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Unending Battle of Telangana అక్టోబర్ 6, 2009

Posted by Telangana Utsav in Culture, elections, Identity, politics, Telangana, TRS.
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Unending Battle of Telangana

Sujatha Surepally

The book ‘Telangana- The State of Affairs’ is indeed a very timely effort brought out by M. Bharath Bhushan and N. Venugopal. Over all, the book is worth reading because it is not only informative but also goes beyond examining the usual ‘what happened’ narratives with events of merger of Telangana into Andhra Pradesh and series of violations of safeguards reiterated in chronology of Telangana from Nizam period to the current day. It is refreshing to see it attempting to explain ‘why’ of the Telangana tragedy. Further, interesting analysis from varied dimensions presented to clarify certain issues which are disturbing intellectual circles and masses on the issues of Telangana. It attempts to answer many queries like whether Telangana could be achieved through elections, why TRS has been growingly disappointing and how it is distanced from people’s aspirations. One can draw clear picture of the utility or sheer lack of ‘election’ strategy in Dean E. McHenry Jr’s article “Do Elections Foster Separatism”. Venugopal’s paper calls for wider and open approach to understanding regional imbalances and backwardness and the demand for autonomy as it tries to explain rationale for separate state movement. It is focused on ‘half a century of incompatibility between the integrated state of AP and the expectations of Telangana region’ and on general definition of ‘development’. Venugopal’s score card of TRS is critical. TRS failure is traced from its misguided view of means as end. How Telangana is depicted in cinema, and how it distorts Telangana culture is discussed by Srinivas in detail. Tradition of unique theme and narrative in the art of Telangana is also discussed by Radhika Rajamani.

Bharath Bhushan’s paper ‘Telangana Imbroglio’ is worth mentioning as it tries to explore the main question of Telangana- ‘when will it materialize?’ from a different perspective. Although it dwells on varied aspects of marginalization of Telangana, its main focus seems to be why and how demand for separate state in general and TRS party in particular failed the cause. It offers Gadi approach to explain how TRS hijacked the Telangana issue and sidelined the movement. Conflict between the interests of people and the elite of Telangana is shown as another important factor in explaining why the demand remains live over the decades but is not resolved yet. Similarly Allam Rajayya’s story ‘Bhoomi’ provides an interesting dimension on what keeps the Telangana people under subjugation from time to time.

One book really can’t capture entire history and background of any region or culture. However, it attempted to address several key issues and also raises important questions for further debate on the movement for separate Telangana. One should acknowledge the attempt has been effective.

Literature on Telangana issue in English helps to reach more readers and popularize the cause among non-Telugu sections across the country and abroad. This small initiative partly fills the gap in meeting the needs of activists around the world who like to know more about the historic struggle of Telangana.

Some observations of the authors need further examination, for instance Duncan B Forrester’s (in his paper “Sub regionalism in India: The Case of Telangana”) view that the caste system is less modified by modernizing influences or that landless agricultural labour- more numerous in delta than in Telangana – are very open to communist influence. Some views as these are more like the stereotypes like Telangana is backward educationally due to Nizam rule, Andhra region is more forward as they are in Madras presidency and under British rule. There is need to question and substantiate some of the widely held misconceptions of Telangana which tend to be derived from excessive importance to statistics (limited in their scope, and government generated data) of education, budgets, irrigation etc of modern techniques and economic growth substituting ‘development’.

Many scholars, writers and artists clearly brought out the cultural significance of Telangana. One shouldn’t forget the contribution of Nizam to this area particularly tolerance and inter-faith amity and cultural fusion. Telangana culture stands out today with their nature of imbibing other cultures into their life, the ‘dil dar’ nature, cosmopolitan culture, Hindu- Muslim amity and helping each other. One can see it today, in times of crisis, communal riots, bomb blasts, in the festivals of ‘bonalu and bathukamma’ Telangana exclusive festivals. Folklore, festivals and culture are the spirit of Telangana and essence of its uniqueness.

To mention some flaws, the book ignored local struggles and legends inseparable from the struggles of this land- Chakali AiIamma, Komaram Bheem, Bandagi etc. Land struggle is nothing but Telangana. The book also seems to portray a picture that only communists and TRS are the key actors in Telangana. Communist struggles that drew attention of the world and the current TRS may be organized and visible but one cannot sideline the non-communist and non-TRS forces for their invaluable role in the struggles in small or big way. Unfortunately, in spite of saying that elections alone cannot bring separate state, the book talked more about political parties and their role. There are many groups and organizations, working relentlessly for several years even before the formation of the TRS. Telangana Martyr’s day celebrations, for instance, since 1969 is done by non political groups and honest individuals. Similarly several non-TRS groups have contributed immensely in building Telangana identity. Its important to also note some struggles, without any support or clear opposition from TRS, like Anti-SEZ Polepally agitation fighting TRS and all pro-SEZ political parties, have been popular in the recent years. All these non-TRS movements and efforts by several groups highlight that people are even today able to challenge the powerful rulers and also prove their strength in electoral politics without any monetary strengths or opportunistic poll alliances.

There are also crucial issues like Hindu Muslim identity, their role in fighting against landlords, deshmukhs and Razakars. Police Action killed lakhs of people including communists and the Muslims alike. Lot more research is needed to answer whether Police Action was against the Razakaars or the people of Telangana, did entire Telangana people hail Indian army or was it a cruel act of Central Government. It is also necessary to assess the role of communist party in the fight against Nizam and the struggle for separate state. There are different voices on these issues. One needs to look into and acknowledge all these views to get the larger reality of Telangana. There is no need to emphasize the need to do serious research into these issues as we all know how Telangana history is marginalized, including the recent 1969 movement. We need to document untold histories to know more about Telangana otherwise, we will fail to go beyond the mainstream or major trends.

This interesting book could have accommodated some more important aspects of current Telangana like today’s artists and recent upsurge in folk songs and short stories.

Finally, I appreciate the editors, who have taken lots of pains in compiling such issues and highlighting the need for critical debate on Telangana by raising some serious questions boldly and answering some.

…..

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