Hyderabad Belongs To Natives, Not Investors

By Thirmal Reddy Sunkari

A much debated, but an interesting discussion in Telangana movement is about Hyderabad. The question oft-repeated by some media pundits and political analysts is who gets Hyderabad post the formation of Telangana.

Hyderabad has held the status of a cosmopolitan capital ever since it was founded. As the founder Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah prayed to Allah, to fill his dream city with people like fish in a river, it was indeed granted.

True to its cosmopolitan, heterogeneous identity, the city has attracted and given shelter to people from across the globe. The Persians from Iran, Pashtuns from Karakoram region, Siddi’s from the African continent, Arabs from the Middle East have made it their home. They settled, flourished and blended so well with the local populace, that most of the tribes have almost forgot their origins, and call themselves Hyderabadis.

Well that was about the people from across the planet who naturlized in Hyderabad. The second set of peoples is from across the British Indian Empire. This set is quite exhaustive, in fact as many peoples as the number of princely states that reigned in India over the last 400 years. Most prominent among them are the Marathas, Kannadigas, Kayasths, Gujaratis, Parsis (from Gujarat), Anglo-Indians, Pardhis, Tamilians, Bengalis, Malayalees and many more. These people took no time in realizing that Hyderabad is their home.

The difference between those who came from across the globe and those who came from the British Indian Empire is quite simple. The former moved to an alien land and took time to naturalize, whereas the later have just moved across to a neighboring state and were more acquainted with Hyderabad. However, both of them not just made Hyderabad their home, they felt it.

So, why do we have to learn about these people and what’s their relevance in the present Telangana movement.

To understand that we’ll have to discuss about another set of people – the Seemandhraites.

The Seemandhra people had their history tied up to the Madras Presidency, where they had a strong political leadership. However, the Tamilians started taking political charge into their hands. It is then the Seemandhraites realized a need to sustain their identity and fought for a seperate state and the Andhra state was thus formed.

After their botched attempt to claim Madras city from Tamilians, they realized that not a single town in their state had the infrastructure to become a capital. The instant formula was to merge with Hyderabad state under the disguise of Telugu jaathi. They were awestruck at the world class infrastructure Hyderabad city had at that time.

Instead of following the footsteps of earlier migrants who made Hyderabad their home, the Seemandhraites treated it more like a colony and an investment haven.

The 1956 states reorganization split Hyderabad state into three parts on a linguistic basis. The Kannada districts were merged with Karnataka and Maratha districts were merged with Bombay Presidency. Both of them had their own reservations and apprehensions about the demerger and subsequent mergers, but none had any issues with Hyderabad. Neither the Kannadigas nor the Marathas laid claim to Hyderabad.

Why? Didn’t they develop the city? Didn’t they contribute to Hyderabad’s identity? Don’t they have any historical connection with the city right from the Golconda Nawabs realm to Asaf Jahi Era?

If the native Telugu speakers (post 1956) of Hyderabad have rights over the city, so do the Marathas and Kannadigas. They have been more of Hyderabadis than being mere non-Telugu speakers. They have been the pillars of Hyderabad’s identity. They formed the soul upon which the physical plane of city was built.

But why didn’t they claim a share in Hyderabad? Well, they believed in the Indian family system. They knew that when two brothers grow up and start living their own lives, they part ways amicably. They knew that destiny has made them a part of Hyderabad as a migrant, but finally gave them the identity of a naturalized citizen. So when they had to part from Hyderabad, they gave back what the city gave them for almost three and a half centuries. The city gave them identity; they gave back the same identity to city. They understood that Hyderabad is not a tangible asset that can divided or altered. They wanted it to be what it had been so far.

Quite contrary to the Kannada and Maratha brethen, the Seemandhraites, who have hardly been in the city for half a decade, have started claiming it as their own. Those who have never been a part of the city’s history, culture or identity have started demanding a share in the city. Their argument is that they’ve invested here for 50 years, which sounds more like a businessman demanding his part of the share.

The nature of Seemandhra leadership can be understood by their repeated demand to make Hyderabad a Union Territory. This is akin to saying “If I don’t get something, neither should you get it”

Whats surprising is that the Seemandhra leadership raised the same demand when their attempt to grab Madras from Tamilians failed – They demanded that Madras be declared a Union Territory!

And after 5 long decades, history is repeating itself all over again.

Seemandhra leaders don’t seem to understand that cities don’t belong to investors or tourists. They belong to the natives. Cities can’t be sliced or transferred between two parties. Cities belong to the geographic region from which they were born.

Seemandhra leaders should remember that they invested in an already developed city seeking good returns. The sweat and blood of the Kannada, Maratha, of every other tribe that came here for that matter, have been shed to build the city and those people never thought of reaping the benefits.

Seemandhra investors were welcomed with open arms to the city and given a chance to become a part of the identity here. But they chose to be mere migrant businessmen.

This was the same attitude that threw them out of Madras; however, they never learnt their lesson. People, who never had a capital of their own, don’t realize the importance of what a capital is made of. It’s not the mere money of Seemandhra investors brought in over last 50 years, but the love, the belongingness and the affection of every other tribe over the last 400 years that makes Hyderabad what it is.

Seemandhra leadership should realize that they can’t do a “Madras Manade” over Hyderabad.

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