume of Dashera.

The Andhra Migrants are making differences among local people and they dominating us. They are moving strategically in our areas.

For save our culture and identity, we (locals) should educated well, we should cooperate each other, local people work hard to get employment in government, learn to work hard in their occupations or any other works and business etc., Don’t give chance to Andhra migrants to your fields.

I am giving one example any one goes to new area that person move politely live courteously. But these migrants neglecting that.

3. v.t.reddy - సెప్టెంబర్ 18, 2007

Dear sir,
iam not a big man to apreciate your programmes,but as a telangana region person iam introducing this site to my friends,my hope is TUC should become a decission maker we need to gather pepole,we need pepole from each and evry corner of the earth those want telangana,those pepole are praising for telanagna state,we need pepole like teachers,lecturers and profeesors,they are the pepole they will teach about telangana,they will explain why we required telangana,other wise they attract to some other political party,today every politician will talk about telangana,because if he is not talking he will loose votes,how long we will bare,every body should think yesterday why TRS not celebrated telangana vimochanotsav,we should not trust this political leaders tommorow KCR’s son is becoming central minister means he will forget about TRS only they want there career,my opnion is next year 2008 september 17th each and every telangana school,college&university should celebrate telangana vimochanotsav, i will give u my full support.

4. Abdullah Zafar Abbasi - నవంబర్ 4, 2007

Well! alli can say is the name you people see in the above article which is Shahid Ali Abbasi is my father!..

5. Jaiswal - జనవరి 12, 2008

A constant thing is change. Change is occurring in Hyderabad too and Hyderabadis will adapt to the changes by choice or regardless of it. Jaiswal at http://ejaiswal.blogspot.com

6. U.P Rao - నవంబర్ 14, 2009

People. What world are you living in? Hyderabad is a global success and is continuing to expand. When you say Hyderabad identity is lost. You are talking about a particular identity from the days of the Muslim Nizam. Identities are in constant flux. Mumbai use to be a Marathi fishing town but today Hindi is dominant and Marathis feel disrespected in their own city. During British rule Madras became majority Telugu but now Tamilians are once again dominant. These changes in identity come and go. Lahore was a majority Sikh and Hindu city until 1947 and Sikhs have a particularly hoary past in that city which was the seat of the Sikh kingdom. The Hindus and Sikhs were murdered and expelled in 1947 and today there are virtually no Sikhs and Hindus left and it is the capital of Pakistani Punjab. By comparioson Hyderabad’s Muslims are lucky that Hindus did not behave like the Muslims. The Hyderabad Muslim community committed genocide against the Telangana Hindus. Mir Osman Khan used a terrorist outfit known as the Razakars to terrorize Telugu people. Once Hyderabad was liberated it would have been easy for the Telugu people to do like the Razakars and Pakistanis and annihilate Muslims from the Old city. But we were more intrested in lifting the nation through hard work rather than genocide. Please read history and you will see that the people of Telangana were virtual slaves under the Nizam. How do you think the Nizam became the richest man in the world? It was on the blood sweat and tears of the Telangana people. Remember this Nizam wanted to continue an apartheid state like white South Africa and deployed the fanatical Muslim Razakars against the Telangana Hindus and called the Hindus dung worshipers. The difference is that South African Blacks and Indians actually did pretty well under apartheid but Telangana Telugus were in virtual slave misery. For the sake of your Telangana ancestors please do not re-write history. Hyderabad has achieved it success because of the hardworking migrants from the all parts of Andhra Pradesh including Telangana. Please go to Silicon Valley or New Jersey in the U.S and you will see the knowledge capacity of Telugu people in action. Telugus are the most higly represented in the IT field. What have the Hyderabad Muslim community accomplished except remain in the Old city and pine for the old days. Have they built up Hyderabad? No. It is the Telugu people that have been the major generators of wealth in Hyderabad. Please ask yourself why Hyderabad (Cyberbad) has come up instead of Bhopal, Kolkata, Lucknow, Patna, Osmanabad etc.. Mir Osman Khan could have simply joined India in exchange for Hyderbad city becoming a separate state like Delhi or Goa and then the Hyderabad language and culture would have survived but he only cared about himself and did not give a rat’s ass about the Muslims of Hyderabad. He knew fully well the demographic realities and he was obviously well educated and knew history. But this is the problem with the desi Muslims. They praise leaders like the Nizam and Jinnah who have been disasters for the Muslims. If you want to see a visionary Muslim leader, please look at the Sultan Qaboos of Oman or Mahathir Muhammad of Malaysia. Mahathir Muhammad understood the strength of non-Muslims brain power and exploited it to generate wealth for his own people which obviously benefitted the non-Muslims but lifted the Muslims up as well. Even during the time of the Nizam and even the Mughals it was the Hindus who did the grunt work. The Muslims through sheer force of arms were the rulers and executives but the tedious work such as accounts was handled by the Hindus and in particular the Brahmins. Old timer Hyderabadis complain that about the imposition of Telugu. Damn it!. For centuries Brahmins and Hindus quickly accomodated and learned Urdu or Persian or Marathi or English or whatever the new ruler’s langage was and thrived. So when Telugu became dominant what did the Old timer Hydaerabadis do? Complain while eating Samosas and drinking Chai. If Hyderabad was dependent on these type of lazy people Hyderabad would not have become Cyberbad. I hope in 15 years all you people will look at Hyderabad and then compare it with your blog posts today and see how silly your posts are. The Telugu people are working day and night to build Hyderabad into a Singapore and you guys or looking back at the glory days when literacy rates in the Nizam’s kingdom stood at 13%. Please go and be productive instead of always complaining.

7. ggk - డిసెంబర్ 24, 2009

what our countries problem has been diunity in the form of religion caste language and regions. Our goal has to be to see that all Indians feel they are Indian and not identify themselves by these differences. All the metropolis like mumbai, bangalore, hyderbad etc, have mostly achieved such a state of affairs, as in these cities, nobody knows usually who is comng from where, and by religion or caste etc.;most of the people do not know or bother to know who the other is, onor make any decisions on business etc, based on these, so all the regions of the country should slowly become cosmopolitanized, and develop, so the best thing would be as a national policy they should make all metros union territories, so that such regional and other differences do not cause a hindrance to businessm, industrial growth, and all other regions will slowly fall suit, and realise that no differences, will cause more progress than this, and keep all the politicians away from exploiting such sentiments. so we should make all metros union territories ,


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