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


shallabhkhera said...

Sir you get paid for writing articles to divide hindus. Your article sense of a anti-hindu with a hindu name.
why would you like to divide them?
Have something happened to you?

Your creating words like Brhaminical mindset in Telangana and blaming everything on hindutva which you do not know what it is is certainly shocking and a disgusting read from the idelas that you proclaim to espouse...

Anyway hindustan quite rightly is not china or Pakistan where only communist or islamic respectively can survive, you have free thoughts please go on and spread the venom....

sravan said...

You seem to be over estimating the caste politics in Telangana and in sense over relating this to the feeling of regional separation in telangana.
The truth is every section in telagana with in their own realms and aspirations feel that they have been betrayed or to say marignalized in this grand experiment of Andhra Pradesh. If a political party led by a upper caste today is fighting for telangana could be your bag of rationalization, then it is entirely true that Maoist rebels who fairly represent downtrodden labours and severely marginalized groups in remote areas of telangana also support Separate state. Like wise every group that are formed on these sectarial grounds you mentioned are in support of telangana. It is only that the government today dominated by Upper Castes only listen to their equals that TRS has come into prominence.
Telangana on a whole is mass movement and political pressure movement at the same time. And in democracy, if seen on a global and historical precendents, such movements are more accepted and successful than any parliametary or legislative actions.