A creative and healthy protest for Telangana

Traditional grains display by Deccan Development Society: (Photo by Mike Gluss and IDRC)

By: Soonya Naidu

While democracy is a form of ‘by people, for people’ often the operating mechanisms do throw some ‘side effects’, which work against the basic philosophy and tenets of a democracy.

One of the less desirable effects is the Tyranny of Majority (TOM). Since in a democracy decisions are made by seeking a majority opinion, anything that is minority is relegated to the background leading to undesirable and often avoidable suffering to those who fall in the ‘minority’ category.

The overarching legitimacy given to majority if not carried with humility and understanding that it is a social arrangement to simplify managing the society, can become a curse. We have seen during the last 6 decades the consequences of TOM!

In the last few years I have been trying to understand this ‘majority’ principle.

It is now well known that the powers that be from SA have used the ‘majority’ principle and the legitimacy granted for convenience as convenient legitimacy often bordering on tyranny and arrogance and has used it to serve themselves and their own constituencies.

Hidden in the majority principle (MP) is an expectation that those who gain power on the MP will accommodate the interests of the left over ‘minority’ as well. Alas, it was not be. That’s why all minorities have to struggle for political space or for their rights and their aspirations.

In my experience the word majority has become a curse not only to political spaces but also to other sectors of our existence.

Karl Marx is supposed to have said, ‘the ruling ideas of an epoch belong to the ruling class’.

That’s how we see the culture, language, cuisine, festivals – almost everything belonging to the ruling Seemandhra class masquerade as the culture of Telugu people, as if there is an undifferentiated mono-culture amongst Telugu speaking people!

Thanks to KCR , some anchors on T-News, V6 channel and papers like Namaste Telangana and a host of others, many in Telangana are able to speak with their accent without shame if not with pride. We have partially won a battle. Even the Seemandhra film industry finds it fit to make their heroes spout some Hyderabadi or Telangana ‘dialogues’!

There are other battles to be won as well.

 The funny thing about ‘Minor’

Take for example the primary mode of irrigation in Telangana – the cascading water tanks, the wells, the kuntas etc., have been christened as minor irrigation! How could it be minor irrigation when the majority of Telangana farmers depended on it?

And once you call something minor, who would care for it? Sometimes names do become a curse! Not even a Telangana politico would like the portfolio! Every one would hanker for ‘Major irrigation’ portfolio!

And majority of funds would be allocated to ‘Major Irrigation’! And obviously every one who either seeks power or a cut would want a piece of the ‘Major’ pie!

The story repeats itself in grains as well. The staple food grains of Telangana or any dry-land or semi-arid areas are dubbed as minor millets! Or minor grains!

In an earlier post I tried to present the ‘unseen conspiracy’ of rice being made as a staple grain for AP through the 1 Rupee subsidized rice scheme which is perpetuated by every successive ruling SA party in some form or the other under the legitimate garb of ‘food security’.

What we can do protest our ‘Minor’ status?

The great Mahatma Gandhi figured out a symbol to protest against the British and their economic exploitation of India. He made cotton and cotton hand-woven cloth as the symbol of protest and sought the British factory made cloth the villain of the piece.

Can we do something in our own small way? Can we include the so-called minor grains like sorghum (jowar/jonnalu, జొన్నలు), bajra (sajjalu,సజ్జలు), korralu (కొర్రలు), origelu (ఒరిగెలు), raagulu (రాగులు) etc., as part of our diet?

The water-logged lands of Andhra cannot produce these dry-land crops. And excepting some districts in Rayalaseema and some like Prakasham and few other up-lands in Andhra the KG Delta cannot produce these easily.

Is it a coincidence that the powerful and influential politicos mostly come from Krishna, Guntur, EG-WG and Nellore? And the some of the rabid ones too! And it is their food habits, their culture thrust on all others.

If we include these ‘minor grains’ in to our diet it will be a silent revolution, which every one can participate in. Those of us who cannot come out on to streets or who feel uncomfortable doing so can easily do this. And it is respecting ourselves, our culture, and taking care of our own farmers who resort to digging tube-wells and are dependent on government to give power and often become victims to suicides.

And while protesting we will help ourselves with better health – all the so called minor grains are low in glycemic index (GI) and release sugar slowly into our bodies – we feel less hungry, less often hungry and grains like ragi are endowed with excellent minerals and micro-nutrients!

And if our Seema brothers can have Rayalaseema Ruchulu why can’t we be proud of our own Gatka, Jonna Rotte, Taida Rotte , Makka rotte, Makka gaarelu etc?

And Telangana is endowed with so many greens, DDS enumerated about 20 types of greens (ఆకు కూరలు) which have almost become extinct thanks to our farmers imitating the Coastal Cousins (CC)! Our CC brothers know only a few greens – paalakoora, thotakoora and gongura!

We need not completely junk rice! Let us at least have 3 meals per week with the ‘minor grains’!

If we ask for Telangana greens the demand for Telangana greens would grow. And the Telangana farmer would get some additional income.

How easy can it be to protest and become healthier? Here possibly is a case of ‘keeping the cake and eating too’!

Photos: Cafe Ethnic run by DDS at Zaheerabad

We can seek the help of some organization like the Deccan Development Society which runs an ‘Ethnic Café’ in Zaheerabad to come up with a logo or certification – Produce of Telangana or better, Proud Produce of Telangana. And we should only buy grains with such certification.

We can also vote with our rupee and with our stomachs. Not too difficult to stomach, eh?

I have decided to include these in my diet. How about you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *