Telangana agitation is against ‘cultural oppression’ too మార్చి 12, 2011Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in Andhra, Andhrapreneurship, Art, cinema, Culture, Hyderabad, Identity, Mulki, Poetry & Songs, politics, regionalism, Settler, Telangana, Telugu.
Tags: icons, literature, marginalisation, Million March, statues, Tank Bund
Focus on ‘cultural oppression’ too
Times of India, TNN, March 12, 2011
While some Telangana supporters maintain that Thursday’s act is an outburst against diabolical politicians and the state government shutting the city to prevent the agitation, others observe that the ‘T’ agitation is progressing or rather maturing from its focal point of Telangana region’s economic deprivation, so far, to elements of cultural and language differences between the two regions. They say the ‘T’ would no longer accept “Andhra colonial legacy” on its soil.
HYDERABAD: A retired professor from a city college easily recalls numerous incidents of his Telangana accent being made fun of by his students or friends in his childhood days.
He, like many Telangana supporters, often rued the poor representation of Telangana in mainstream media, particularly Tollywood films, and also lack of representation of ‘T’ culture and the regions icons in an “Andhra – dominated” Hyderabad.
But on the manic Thursday at Tank Bund, when agitators had just started attacking statues of Telugu literary figures, kings and statesmen, he was among those trying to stop the mob. “I tried stopping them. I could understand it was an outburst of pent-up emotions, but then I do not support this (destruction of statues),” he said.
The morning after ‘T’ agitation took its most violent and even symbolic form, it was the cultural significance of the protest that became the talking point. While some ‘T’ supporters maintained it was an outburst against diabolical politicians and the state government shutting the city to prevent the agitation, others said that the ‘T’ agitation was progressing or rather maturing from its focal point of Telangana regions economic deprivation, so far, to elements of cultural and language differences between the two regions. They said the ‘T’ would no longer accept “Andhra colonial legacy” on its soil.
“The issue of cultural identity has been gaining more importance over the last one year”, observes E Revathi, a professor at Kakatiya University, adding that it was at the forefront almost the focal point on Thursday.
So, have the agitations of one weekday changed the rationale of the ‘T’ agitation, with the discussions seemingly steering away from livelihood issues of people in the Telangana region to them being culturally, linguistically alienated? Well, yes and no.
Observers and staunch ‘T’ supporters note that culture cannot really be de-linked from economics. The culture develops on economy. Andhra region was close to Madras and thus had education in British schools and colleges. Rice was cultivated there, so people had money, says Jeevan Kumar, president of Human Rights Forum, adding that his main concern now is that a Thursday-like episode should not be repeated.
Telangana supporters say that while they do not condone the damaging of statues, they empathise with the frustration of the agitators, which was at least on Thursday rooted in their impatience with political parties and the continued state of flux on the ‘T’ issue. They further note interpreting Thursdays march as culturally driven or significant could be missing the woods for the trees. There is a clear indication of many ‘T’ supporters upset with the media focus on statues symbols of Andhra culture being targeted as against the success of the rally despite the police clampdown.
“Cultural factors were always a strong element of the Telangana movement, but they did not get serious attention because they remained people’s expressions and agenda. Unfortunately, they were overshadowed by political parties and their empty promises,” says M Bharath Bhushan, author of a book on Telangana, who was at Tank Bund on Thursday, and believes the cultural element is getting undue attention in Thursday’s incident, given that many present at the rally were not even aware that statues would be targeted.
Vijay Burgula, who initiated the million signatures campaign to garner support for the ‘T’ cause and the rally, and sent out mails on Thursday night that the vandalism had overshadowed the victory of the Million March. “It was a civil demonstration,” Burgula said.