He certainly was a Telangana ideologue as was popularly known, or a TRS ideologue as derisively said, but really he was much more. Prof Kothapalli Jayashankar (1934-2011) was an unforgettable son of Telangana. A rare blend of a human being, a brilliant academic, an efficient administrator, a powerful intellectual and an inspiring thinker-activist, his association with the demand for a Telangana state consumed 60 years of a life of 76 summers. It was an association that began with the Mulki Agitation of 1952 in which he participated as a college student, continued with the Jai Telangana movement of 1969 when he was a member of the Telangana Graduates Association and ended with the intellectual inputs he provided to the present phase of the movement. All along this journey Jayashankar never lost the dream of a separate state. That’s why it’s apt to call him the mentor of not only the Telangana Rashtra Samiti but also all the political and nonpolitical formations that demand Telangana.
As a person he was very friendly, emotional, gentle and caring. As an academic he was a brilliant researcher, teacher and analyst. And his record as leader of lecturers’ associations, principal of CKM College, registrar of the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages and registrar and vice-chancellor of Kakatiya University was impeccable.
Born into a middle class family of goldsmiths in Hanmakonda, the young Jayashankar was witness to the people’s upsurge against the autocratic Nizam’s rule. Confidence in people’s power against misrule was very early etched on his mind. He took part in the students’ agitation against non-Mulkis in 1952 and was part of a student delegation that met Syed Fazl Ali (of the States Reorganisation Commission) and submitted a memorandum for a separate Hyderabad state. That spark of the early 1950s lit a blaze of passion for the next sixty years. As a teacher of economics and researcher on Telangana issues in particular and regional inequalities in general, he produced a number of papers and addressed hundreds of meetings to attract people to the cause of Telangana. He was the force behind a remarkable seminar on discrimination against Telangana in May 1969 that resulted in a wonderful documentation of the problem.
When the movement suffered a setback due to treachery, he started analyzing the failures and put his mind to building up the movement silently. His efforts bore fruit by the mid-1990s when intellectual opinion turned in favour of Telangana. By 1996 dozens of organizations sprouted to fight for Telangana. Whether these organizations admit it or not, his influence on each of them is unmistakable. By 2001 his efforts led to the formation of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, the first mainstream political party since the debacle of the Telangana Praja Samithi in 1971, and he seemed to believe that his dream was going to come.
[Courtesy: The New Indian Express]