Guide to Telangana question : Two books సెప్టెంబర్ 13, 2010Posted by Telangana Utsav in 1969, Andhra, Art, BJP, cinema, Congress, CPI, CPI-M, Culture, Deccan, elections, Fazal Ali Commission, Godavari, heritage, Hyderabad, Identity, Kakatiya, MIM, Mulki, Nizam, Polavaram, politics, Rayalaseema, regionalism, Review, Settler, Six Point Formula, SRC, TDP, Telangana, Telugu, TRS, Uttara Andhra, YSR.
Tags: P V Narasimha Rao, short story
The twin guide to Telangana
V. Anil Kumar
Financial Express, Sep 12, 2010
The Telangana issue has been in the news for some time, and the recent byelections have just brought the focus back on the matter. While writings on Telangana are multiplying, there is considerable need for understanding the basic aspects of the problem. This needs information, as well as the point of view of the people of the region. In addition, there is also the need to fill the gap on economic, socio-cultural and historical aspects of Telangana. The two books reviewed here attempt to provide such a backdrop against which all the contemporary political commentaries could be understood to some extent.
The first book, written by Rao, is a collection of essays written over a long period of time on the question of regional disparities in India, their economic reasons and the rationale for smaller states in India in general and in case of Telangana in particular. Rao covers a vast canvas in the limited pages in an extremely impressive manner. The canvas includes Leh and Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir to Uttarakhand to Bastar regions. The canvas is wide and rich, with description and economic analysis of how the extremely vast stretches of Indian states ignore geographic, topographic, natural resource-based particularities of sub-regions and how these could be remedied through creation of smaller states. There is a clear and lucid stream of reason flowing all through the book in support of these views. He, for example, says, “It is significant that most of the states with less developed regions, eg, UP, Bihar, MP, Rajasthan, HP and J&K, are either large in terms of area or very sparsely populated.
Constitution of smaller states wherever viable could improve administration enormously” (pp 30-31). Rao’s points for smaller states are made as a veteran of policy advising authority and with great amount of wisdom, experience and caution. This comes out throughout the book, which is presented very clearly. And the same case is mentioned with special emphasis when it comes to Telangana. To quote him once again, he says at a place that, “Separate statehood for the less-developed regions located in larger states could turn out to be a decisive factor in their development. In cases where such regions are non-viable as states, separate regional development councils with greater autonomy can serve the same purpose.”
On Telangana in particular, Rao has an article on the revenue surpluses of Telangana and how they are diverted to expenditure on non-Telangana areas of Andhra Pradesh and how they could be either spent on the sub-region or, better still, by creation of separate state so that funds could be spent on the development of the region. As an economist, Rao has done a splendid job of defending his case in general about the backward areas of the country, as well as in the particular instance of Telangana.
The second book is an edited volume by M Bharath Bhushan and N Venugopal that specifically focuses on Telangana, though some of the articles in the book also cover the trends in AP politics in general. This book is a significant contribution to the understanding of Telangana because it complements the previous book by adding the historical, cultural, literary and aesthetic as well as political dilemmas of Telangana. The readers are advised, therefore, to read both the books together. But as is the case with most edited volumes, this volume has papers of uneven quality. The papers deal firstly with politics, secondly with the culture/cinema and politics and then with literature and aesthetics such as Telangana painting and sculpture. The articles again are selected from over a range of period, from 1949 to the present.
The very first article by Duncan B Forrester was written in 1969 when the separate Telangana movement came up earlier. Later articles concentrate on viewing the present from the prism of the past. Of all, this reviewer is impressed by three articles on emerging political culture in Telangana on which readers are not likely to find much information elsewhere. These are the article on political foray of actor Chiranjeevi into AP politics and the phenomenon of his charisma as well as political naivete. Though written without much finesse, this article is informative. What this reviewer has to say is that it’s not how or when Chiranjeevi became a politician alone that matters, but why or how he gained legitimacy as popular politician or failed at that. The latter forms an explanation. The second article on cinema and its relation with AP politics is the best one of the entire book. Written by SV Srinivas, a scholar of film studies, the article explains the evolving nature of Telugu cinema and its relation to location and cinematic representation in an excellent manner. I wish Srinivas paid more attention to the question as to why the Telugu film is also popular in Telangana, while at the same time the makers and the personnel of the filmdom are detested in politics. Another brief article by Radhika Rajamani explains the nature of the art scenario of Telangana and says, “An additional matter of pride and affirmation is that fact that works of Telangana artists like Laxma Goud, Vaikuntam and Ravinder Reddy are now figuring in international auctions and museum collections. It is hoped that more artists will join the list.” Following are the two short stories from the region that capture the history and psyche of the region: one written by none else than PV Narasimha Rao in 1949 and another by writer Allam Rajayya in 1978.
The book has appendices on the important statistics and historical official documents that improve the usefulness of the book.
Taken together, these two books help the outsider to the region and its language, understand, to some extent, the problem in a democratic India. More research and scholarly writing is needed to understand its multifaceted, contemporary, predicament.
—The writer is assistant professor, Centre for Political Institutions, Governance and Development, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore