A commenter (Kiran) forwarded an article published on Rediff, titled ‘We don't know who represents the Telangana movement’ by Jyotirmaya Sharma and asked few questions. Here is my response:
"The problem is that between those who are asking for a separate state and those who oppose it, there is no debate, there is no serious conversation. Every difference of opinion on both sides is sought to be resolved either by violence or by an extra dose of rhetoric."
Right now, yes, if you watch only the TV, then definitely there is no healthy debate. That’s sad. However, if you go attend some of the meetings held by various forums on Telangana, you will see an argument for Telangana which is sound, rational and pragmatic. True, a genuine debate is missing. The reason the debate is missing is because Telangana supporters and its detractors do not see eye-to-eye on this issue. While Telanganas believe the root cause for the entire problem is ‘discrimination’, no Andhra person ever accepts it and rubbishes it saying it is a fantastic imagination of few politicians. It’s like India and Pakistan talking about Kashmir. There can never be a healthy debate if we don’t agree on basic premise of the argument.
The healthy debate will start only when Andhras concede that discrimination could or might have happened, and then go about asking if and so why it happened. That would the first point of entering a healthy debate. Instead of accepting the glaring truths that Telangana is indeed backward, they come up with Satyam like statistics to prove otherwise. Right now, I don’t see a chance for healthy debate because the detractors are not being honest about topics on discrimination. Unfortunately, Indians are not mature enough to concede they are capable discriminating others.
"There is neither unity of purpose nor is there clarity about why they want the new state.”
In any popular movement, masses do not always know the exact reasons why they want a new state or a new country. Even at the height of the Indian Independence movement majority Indians could not articulate the purpose of why they wanted to get rid of the British. In all such popular movements only few leaders have the clarity and they become the pillars, the voices, the ideologues. We do have such leaders in Telangana. But every protestor is not expected to talk like these leaders.
Even when India became free in 1947, there was no clarity on what would happen to India after the Independence – on what would have happen to Muslims, to Sikhs, on how India is going to resolve so many differences like regions, religions and languages. And yet, we got Independence and later we resolved many of the issues, some successfully, some unsuccessfully.
“KCR's son was saying, for days together, on national television that Hyderabad has always been the capital of Telangana. Nobody had the gumption to get up and say don't distort history. Hyderabad was the capital of the Nizam state. Warangal was the capital of what you called Telangana.”
If someone said Delhi was always the capital of India, anyone can punch holes in that argument saying Delhi was capital of a major portion of Indian subcontinent which included Pakistan and Bangladesh but was never the capital of India because India never existed in the present form. Also, many regions of India were ruled by princes and kings (for example, Telangana which was under Nizam and never under Delhi), and yet, Delhi became part of India and did not go with Pakistan. And the idea of India as long as it existed, during Mughals, Lodis, or Khaljis, had Delhi as its capital. It was called Hindustan, and it was so different from the present India and yet, we believe that Delhi was capital of India for many centuries.
Telangana was the biggest region in Nizam State and had Hyderabad as it capital (for the entire region including Telangana) the way Moscow was the capital city of USSR but remained capital city of Russia though it lost many parts to new countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Ukraine, etc. Should we find the argument that ‘Moscow was always the capital city of Russia’ flawed? Not really. Though Moscow was the capital city of a much bigger region which included Russia, the fact that Moscow was deep inside Russia is a good argument to say that Moscow was Russia’s capital.
Telangana can claim Hyderabad for itself the way India claimed New Delhi for itself, and the way Russia claims Moscow for itself. Most of it is to do with geography than history. The problem is only with technicality, but if you understand the message, there’s no big flaw in the assertion that Hyderabad was capital city of Telangana.
Jyotirmaya Sharma doesn’t know history either. There was no mention of ‘Telangana’ during Kakatiyas because there was no distinct identity called Telangana during Kakatiyas. It’s like saying people of Taxila founded Pakistan. When Taxila was around, there was no Pakistan though Taxila is deep inside Pakistan now. So, the author should brush up his knowledge of history. The author sounds intelligent but I am beginning to think that he failed his history exam.
"I have been living in Andhra Pradesh since 12 years. I have not found one (such man). There is no difference between the language of an Andhraite and the language of a man from Telanagana except a few words. Both speak Telugu. Telangana locals have few Arabic/Muslim oriented words and few words taken from Marathi because they are close to Maharashtra".
Now I think I can dare to call this author a fool. He doesn’t understand politics, culture, or history. Nowadays anyone can become a professor at University of Hyderabad, even a dumb fool. That’s sad for future of Telangana.
One could go to Rwanda and come out thinking that everyone looks the same, that there is no difference between Tutsi or Hutu. A lazy outsider will not find any difference between the two people, and yet, more than one million Tutsi were killed by Hutu resulting in one of the biggest genocides of modern times. The root cause is discrimination of one people by another.
Discrimination can happen on even minor difference as long as those differences are considered significant by the people who practice them. For a Hindu who doesn’t pay attention to the details of Christianity, there may not be big difference between Catholics and Protestants and yet there could be a continuous war between them on those seemingly small differences. In Andhra Pradesh, Andhras consistently, continuously and overtly discriminate people of Telangana based on their culture, language, and identity. Failure to understand the underlying prejudices is no good excuse to believe such prejudices do not exist. A social scientist should be trained understand such prejudices, root causes for discrimination, and yet this author sounds obtuse and unqualified.
"In the end what irritates me when people begin to talk about `outsiders' and `settlers'. The Indian Constitution allows me, with few exceptions, to live anywhere I want. I do not need the permission of a political party to live in any part of India. This language of the `outsider' and the `insider' is the language of the fascists."
I do agree that this is rather unfortunate. But that’s a problem with every major movement. Some unnecessary characterizations do creep in. Not that I am justifying it. However, a world ‘settler’ need not always be taken pejoratively. Any immigrant can be considered ‘settler’. For example, I am a settler in Bangalore. If I start discriminating the locals here, they may call me ‘settler or an outsider’ as a reaction to what happened to them.
When some people accuse that outsiders came in to Hyderabad and locals are not given preference, we should understand: That Hyderabad was/currently is the capital of "Andhra Pradesh" state, and that's why everyone in the state who has to get something done/has got jobs in state govt/has realized there are business opportunities had gone there.
The case for Telangana cannot be rubbished with such silly and simplistic excuses. If it was so simple, there wouldn’t have been Gentlemen’s Agreement to protect Telanganas, Supreme Court would not have upheld Mulki Rules, and there wouldn’t have been GO 610. The author is not only a fool, he is ignorant. That’s a deadly cocktail – ignorance and foolishness.