Seemandhras have started to make Telangana people guilty, asking them to be fair, pushing them to making concessions, forcing them to give up something if they want separation. Their arguments can be captured as follows: “If separatists want something, then they should give something to the integrationists. If you are the ones who want to separate, then you can’t have capital city - because you have to lose something to gain something. If you want to breakup, then you need to satisfy us to get our permission. You should make compromises if you want your dream fulfilled.”
The underlying assumption in all this rhetoric is that division is seen as a business transaction or deal, a compromise between two shareholders. If the division is to be carried out, then the Seemandhras believe it should be ‘win-win’ for all. They ask- ‘how can Telangana have all their demands fulfilled while Seemandhra demands are not met?’
There is something grossly wrong in looking at a geopolitical situation such as division of a state as a business transaction.
Telangana people are NOT asking for fair deal in a business deal. They are seeking justice. And granting out justice is not a business transaction. There is NO such thing called ‘equal justice’ when one of the parties is a victim and the other is a perpetrator. There can be no compromise between parties when their demands are mutually exclusive – today Telanganas seek separation and Seemandhras seek unity – they are mutually exclusive demands. The outcome has to be one or the other but not a compromise.
The sixty years of Telangana struggle is not to conclude a business transaction but it is a fight for justice. Of course, Telanganas did not go to a court make a settlement. We went to Government of India seeking constitutional justice as a victim. We asked them to liberate us from oppression, suppression, marginalization and discrimination of Seemandhras using Article 3 of Indian Constitution as was done sixteen times before in this country.
When a colony is liberated by the colonial master, the reparations are not made by the colony to the colonial master. When a region that has been suppressed is converted into a new state, there are no concessions made by the region that seeks separation. There is no need to give-in or give-up to attain our statehood. If that was the case, imagine what kind of precedent it would set for state formations in this country. If Jharkhand wants separate statehood, then it would have to give up its coal mines to Bihar. If Chhattisgarh wants separation, it would have to give up its forests to Madhya Pradesh. If Andhras seek separation from Madras State, then it would have to give up river water to Madras State. If in future Gorkhaland wants to become separate, it should give up Darjeeling to West Bengal.
The current analogies of treating Seemandhra and Telangana as part of business entity are meaningless. Telanganas do not have to give-in or give-up anything while seeking separation. We don’t need to come to a negotiating table to settle on issues. We don’t need to concede anything to gain our separation.
In the whole course of discussion with Seemandhras, we find their ‘family’ based symbolism highly problematic because Seemandhras take their analogies quite literally. In certain instances, we are all body parts of Telugu Talli who is now cut into two pieces when separation happens, with all blood flowing leading to death of this mother. In other instance, we are two brothers separating while Telugu Talli (or may be it is Satyavani) is a sad mother. Then they talk of ‘pampakalu’ as if Hyderabad is family-owned property which should now be distributed between separating brothers.
And in other instances, we are husband and wife who built the house together – in this case the house is once again Hyderabad. And in some bizarre cases of symbolism, we are husband and wife who conceived Hyderabad as our child – nobody seems to point out that Hyderabad existed even before the marriage. And Ashok Babu took this to an extreme when he said that Telangana and Seemandhra were enjoying the blissful honeymoon after the marriage when suddenly New Delhi has come down to breakup this beautiful physical relationship. What Ashok Babu doesn’t realize is that when only one party enjoys the physical relationship while the other party cries in pain there is a term to describe such a situation by most civilized societies – it’s called rape.
Since Seemandhras are so obsessed with these family based analogies, let’s position a counter analogy so that they understand why such symbolisms cannot be taken literally. Imagine this. A husband keeps on beating his wife for sixty years, ill-treating her, insulting her, demeaning her, assaulting her, and forcing himself onto her to quench his physical urge against her wishes. Citing domestic violence and repeated rape, the woman seeks divorce. But now the husband says, I will grant you divorce only if you continue to live with me for another ten years cooking for me my favorite food every day because I am used to your food. How can you walk out on me suddenly after I got used to you for sixty years? How do you expect to live on my own after separation? Therefore, till I find a new wife who cooks as well as you do, you should stay with me and keep on cooking for me.
Now, the question is should the husband be jailed for domestic violence and rape?
Reject all these symbolisms
Is Andhra Pradesh a case of domestic violence as I cited above. Is it literally a case of rape and assault? Not really - because these analogies cannot be taken literally while describing geopolitical situations. In fact, all these analogies of family or business become silly if we start taking them literally because it can lead to some absurd and bizarre conclusions. We are not individuals or two business entities or two private properties wherein we go to a criminal or civil court to seek justice - because justice in those cases are guided by Indian penal code or the civil law leading to punishment to the perpetrator of the crime. The accused could be jailed or asked to pay penalty.
In the case of separation of Telangana, Seemandhra would not be jailed nor would it pay a penalty. That’s because Telangana and Seemandhra are not individuals nor are they two business entities. What we need to get into our heads is that they are two regions of a state in the Indian Union. And the right word to describe the case of Telangana is still ‘justice’ but it is not ‘legal’ justice under Indian penal code or ‘corporate’ justice under Indian company law. What Telangana seeks is the ‘constitutional’ justice under Article 3 of Indian Constitution.
Therefore, we need to abandon all analogies of individuals seeking justice – because then Seemandhra has to be put in jail– which doesn’t make sense. We need to abandon all analogies of business transactions, compromises and give-and-takes – because then Telangana has to give up some cities and natural resources to Seemandhra in return for permission to get separation – which again doesn’t make any sense formation of states.
We need to stick to realistic geopolitical examples. And we have many precedents for that. No state separation in India involved punishments for crimes against a region, reparation or penalties, or give-something-take-something between regions, or win-win business type transactions. No state separation involved seeking permissions from the other region, or satisfying the integrationists, or giving up some cities in their regions, or granting shared revenues for interim periods.
We are two regions in a state called Andhra Pradesh. Telangana doesn’t want to be part of Andhra Pradesh anymore and it has made a case for creation of Telangana state citing evidences for marginalization, by launching people’s movements, and making political representations. And there are precedents from Indian history where nearly sixteen new states were carved out in the last sixty years – under Article 3 of Indian Constitution. We should stick to this analogy, symbolism or precedent alone. That’s when we will start making some sense.
Using these precedents, it becomes clear why Telangana should be formed with ten districts, with no sharing of capital city, no sharing of city revenues, no incentives to be given to Seemandhra by Telangana, no permissions to be sought, no give-something-to-take-something, no win-win situation, no equal justice, and no consensus with Seemandhras.
What is needed is a clean slate Telangana, like the other sixteen states which preceded it. Nothing less and nothing more! And to hell with all symbolisms and analogies of families and businesses!