A.Muthukrishnan, Countercurrents.org, KalimNews, 06 March, 2014: Telangana is a reality today, but why was Telangana inevitable, what sustained the strong commitment of the people through this 50 year long struggle? The Telangana Movement will go down in History as one of the longest successful struggles of modern India. This article travels into the roots of this great struggle.
The people of Telangana have fought for the creation of a new state for themselves for nearly 60 years now. This legitimate fight for the creation of a new state with Hyderabad as its capital, within the legal confines of Indian Constitution, has had a voice since the time of Indian Independence.
In 1948, right after Indian Independence, the Indian Army entered the region to liberate the people of Telangana as part of Hyderabad State from the Nizam’s Rule. The newly formed Hyderabad State was a separate entity in the Indian Union and had its elections in 1953 prior to the formation of Andhra Pradesh in 1956.
Meanwhile, another region next to Telangana, called Andhra, was keen on fighting for its own state separate from the Tamil people. Fearing that most of the newly created jobs and opportunities would be taken up by Tamils since Tamils were more educated and had better access to opportunities, and also citing the reasons that Andhras would not be well represented in the Tamil dominated Madras Presidency, Andhra people launched a protest. Potti Sriramulu of Andhra region went on a hunger strike in Madras for 58 days and died fighting for the creation of a separate state out of Madras Presidency called Andhra State with Madras as its capital.
After his death, the Central Government in New Delhi conceded to his first demand - that of creation of the Andhra State - but it rejected his other demand. Madras became the capital of the new Tamil State instead of the Andhra State. Contrary to the widely spread misconception, Potti Sriramulu fought for political aspirations of the Andhra people of Madras Presidency and not the Telangana people of the Hyderabad State.
The people of Andhra, having lost Madras to Tamils, looked for an alternative city for its capital and eyed the glorious city of Hyderabad. Using the slogan that Telugu is the binding factor for both the regions, they renewed their fight to include Telangana into their new dream of Vishalandhra. The People of Telangana had a different opinion - they didn't think it was a wise move. Telangana people were educated in Urdu under the Nizam while the Andhra people were educated in Telugu and English under the British. The opportunities that sprung up in the new India clearly gave preference to English and Telugu. During 1948-1952, though Hyderabad was a different state ruled by civil administrators, there was heavy influx of Andhra people into Telangana to take up newly opening positions in the new India. Hyderabad city saw the first waves of protests against joining with the New Andhra Pradesh in 1956.
But the prevailing mood in the country was already set for creation of states along linguistic lines. Potti Sriramulu's death and the Andhra people's demand for creation of a state on linguistic basis led to creation of the first State Reorganization Committee (SRC) in India. Though Nehru was averse to this idea, many new states got formed in India on the basis of language. Kerala and Karnataka got formed immediately. Telangana was clubbed with the Andhra State to form the new Andhra Pradesh though Fazal Ali of the First SRC clearly expressed reservations against clubbing together the two regions that were unequal partners. In his recommendations he went on to say that Telangana could go separate if the union of these regions did not work out.
To protect the interests of Telangana that was recognized by everyone as one of the most backward and illiterate regions, where bonded labor and zamindari system was rampant, many 'Gentleman's Agreements' were made by leaders of Andhra to ensure that the new opportunities in Telangana region benefitted native Telangana people. Actually, there was already a system - called Mulki - in place to take care of such representations which was practiced by the erstwhile Nizam who had three regions under him - Telangana, Kannada and Maratha. These rules allowed certain portions of jobs to be given to people of that region only. The agreements between Andhra and Telangana leaders included following Mulki rules in the new state.
Unfortunately for the Telangana people, all the clauses of these ‘Gentleman's Agreements’ were immediately flouted. Illegally, thousands of Andhra people were given top jobs in Telangana region. This resulted in mass migration when these top honchos coming from Andhra started to fill other positions with their kith and kin flouting all the guidelines that were established and agreed upon. In fact, it would require no keen observation to notice that millions of Andhra people have migrated to Telangana region, while only a negligible number of Telangana people have migrated to Andhra region.
The fact that Telangana voted minority and opposition Communist parties during this time to the State Assembly against the majority and ruling Congress party of Andhra didn't help the Telangana’s cause. With Indira Gandhi in power, the states became puppets and the Congress became all-powerful. Dissident causes were suppressed ruthlessly. When the States Reorganisation Act of 1956 was clearly violated by the Andhras, the Telangana people launched an agitation in 1969 demanding a separate state. It was overwhelmingly crushed by Indira Gandhi who was in no mood for formation of new states. Thousands were arrested and put in jail while 350 people protestors were killed in police shootings. Indira Gandhi did not allow splitting of states during her entire regime.
When their agitation was ruthlessly suppressed, the Telangana people took the electoral route in 1971. They launched a new party called Telangana Praja Samiti (TPS) and got 11 out of 12 Lok Sabha seats clearly indicating the mood of the people for bifurcation of the state. Indira Gandhi, who was at the peak of her power then, called the leader of TPS, Channa Reddy and effected a merger of his party with the Congress and made him the Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh. However, as a concession, an All-Party Agreement of 1969 was arrived at, to protect the interests of Telangana.
Those agreed upon formulas were immediately flouted by the Andhra people. This left the Telangana people with no other means but to take the legal route. Their objections were upheld by the Supreme Court which asked Andhras to vacate the positions that were illegally acquired.
That's when the Andhra people, who knew that Indira Gandhi was dead against the formation of new states, blackmailed Indira Gandhi, demanding a new state for themselves in 1973. Now, the same Andhra people deride the Telangana Movement calling it divisive politics. Indira Gandhi's government, in a clear display of partisan and discriminatory practices, overturned the Supreme Court ruling, thereby clearly establishing how the majority Andhra can always snub and suppress the minority Telangana in the state Assembly. This continues till today as clearly evidenced by the recent episode where all Andhra and Rayalaseema MLAs resigned en masse from the Assembly on the Telangana issue clearly indicating to all observers that no resolution on Telangana will pass through since they comprise the majority.
Such practices of slighting all the promises continued. G.O. 36 of 1969 that promised to position Telangana people in 25,000 posts that were illegally occupied by Andhra people remains unfulfilled to date. During 1973 and 1985 nearly 60,000 illegal positions were awarded to Andhra people in the Telangana region. To rectify this, G.O. 610 was introduced in 1985 with a promise to enforce it within a year, but continues to be unimplemented in spite of repeated demands. Telangana people are left with no options - they have tried the electoral, democratic and legal routes - all of them failed. The current democratic setup does not work for minority when the leaders are clearly aligned along partisan lines.
Nagarjuna Sagar dam lies in the Telangana region. While the original plan included two canals, one to arid and dry Telangana, and the other to the fertile and inundated Andhra region, only one canal was constructed towards Andhra region, while Telangana continued to remain arid, dry and impoverished. All the recommendations that urged the government to construct the new canal were struck down by the majority and partisan Andhra leaders. The coal mines and power plant of Singareni lie in Telangana region, but the backward districts of Telangana get no power from these projects. There are thousands of villages and towns in Telangana, where only two hours of electricity is supplied during the entire summer season, while people of Andhra experience just small inconveniences. Out of 10 government medical colleges in Andhra Pradesh, only one exists in Telangana while 7 of them are based in Andhra-Rayalaseema. Examples abound. The discrimination is apparent in irrigation, in industry, in roads, in canals, in dams, in energy distribution, in education and in employment.
There has been consistent and methodical discrimination against people of Telangana for all these years. The newer generation of Andhra and Rayalaseema which had no role in this discrimination finds it hard to understand why Telangana people protest for a new state. They have absolutely no idea as to what happened in the past and see the present situation in isolation and conclude that Telangana people are brainwashed by their wily and cunning politicians.
Many people discredit Telangana movement by sullying its leaders. They believe that this movement is a product of petty politicians’ agenda to usurp power. They believe that this cause was invented by politicians to serve their purpose.
They don't realize that the Telangana Movement is a mass movement and a historical movement going back sixty years and is beyond political parties and their agendas. The sentiment is deep and most administrators, bureaucrats, government employees, school teachers, professors, miners, bankers, intellectuals and scientists support the Telangana cause and seek separation. The Telangana cause is not a result of politicians brainwashing its people, but instead a just cause of Telangana people who have been betrayed by politicians again and again. Even now, people of Telangana rally and support only those leaders who are committed to the cause of Telangana. The day these leaders stop supporting this cause, they will abandon them, like they did when they voted out TRS in 2009 because they did not uphold their promise of delivering a new state. This fight for a separate state is a legitimate one and has an expression in Indian politics which is flawed.
Detractors of the Telangana movement are worried about the status of Hyderabad. No logical observer would conclude that Hyderabad can be separated from Telangana. It is linked to Telangana historically, culturally and geographically. Telangana with Hyderabad as its capital joined Andhra State with Kurnool as its capital to create Andhra Pradesh in 1956. Asking for Hyderabad from Telangana is like Gujarat asking for Mumbai in 1960 just because Gujaratis have invested a lot into Mumbai. Being cosmopolitan does not warrant a Union Territory status either. Mumbai continues to be the financial capital of India, continues to be cosmopolitan, is home to many migrants and settlers but still belongs to people of that region. In the same way, Hyderabad will continue to belong to people of Telangana and will continue to thrive as a cosmopolitan city, as a home to many settlers from different parts of the country including those from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions.
The history of Telangana after India's Independence is riddled with false promises and betrayals. Telangana remains marginalized, reduced to being a minority in their own state, victim of partisan politics, inept democracy and a flawed legal system. Telangana remains backward, in education, in agriculture, in industry, in infrastructure, in employment, and in prosperity. Even today, Telangana people are discriminated against, in their own region. They are seen as inferior, lazy and illiterate. Even the Telangana dialect is ridiculed and its speakers are the butt of many demeaning jokes.
The people of Telangana have a distinct culture, a different history and a different temperament in addition to different social and economic status. When one state has two economically and culturally different regions, one being prosperous and the other backward, if corrective measures are not taken to uplift that backward region, there is a great danger of only the prosperous region getting all the attention, funding, new industries, canals, and opportunities, while the people of backward region keep losing out in their own region. When such a condition prevails far too long, strong corrective measures are to be taken, and if they do not work, a new state is one of the best solutions. A separate Telangana is an eventuality. Prolonging this outcome will only increase the animosity of Telangana people towards those who oppose it. We have already witnessed many such protests in Telangana. Delaying this eventuality will only cause more pain to the region and will not bode well for the future of the two states which share the same language. The people of Andhra and Rayalaseema should welcome this aspiration of the Telangana people, accord it the due respect and make way for a new Telangana.
This year in June the state of Andra Pradesh and Telengana will be a reality.
A.Muthukrishnan is a writer, traveler and activist who resides in Madurai, Tamilnadu
More: Telangana (Telugu: తెలంగాణ, Urdu: تلنگانہ) is a region in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Telangana is currently in the process of becoming a separate state. Before Indian Independence it was part of Hyderabad State (Medak and Warangal divisions) which was ruled by the Nizams. The region is bordered by the states of Maharashtra to the north and north-west, Karnataka to the west, Chhattisgarh to the north-east and Odisha to the east. The Telangana region has an area of 114,840 square kilometres (44,340 sq mi), and a population of 35,286,757 (2011 census) which was 41.6% of the population of Andhra Pradesh.
Telangana comprises 10 districts: Hyderabad, Adilabad, Khammam, Karimnagar, Mahbubnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Rangareddy, and Warangal. The main rivers are the Musi, Manjira, Krishna and Godavari, which flow through the region from west to east. Telangana's four largest cities are Hyderabad, Warangal, Nizamabad and Karimnagar. On 30 July 2013, the ruling Congress party resolved to request the Central government to form a separate state of Telangana, as the 29th state of India. The city of Hyderabad would serve as the joint capital of Telangana and the remainder of Andhra Pradesh for ten years. On 3 October 2013, the Union Cabinet approved the division of the existing state of Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad state in 1909
On 5 December 2013, Cabinet approved the Telangana draft bill prepared by the Group of Ministers (GoM). The bill was then submitted to Parliament for a vote by both houses. On 18 February 2014 the 15th Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) passed a resolution to create the state of Telangana, followed by the Rajya Sabha (upper house) on 20 February 2014. President Pranab Mukherjee gave assent to the bill on 1 March 2014 and Gazette notification to this effect was published on this day. On 4 March 2014 the Government of India declared that 2 June would be the Telangana Formation Day.