Indian Democracy failed
Indian Democracy has consistently failed Telangana people and other oppressed people in India. There are no mechanisms to address their grievances. All legitimate paths- electoral, legal and democratic- are closed for such minority and underprivileged. India does not take proactive or mature steps to address the aspirations of minority and underprivileged peoples or identities. It stalls all methods that can address them by bowing down to the majority and privileged who use the current flawed institutes to dominate and overpower all voices of dissent.
India has had many chances to address Telangana people’s woes. Instead, it chose to consistently pass those opportunities succumbing to the majority and privileged. Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1956 was flouted, 1969 agitation was ruthlessly suppressed, 1971 elections were hijacked, Supreme Court rulings of 1970s were overturned, 1980 GOs were repudiated, 2005 elections were once again hijacked, and 2009 election promises were broken. Telangana people were left with no choice. There was no path left open for them.
In 2009, when KCR started his fast, they found an avenue. When he wanted to end his fast, he was forced to continue by the students of Telangana. His fast gave the people of Telangana an avenue to present their case to the national scene. Most people of India had never heard of the word Telangana before that. Their riots made the Central Government sit up and take a look. On 9 December, they decided to grant Telangana statehood.
The message is clear. You riot, you get your demands. You go through democratic, electoral and legal paths, they will be denied. What kind of sham democracy did we create in India?
The message gets clearer when Samaikya Andhra protestors resort to the same tactics, riot, break, vandalize, increasing the tempo. As desired, P Chidambaram revoked his statements on Telangana bowing down to the riots of Andhra-Rayalaseema.
So, what did you establish as a rule of thumb in India by doing all this? Rioter always wins. Peaceful demonstrations, democratic, legal and electoral paths always lose. Riot, and riot more if necessary, terrorize and terrorize more if necessary, and that’s the only way you get things done in India. If you hesitate, or if you think twice, or if you pause, you lose. That’s the message we establish in India. What a pity.
Telangana people are not ready to reason now. They tell me that any peaceful demonstration is a sign of weakness. They say this is not the right time to preach restraint. This is the only way to get Telangana, they reiterate.
Though there has been a flare up in the city of Hyderabad, the violence was confined to few pockets. Most of the city remained calm. More importantly, other towns of Telangana which lends wider support to Telangana movement have been quite calm. Compared to agitations of 1969, the current agitation is considered mild.
I still maintain that violent protest is only one of the many expressions of Telangana Movement, and not a desirable one. The real movement is still retained by the majority of Telangana and they have not come out onto streets to riot. Their still seek a separate state but do not believe in violence. They are ordinary people with ordinary jobs and believe in peace and harmony. And they are not in a major hurry to get Telangana. They are more pragmatic and believe that if it is not now then it is later, but nobody gives up.
A Letter to Telangana people
Dear Telangana agitators:
I understand your frustrations. I understand your aspirations. You are in a hurry. You don’t want to wait. You have waited long enough – fifty three years is a long time. We are so close and yet so far. Now, every stumbling block seems like an eternity, every hiccup make us feel like the goal is moving away from us.
And yet, there is no excuse for the violence you have displayed yesterday. You have instilled fear into the people, both the Telangana people and others. Andhras who have lived in Telangana for many years in peace and comfort are now caught in a grip of fear and insecurity.
What you are doing is not momentary but will have a long lasting impression on every one in Telangana and others who are watching us. The seeds what we sow today during our agitation will have long term consequences. What kind of Telangana do you want make?
Take a minute to learn lessons from our own histories and histories of our neighbors. India stands unique in the whole world that it has sustained a non-violent movement for nearly thirty years to attain its independence. There are reasons for that. Our leaders headed by Mahatma Gandhi didn’t want to attain the freedom using violent methods. May be we would have got our freedom earlier if we had taken a violent path. But Gandhi reasoned it was better to delay the freedom by peace than get the freedom by violence.
Many freedom fighters of those times were exasperated with his methods. They were frustrated by his incessant orders to maintain peace even when fighting the alien rulers. In 1920s, when his movement turned violent with incidents like Chowri Chowra where 22 policemen were killed, he called off the movement resulting in lot of frustrations amongst Indian youth. Bhagat Singh et al deviated from Gandhi’s movement and took upon themselves to fight in their own way.
Today, we have a choice. Who do we emulate? I prefer the Gandhi way and never will endorse Bhagat Singh way. Just look at the history of other countries who have achieved freedoms through violent means. They have seen tumultuous histories of civil wars, dictatorships, suppression of peoples and regions, and even worse like in case of Indo China where genocides happened within their own countries.
A country born out of hate is no great country. Pakistan got dismembered in 1971 and is now under a spell of home grown terrorist attacks on a daily basis. There are enough examples from Africa and Southeast Asia of countries that have fought their colonial masters in a violent way and those methods only led to further violence, sectarianism and suppression of identities. It is clear that the methods to achieve our freedoms is as important as achieving the freedom itself.
India is a great country and stands as a unique country, thanks to our leaders who had a foresight. India, if it was achieved with violence would have been a disaster. Our country is too varied and too diverse to be united under a violent movement.
What kind of Telangana do we want? While I do admire and respect our forefathers who have led violent movements in India, I will not endorse them and recommend them for us.
Though I am a strong supporter of Telangana Movement I am not very happy with the way things are going. There can’t be targeting of Andhras. Period. No ifs and buts. There can’t be vandalism and the threatening of people. Period. No ifs and buts. Yes, I understand that peaceful methods in India are not recognized while the violent ones get the attention and therefore the results. Result is not as important as the means that we employ, because if we create a state on hatred, it is not going to last long. Hate will not keep us united for long.
Having said, that I will not let down my campaign to educate our Telangana brothers the injustices we have endured. I will not shy away from calling certain people the oppressors and certain people the oppressed. I will not shy away from calling spade a spade, discrimination a discrimination, and marginalization a marginalization. I will not be politically right about it.
This fight for our freedoms is about restoring our identity, and if it means toppling the rule of certain majority by creating a state for ourselves we should not hesitate to do so. But this fight for our freedoms doesn’t have to be violent. We have to show utmost restraint. The whole world is watching us and asking us, what kind of state Telangana is going to be? Are we going to tell that it is going to be a violent one – the way it was telecasted yesterday?
I know it is not easy to show restraint, but you have no choice. Restraint is the only way. Greater the cause harder the work. Work hard to restrain yourself. If you think violence is the only to attain this statehood, then many of us are not for it. I would rather wait another fifty years. I don’t want a Telangana formed on intimidation of fellow people. I don’t want a Telangana that is formed by oppression and alienation of certain people. Do you want to become the masters you are going to topple? Think again.
You can’t shove Jai Telangana onto someone who doesn’t believe in it. You may force him to do it, but you have not earned your respect. You don’t want that Jai Telangana by force. Let’s celebrate Telangana identity today, but let it be with freedom, not out of force.
I am disappointed that we didn’t get our state now. But I would be more disappointed if we attain statehood at the cost of intimidation, threats and violence.
Hold peace rallies
Take the families out, take the kids out, take the grandparents out, and walk the streets, holding peaceful rallies. Sing the songs of Telangana, our ballads that have inspired us and our movements. Enjoy the movement, hold festivities and picnics. Show your support through peaceful methods. And where necessary show it through non-cooperation, but ensure nobody or no property is harmed.
Hold politicians accountable
I advise you to channel your anger to something productive. I suggest you to implore your politicians to stand united for this cause. In the last elections they told us they would get us separate Telangana. So how come some of them are still sitting on the fence, some are dillydallying, while some have gone back on their word. Make them accountable now. Now is the time.
During the time of Independence there were many detractors within India who didn’t want British to leave India. There were many princes, industrialists, kings, who had a privileged life under British Empire. They didn’t want British to go. It was the Iron Man of India who saved the day for all of us, including the people of Telangana. He liberated us from the oppressive regime of Nizam. We celebrated our freedom on 17 September 1948 only to lose it on 1st November 1956. Like what they say, we fell from pan into the fire when Andhra Pradesh got formed.
Learn from Samaikya Andhra agitation. Look how the politicians of Andhra got united, irrespective of their parties. Now is the time we want our politicians to stand united on this people’s movement! Channelize your angst to pressurize your politicians. Spare everyone else.