In the last few days, many commenters hailing from Andhra region living either in Telangana or Andhra region have expressed extreme concern for their fellow brothers in Telangana. They have tried to warn us that we will be worse off in a separate Telangana. They have told us that we will be better off in united Andhra Pradesh.
They cautioned us about Telangana politicians who are wily and cunning. They have tried to enlighten us from the brainwashing our politicians have done to stir this agitation which has only sole purpose – to benefit politicians. They have tried to tell us that this whole charade of Telangana agitation does not benefit any one – that it is a zero-sum game. The only benefiters are the corrupt Telangana politicians. They have highlighted the wretchedness of our Telangana leaders and ridiculed our leaders only to make us understand that these are the kind of leaders Telangana would have.
They have opined that Hyderabad would lose out in investments, that it would lose its shine, that the development would stop, that the new state would not develop at all, that it would just waste away. They told us that the new state of Telangana would be very different from other cities of India - settlers would be targeted and that investors would live in fear. They told us that unlike in Bangalore or Mumbai, where settlers from various regions invest and make it their home, Hyderabad in the hands of Telangana people would be parochial and chauvinistic, thereby kicking out the non-Telangana people.
With so many well wishers of Telangana coming from Andhra region it is becoming hard for me to separate from Andhra Pradesh. I am wondering then how come so many people of Telangana, the students, the professors, the bank employees, the teachers, the government employees, the miners, the officials, the administrators, scientists, intellectuals, are coming out to voice their support for a separate Telangana. Don’t the Telangana people realize how much their Andhra brothers care for them? How come we are under this spell of madmen politicians? How come we are not able to see through their guise while our brothers in Andhra are so perceptive?
So what is wrong with this picture?
Why don’t Telangana people trust their Andhra brothers when they care so much for our development and well-being- when they want us all to stay united like one family?
For a while, I am going to take this concern of Andhra people at the face value. Many of them expressed anguish at this separation. I am going to believe their care and concern for us is genuine and they have completely no ulterior motive to keep Hyderabad for themselves. I am going to believe that they really came to Telangana and occupied all the high positions and then invited their kith and kin to occupy other positions only to educate and enlighten illiterate Telangana people, the way British came into India with a divine purpose to civilize the uncivilized Indians. Or maybe it was just an opportunity that they rode on without an ill will for their Telangana brothers.
These people from Andhra who don’t want to see this state broken up to serve the petty politicians and their agenda of fomenting parochialism want the people of Telangana to stay united and work towards betterment of Telangana people under the aegis of united Andhra Pradesh. These people will believe that somehow the politicians of Andhra are better off compared to politicians of Telangana – why else would they warn us not to get swayed by the crafty politicians of Telangana?
They want us to work things out. If there is any problem they want to hear it and address it. I am quite sure that these are genuine people with genuine interest to see their Telangana brothers get the necessary incentives to improve their region.
But before we come to the common ground where our genuinely concerned Andhra brothers can solve the problems of Telangana, they need to understand few things. First, they need to understand how our democracy works. Next, they need to read a bit about history. That way we can talk the same language, otherwise there will be huge disparity in our information content.
Workings of Indian democracy
They need to understand how our democracy allows a majority to completely suppress a minority consistently for decades without having to be accountable for it. If a region called Telangana elected Communist Party to the Assembly and a region called Andhra elected Congress to the Assembly and if the majority happens to be Congress and if the Center is also governed by Congress, almost nothing that these Communists represent would lead to fruition. Every demand of theirs can be thrown out without having to pay for the consequences. They could be marginalized consistently and still the democracy appears to be working. The only people facing the wrath of such democracy happen to be those people residing in those regions which had voted those communists into power. That happened to be Telangana.
Even if Telangana people learn the art of democracy and vote Congress leaders into power, you could lose out if the leaders of your region happen to be in minority. Nothing that you promote would be taken up by the majority and there is a chance that you will be marginalized consistently for decades. Take the current case for example, when the Center said that they will pass the resolution in Andhra Assembly the majority belonging to Andhra and Rayalaseema has already decided to vote against it making it impossible for minority leaders of Telangana to make a case. In such starkly partisan politics, the minority would always lose out.
A little dose of history
Second, our brothers need to learn history in greater detail. They have been fed with stories from our text books which embellish all our achievements and completely cover up all our mistakes. They create artificial stories to tell them that Potti Sriramulu fasted for entire Andhra Pradesh when in fact he was solely concerned with welfare of his Andhra people. They do not tell the students how Andhras first fought for Madras and when they did not get it, they fought for Hyderabad by combining Telangana into the state. They do not tell the students that even when Andhra Pradesh was formed it was clearly recommended that Telangana could go separate way if things didn’t work out for its people. They do not tell the students how First SRC clearly made a case for Telangana as a separate state which was ignored by New Dehli. They do not tell the students how Gentleman’s Agreement that was agreed upon to protect the interests of Telangana people was eventually flouted completely. They do not tell how the agreements were broken to give thousands of jobs to Andhras in Telangana region. They do not tell how each and every agreement on irrigation, resources and revenues were flouted to benefit Andhra people.
Telugu people do not learn about why Telangana agitation took place and why 350 people died in those shootings. They do not tell the students how a deal was brokered to keep Telangana by offering six-point program and that it was later revoked. They do not tell how GO 36 and GO 610 were initially promised and then when the agitation subsided they were revoked by Andhra politicians.
They do not tell you how the majority Andhra took the state to ransom each time when Telangana leaders try to get what promised to them. They don’t tell the students that it was Andhra politicians who asked for a separate state in 1973 to overturning the Supreme Court ruling that protected the interests of Telangana people. In the last twenty years the implementation of GO 610 was stopped against the wishes of Telangana people.
The history of Telangana is fraught with broken promises, suppression of minority Telangana by majority Andhra, overruling and overturning of legal judgments that favored Telangana people protection, implementation of discriminatory policies in irrigation, education, employment and energy.
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. So you have to excuse us when we don’t take your words of care and concern at the face value. Too much has happened in the history that we cannot ignore those cases.
The commenters from Andhra have cajoled their Telangana brothers to stay united, not to break this country into tiny states, and preserve a united Telugu land where all Telugu people can prosper under one banner. While those remarks show utmost care and concern for their fellow Telangana brothers, one cannot ignore a tone of condescension in them.
When the give their advice, they do it as if they occupy a superior moral ground and higher purpose of keeping the country united, preserving Telugu culture, and ensuring investments continue to happen, while their Telangana brothers go about streets, rioting, burning buses, drunken by the parochial and chauvinistic passions of identity politics creates solely to get political mileage by wile and cunning Telangana politicians.
They deride Telangana people, and their inability to grasp the loss they are going to endure. They believe that Telangana people are acting like as zombies who have no mind of their own. They describe Telangana people as lazy, losers, who didn’t fight enough for themselves in the past. They believe that Telangana people are naïve, completely ignorant, a herd of sheep that follows the butcher to the slaughterhouse.
These words of care and concern sound hollow to us when it is coming from such a supercilious stand and we dismiss them the way Indians dismissed the caring words of Winston Churchill.
What do we expect from Andhra people?
We expect solidarity from Andhra people on this juncture, a sense of camaraderie, a note that suggests they understand our plight, not ridicule our cause. Without that, it would be hard for us to believe that there is even a chance we could continue to stay united.
We want them to question their own leaders why so many GOs that were designed to protect Telangana people were never implemented. We want them to question their leaders why there was no canal from Nagarjuna Sagar dam to Telangana. We want to question their leaders why they allowed so many Andhra people to take up jobs in Telangana while almost no Telangana person was given a job in Andhra.
We want to question their leaders why they voted the minority Telangana into submission each time their raised their issues in the State Assembly. We want to ask their leaders why they flouted each of the ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ that harmed the relationship with Telangana people.
Also, we expect Andhra people NOT to keep raising the issue of Hyderabad again and again. That’s when we start doubting your motives. We start believing that your only incentive to stay with us is because Hyderabad belongs to us. And each time you say that you want Hyderabad as a Union Territory it further corroborates our belief that you don’t have an iota of care or concern for your Telangana brothers. We start asking, so not only did you do injustice to us all these years, now, you want our only city as well?
[The related posts are at: Case for Telangana, Telangana - A New State, Telangana II, Telangana III, Telangana IV, Telangana V: Political angle, Telangana VI: Hyderabad State?, Telangana VII: Political Drama, Telangana VIII: You need to make a case, History of Telangana I, Telangana IX: Riots turn ugly, Telangana X: Congratulations!, Vision for Telangana I, History of Telangana II, Telangana XI: Why so much opposition?]