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Telangana : The 29th State of India? జనవరి 18, 2010

Posted by Telangana Utsav in 1969, agitation, Andhra, Art, BJP, cinema, Congress, Economy, elections, G.O 610, heritage, Identity, KCR, Nizam, politics, Rayalaseema, regionalism, Review, Settler, SRC, TDP, Telangana, TRS.
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Book Review
The Hitavada, Nagpur 17 January 2010

Telangana: The 29th state of India?

If one were to pick up a single subject drawing public attention which had begun in the first year of the last decade and went on to continue into the next, then it would undoubtedly be the clamour for a separate state of Telangana.

Till about the end of last year, this oldest movement for a separate state had just sporadically attracted national attention and media coverage. Despite a plethora of national leaders and parties talking about the issue, this movement in particular surprisingly never revved up to accelerate its political momentum, both at the state of Andhra Pradesh and the central level. With the fast-unto-death of K Chandrashekhara Rao (KCR) and the subsequent violence in the state, this movement has now effortlessly reached the top of the media ‘must-cover’ news stories.

In 2001, after a much-publicised spat with Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and name calling with the party supremo N Chandrababu Naidu, one of its earliest members and party veteran, KCR quit the outfit and floated his own Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). The raison d’ etre of TRS was that this erstwhile Nizam-ruled region of the state has been successfully discriminated against and its people overwhelmed by the influx of ‘settlers’ from other regions of the state ever since the formation of Andhra Pradesh in 1956.

The emotive issue has since then remained at the centrestage of the state’s politics and has been raised as a key campaign issue during the two elections of 2004 and 2009, both for the Parliament and the Assembly elections.

Unlike the ‘issue-less’ and rather painless creation of three new states in 2000 – Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, Telangana had, till now remained confined as an issue to be dusted for animated campaigning during elections and ‘special’ occasions. In recent memory, it was in 1998 that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in general and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in particular broached the subject at its convention in Kakinada, in coastal Andhra Pradesh. Armed with a slogan ‘one vote, two states’ the campaign could not gather much steam as TDP, the dominant political partner of NDA in Andhra Pradesh took a dim view of this clamour for separation and did not find it appropriate enough.

A recently released book Telangana: The State of Affairs (AdEd Value Ventures, Hyderabad) quotes thus: “Andhra Pradesh has the dubious merit of ruling parties espousing a separatist demand. It becomes imperative here to distinguish people’s aspirations for just opportunities and established political parties seeking to dominate the people, under the pretext of uplifting them. Civil society is yet to create the intellectual tools and action plans that can distinguish people’s politics from power politics.

Today, the problem of sub regionalism is compounded by a) its abuse by forces in power and b) its co-option by transient separatist forces. The nature of the demand for a separate Telangana has undergone a radical shift in the last four decades. From being the demand for justice by the people of an oppressed region, it has turned into a potential tool for oppressors wanting to renew and perpetuate the exploitation of the vulnerable masses. But once out of power, the same oppressive forces have chorused the demand for separate state. We have witnessed this trend particularly during the past two general elections (2004 and 2009). The ruling party Congress-I and the main opposition party Telugu Desam, have by turns acted in a similar manner with regard to the demand for separation.”

Discussing the issue further, the book says: “In order to fully comprehend the spirit of Telangana and the various dimensions of its demand for statehood one must revisit the undocumented history of the region and its struggles. Additionally one must fully appreciate the burden of mixed compulsions as the region was always an amalgamation of claims by diverse identities. Telangana has embodied the polemics of nationality, linguistic basis of states, regionalism and model miniature India for the nationalists, bourgeoisie, linguistic chauvinists, communal and communist forces.”

The Report of States Reorganisation Commission 1955 recommended that a separate Hyderabad not to be merged with Andhra until 1961. But precisely what was not to be done happened in 1956 with Hyderabad merged into Andhra to become Andhra Pradesh which carried the seeds of conflict that is burning to date and rocking the country’s polity.

What is the rationale or principle for small states? The Linguistic Provinces Commission or the Dar Commission Report 1948. Following the Dar Commission Report, the Congress constituted committee consisting of Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, and Pattabhi Sitaramayya, known as the J.V.P Committee. JVP Report referred to hasty action on language problem and mentioned that Congress had earlier given the seal of its approval to the general principle of linguistic provinces when it was not faced with the practical application of the principle and hence was not fully aware of the implications and consequences triggered by the practical application.

The Dar Commission “held that the formation of provinces exclusively or even mainly on linguistic considerations would be inadvisable” and that consideration of linguistic provinces should be postponed.

Nehru addressing the issue of reorganisation of provinces told the Constituent Assembly on 8 November 1948 that “We have long been committed to it. I do not think it is good enough just to say linguistic provinces…”

Telangana –The State of Affairs attempts to deal with each aspect of the separate state movement – economic, socio-cultural, and political. This book offers a kind of exposition and preliminary background on these aspects to the non Telugu reader. Some essays look at the basic premise of politics and sub-regionalism in the context of Telangana, the social structure of regional politics and the current political scenario of Andhra Pradesh with the rise of new political parties vis-à-vis the demand for a separate Telangana.

Duncan B Forrester and N Venugopal provide historical perspective of regional discrimination, identity and the rise of sub-regionalism in Andhra Pradesh. Venugopal explains incompatibility between the integrated state of Andhra Pradesh and the expectations of the Telangana region in the context of an entrenched structure of discrimination and political maneuverings by the ruling classes. M Bharath Bhushan explores issues of regional discrimination, identity and its construction, articulation in the form of movements and role of political parties. His paper “Telangana Imbroglio” interprets the separatist demand in the ‘Gadi framework’ (referring to the local feudal elite operating from the haveli) to place the separate state agitation out of the realm of bickering out of work politicians and see it instead through the prism of discrimination and regional exploitation. This paper effectively brings under the scanner intermediary forces detrimental to people’s interest. The ‘Gadi approach’ acknowledges the role that both class and caste play in disbarring change and appreciates the limitations of the decades old movement.

Dean McHenry Jr (Do Elections Foster Separatism? The Case of Telangana) examines the role that electoral politics, which is supposedly the main strategy of TRS, can play in achieving a separate state with special focus on the AP poll results of TRS in 2004 general election, 2005 civic elections, 2006 by-elections and 2006 Panchayat Raj elections. He concludes that elections may, or may not, foster separatism. Naresh Kumar writes about the continuing influence of cinema stars in Telugu politics and their response to separate Telangana through a detailed study of Chiranjeevi’s entry into politics and subsequent campaign for the 2009 general elections. SV Srinivas examines how Telugu cinema operates as a medium for articulation of contesting identities and functions as a tool for cultural hegemony of the Andhra lobby. Radhika Rajamani scans the influence of local social environment in the works of famous Telangana artists.

Two Telugu short stories, Golla Ramavva by P V Narasimha Rao and Bhoomi by Allam Rajayya, written in 1940s and ‘70s respectively reveal the struggle for land, livelihood and liberation from the oppressive systems of the despotic Nizam in the pre-independence era and the unjust state in independent India. The rationale for selecting these two stories out of hundreds of others is that they underscore the unchanging condition of the region and the tenacity of the region’s struggle at two points of time in contemporary history.

The 210-page book consists of valuable documents related to the forty year old struggle for separate state viz., Excerpts from States Reorganisation Commission Report- 1955, Gentlemen’s Agreement 1956, Six Point Formula 1973, Thirty Second Constitutional Amendment 1973, and G.O MS 610.

The USP of the book lies in it being independent of any party bias and also being the first comprehensive non-Telugu material on the subject.



1. Telangana : The 29th State of India? « Telangana Utsav Committee | Telugu News Station - జనవరి 18, 2010

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