By: J R Janumpalli
Telangana region has become a state after a 6 decade long struggle against its merger with Andhra in 1956. The struggle for the statehood had been very long, intense and poignant. Several new states were created in India after independence —- some of them on linguistic basis; some on tribal identities; some on geography and culture.
Andhra and Telangana were merged based on their language, Telugu. As part of this linguistic integration many regions were merged in different states like in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, H.P. etc. By and large the states reorganized based on language had gelled together very well except in case of Andhra Pradesh.
Photo: Osmania University decorated on Telangana Formation Day
In Andhra Pradesh it was a case of an exaggerated feeling of superiority of majority Andhras over Telangana people, resulting in ethnic domination. It has inevitably escalated in to a campaign for political freedom from the majority dominance in side a democracy.
Though the language was one, the political, economic and cultural backgrounds of the two regions were different. State Reorganization Commission (SRC), was very circumspect about it. It had recommended against the merger. Pandit Nehru also had his own reservations. There was strong opposition from the people of Telangana. But somehow Andhras managed to merge the regions by political manipulation.
There was a Gentlemen’s agreement with several safeguards to Telangana. Some people on both the sides, in good faith, have believed that the merger will bring emotional integration in Telugu people long separated by history. And cement their relations to enrich the Telugu culture. But, paradoxically it did not happen. The people of the two regions did not mingle like long lost siblings as in case of other linguistically formed states. Both Andhra and Telangana cultures went in their own ways causing little influence on each other.
Andhras had experience in politics in the provincial self-government system of British India. Their participation in independence movement with Congress and other political parties in the mainstream Indian politics gave them a distinct political advantage. It has helped to create a bias towards them in Congress party.
In Andhra state the Krishna, Godavari and Tungabhadra canal systems for irrigation in agriculture have given them economic advantage. The surplus income from agriculture led to education, investment and entrepreneurial experience. Because of Urdu medium in Telangana, the importation of English knowing Andhra employees in to the administration by the military and civilian governments, from 1948 to 1952 and after have placed Andhra people in the key positions of the administration. In contrast, Telangana region was in Nizam’s feudal dominion outside the Indian mainstream political system. Though Hyderabad was made in to a first class city for the prestige of rich Nizam, the entire hinterland of Telangana was backward economically with lack of irrigational facilities and less favorable agro climatic conditions. There was not much surplus income for education, investment and development of enterprise.
In Telugu, though the language was same the dialect was different. Andhra Telugu with a mixture of Sanskrit was felt superior to Telangana idiom. Because of their economic wellbeing and language bias the culture of Telangana was looked down. It has developed a kind of superiority complex in them. The Andhras kept Telangana people at arm’s length. They had started asserting themselves in politics, economics and culture in the state. With all this background the 175 (Andhra) versus 119 (Telangana) members in the Legislative Assembly have given them all the political advantage they needed to control Telangana. A systematic exploitation of Telangana resources by majority Andhra administration has begun and went on unabated despite the opposition to it.
Slowly and steadily all the conditions and safe guards in the Gentlemen’s agreement were flouted. There erupted a severe back lash in 1969 against Andhras for usurping Telangana jobs and Telangana surplus revenue. It was brutally suppressed by killing 369 youth in police firing. Then an 8-point development program was devised. The Government promised to correct, the violation of the promises of the Gentleman’s agreement in the areas of jobs, budget allocations, and educational facilities. P.V.Narasimha Rao was made CM in 1971. Then some attempt was made to implement ‘mulki rules’ and the 8 point program. Andhras went to court. Supreme Court upheld ‘mulki rules’. As a protest against it Andhras undertook 1972 ‘Jai Andhra’ campaign. PV Narasimha Rao was made to resign and president rule was imposed. The constitution was amended to abrogate ‘mulki rules’. A new 6-point formula was contrived in 1973. Like other formulas it was also kept on the backburner by the indifferent Andhra administration. When Telangana employees complained about the non-implementation of the six-point formula, government issued a G.O. 610 in 1985.Since then, no serious attempt was made to implement the G.O.The central government never bothered to oversee the implementation of any of these agreements or formulas.
Meanwhile, the Andhra dominated government unleashed several programs to make Hyderabad as the preferred haven, a kind of ‘El Dorado’ for Andhras. The surplus revenue from Telangana was spent in Andhra and to develop infrastructure for enterprises and industries of andhras in Hyderaabad. Vast government and private lands in Telangana were appropriated to Andhra’s in the name of corporate benefits and other facades. Both CBN and YSR have increased the raiding of Telangana resources in the garb of economic liberalization and creation of infrastructure. Whatever the development took place in Hyderabad; its fruits were made to be enjoyed mostly by seemandhras. The colonization and exploitation of Telangana as foreseen by Justice Fazal Ali in SRC report has vastly exceeded, vindicating the apprehension. This has once again ignited the simmering Telangana statehood desire in Telangana people.
In this backdrop, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) was formed in 2001 to fight for separate Telangana.The trials and tribulations of this episode of Telangana udyamam spearheaded by TRS is a history now. Because of it Telangana state is formed. Though state is given, it is shackled with many restrictions. The center, as its wont, has always treated Telangana with condescension. After the inevitable ‘police action’, the Indian army undertook an elimination of Telangana armed rebels against Nizam in the name of containing communism; imposed military and civilian rule after the liberation. Both the military and civilian rule treated local people vey unfairly. Considering them as imbeciles they had imported the English educated seemandhras. The state administration was andhraised even before the first elected government has come in to place, thus sowing the seeds for the hegemony of Seemandhra.
Both Congress and BJP, the national parties have played their self-seeking politics with Telangana people. BJP promised Telangana in 1999. Congress party had a truck with TRS in 2004 with an assurance of Telangana State. BJP, when it gave 3 new states in 2000, did not keep its promise of Telangana allegedly because of TDP. Congress after winning power with the help of TRS in 2004 went back on its assurance. TRS was forced to undertake a continuous and uncompromising agitation. Bowing to popular pressure arising from KCR’s fast-unto-death, the Congress declared Telangana state on 9 December 2009 in Parliament. But, again went back because of andhra politicians volte-face and tormented Telangana people for five long years. About 1200 of its youth have committed suicide for the non-implementation of the declaration. Telangana was proving disastrous for Congress in both the regions. In such tenuous circumstances congress gave a state of Telangana, with several restrictions making it a ‘B’ class state, while Seemandhra was made an ‘A +’ state with several excessive concessions to it. The behavior of Congress and BJP in the final act of adopting the T-Bill in Parliament speaks volumes of their bias to Seemandhra. That is the treatment of the center for Telangana whatever national party is in power in the Centre. It would be the same in future also. The true intents of Congress and BJP were revealed in the rhetoric of 2014 election campaign on either side of the divide in Andhra Pradesh.
Therefore, now getting a state after 60 years is not the end of troubles for Telangana. There is still a long way to go. The people have to survive the 10 year long joint capital in the company of the Seemandhras, who are scheming to stay – put in Hyderabad and play vexatious politics to make Hyderabad a ‘UT’.
There are several contentious issues in the Reorganization Act in small print, detrimental to Telangana. There will be a war of attrition on those numerous discriminations and unconstitutional restrictions. The center as usual will be helping the profligate Seemandhra. Telangana is only like a political orphan to it.For, it does not have the numbers or resources to please the behemoths at the center. Telangana politicians in Congress and TDP were systematically subordinated by Andhra politicians. They have lost their Telangana ethos and cannot comprehend the aspirations of Telangana people. There is a need for a new potent breed of politicians with Telangana identity who can defy the condescension of the center and make them heed to the legitimate demands of Telangana.
Hence, now Telangana peoples’ imperative necessity should be to have a government of Telangana in the letter and spirit of it, in the new state. The government should work for the interest of Telangana people alone. It should be free from the suzerainty of any other political entity. It should challenge the conditions and restrictions imposed on it unconstitutionally in the Act —- in the parliament or in the courts or with the central government. And disentangle the fetters one by one to make a full-fledged state. The setback in the merged state and the present needs of Telangana state should be identified fastidiously. A systematic development plan is to be prepared and grounded methodically and transparently. The most important aspects of rebuilding of the new state are Power, Irrigation, Industrialization and employment in which areas Telangana was deliberately pushed backwards. The other areas such as social welfare, education, health and technological development should be promoted simultaneously.
Whatever is done, it should be done, keeping the feet firmly on the ground. No grandiose visions which will end in disappointment. The state needs to be different to fulfill the aspirations of people, which were long suppressed and also those now stoked up. But, we cannot create an economic or political model radically different from other states. The state needs to be different with in the frame work of larger political and economic system of the country and deliver the promised goods.
The need of the hour is a strong Telangana political ethos. The leadership of Telangana should leave their subservience to the center behind. The people of Telangana also should eschew their naiveté of being easy going and accommodating. Both should become tough, pragmatic and self-interested to realize the benefit of the new state, got after such an arduous struggle and with such heavy price. The long lost political freedom to decide their own destiny is back in their hands now. It is up to them to make the right use of it and restore Telangana state’s rightful place in the comity of states in the country. The definite mandate to TRS in 2014 general elections should be the watershed for such momentous change.