The concepts of human rights, human dignity, self-rule and self-determination are quite modern. Such concepts did not exist in the ancient world. Even if we were to find a glimpse of these concepts discussed in philosophies and texts of the ancients, we do not necessarily see its implementation as a comprehensive and extended practice to actually alter the lives of the people.
For thousands of years, man was born as a slave or subject and died as one. Most of these slaves and subjects, sometimes even the landlords, did not possess any rights. And the worst part is- most of them did not even realize that they possessed certain rights that are not necessarily ordained by their monarch.
Their assets, their property, their worth, their produce and even their self-respect, was up for grabs by their landlord, their king or an invading king or a marauding dacoit. Security was an expensive commodity. The monarch provided meager security that was not even assured, and in return usurped all their rights.
It took many centuries of struggle in certain parts of the world to come to a realization that man had certain ‘inalienable’ rights, which even the most powerful monarch could not take those away from him.
Starting with Magna Carta of 1215 in England, which established that the law was above the king, through the Declaration of Independence of 1776 in America, which observed that all men are created equal, we got the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 in UN, which officially recognized the human rights as inviolable concept and gave people of mankind a right for self-determination.
The modern concept of free men coming together in social contract to form a government, empowering it with powerful institutions to govern them in return, is one of the greatest achievements of mankind that came about after millions of years of evolution. In this framework, the rights are not granted by the state to the common men – they already have these rights which even the government cannot violate. These common men decide which powers they want to give to their government depending on how judiciously that government uses them.
India inherited these modern concepts and modern institutions without going through the phases of actually struggling for it. British colonialism had its unintended consequences- its colonies demanded the same treatment as English subjects who took pride in possessing certain rights as free men. And through their struggles of fighting colonialism, some of the colonies inherited the modern institutions of their masters.
It is important to appreciate the roots of these modern concepts because without that appreciation the state stands poised to usurp the rights of free men with impunity and the citizens do not even know that they are being oppressed. Thomas Jefferson observed:
Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved.
In the name of nationalism, in the name of patriotism, in the name of sacrificing a region to uphold the integration of the union, in the name of law and order, our nation has been suppressing the democratic, legitimate and innocuous aspirations of Telangana people for far too long.
It is unfortunate that New Delhi has been toying with the people of this region, resorting to subterfuge, prevarication, duplicity, and hypocrisy. While New Delhi keeps repeating that Andhra Pradesh has to decide the fate of Telangana, Hyderabad keeps repeating that the Central Government has to take a decision. In the whole process of tossing the ball across the court, Telangana is taken for a ride where its youth commits suicide on a daily basis.
In no democracy on the planet would the legislators continue to serve even after submitting their resignations twice. The fact that a resigning legislator is not allowed to relinquish his or her duty is tantamount to bonded labor and slavery. That a democracy would not pay heed to such resignations and go about its job as if nothing has happened shows how low our democracy has descended.
To understand the roots of modern democracy, let’s refer to the Declaration of Independence of American Colonies which was ratified on 4 July 1776. It is a very interesting and profound document. The statement: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…’ is considered one of the most famous sentences in English language. Authored by Thomas Jefferson with inputs from Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, this document gained global reputation because it sets tone for emancipation of man from being a subject of a king to become a citizen with the responsibility of creating his/her own government.
Since New Delhi has decided to absolve itself of any responsibility to carve out the state of Telangana it is time we take this symbol step of declaring the state of Telangana as the wishes of 350 lakh Telangana people.
[The following text is inspired from ‘Declaration of Independence’ of US Colonies of 1776. Most of the original text is deliberately used verbatim to highlight how common their cause was with that of current Telangana. Only the relevant texts that are applicable to the case of Telangana are changed from the original declaration.]
IN HYDERABAD, November 1, 2011
The unanimous Declaration of the State of Telangana
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal status to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience has shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such a political setup, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of this region; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their current setup of Government. The history of the present Government of Andhra Pradesh is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over this Region. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
- It has reneged on the promises made in the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1956, nullifying one clause after another eventually leading to complete negation of the Agreement by 1969.
- It has passed laws to dilute Mulki Rules to help Andhra people to come and take jobs that were safeguarded for people of Telangana.
- It has brutally suppressed a people’s agitations in 1969 resulting in death of 370 Telangana people and injuring thousands.
- It has broken the promises made in the Six-point Formula.
- It has discriminated against people of Telangana in jobs, in opportunities, and in education.
- It has denied due share of river waters to Telangana.
- It has plundered our natural resources reducing the region as an internal colony to supply raw materials.
- It has suppressed the political aspirations of the people of region reducing them to second-class citizens.
- It has dissolved Legislative House repeatedly, thereby depriving the people of Telangana democratic forum, whenever the cause of Telangana was embraced by its political leaders seeking justice to the region.
- It has allowed for overturning the Supreme Court decisions which were in favour of Telangana people.
- It has obstructed passage of laws that sought to address the pains and travails of Telangana people.
- It has sought to obliterate Telangana identity by disseminating false notions to young schoolchildren, and avoiding all references to history of Telangana in school and college education.
- It has arrested its leadership with impunity without warrants and imprisoned thousands of its youth without any legal recourse.
- It has combined with leaders of Andhra and Rayalaseema to subject people of Telangana to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving its Assent to their Acts:
For toppling the first Chief Minister hailing from Telangana region;
For toppling the Governments headed by Chief Ministers from Telangana whenever Telangana tried to assert its rights;
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Government whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Andhra brethren.
- We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their State legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.
- We have reminded them of the circumstances of our plight and conditions in the United State of Andhra Pradesh.
- We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.
They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in Struggle, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the Telangana, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of Telangana, solemnly publish and declare,
That Telangana is, and of Right ought to be Free and Separate State in Republic of India; that it is Absolved from all Allegiance to the Seemandhra Government, and that all political connection between them and the State of Andhra Pradesh, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Separate State, they have full Power to do all Acts and Things which Separate States may of right do.
And for the support of this Declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.