Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Forgotten Hero : Dashrath Majhi

A legends family languishes in Hunger

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Almost three years after the death of legendary Dashrath Majhi, a visit to the landmark created by the ‘Pahad purush’ i.e. mountain man in Dashrath Nagar, Gehlaur (Gaya) in Bihar makes one wonder how the government’s forgets their promises? The man who hailed from Mushahar community is today revered as Pahad baba. Those who have seen the primitive conditions of Mushahars and their persistent marginalization, they would certainly vouch that the recognition and acknowledgement of the work done by one among them, will go to rejuvenate the community and bring it to the life back. One does not know these facts but Dashrath Majhi’s work might make a fascinating story for young minds and the importance of commitment for a cause.

On August 17th, 2007, when Dashrath Majhi, 70, died of a prolonged illness and the Nitish Kumar government of the time took care of his treatments in AIIMS, Delhi, it looked that they would honor the words given to Dashrath Majhi and his villagers. Not only this, Baba, as Dashrath Majhi, is reverently addressed in the entire area, was asked what should be done for him. ‘Yes, we will provide 5 acres of land to your family’, the chief minister had promised. Baba that time said he did not anything for him but ‘build’ a hospital for the village. After the death of Baba, the government named the road that Baba cut through the huge mountain as Dashrath Majhi Road and the village as Dasharath Nagar. A temple is being constructed in the name of Baba which is called as Ghat.

Born in a deeply poverty entrenched family of Mangaru Majhi and Pattiya Devi in the Gahlor Ghati which was surrounded by the mountains and no connectivity of roads to the nearest town, Baba saw the difficulties of people living in Gehlor Ghati. His wife would go along with others to get water mounting the difficult terrain. He saw tremendous pain of inability for those who needed medical aid and old folks who found it difficult to climb the hill to reach the other side. The other way to reach the nearest town was by road which was about 75 kilometer. It was nearly impossible. Baba decided himself that they need some one way to reduce this and it was only possible if he would cut through the mountain and will make way for every one. While the governance was absent in the village and there was no way for the community to speak to political class to provide them roads and infrastructure. And one can understand what would have been the situation in 1960 when there were not much money and political power was still in the hands of dominant communities. So Dasharath must have felt that the only way to overcome this hurdle was to take some initiative and do the work. Hence then one fine day in 1960 he started his work. The pains and agony of people strengthened his determination particularly as his wife too had to face tremendous problems during these days. With shovel in hand, he started digging the mountains. Actually, Mushahars of the region depended a lot on stone cutting as it is their main source of livelihood. But Baba was not much doing it for commercial gains as he was keen on reducing the difficulties of his fellow villagers. It was a herculean task. The family never liked, the villagers called him mad. ‘How will this man cut such a rocky mountain? Has he gone mad? Does he has no other work to do? What is he doing”, were the scornful questions thrown at Baba. But Dasharath Majhi was determined and just did not care for these remarks. It is not that he was cutting the mountain from morning till evening. Actually, for him it was an additional work, as he had to support his family and it would have been impossible if he was not working on land or cutting stone for his survival. Whenever, he was without work or holidays, he would start cutting the stones himself. No body came to support him. He did not have the tools to cut big rocky stones; neither had he had money, the only thing that was with him, ‘courage and determination, against all the odds which exist in our communities. It was a complete madness towards his work and to relieve people from hardship.

Slowly some of the people realized that he was really into it, so they would help him with voluntary work for time to time. It is rather strange that the government and its authorities were completely unmindful of his work. It shows why a major part of India is still out of governance and people have to depend on their own self for their development. Such a major work was done by a man and his community and yet it remained unseen, unheard, unreported and unchecked. Yet, Baba completed his task by 1982 by cutting about 300 meter long and 25 ft wide mountain and therefore converting the distance of 75 kilometer to just 1 kilometer and it became easier particularly those on cycles and motor bikes to take their elderly people to the nearest town for medical aid. Today, you see streams of people using the way. Women going to forest, getting grass for their pets while motor bikers, cyclists and other villagers are using this path. And this has reduced their burden and pains. Today, Baba has slipped into folklore as a folk hero as people are constructing a temple for him. A local organization has painted the rock on the way saying that legendary Dashrath Majhi completed this herculean task of linking Ghivra mauja of Dashrath Nagar, in Gehlaur Ghati to Atara Prakhand, Wajirganj by reducing the distance from 75 kilometer to just one kilometer, in 22 years.

But after three years of death, none of the promises made by the Bihar government have been fulfilled. Baba’s lonely son Bhagirath is a physically challenged man. His daughter in law, Basanti Devi suffers from physical disability. Baba’s daughter Lavangi Devi too lives in the house along with others as they have a small semi constructed house. Daughter in law Basanti Devi cook mid day meal in the nearby primary school while her husband Bhagirath get Rs 200/- pension every month but not because of any love for Baba but for ‘disability’ reasons. The total land they got was about 1.5 acre which they got along with other villagers long back.

While the family now knows that their Baba was not just a useless mad man but did something for the society yet Basanti Devi was not amused, ‘He did nothing for us. What have we got from his work? Our children are starving and no way to educate them. The government promised us 5 acre land but it never came’. One can understand the frustration of the family members as for them the issue of the survival of their children is more important. Though they know that Baba did wonder yet they feel that the government has not really honored its words. Somewhere they feel that Baba would have asked more from the government so that they could have lived a better life.
Their Indira Awas is still incomplete. The huts are not enough to keep the family better. In one side, the family keeps the photographs of Dasharath. His son and daughter and their children live together though cook separately. Yet, they are hoping against hope as people come and seek their interview.

The situation is pathetic and though the area is open and wide yet a community can not live on ‘fresh air’. It needs work. The road network is now being developed in the area. But one wonder how long will it take. Not many efforts by the government to change the life of the people. No medical assistance, no proper school for the children.Baba’s grand daughter Lakhsmi who is nearly 15 ( I could say less than that) is a married girl. She could not get admission to Kasturba Balika Vidyalaya. She does not know why but most of the children complained about that. She can just read and write and perhaps completed her Vth standard.

The children are hungry and asking for more. The mother beat them for lack of food and virtually annoying. The house is incomplete and in a mess. Tears rolls down from Basanti Devi as she starts talking about Baba and narrate their own plight.’ People come here, ask about Baba, his work and passion, but we remain the same’. We have nothing to eat. I do not know what to tell people about Baba but if they want to see how government honors people, they can see our conditions.’ Actually, after Nitish Kumar government honored Baba, a lot of media hype was created added with Maha Dalit slogan of Bihar government. Nitish had actually called Dashrath Majhi to Patna and asked him to sit in front of him said his son Bhagirath. They were elated at this respect shown by the most powerful man of Bihar but then little did they know that politicians will do everything to gain political gains. Mushahars may not matter as voters for them but honoring Dashrath Majhi gave tremendous good will of the Dalit communities in Bihar.

The village of Dashrath Majhi need a facelift. It need not only electricity and proper road network which is coming up but also development of the community. Often, social activists working among Mushahars, blame them for their laziness and social attitude, but a man called Dashrath Majhi has given example how legends can come from any community. It is time that Bihar government honor its promises made to Dashrath Majhi, take care of the entire Mushahar community, provide them alternative livelihood and make life of Dashrath Majhi as part of the school text books. If the government of Bihar is really sincere towards its promises, it should initiate special schemes for Mushahars in the name of Dashrath Majhi and create more schools with special reference for the poor children, apart from a full fledged government hospital. That would be the best tribute to the man who moved mountain for the benefit of fellow human being and epitomize the tremendous will of human spirit.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Freedom for justice or freedom from Ideologies.

Crisis of ideology or war of fear from freedom

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

‘You mother f….r, how dare you write about implementing ceiling laws in the Tarai region of Uttarakhand. We will take enough care if you dare to come here’, came a response to my article on my blog written after the completion of the padyatra related to land issues in Uttarakhand.

Such responses are not new to me as they keep coming. ‘ I have not read an idiotic article like this’, was a response to my review article on Telengana in mynews.in yesterday. Another one wrote, ‘ how much money are you getting in to divide Hindu society’.. you are fortunate enough that you are not born in China and Pakistan, he wrote, otherwise you would have seen what could have done to you..

Just a few years back during the anti Mandal agitation initiated by the caste Hindus in the AIIMS, Delhi, I got a number of hate mail at the CNN-IBN blogs as perhaps I was among very few to question their ‘meritocracy’. ‘You beggar quotawallah, go beg at Connaught place first, then seek a reserve job’, wrote some one. Times of India mentioned it as ‘apartheid’ against ‘poor’ upper caste. It is a discrimination against the upper caste, it intended to say.

Is there a problem in our thinking process ? Are we not ready to accept diversent view point ? And whose divergent view point as at the end of the day, there are ideologies and perceptions which force us to act violently against those we disagree. Hence, a Taslima is unwelcome as she is threat to Islam, M.F. Hussein, at the age of 90, has become a ‘threat’ to our omnipotent-omnipresent gods. Children are killed when they dare to marry against their parental desires. Dalits are killed if their raise their head and claim to be equal national of the country.

Therefore it is important to understand as what is the attitudinal or ideological problem with Indians? Are they afraid of ideologies? Do they take shelter in fake ideological constructs and live in their own world. The biggest problem with them is that they live in double standard. They speak two languages, one for their children and different for outsider. So a majority of the high profile ‘ideologues’ could not sale Marxism and Maoism to their children, then why they are selling the same to the tribal, I debated. ‘Oh no, our children are separate. We can not decide about them. They have their freedom, why do you want them to be controlled’, they say. ‘But then why you want to control others’. ‘You give everything to your children’s growth’, look for Its, finding space for them in US and UK, why, I said. ‘Oh, that is not to be debated. How can we do that? Mulayam Singh, the great disciple of Lohia wanted English to be boycotted so he sent his son Akhilesh to Doon school and then to Australia. Late Charan Singh condemned computer education and modern sciences as threat to agriculture, hence Ajit Singh went to United States to study computer sciences when computer was unheard thing in India. Clear enough, in this double standard, we sale Marxism, socialism, Hinduism, Christianity and Maoism to tribal and capitalism to our children. You see most of the Hindutva ideologues actually came from the best college of Delhi called St Stephens College.

Who were two biggest dissenters in Indian social system. The first was Buddha and thousands of years later it was Ambedkar. And since accepting dissent is not a part of any of these traditions which claims to revolutionary or uniting Hindus or political ideology of the day, we find attack against them in each and every form. Buddha Viharas were attacked and Buddhists were annihilated. Ambedkar was scorned at for ‘dividing’ Hindus and termed as a very ‘ordinary’ scholar.

‘ No, neither Buddha, nor Ambedkar can help the Dalits, only Marx can help them, wrote Rang Nayakamma, an old upper caste romantic of communism in Andhra Pradesh in her book ‘For the solution of caste question’. How many of these revolutionaries staged a battle against social evils in India. If that is not important for them, then why they expect the Dalits to join them. Rang Nayakamma wrote passionately like Arun Shourie, against Ambedkar.

She blamed Ambedkar as why it took him so long for converting to Buddhism. Why Ambedkar attacks Marx and glorify Buddha. In the entire book, Rangnaykamma’s brahmanical past is visible even when she can claim to be a Marxist and that has been the problem with most of the upper caste Marxists who remain arrogant to their brahmanical roots. For them, a shudra does not have the intellect. Even when the Hindutva’s saffron brigade is busy in social engineering, the brahmanical Marxist have not been able to provide Dalits a space in their scheme of things. Writes Nayakamma in her chapter ‘ Caste Question : Ambedkar has changed religion ( page 407), ‘ The moment he start writing, there began a baseless confidence in Ambedkar that is a great intellectual. There emerged a kind of false logic namely, ‘whatever, I wrote is logic’. This is the true story of brahmanical Marxists whose problem with Ambedkar is that he gave Dalits an understanding to assert themselves. Who knows Nayakammas and all those who have great appreciation for her ‘radical’ views can understand that her writings are pure brahmanical frustration because of growing Dalit assertion. That assertion is not really visible among the tribal and that is the reason the brahmanical revolutionaries are leading them. She goes on to condemn those who admire ambedkar saying that ‘ Biographers of Ambedkar glorified every aspect of his research, however inconsistent and haphazard it may have been. There is not a single instance where they raised the question namely, ; what is this argument’? what kind of research is this?

She further writes in Vartha, a Telugu daily (quoted in her book): Since Ambedkar was favorable to the exploitation of labour, all his Dalit disciples too took the same path and ‘turned their faces away’ from Marxism. It is such a stupid path that makes them incapable of knowing whether they are doing good or harm to themselves’.( page 421)

Many of us know how veteran Sharad Patil has been writing for long the theory of Buddha, Phule, Ambedkar Marx philosophy as a remedy to current situation in India. How do you do it with the current short of Marxists in India who do not want to share, who remain ‘consistent’ in their condemnation of Ambedkar. Why Arun Shourie and Rangnayakmma hate Ambedkar. Is it because, Ambedkar’s Dalits have charted their path on their own and not through the farcical brahmanical revolution? And yes, it does not mean condemning Marx but they will simply not make a God of Marx like the Marxists have done. Ofcourse, Ambedkarite Dalits can not accept Gandhism and its so-called virtues as way to their salvation. Actually right from left, right, centre, Hindutva or missionary variety, in their action they did not have time to speak up against the exploitation of labour in the villages and caste dimension of it. Instead, Hindutva ideologue people like Shourie calls him a British supporter while so called Marxist like Rangnakamma blame him for supporting the exploiter. Can there be any truth in such vicious campaign and propaganda? Yes Ambedkar condemned three classes which he says British, Brahmin and Bania and the real meanings of these should be understood. By British he meant imperialist forces, Brahmin symbolizing brahmanical Hinduism and Bania, he meant capitalism. How can any one suggest that Ambedkar did not speak against capitalism. Those who have read him know that he wanted to nationalized land. Now was that a capitalist agenda? He formed Indian Labour party, Depressed Classes, Republic party of India.. where did he put caste identity in focus in these. Did he deny any class or caste entry in his movement ?

Marx has been a great revolutionary and his vision still stand for an equitable society. But why Marxist hate Buddha and then Ambedkar is beyond understanding. If Buddha waged relentless war against superstition and caste system, why should not Indian follow him? After all, Buddha was born much before Marx. How did the caste Hindus kill both Buddha and Marx together in their pursuit for power? One has to understand the tribal question deeply as why the tribal leadership is unable to emerge and in the name of tribal liberation it is the brahmanical forces which are dominant in the region. ‘They can not fight their own battle, said a friend, so these revolutionaries are there. Why can not tribal fight their own battle when they had a Birsa Munda who revolted against the British.

The other day, an ideologue from Andhra said on Times Now,’ the Maoists are like Bhagat Singh, fighting against state repression’. It is tragic to do such a comparison that easily. Bhagat singh had never justified violence and in fact wrote about the issue of untouchability as the biggest challenge to our society. Secondly, Bhagat Singh never lived in double standard. At the age of 23, he went to gallows and scolded his parents who wanted to get pardon from the British. Who had the courage to openly claim himself as an atheist and demolish all the religious symbolism from his body? In fact, that is the problem with our modern day Gandhian historians that they never considered anybody else for contributing to our freedom struggle, other than Gandhi and his followers. Bhagat Singh was just branded as gun trotting revolutionary and not an ideologue who defended freedom and secular values. They do not feel that Bhagat Singh while fighting against British imperialism concentrated on our own weaknesses of caste system, untouchability and communalism.

The other day, some human rights activists claimed that state is killings hundreds of people and we must speak against them. But who stops human rights activists to not to speak against those who are killing the innocent. ‘No, in the war these things are justified, they say. Fine, in the war, the state will also use its might and that too is justified despite human rights activists like us asking the police and military to follow norms, but practically where have these norms followed in war? Redcross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, all know it well that human rights are violated heavily in arms conflict. Their pressure makes a lot of things during no war period but during war, only the gun speaks.

Problem is that brahminism in India has various roots to survive. It is monster and has different forms. Some where it survives through pure Manuwaad, we all know, the gangs of Hindutva and their cousins elsewhere. It comes through socialism, it come through communism, it come through all shorts of ism including the Dalits themselves. How is that every perception in India failed because of this. Reason is that India needed social revolution and we opted for political one. I do not say that only caste matter (Ofcourse it is the most important aspect) and class too matters. Why can not our friend take both as Ambedkar visualized in his famous work ‘ thought on Pakistan’ when he said that ‘Hindu Rastra would be a calamity’.

Problem is that in the human rights discourse, we are conveniently using ideological slants for our purposes. Hence those who are not with left leanings become a right wing. If you are not with RSS then you are seculars, communists and what not. I am proud to be a secular whether they want to use it in negative term or something else. The problem is that none of them appreciate freedom. Some keep conspicuous silence when Taslima speaks, while others want to raise the issue of MF Hussein and his paintings. The issue of Satanic verses would be raised by one set of freedom fighters while others would demand a ban on riddles of Hinduism written by Ambedkar. So, whenever the opportunity comes closed mind will not allow this freedom. That is why, Ambedkar is a problem for all the closed mind. Ambedkar was essentially a modern man, a liberal democrat who could not close his eyes to global changes. He was a free thinker who challenged the supremacy of the religious text books. He knew that Indian society has no respect for individual and he believed in it and perhaps these are things which were not liked by those people who lionize a particular ideology, do not believe in individual freedom and have nothing to offer to demolish the age old prejudices and our very indigenous capitalist order entirely based on your identities.

This article is not against a particular short of ideology. It is basically on issues that in the name of ideologies, we are justifying everything, human pain and agony. How can it be in a modern democracy where each life should be considered precious? For those in authorities, it is prudent that the ideology need a counter ideology. If development fail to reach to the people, if social justice is not there in our villages, if India still remain caged to feudal mindset, if our village resources, our rivers, our mountains are on sale on throw away prices then Mr Chidambaram and his team will have to do a lot of soul searching.

Step out side Raipur and you will see the big companies lining up in Chhatishgarh. Jindal tops the list with thousands of hectares of land being granted to them for mining. Hundreds others are there to ‘develop’ Chhatishgarh. Tribals remain sandwiched between the two. They have lost their land. Chhatishgarh is being colonized now by the non Chhatishgarhis, big companies and Babas and sadhus. And where are the poor? Mr Chidambaram would do well to take a round in the city of Raipur’s famous Rajkumar college in the morning hours and watch the irony of large cue of people waiting to defecate in open even when there is a Sulabh Shauchalaya. It means that people can buy rice at one rupee kilogram but no money to defecate as the charges in the public toilet are higher then the price of rice in the state.

Where ever the political set up failed non democratic forces took up. The tribal who have been exploited for years gets new hope in those who give them ‘instant’ justice. There is a Vth schedule of constitution where you need permission of the village panchayat for starting any new private ventures? But how many times have the government cared to speak to them. So, the result is growing disenchantment among them. They have lost their habitat and without addressing the basic issue of land, forest and water, the government would not be able to tackle whole issue. Those who have isolated the tribal population must be made answerable to them. In the meanwhile, each one of the revolutionaries from Hindutva’s saffron gangs to Christian Missionaries to Naxals, will sandwich tribal except from the tribal themselves. Each one of them consider themselves as ‘protecting’ tribal from ‘outside’ influence but at the end of day none of them actually belong to tribal themselves. It is time when we address the issues of the people’s exploitation without being indulged in the ‘greatness’ of ideologies. Greatness of ideologies lies in the emancipation of human being and not on controlling their minds. Let us defend the human rights of all but let not human rights become instrument for those who spread hatred and violence.

On the other side which is equally darker, let not the ‘threat’ of terrorism become an instruments to violate human rights of the people. Let not every padyatra, slogan, publication which question the motives of the government become a target of security agencies in the name of ‘fight against terror’. It is a very delicate battle and the responsibility on the state is higher as on the human rights activists too. The more you oppress the common man, the bigger will be the fascination for ‘revolution’.

It is time we speak against oppression and for human rights. Let us condemn violence in unequivocal term. It is time we rise up against social injustice. The seeds of social democracy should reach each part of the civilization. Let ideologies not become bigger than the human liberty. Let human right discourse does not become good or bad because of a personal perception based on basic political principals and conditioning of our mind, after all, the movement for social justice, the principals of human rights too came from hard core struggles of the masses. It is time we accept criticism with open heart. Speak against the perception and not on individual. Those who believe that only ideology can counter ideology must come up with ideological arguments to spread their ideology. With a gun in hand to promote their ‘democratic’ ideas would not work and will definitely not do justice to millions of those whose name this entire battle is being fought.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Great Betrayal of Telangana

Review Article

The Great Betrayal of Telangana

Is the Manipulations and caste politics root of the betrayal of the cause of Telangana

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

One of the most important struggles for a separate state in India is definitely that of Telangana state. Unfortunately, immediately after partition, when the state of Hyderabad merged into Indian Union, various new states were being formed or re-formed on the basis of languages. Big states like Madras, Hyderabad were recreated on the basis of languages. So part of Telugu speaking areas in erstwhile Madras state and other areas from the state of Nizam formed the part of new Andhra.

The history of Telangana’s movement lies in its struggle against the autocratic Nizam who sucked the blood of its Telugu populace and was not willing to accede to Indian union against the wishes of the majority of its people. Hence, when the new state were being formalised, the issue of Telangana ceded to the Telugu maĆ®tre of maha Andhra issue simply because the political parties and their leaders succumbed to the temptation of their caste politics, ofcourse, in the name of linguistic affinity. I know such facts are not accepted in politics but anybody can guess the politics of Andhra Pradesh in the post independent era is actually the politics of power grab between two powerful communities of Reddy and Kamma.

Therefore it is tragic that a movement so popular and widespread could not culminate into the formation of a new state. Who are the forces responsible for this? Why Telengana is still a far away dream? Have the political class betrayed the cause of telengana? What about the cultural movement? Why have the intellectuals and social activists of Telengana remained mute? If not why were they not able to translate people’s anger into a focused movement for the formation of a new state? These are questions which the authors of this book are looking. ‘ Civil society is yet to create the intellectual tool and action plans that can distinguish people’s politics from power politics’ says the authors of the book,’ Telangana : The state of Affairs’.

The editors acknowledge that there is very little information about Telangana in other languages as well as outside Andhra Pradesh. ‘One drawback is that most of the available material in print about Telangana can only be accessed by readers in Telugu’, they write. That brings us to a new point which I consider as a draw back of this book or may be of that of Telangana movement. The reason for my discomfort is that there is not a single chapter devoted to the demand for autonomy in other parts of the country. It is natural for people who have been left on the margins to call for a separate state and for more fiscal autonomy. Telangana was not the first one to demand for it. It will not be the last one. We all know how the anti Hindi agitation in Tamilnadu in the 1950s and 1960s shook entire India. The fact is very clear that Tamilnadu had a distinct identity and it aspired for it and did not succumb to the pressure of the central leadership. It resulted in a unique situation of this state that except for a brief period, Tamilnadu rejected the national parties and powerful castes. It is another matter that the less powerful castes now have become more powerful and replicating the brahmanical ‘wisdom’ in Tamilnadu but that is another matter of discussion at a separate place. Andhra’s politics remained loyal to strong Centre. In fact it provided strength to Congress party and its leadership in Delhi. Andhra Pradesh got that symptom very late in the formation of Telugu Desham but the fact is that the formation of Telugu Desham was not really a demand for more autonomy to Andhra but more as a counter to the Reddy domination of Congress Party. Till that period, Andhra’s Reddy’s dominated the political discourse and occupied all the space including the so-called revolutionary space. One has nothing against them in person but the fact that such a monopoly over the political cultural space in Andhra Pradesh resulted in doom of the politics of marginalized in AP. In the past 15 years the Kamma, Reddy dominated Andhra Pradesh has witnessed significant marginalization of the Dalits, Adivasis and backward classes. Both Chandra Babu Naidu and YSR Rajshekar Reddy became big magnet and darling of the upper caste media and corrupt business companies. The tragedy of the entire state is that no credible leadership has emerged from the marginalised communities and even the social movements have been hijacked by the powerful communities. The result is that Mao and Marx have failed by the brahmanical system and their deep rooted caste conspiracy to sideline everything that come in their way.

That gives rise to my question. How come a leader of another power community called Velma, lead the voices of the marginalized in Telengana. Since Telangana remained part of the Nizam and even the left wing forces fought battle for independence the communalization of Telangana is not ruled out. Hence, it is an ideal ground for the Hindutva forces. One must not feel that BJP is not present in Telengana. The agenda of Hindutva does not lie with a particular party. Their agenda is to Hinduise the political parties and we have seen that systematic Hindutvaisation of the political parties in India who works on the agenda of the Sangh Parivar. Narsimha Rao’s connections with the Sangh parivar dates back from the days of anti Nizam struggle in the region. The dominant party of Telangana joined hand with everyone from BJP to Congress for its pursuit to power but could not force them to accede to its demand for a separate state when they were in power in centre. Now the Congress actually rubbished them and got a majority of seats in the last Vidhan Sabha elections in May 2009.

So consolidation of all the ‘Hindu’ votes against a Muslim challenge could bring some more vote to powerful party of Telengana but at the end of the day defeat the very purpose of the movement. Any movement is the result of the marginalization and ostracisation of communities. In the case of Telengana, it is basically Dalits and other marginalized. Similarly Chhatishgarh, Jharkhand were tribal states and remained marginalized under the Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. Uttarakhand’s case is different. It was a mountain state and the Pahadis were considered to be inferior in not only Delhi but also in other parts of Uttar-Pradesh. Little funds were allocated for educational and other developmental programmes. A majority of Netas and ministers hailed from the Uttar-Pradesh were least bothered about hills as they were not able to influence the power politics of an elephantine state of Uttar-Pradesh. Yet, not all Pahadis were equal in socio-economic status, as the Brahmins of Uttarakhand actually were among the most powerful in India. Some of these Brahmin families ruled Uttar-Pradesh hence leader became bigger then the state and the cause of the state remained marginalized. It is not a tragedy that the biggest obstacle of the Uttarakhand state was Narain Dutt Tiwari but he was imposed on a state which did not fight elections under him. So, the brahmanical leadership is actually powerful in denigrating others and creating artificial differences in the name of religion, region and castes.

Demand for autonomy has been one of the major reasons of discontent in India. Right from Kashmir to North Eastern regions like Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya states have been demanding more autonomy and freedom. Punjab suffered a lot under it. However, there is a wider difference between these movements for autonomy is that while movements for self determination in Kashmir, Manipur and Nagaland, yet a good linkage to understand the issues of the people and their voices for freedom and autonomy.

In the chapter ‘Subregionalism in India : The case of Telangana’, Duncan B Forrester, says “ it remains true that it is not possible to distinguish Telangana sharply from the rest of Andhra Pradesh in terms of caste’. He writes : ‘ Non Brahmin feeling was never as strong in the Telugu Country as in Tamilnadu, but nevertheless Brahmin dominance was gradually challenged by rising non Brahmin castes, particularly, the Kammas, and Reddies who tended initially to support justice party and the Andhra Movement, finding themselves at loggerheads with each other only after setting up of Andhra Pradesh in 1953.’

Actually, a comparison would have helped analyse things much better how certain powerful communities dominates each state. So whether you get a state or not, the question is that we are imposing a democratic value system on a society which remain highly antidemocratic and feudal. Hence The issue of mulkis and non mulkis is evident in other parts of the country. Uttarakhand never got the right due from Uttar-Pradesh. Since the region had only 25 seats and the contempt for the people of uttarakhand was high.. Vidarbha is complaining the same from Maharastra, Darjeeling asking for its right from West Bengal, Bodos are asking the same from Assam and Chhatishgarh had similar problem with Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand always remained undeveloped under Bihar. Leaders became bigger than the movement.

A number of activist friends from Telangana always claimed to have a unique ‘cultural’ difference between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. However, these distinctions exists every where including those states which have been created in past 10 years.

I however disagree with the point that ‘subregional conflicts can break down caste political solidarity in a different way and force state politics to concern itself not so much with balancing the claims of significant caste groups as with balancing the claims of various areas with in the state to equality of treatment, particularly in economic development. Actually the article was written by the author in the late sixties and that time the popular media and popular intellectual discourse was divided between Congress and the left forces. That time any talk of the Dalits and Adivasis or backward communities was considered as ‘caste’ approach. However, witnessing the degradation of the Marxian principals hijacked by the upper caste landlords, one can easily say that a new caste identity of the Dalits and backward communities along with Adivasis is the need of the hour to save the Telangana movement being hijacked by the same forces as happened with other states particularly in Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhatishgarh. In all these states, the forces of Hindutva were the first to do the social engineering while the social strata of the self proclaimed revolutionaries remained highly feudal and upper caste. One can not shy away from the fact that the leadership of the Telangana movement largely drawn strength from specific communities with the Dalit communities simply jumping in their bandwagon without focusing on the issue of their identity.

N.Venugopal in his essay ‘ Demand for separate Telangana Towards Understanding the Core issues, has pointed out the regional inequalities. He explained the Telangana struggle in historical perspective. He argues the inequalities during the Nizam’s period against the Telugu Speaking people as well as Kannada speaking people. I think we make mistake here too. A number of Muslims living in Telangana regions have not benefited from the Nizam’s rule. A few of them might have got benefit in the name of their religion but majority of them remained under the poverty line. The biggest damage to the cause of Telangana was caused by the power elite of Andhra Pradesh which hobnobbed with Congress party at the centre. It brings us back to question that castes matter a lot in India. So, for the power elite of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana cropped up only according to convinence and not really a matter of conviction.

The historical cultural evolution of Telangana is not reflected outside Andhra Pradesh. The activists feel they are special but they should also understand that the communist fighters fought against Nizams, so were many other forces. Like any other movement in India, in Telengana too, no efforts were made to understand the discontents among the Dalits against the upper caste leadership of the movement. While the leaders hobnobbed with power elites and played with the sentiments of the people, it is important to understand the feeling M Bharat Bhushan in his analysis mention that initially it might have been a movement against resistance and crossed caste, class and religion differences but it looks today that ‘movement’ by political class is basically to monopolise the power structure, resorting emotional blackmail, non people means of the movement which he says are political one upmanship, Unpredictability of the political class, but I would prefer to use the term ambiguity of the political class is another reason for inability to get a separate state. So Bharat is right in saying that a Telengana for TRS may be different than what a large number of activists think. Like activists who died for the cause of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhatishgarh today feel betrayed as the leadership in these states remains the hands of status quoists. Most of the chief ministers that Uttarakhand have so far, whether under BJP or Congress are Brahmins who constitute not more than 20% of the population. The Chief Ministers in Chhatishgarh is a non tribal at the moment.
There is no guarantee that such things will not happen in Telangana if state comes into being. That the elected representatives become more loyal to their party and party leaders then to their constituents. If there is any uniqueness of Telangana struggle then the activists, students, academics should join hand and start a social movement. The voices of marginalized should lead the movement of Telangana. If a separate Telangana have the same order as existed in Andhra Pradesh, I am afraid it would become more dangerous than Andhra Pradesh. Let me put some more points for cause of three states that were carved out. Uttarakhand came into being because BJP wanted a state where upper caste interests remain intact as people were unhappy with the Mandal commission recommendations. It was essentially a movement against Mandal Commission Reports that resulted in building of Uttarakhand state. Chhatishgarh and Jharkhand were created to facilitate the World Bank and transnational corporations. Since Andhra government was already facilitating things for the neo liberal policies, there was no need for a separate state here. One has to understand the factor that the day any government creates problems for facilitation of SEZs or SAZs, the power games would offer you a separate state in platter.

Telangana’s marginalized people have suffered a lot from the hands of the power elite of Andhra. In an article ‘Do elections foster separatism : The case of Telangana’ written by Dean E McHenry suggest if he goes by the election results of 2004 assembly elections and 2006 Karimnagar byeelection when Telangana Rastra Samiti members overwhelmingly got support from the masses. But I have not ready to take this argument the reason for separatism. The original demand for separate state is caused by a variety of issues such as socio-economic marginalization, cultural gaps and continuous exploitation of resources. As revealed in the book itself how Telangana produced more revenue and how the State Reorganisation Committee Report was rejected by the government.

As far as the book is concern, it contains very important documents, articles and annexures which I have seen for the first time. Stories such as Golla Ramavva written by PV Narsimha Rao and Land by Allam Rajayya are also part of it. However, I would definitely have loved if such stories are reproduced which comes from the communities themselves. People like Narsimha Rao were proclaimed intellectuals but at the end of the day they contributed very little for the cause of Telangana and its culture. It is important to note that mere by being born in a region does not make a person concerned about its identity. Rao presided over a communal regime in Delhi(despite being a congress person), opened up India’s land for the grab by the international companies as well as our own feudal lords in the name of ‘globalisation’, just to counter the growing assertion and awareness among the Dalits and marginalized in the post Mandal era’s India.

The annexures contains State Re-organisation Commissions Report, Gentlemen agreement in 1956, Six point formula issued on September 21st, 1973 by Andhra politicians, article 371D i.e. special provisions with respect to Andhra Pradesh, Order of Government of Andhra Pradesh in 1975 on the issue of recruitment of local cadres. All these information are very relevant to understand the crisis of Telangana. They are important document which reflect clearly how the cause of Telangana was betrayed by the people in power. It is important that such documents need to be analysed fairly so that generations may know how the issue of backwardness of a region is tackled by our political class and how the ambition of a few makes way for the miseries of the majority.

The Telangana debate must continue. Even if political Telangana is not there, let there be efforts to develop the socio-cultural values of Telangana. It is time to know who betrayed of the cause of Telengana state in the struggle for which 370 students and youths were killed in the police firing, and for the loss of academic year in 1969. If the state could not become a reality then time is to fix responsibility. That can only happen if there is a movement which has mass support and which is not based on sentiments but positive thought of what makes Telangana and its people different than Andhra people despite their common language and common castes? Can we expect that Telangana will not have the politics of the domination of two or three power communities in like Andhra? If the Andhra dominant theory is repeated here in Telangana, then there is no point fighting for such a state as it would be more damaging to the cause of the people of Telangana.

This book can be termed as good beginning for people like me who are far away from the living realities of Telangana but who were always fascinated by the people’s struggle of Telangana. Definitely it is an entry point for all those who wish to understand socio-cultural crisis of Telangana and its polity. One hope that the authors will not end with this only and will bring more such volumes so that people get evidence based information on the issue of Telangana and may understand its uniqueness.

Telangana : The State of Affairs
Editors : M Bharath Bhushan
N. Venugopal
Published in August 2009
Publisher L AdEd Velue Ventures,
Price : Rs 250
Pages : 210