Here I address some of the concerns raised by detractors of Telangana Movement.
Why are Telangana people bent on dividing the country and state?
First, these detractors should decide whether we are dividing the country or if we are dividing the state. Because dividing the state is not the same as dividing the country. On a continuous basis, districts and states continue to evolve in our country, and if each internal division is treated as breaking up of the country and therefore seditious then we will live in a static world where no change can ever take place.
Second, if we are indeed breaking the state and not break the country, we should ask if there were historical precedents and ask if those precedents had a happy ending. India allows breaking up and reorganization of states within legal confines of Indian Constitution and even prescribes steps on how to do it. So asking for a separate state is a perfectly legitimate thing to do in India.
India started off not as dividing the states, but as combining and reorganizing various regions into states. Our leaders took many big provinces from British rule and reconfigured them adding many regions, including those from princely states to create new states. Only those regions which had completely different history (like being ruled by French or Portuguese) or those regions which had really small population were made into Union Territories. Some of those Union Territories became states eventually.
Initially, India came up with 15 or odd states. Nobody knows whether we should have had 15 or 50 to start with. Since nobody knows what the right number should have been, why make the initial number a sacrosanct number? May be, we should have had 50 states to start with, in which case we are still short of the desired number.
In 1956, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka were formed from Madras Presidency, Hyderabad State, and some portions of Bombay State. In 1960, Gujarat got formed out of Bombay State. These states were formed on linguistic basis. In 1966, Punjab was trifurcated into Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. This division was not exactly along linguistic lines. Later on Nagaland was created. In 1972, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura got divided from Assam. In 2000, Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand were separated from their original states. Once again, the division was not along linguistic lines.
Most new states are quite happy to be on their own. Even if given chance they don’t want to go back and rejoin the big states they broke from. Economic condition is not the only criteria for statehood. Ability to have a freedom for a group’s self-rule and self-expression is of paramount importance. The quasi-federal states of India find that independent voice within the confines of Indian constitution.
Why are Telangana people bent on separation when rest of Andhra wants to stay united?
Most of Telangana wants a separate state while most of Andhra doesn’t want to let Telangana go. We see a clear polarization today along regional lines. Almost all MLAs of Andhra-Rayalaseema resigned en masse after hearing P Chidambaram’s statements supporting a separate Telangana. Many of these MLAs who resigned belong to those parties which have openly promised to support separate Telangana in the last elections.
When the girlfriend wants to opt out of the relationship that has gone sour, it doesn’t help if the boyfriend forces himself onto her. The girl has already explained what her issues are. Now the guy instead of even attempting to address those issues is only forcing her to come back, all the while calling her names. He is throwing tantrums and refuses to let her go. Prolonging the breakup only worsens the situation. Instead of leaving as friends, the girl would start hating the guy.
The whole charade of recent mass resignations is a very good political tactic stalling the State Assembly thereby hijacking the democracy. Telangana politicians should learn a thing or two from their Andhra politician brothers. When Potti Sriramulu fasted in Madras in 1950s, he was not fighting for creating a new state for all Telugus. He was fighting for ‘dividing’ an existing state called Madras State to carve out a new state for his Andhra people, on a ‘separatist’ agenda.
And very similar to the current Andhra politicians, Potti Sriramulu asked for a city which did not belong to him. He wanted Madras as the capital of separate Andhra State. Rajaji was clear, he purportedly said, ‘If they want Madras, then they can forget about Andhra’. Unlike what most people think, Potti Sriramulu’s fight did not include Telangana people and he was not fighting for creating a state for all Telugu people.
There are more things to learn from Andhra politicians. In 1973, after the suppression of 1969 Telangana agitation which clearly established the mood of Indira Gandhi who quelled a separatist movement with ruthless force, Andhra politicians demanded a separate state under the slogan ‘Jai Andhra’. Why did they do this? They wanted to coerce Indira Gandhi into revoking a Supreme Court judgment that asked Andhra Pradesh to enforce an agreement to safeguard Telangana people’s interest. This agreement was agreed upon after 1969 agitation to take care of Telangana people.
So when and where necessary, and when it is in their interest, Andhra leaders, either it is Potti Sriramulu, or politicians of 1973, ask for a separate state dividing the existing states. But that right is denied to people of Telangana. As a majority they coerce Telangana people to toe the line and stay united.
This whole charade of Samaikya Andhra coming from them now sounds really hollow. Why did they break up Madras State to create their own state? Why did they demand a separate state in 1973 when it served their selfish purpose?
Shouldn’t Hyderabad belong to rest of Andhra as much as it belongs to people of Telangana?
Lot of Andhra and Rayalaseema people have suggested that Hyderabad belongs to them as much as it belongs to Telangana people. One of the reasons they cite is that they have paid taxes that contributed to the development of this city and hence they own the city as much as people of Telangana.
As a counter argument, people of Telangana ask, how about the cities of Andhra, like Rajamundry, Vizag, Vijayawada, Nellore, Kakinada, that were developed with tax money that came from people of Telangana? Should Telangana people own these cities then?
That’s when a new argument comes from Andhra people. It is not about taxes, they say. It is about investments they made in the city of Hyderabad. What about them? They also tell us that while many Andhra people have investments in Hyderabad, almost no investments exist in Andhra cities (further telling us that migration happened only one way).
Most of them who ask such questions don’t know that India does not sell its cities to its investors or settlers. Intel or GM can own property in India, but that does not mean they belong to America now. Many settlers in Bangalore coming from North, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, own huge swathes of property. And yet, there will be no time in future when certain people of Tamil Nadu can gang up to make Bangalore a part of Tamil Nadu just because they bought the city out. The city will continue to be with Karnataka. And if in future Karnataka divides into North and South, it will belong to South, though many investors of North Karnataka might have invested in it.
So no matter how many people, either it is Andhra or Rayalaseema, Gujarat or Tamil, have invested in Hyderabad, the city still belongs to Telangana. If for some reason, in future, Rangareddy, Khammam and Nalgonda become a new state they would get the city because Hyderabad lies inside Rangareddy. Also, one should note that a significant portion of Hyderabad is built by using the lands from adjoining districts of Telangana. So can Rangareddy now ask the lands back? If so, can’t Telangana ask entire city of Hyderabad back?
Good for India, we still have not reached a stage wherein a rich state like Gujarat can go to any city, pay a check and buy that city for itself.
Should the settlers in Hyderabad panic now because of jingoism of Telangana agitation?
The detractors of Telangana Movement are spreading fear amongst everyone saying that Telangana agitators would target non-Telangana people, especially the Andhra and Rayalseema folks. They use this as a case to tell everyone that it is not in the best interest of non-Telangana people of Hyderabad to leave that city to Telangana people. They compare Telangana with Kashmir where Hindu pundits were kicked out. They also advice India not to create Telangana because that would mean Hyderabad as a city, and India as a country, would lose out. The investments into the city would dry and the city would go back decades in development. They hope to generate enough fear so that they can get a Union Territory status or sharing of the capital.
During any heated political movements, there are always some spurious incidents that happen which are not very nice. Those are moments when you are not proud of what your people have done. Some Andhra people were targeted in 1969 and this time around there were stray incidents few incidents where Andhra restaurants were targeted.
But that is not unique to Telangana movement alone. It is true of any political movement including the non-violent struggles of Gandhi. And it is true of many cities in India. Mumbai has launched Shiv Sena only to target Tamils. For many decades Tamils in Mumbai were targeted. Bangalore has seen many incidents in the last two decades where Tamils were targeted.
And yet, Tamils do not migrate out of Mumbai or Bangalore. They continue to live there as ever. That’s because no matter how rabid Shiv Sena, MNS or Kannadiga outfits are, our country still continues to protect the settlers and their investments in most cities of India. Cosmopolitan cities do a much better job of protecting people of diverse regions. Hyderabad is home to many people, not just Telugu people of Telangana, Andhra or Rayalaseema. It is home to many Gujaratis, Bengalis, Rajasthani, Punjabi, Tamil and Kannada populations. It has many religions – Parsi, Hindu, Muslim and Christian. To believe that such a cosmopolitan city would turn into a Kashmir is a farfetched assumption which does not have any examples in the contemporary history to make a case.
It turns out that this is a canard spread by vested interest groups who have no intention of giving up Hyderabad to Telangana people and hence are creating rumors of a hypothetical future of targeted attacks. If you compare the attacks that settlers endured in Mumbai or Bangalore, Hyderabad must have seen 1/100 of those incidents. That would make Hyderabad 100 times safer compared to Mumbai or Bangalore. That’s good enough for me.
[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?, Telangana XII: Ignorance, Bad Faith and Low Opinion. Telangana XIII: Let’s stay United!, Telangana XIV: Letter to Andhra Brothers]