There is a certain odd richness to the current situation in Andhra Pradesh.
FIRST STATE IN THE new Indian Union to demand re-unification based on language, now is roiled in separatism, or at a minimum, political opportunism masquerading as separatism. Somewhere, Potti Sriramulu is rolling in his grave, spinning faster than the evil web being woven by politicians all around, especially in New Delhi.
TELANGANA MOVEMENT which periodically rose and fell, often resulting in political rapprochement, now has the enviable task of wishing it hadn’t wished so. Severance from brethren, in a state that is the envy of the entire Union – Hyderabad / Cyberabad, a later day mecca for IT – without capital pouring in, Telangana will revert to memories of Muslim ruled wretchedness, feudalism, and strife. Even the word Telang is an Islamized perversion of Telugu, the language of the region.
DECCAN OF YORE, that old Islamic plateau of Central South India found freedom along three separate ways, thanks to Mahatma Gandhi. Speakers of Marathi and Kannada seem happily blended with their co-linguists in Maharashtra and Karnataka respectively. Only speakers of Telugu (synonym for Andhra) language have been restless, on and off. First they were unable to shake off the yoke of their Islamic spiritual cultural hegemony, next they couldn’t break free from the feeble, feudal Nizam, but with help eventually did, thanks to Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, (where would India be without him!)
TELUGU people have been, forever, an uneasy alliance. Some thirty years ago another separatist, a doctor, one Marri Chenna Reddy whipped up the descendants of the former Nizam’s subjects into a frenzy. His antics quieted only when offered Chief Minister job. The solution to separatism has since remained a political modus vivendi. Until now. Let all stakeholders sit down and work it out. The ottomanic, sultanate style handing down of decrees from New Delhi has to stop!
LIKE THE BRITS AND YANKS finally settled on the opposite shores of the Atlantic Ocean peaceably, “divided by a common language” (Winston Churchill), the Telugu speakers would rather be divided by a common language, emphasize the accent over the grammar. Or, do they? What to make of all the rumors about local political instigators?
NEIGHBORING STATES to Andhra Pradesh changed names and place names and such. Mysore became Karnataka, Madras became Tamil Nadu, Madras City became Chennai, Bombay became Mumbai. Only the Telugu people pretty much let history be, and got together, and got along fairly well. NO naming gimmicks. Hyderabad never became Bhagya Nagar. Only Visakhapatnam shrugged off the shorter moniker Vizag. Even Rajahmundry was content to leave Raja-Mahendra-Varam in the past. Back in Seventies, Twin Cities slowly faded from common parlance as Greater Hyderabad swallowed up Secunderabad, with nary a peep of objection. Both erstwhile muslim municipalities grew immensely. Hyderabad is as well-known in science circles of the world as Bangalore, or Bhopal!
MIDNIGHT MADNESS represented by the hapless ‘man in shawl’ The Chettiyar has to be one of the dumbest official acts ever in Independent Indian History. Only Mr. Nehru’s advocacy for China’s membership of UN would exceed in folly. What was The Chettiyar thinking, or was he thinking at all. Was he, and Secretary Pillai as well, channeling Mohd. Bin Tuglaque of a few centuries ago, remember from history books, the decision to move the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, perhaps?
THE INDIAN HOME MINISTER, filling those enormous shoes of The Iron Man, Vallabh Bhai, looked like he found himself frozen in headlights, like a feral creature crossing a busy highway at night. He simply allowed himself to become an instrument of his party, rather than a guardian of his nation, and the protector of the nation’s polity. His reading of a short proclamation from a clipboard at the midnight hour had all the shallow similitude to Pundit Nehru’s ‘tryst with destiny’ moment. Except, that nobody was expecting it. Even fewer people wanted it. No Salman Rushdie to troubadour this travesty ….
TELANGANA people deserve nothing less than what they can work for and are willing to invest in themselves. The ‘big brother’ approach of their co-linguists had to stop. But also had to cease was the mindset of victim-hood and exploitation complex brought on by centuries of the feudalistic, parasitic grip on parts of the region by the religiously empowered entities.
TELANGANA PROSPERED when great leaders of the region grew in stature and assumed major roles in polity. Ranga Reddy got a district created and named in his honor. Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao hailed from Karimnagar area of Telangana, his Chief Ministership of AP was effective, peaceable. His Prime Ministership of India was astonishingly adroit, surviving both religious turmoil as well as national bankruptcy as it did. PVN has been compared to leaders like Michael Gorbachev in Russia – a most difficult stewardship at a time of great changes at home and abroad. Without ‘PV’ and the associated Manmohan Singh, modern India would not have materialized so swiftly. Perhaps, an all-party summit could be arranged to ensure that Chief Ministership of an undivided A.P. is rotated amongst the three regions every two years. May be, even change the name to TELUGU SEEMA, OR TELUGU RASHTRAM.
COMMUNIST INFLUENCE anywhere in the world can only lead to trouble. For decades they stirred up Bengal, Telangana, Kerala and across a swathe of India reaching into Nepal. Indians must be the only people in the world who didn’t get the memo, it’s ok to make money. The statist ideas promulgated at Independence, and since not disavowed with vigor, retain grip on people and places that remain underdeveloped and vulnerable. The commies exploited Telangana relentlessly. What Telangana needed was more democratic governance, investment, and job creation. They didn’t need yet another ideology that only engendered anger. Commingling of Islamism, separatism, proletarianism, do not bode well. Telangana needs another PVN Rao!
ANGST IN A.P. is being expressed in voices blending anger, bitterness and sadness, especially in Coastal and Ceded (‘Seema) areas. There is oft’ repeated talk of “outsides conspiring” to make the entire state of A.P. look weak, hapless, and enfeebled. Else, goes the conspiracy theory, how come ministers from ‘other southern states’ such as Chidambaram and Moily get to decide fate of Andhra? Was the CM of AP told about it first? Isn’t AP in great shape? With great educational and investment climate? Also mooted, the idea that the late CM’s son was less than honorable in this matter.
VOICES OF SEPARATISM in India are never quite muted. The country has been divided repeatedly. This is great when done for administrative, cultural and developmental reasons. The lament of Telangana seems phony, political, and opportunistic. Demands for infrastructural improvements, major national and international projects should all be discussed openly and democratically. Statehood is essentially a political plum, a scheme to divide the spoils at the top rather than at the bottom. There are parts of India more abjectly poor, ill-served and needier than Telangana. But, this baby’s crying has been indulged in for so long, in so many wrong ways, this time it make take a real breast to feed it, not just a pacifier.
CONGRESS PARTY OPPORTUNISM is boundless, bottomless, and listless. The same applies to other Indian politicians in general. But Congress, like any behemoth, merely exists for its own sake. Those who wear party colors will sell their soul in the name of party unity, discipline, and respect for ‘high command’. All politicians in India seem to behave thus. Perhaps, it is Indian character to be un-egotistic, and yet un-principled at the same time. Perhaps, it is a case of filial piety being institutionalized.
Poorvanchal idea gains!
List of Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh.