I consistently use the term Andhras as if it is a monolithic block knowing very well that such a generalization is fraught with many gaps, holes and weaknesses. When I blame Andhras for the plight of Telanganas, am I accusing each and every Andhra person individually for the crimes of discrimination, marginalization and domination? Is Andhra as homogenous as I portray it to be? Is it as monolithic as I portray it to be?
I know very well that not all Andhras have participated in the oppression of Telangana people. In fact, most of them, nearly 90% of them must be oblivious to the plight of Telangana. To most of them, it may come as a surprise that these Telanganas who have lived with them in their state are actually accusing them of such heinous crimes – of ruthless suppression and outright discrimination.
They react to Telangana movement very innocently, under the melodramatic slogans of ‘united we stand, divided we fall’, ‘Telugu pride’, ‘kalasi unte kaladu sukham’, etc. Are these people, teachers, college girls, students, farmers, officers, government employees, living in Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema guilty of the crimes I accuse them of? When did they discriminate any Telangana? When did they marginalize or dominate Telangana? Why do I think this innocent Andhra person is responsible for what happened to Telangana people?
Isn’t Sujai a bigot who is spreading the message of hate when he accuses each and every Andhra person? Isn’t he telling his Telangana brothers to hate Andhras?
Why such generalization?
In all fights, in all wars, in all people movements which pits one kind of people against another, such generalization is not uncommon. When Blacks fight for their rights, they fight for their rights against Whites, knowing very well that many Whites strongly support their movement, knowing very well that not all Whites have discriminated them. When Gandhi fought against British, many British were next to him supporting him in his cause. And yet, his fight was against entire British people, not just the King or the Queen, not just Winston Churchill, not just the British politicians, not just the police, not just the viceroy, not just their administration in India. Indians collectively fought against British collectively for India’s Independence.
In such fights, we talk of only two entities, like Britain and India, as if they constitute one single identity, one set of people, knowing very well that Britain has English, Welsh, Scots, and Irish in them, knowing very well that India has many religions, regions, languages, princely kingdoms in it. And all those constituents may not work together on many issues.
Usually the perpetrators of the actual crime are tiny few. Not all British actually suppressed Indians directly, many of them have never met an Indian in their life. And yet, we seem to blame them collectively for our plight. When US invades Iraq and kills innocent people, Iraqis are angry with Americans, not just the soldiers who have raped, pillaged and murdered, not just the General of the Army, not just the White House or the US Administration, but entire American people. When 26/11 incident happened in Mumbai, Indians blamed Pakistan, the entire country, not just the village that produced these terrorists, not just the terrorist agency, not just the administration, but the entire country.
Why do we blame the entire country, entire race, an entire identity in such fights? Why do we blame everyone of certain group identity knowing very well that 90% of them are innocent? Why don’t we selectively fight our fights against only those who have perpetrated the crimes? Why do we blame them collectively? Why do we get into such generalizations?
That’s because when Britain ruled India, the people of Britain were party to it, innocently, ignorantly, or involuntarily. When America invaded Iraq, the people of US were party to it, willingly or unwillingly. When Europe colonized rest of the world, the people of Europe were party to it, knowingly or unknowingly. When we vent our anger, we do it against the entire group. The entire population of the group holds the collective responsibility for the actions of the few because those actions are done in the name of that group.
When US Army invades a foreign land, the size of the army could be less than 300,000, but the entire nation of 300 million takes the blame for it as collective responsibility for the actions of those few. By selecting their leaders, by paying taxes to those governments, by being a silent sympathizers or spectator or bystander, you are being party to the organization, the country, the state, the race, the religion that has committed those crimes. And therefore you get blamed for it, not as an individual but as a group.
You have to understand that when I blame Andhras, I do not blame them on an individual basis. I don’t look at Andhra person and think, ‘This guy discriminated us’. The blaming happens only at a group level. Though it is not targeted at an individual level, I expect that blame to be shared by everyone who calls himself Andhra. On your name, certain people are committing certain crimes against us, taking your support and you are being held responsible for that.
When you come out onto streets fighting for ‘united state’, you are being party to it; when you talk about ‘Telugu pride’, you are being party to it; because all these actions are being used by your leaders to suppress us further. They are using you as a clout to suppress us.
Can you be silent?
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
– Edmund Burke.
When you remain silent, you extend your support to those perpetrators, and hence you are party to it. The only way you can fight such a generalization is stop your own people from perpetrating those crimes. It is your duty not to let anyone commit those crimes on your behalf, on your identity, with your support. And when you relinquish that duty, you become a sympathizer, a supporter and hence party to the crime. You cannot be silent on issues when your own people have done harm to others on your name.
When some Nazi Germans rounded up Jews and herded them into ghettos and then into concentration camps to slaughter them by thousands per day, many Germans, even those who didn’t like what these Nazis were doing, kept quiet, were silent. After the war, we punished entire Germany holding them responsible collectively.
Right now, most of Andhra is silent, or is silently supporting their leaders, or is silently playing neutral. Your silence is no longer innocent. Your silence is culpable, like the silent majority which allowed the Holocaust.
Blame the individual or the group?
I am accusing you as a group that has perpetrated these acts that suppressed Telanganas. I am not accusing any individual directly.
And I would not describe my feelings for Andhras as hate. If ever, I think I am angry for what you did in the past, and for what you are doing now, not to me, but to my people.
We are angry with you for what you did in the past:
1. For continuously supporting the sustained discrimination, marginalization and domination of Telangana people in the united state called Andhra Pradesh, stealing our water, our funds, our resources, our jobs and our opportunities.
2. For going back on every promise that you made, every agreement that you signed, and for breaking every safeguard that was designed to protect our interests.
3. For humiliating and ridiculing us, making us second-class citizens in our own state and in our own region, treating us as incompetent, illiterate and uncivilized brothers.
We are also angry with you for what you are doing now:
1. For being insensitive to our plight, our backwardness, our dry fields, our lost opportunities; and instead constantly harping on the loss of your vested interests and business opportunities in and around Hyderabad.
2. For not taking time to learn what our movement is all about; and instead trying to malign it, calling it naxal-led or extremist-led.
3. For opposing our movement by raising the slogans of ‘united state’ and doing everything in your capacity to thwart our movement.
Apologizing is the first step
We can’t go back in time and change things. But we can apologize for what our people did to others and hope that we don’t repeat those mistakes. As Hindu, I take blame for things Hindus do against Muslims or Sikhs and I apologize for actions that someone else did with whom I have share common identity. As a man, I take blame for the discrimination that is meted out to women, and I apologize for the actions of men. As a privileged class, I apologize to underprivileged for the discrimination we mete out to them though I might not have done it personally. As Indian, I take blame for what happens in Kashmir. As human, I take blame for what we do to this planet. I hope Andhras will apologize to Telangana brothers for what happened in the last fifty three years.
I want you to take collective responsibility for what you did in the past and for what you are doing now. I want the educated and rational Andhras to come forward and sympathize with us and support us in our movement.
Telangana will be formed. It is an eventuality. How we get there is up to you. Will you make it really hard for us or will you make it easy for us? We want to part with you on a good note, without animosity. I want you to let us go. I promise you that there won’t be any animosity towards any Andhra person once the separation happens. Look at our history of 53 years – how many times have we targeted you, though we were angry with you all this while? Why should we do it in future when there is no more a reason to be angry with you?
Right now, I accuse Andhras collectively, not individually, of protracted crimes against Telanganas. Only when Andhras oppose their own leaders, fight the actual perpetrators of these crimes against Telanganas, disassociate themselves from those who are opposing the formation of Telangana, shall we absolve you of the crimes. Till then you are party to it. And I will continue to refer to all of you collectively as Andhras.
[The related posts are at: Case for Telangana, 6: Hyderabad State?, 8: You need to make a case, History of Telangana I, 10: Congratulations!, History of Telangana II, 11: Why so much opposition?, 12: Ignorance, Bad Faith and Low Opinion. 14: Letter to Andhra Brothers, 15: Concerns, 16: Samaikya Andhra, 17: More Concerns, 18: Betrayal, 19: Hyderabad a Union Territory?, 20: Welcome the Change, 21: Status of Hyderabad, 22: Cheat the Cheated, 23: Tidbits, 24: United we Stand, 25: Congratulations Andhra, 31: Free 1948. Surrender 1956. Free 2010. 33: Notes on ‘My Telugu Roots’, 34: Self-rule and Self-respect, 36: Did Andhras marginalize Telanganas?, 37: Let’s Andhraize Telangana, 38: Say No to consensus; Say Yes to Referendum]