As a chronicle of the ongoing Telangana agitation, Kingshuk Nag’s Battleground Telangana has much to offer: well-written, missing no issue and, more important, unemotional. Nag supports the creation of a separate Telangana state, ridicules the idea of Hyderabad city as a union territory and drives home the point that the decision to do so should be taken now. He takes us through the unhappy creation of Andhra Pradesh from the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of erstwhile Madras State and Telangana, the resentment of the people of Telangana that led to the first agitation in 1969, the state through NTR, Chandrababu Naidu and Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, and the movement since 2009. Aware that Telangana is an emotive issue, Nag steers away from opinion and sticks safely to facts. It’s a quick run-through of the issue for outsiders.
But now the troubling issues. The Telangana movement, says Nag, arises from its cultural divergence and its heritage of revolt. But to say that the demand for a separate state is because of its militant history is hitting at the very basis for the demand. In a patriarchal marriage, the wife is right whenever she wants a divorce. As Nag himself explains, the 1956 merger was one forced on the people of Telangana. But how do you explain their long-standing grudges—unequal political power; lesser share of funds in every sector, including education, health, irrigation and civil supplies; diversion of its surplus funds into the general kitty; cultural dominance which has led to an erosion of their language, food habits and other cultural markers; the virtual take-over of Hyderabad, erasing its landscape? Is it because of vested interests and realpolitik of the coastal Andhra elite? Nag makes no attempt to examine this.
Nag devotes a whole chapter to the issue of Hyderabad, central to the Telangana state. He suggests that Hyderabad be made a special administrative region within Telangana. In 1953, rejecting Andhra Pradesh’s demand to share Madras as its capital, Nehru said: “It is true that the Andhras have had an important share in building up the city and their cultural life is centred around it. But it is equally true that Madras city is the intellectual, cultural nerve centre of Tamil Nadu.” Substitute Hyderabad for Madras and Telangana for Tamil Nadu, and you will find the claim equally true today.
With the political climate in Andhra Pradesh in such emotional turmoil, studies grounded on cool reasoning, such as the one by Kingshuk Nag, are welcome (Books, Jul 25).
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Let the problem of andhra and telangana be solved by referendum. No agitation and politician should decide the out come. It is peoples right and let them decide.
Politicians are always afraid of people thats why they will oppose referendum.
Let direct democracy work.
As the state of AP has reached A POINT OF NO RETURN , it would be a miracle if it remained united, braving the curent agitatation, for a few more years. After all, how long can the Congress High Command dilly dally evading this burning issue ? Whether one likes it or not, the demand for aTelangana state has reached nook and corner of the region.
The turning point of course is the ill-timed, ill-thought out and hasty statement by Mr Chidambaram in the midnight of Dec 09 , 2009. With that statement certain finality and legitimacy were conferred on this long standing demand. Going back on this promise looks cheating by the Centre. And going forward is likely to take the Congress Party into an unknown zone and dark future threatening its election prospects in 2014. After all, AP contributed 33 Congress MPs in current Lok Sabha. With the formataion of Telangan state, its prospects in Seemandhra would become bleak, inspit of Chiranjeevi's Praja Rajyam Part joinint it. The Congress Party is now facing an unenviable situation of "Mundu Nuyyi Venuka Goyyi " ( A WELL IN FRONT AND A DEEP PIT BEHIND ) !
The Seemandhra politicians who are now shouting from the roof tops for the retention of united AP forgot their historically bounden duties and responsibilities between 1969 and 2000. This was a long enough period for them to avoid the mistakes both Congress and TDP made ealier on Telangana.
(i) They should have strictly adhered to terms of the Six Point Formula so well worked out by Smt. Indira Gandhi.
(ii) Both the Congress and the TDP regimes should have had Dy CMs from the Telangana region
(ii) By word and deed all CMs should have allied the fears of the Telangana people , especially the intellectuals and artists and to win over their trust.
(iii) There should have been a Cultural Movement uniting the hearts and minds of peole from both the regions.
(iv) And last but not the least, Mr Chandrababu Naidu will rue forever the historical mistake he made of NOT ACCOMMODATING KCR IN HIS CABINET DURING HIS SECOND TERM, (1999--2004).
This is the cost we pay either as individuals, politicians or communities, if we forget history and repeat the same old mistakes .
I agree with Niranjan Rao and there is no dissonance in our views. I however agree with Bonita when she says that the formation of a separate Telangana is the best solution, given the bitter acrimony between the protagonists and the antagonists of this vexed problem.
The longer the Centre vacillates and procrastinates on this issue, the worse the repercussions for all involved. The Congress does not want to take a decision as it wants to have the cake and eat it too. Their dilemma is not based on the merits of the case; it is just about electoral politics.
The formation of Telangana, however, does not mean that the problems of that troubled region will vanish overnight. They might take a turn for the worse, especially the Naxalite menace. The only ones to benefit will be the likes of KCR and his ilk.
THE NIZAM,THE BRITISH AND TELANGANA
" The Nizam established the railways, High Court, several hospitals, the Osmania University, the Singareni Collieries, industries and maintained the centuries-od irrigation system. And yet Nag takes cheap swipes at both the Nizam and Chandra Sekhara Rao of the trs"----- Ms Geetha ramaswamy .
If this statement were to come from opportunistic and self-seeking politicians like KCR it is understandable. Their strength lies in spreading half-truths and falsehoods in order to rouse people's passions so as to serve their personal and class interests . But coming as it does from an acclaimed intellectual like Ms Ramaswamy, it sounds surrealistic ! This shows that passions and emotions can swing even the otherwise balanced thinkers, away from logic and historical realities.
All in her stement quoted above, may be either fully or partially true. But does it counter the povery,miseries and indignities suffered by the toiling masses of Telangana during the Pre--1948 period under the Semi-Feudal socio-economic system presided over by this so called "Welfare-Oriented " Nizam ? Do these Telangana intellectuals genuinely believe in KCR's convoluted, even insulting logic ? Such arguments are a great insult to the memory of thousands of "Telangana Biddalu" (sons) who fought so valiently in the Telangan armed struggle to destroy the Nizam's oppressive socio-economic system and in the process sacrificed their lives. Indeed, there are other valid grounds for the current agitation for a separate state, but certainly not the alleged "Wefare-Orieted Nizam's benevolent rule VS the one by the Andhra Valasa Vaadulu !!
The British (East India Company ) built the anicuts/dams across rivers Godavari (1852-33 ) and Krishna (1855) essentialy to stabilise and raise the land revenues in Delta Andhra. It is fortuitous for the region that Sir Arthur Cotton, an idealistic British engineer happened to be around to invove himself so passionately to build the dams. With the irrigation systems becoming a reality, agriculture got stabilised , intensive and extensive cultivations progressed and Delta Andhra freed itself from the vagaries of monsoons.
Now a question arises . If the Nizam maintained the tank irrigation systems so well, why did agriculture in Telangana lagged behind that of Delta Andhra .With vast tracts of black cotton soils, high land-man ratios, an allegedly well-maintained tank irrgiation system the Telangana agricuture should have prospered. But it did not. Here in lies the role of the politico-economic land revenue systems obtained in the two regions --Telangan and Delta Andhra. With the Coastal Zamindars under check by te British regime, low rates of land revenue and water taxes coupled with assured canal irrigation, agriculture prospered in Delta Andhra. But with uncheked economic rampage, the Semi-Feudal landlords continued the extraction and appropriation of the agrarian surpluses, the Telangana agriculture lacked a propelling force (agrarian surpluses being in the hands of the cultivators) for an economic dynamism to become a reality. So it is the economic system under the Nizam which was the culprit not the later-day Andhra Valasa Vaadulu
It is extremely interesting to read the divergent views of Niranjan Rao and DL Narayan. Living as they do in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam respectively they are in effect a summary of the grievances of the people of Telengana and a rebuttal.
As an outsider, to whom it makes little difference if AP remains united or bifurcated, as long as it is done peacefully, it would seem to be a marriage gone sour. Whatever the rights or wrongs, these become irrelevant once the heart takes over from the head. To me there seems no solution but to have a separate Telengana. A swift surgical strike would allow the people of the two regions to coexist peacefully. Delaying and dithering over the inevitable will only lead to more bitterness and hinder reconciliation. To go back to the marriage analogy, this is the difference between an amicable dissolution of marriage by mutual consent and a bitterly contested divorce.
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