The people of Telangana have fought for creation of a new state for themselves for nearly 60 years now. This legitimate fight for 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 the Indian Independence, Indian Army entered the region to liberate the people of Telangana as part of Hyderabad State from the Nizam Rule. The newly formed Hyderabad State was a distinct entity in 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 a separate state for its people away from 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 access to opportunities, and also citing the reasons that Andhras would not be well represented in Tamil dominated Madras Presidency, Andhra people started a protest. Potti Sriramulu of Andhra region went on a hunger strike in Madras for 58 days and died fighting for 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 Andhra State, but it rejected his other demand. Madras became capital of new Tamil State instead of Andhra State. Contrary to the widely spread misconception, Potti Sriramulu fought for political aspirations of Andhra people of Madras Presidency, not the Telangana people of Hyderabad State.
Andhra People 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. People of Telangana had a different opinion – they didn’t think it was a wise move. Telananga people were educated in Urdu under Nizam while the Andhra people were educated in Telugu and English under British. The new opportunities clearly gave preference to English and Telugu in the new India. During 1948-1952, though Hyderabad was a different state ruled by civil and 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 Andhra Pradesh in 1956.
But the prevailing mood in country was already set for creation of states along linguistic lines. Potti Sri Ramulu’s death and Andhra people’s demand for creation of a state on linguistic basis led to creation of 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 Andhra State to form new Andhra Pradesh though Fazal Ali of 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 stay as separate state if the union of these regions did not work out.
To protect the interest 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 Agreement’ promises were made by leaders of Andhra to ensure that the new opportunities in Telangana go to Telangana people. Actually, there was already a system in place to take care of such representations – called Mulki – which was practiced by erstwhile Nizam who had three regions under him – Telangana, Kannada and Marathi. These rules allowed certain portions of jobs to be given people of that region only. The agreements between Andhra and Telangana leaders included following Mulki rules in the new state.
Unfortunately for Telangana people, all the clauses of 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, any observer will notice that millions of Andhra people have migrated to Telangana region, while negligible Telangana people have migrated to Andhra region.
The fact that Telangana voted a minority and opposition Communist parties during this time to the State Assembly against the majority and ruling Congress party of Andhra didn’t help Telangana cause. With Indira Gandhi in power, the states became puppets and Congress became all-powerful. Dissident causes were suppressed ruthlessly.
When the SR Act of 1956 was clearly violated by Andhras, Telangana people launched an agitation in 1969 demanding a separate state. It was overwhelmingly crushed by Indira Gandhi who had no mood for creating 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 Telangana people took the electoral route in 1971. They launched a new party called Telangana Praja Samiti (TPS) and voted 11 out of 12 Lok Sabha seats clearly indicating the mood of people to carve a separate state. Indira Gandhi, who was at the peak of her power then, called the leader of TPS Channa Reddy, and made him join his party into Congress and made him the Chief Minister of entire Andhra Pradesh. However, an All-Party Agreement of 1969 was agreed to protect the interests of Telangana as a concession.
Those agreed upon formulas were immediately flouted by Andhra people. Now, the Telangana people took the legal route. Their objections were upheld by Supreme Court which asked Andhras to vacate those positions that were illegally acquired.
That’s when Andhra people, who knew that Indira Gandhi was dead against all new states, blackmailed Indira Gandhi by asking for a new state for themselves in 1973. Now, the same Andhra people deride Telangana Movement calling it divisive politics. Indira Gandhi’s government, in a clear indication of partisan and discriminatory practices, overturned the Supreme Court ruling, thereby clearly establishing the practice of how a majority Andhra can always snub and suppress minority Telangana in the state Assembly. This continues till today as clearly seen from the recent episode where all Andhra and Rayalaseema MLAs resigned en masse from the Assembly on Telangana issue clearly indicating to all observers that no resolution on Telangana will pass through since they comprise the majority.
Such continued practices of snubbing all the promises continued. GO 36 of 1969 that promised to position Telangana people in 25,000 that were illegally occupied by Andhra people remains unfulfilled even today. During 1973 and 1985 nearly 60,000 illegal positions were awarded to Andhra people in Telangana region. To rectify this, a new GO 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 option – 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 Telangana region but most of the water is given to Coastal Andhra contravening agreements. While the original plan of Srisailam project 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 forced 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. There are thousands of villages and towns in Telangana where they two hours of power during entire summer, while people of Andhra experience small inconveniences. Of the 59 lakh hectrase proposed for irrigation under YS Rajashekar Reddy government, only 16 lakh hectares was planned for Telangana - only 27% allocation though it constitutes more than 40% in area and population. The examples are galore. The discrimination is seen in irrigation, in industry, in roads, in canals, in dams, in energy, in education and in employment.
There was consistent and methodical discrimination against people of Telangana for all these years. Newer generation of Andhra and Rayalaseema who had no role in this discrimination find it hard to understand why Telangana people protest for a new state. They have absolutely no idea what has 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 politician’s agenda to usurp power. They believe that this cause was invented by politicians to serve their purpose.
They don’t realize that 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, and intellectuals, scientists support Telangana cause and seek separation. Telangana cause is not a result of politicians brainwashing its people, but instead a cause of Telangana people being betrayed by politicians again and again. Even now, people of Telangana rally and support only those leaders who have 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 Telangana movement are worried about status of Hyderabad. No logical observer would conclude that Hyderabad can be separated from Telangana. Hyderabad is linked to Telangana historically, culturally and geographically. Telangana with Hyderabad as it capital joined Andhra State with Kurnool as its capital to create Andhra Pradesh in 1956. Asking for Hyderabad out of 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 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 strive 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 minority in their own state, victim of partisan politics, inept democracy and 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 in their own region. They are seen as inferior, lazy and illiterate. Even the Telangana language is ridiculed and its speakers are butt of many demeaning jokes.
People of Telangana have a distinct culture, a different history and 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 that only the prosperous region gets all the attention, funding, new industries, canals, and opportunities, while the people of backward region keep losing out, even in their own region. When such a condition prevails far too long, strong corrective measures are to be taken, and if that does not work, a new state is one of the best solutions.
The struggle for Telangana is not about creating smaller states for the purpose of better administration. It is not just about alleviating the problems of backwardness. It is not just about identity politics created for serving selfish interests of some politicians. It is not about creating a new state or splitting a state. It is about restoring a state that originally had an existence. It is a genuine movement of people who constitute a historical, cultural, economic and geographical entity and has a voice in self-expression, self-rule, self-determinism within legal confines of Indian Constitution and Indian democracy which made certain promises to its people at the time of Independence.
A separate Telangana is an eventuality. Prolonging this outcome will only increase the animosity of Telangana people towards those who oppose it. Already we have seen many such protests in Telangana. Delaying this eventuality will only cause more pain to the region and will not be good for the future of the two states which share the same language. The people of Andhra and Rayalaseema should welcome this aspiration of Telangana people, respect it and make way for a new Telangana.
If you are keen on knowing more about this topic, you can read through the following posts:
Telangana: A New State: 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 that only the prosperous region gets all the attention… while the people of backward region keep losing out, even in their own region. When such a condition prevails far too long, strong corrective measures are to be taken, and if that does not work, a new state is one of the best solutions.
Telangana II: The detractors to the formation of Telangana give the following reasons: 1. Andhra people will take away all their investments from Telangana, 2. Muslims will dominate if Telangana becomes a State, 3. Hyderabad will become a Union Territory; away from both Andhra and Telangana, 4. Andhra people are hardworking, enterprising and well-educated, 5. Andhra Telugu is superior – everyone should become like them, 6. We will lose our identity as Telugu people. All these are mere excuses. In reality, a separate Telangana makes sense for one reason alone- that its people want it.
Telangana III: There is no animosity towards anyone while creating Telangana, not even Andhra people. Fight for Telangana is not new. It has been there since the inception of Andhra Pradesh. TRS is just a political party that came into cash in on the prevailing mood of Telangana people to have a separate state. TRS is not Telangana. And one cannot rubbish a movement based on the quality of its leaders.
Telangana IV: Some of the questions from commenters are answered here: Why should Hyderabad be given to Telangana? Do land-locked states fail economically? Do new states take long time to form? Will the new state has to grapple new problems like crime?
Telangana V: Political Angle: Though we should have got Telangana during NDA regime, it did not happen. So, why did we not get Telangana along with Chattisgarh, Uttarkhand and Jharkhand? So, when will we get our Telangana? What are the political angles that are delaying creation of Telangana?
Telangana VI: Hyderabad State?: Many detractors would want to create a Hyderabad state out of Telangana. Is there any merit to such a demand? Hyderabad has always been a part of Telangana. Can the immigrants of a land ask for a separate status by flooding a city or a piece of land? Imagine the immigrants of Mumbai cutting the city away from Maharashtra or Bangladeshi immigrants cutting away Kolkata from West Bengal.
Telangana VII: Political Drama: TRS, the most vocal of all parties to demand a separate Telangana lost many seats to TDP and Congress in the recently held by-elections. What does it mean? Did Telangana Movement lost its wind? Why did TRS bring upon us these by-elections? Is TRS same as Telangana Movement? What is Telangana ‘sentiment’? Why did TRS lose? Why are other political parties embracing Telangana ‘sentiment’? Is political outcome same as referendum?
Telangana VIII: You need to make a case: All those who seek a Hyderabad state carved out of Telangana, you need to make a case. First, you were not willing to give us a separate state. Now, you ask for a separate Hyderabad state. Your case is quite flimsy and is fraught with greed, selfishness and extreme self-centeredness. The case for Telangana, which includes Hyderabad as its center, was always valid from the time of inception of the state. There is no case of creating Hyderabad into a new state cutting it away from Telangana.
History of Telangana I: Sardar Vallabhai Patel under Nehru Government decided to intervene. The police action, called Operation Polo, was launched on 13th September, 1948. Within four days, Osman Ali Khan, the Nizam, surrendered. So, the people of living in Hyderabad State obtained Independence after one year, on 17th September, 1948.
Telangana X: Congratulations! : Why does it always come to this in India? Why should people get onto streets, protest, pillage, vandalize, beat up, destroy, before the government concedes to their demands? Why should the people hold government at ransom before the government starts making sense? Why can’t it be proactive and take necessary measures to alleviate concerns of various groups and identities?
Vision for Telangana I: What shall we do when we get our Telangana? What is our vision and what are our objectives? How shall we correct the mistakes of the past? How shall we better the lives of our people? How shall we make Telangana a great place to live?
Telangana XI: Why so much opposition?: The Telangana region, with Hyderabad deeply embedded inside it geographically, being part of its culture and historical heritage, being its capital city, joined Andhra Pradesh reluctantly and now it wants to opt out after the 50 year marriage failed. It’s not like Telangana sprung a surprise of separation. Starting from the formation of the state itself it has made many protests through various forums.
History of Telangana II: One of the misconceptions that are flouted nowadays is that Potti Sriramulu fought for a greater and unified Vishalandhra comprising all Telugu people under one state. There is no truth to this. He had in fact fought for extremely local demands for his own people, and not Telangana people.
Telangana XII: Ignorance, Bad Faith and Low Opinion: [Andhra people] need to read a bit about history. That way we can talk the same language… Andhra people wrote many checks which eventually bounced. The history is fraught with so much bad faith that people of Telangana are unable to trust their Andhra brothers anymore… These words of care and concern sound hollow to us when it is coming from such a supercilious stand and we dismiss them.
Telangana XIII: Let’s stay United!: Here are three issues that Andhra politicians should go ahead and implement. If you can make this work, we are going to completely stop all movements towards creating a separate state. We will start believing that you are indeed going to honor your commitments towards your Telangana brothers.
Telangana XIV: Letter to Andhra Brothers: Dear Andhra Brothers…Let me tell you Samaikya Andhra is artificially created false feeling that has been successfully planted into minds of your people. All this is the work of selfish leaders of Andhra. You have become obsessed with this idea. But if you think rationally keeping your emotions aside you will see reason. [Parody on Andhra people’s comments]
Telangana XV: Concerns: Here I address some of the concerns raised by detractors of Telangana Movement. Why are Telangana people bent on dividing the country and state? Why are Telangana people bent on separation when rest of Andhra wants to stay united? Should the settlers in Hyderabad panic now because of jingoism of Telangana agitation? Shouldn’t Hyderabad belong to rest of Andhra as much as it belongs to people of Telangana?
Telangana XVI: Samaikya Andhra: And when they say they are going to fight for Samaikya Andhra, you would think that there would be overtures to Telangana people asking them to stay back or something like that. They don’t even address Telangana people. They address themselves and say, we will make sure Telangana doesn’t break away.
Telangana XVII: More Concerns: Here I address some more concerns raised by detractors of Telangana Movement. Isn’t Telangana Movement a purely selfish interest of politicians in their attempt to secure power? Didn’t TRS lose elections in 2009 clearly indicating there is no support for separate Telangana? Why didn’t the politicians of Telangana fast for development instead of fast for separation?
Telangana XVIII: Betrayal: Telangana people are watching this act of betrayal as it unfolds on live media…They have not forgotten what Chandra Babu promised. They have not forgotten what Chiranjeevi said…If ever there is one thing that is common for all people of Telangana and a common theme in its post-Independence history, it is betrayal.
Telangana XIX: Hyderabad a Union Territory?: So, is Hyderabad a part of Telangana? Or is it a city that has grown to be quite different altogether leaving behind Telangana? Should each cosmopolitan city in India be asked to vote if they want to be independent of the region they reside in? Should we hold referendums in cities as well, treating them like states?
Telangana XX: Welcome the Change: Dear Andhra brothers, Welcome the change. Don’t resist it…Shake hands with Telangana people, give up Hyderabad to those people who legitimately own it and earn the plaudits as a mature friend. Prolonging this will only sour the relationship for all of us. It will become bitter soon. And after that it will turn into poison for all of us.