The Bigotry of the Telugu

I have had a great respect for Telugu people. They are one of the communities in India who merge with the local culture of wherever they are. I have seen Telugu-speaking people in Tamil Nadu who live and behave like Tamils. I have seen them in Bangalore where the live like Kannadigas. You actually won’t know they are Telugu until you visit their homes and see them talking in their mother tongue with their family members.

I have also known them as one of the most enterprising people in India. They are by temperament entrepreneurs. They dislike being employed and look for ways to set up business. As a community, I’m told that, they respect people who take the business route.
They are a very pragmatic people. They look at a situation, its inevitability and go with the flow rather than resorting to futile conflicts. In my numerous interactions with Telugu people and my 3.5 years stint at Hyderabad, I have rarely encountered dreamy and artistic Telugu.

Therefore it was very difficult to digest what is unfolding in the latest Telangana episode in Andhra Pradesh. Yes, the Congress goofed up, yes, they dilly-dallied on the issue. Yes, the TRS swaggered and tried to inflame emotions.

Still, it is difficult for me to understand why the Telugus, of all people, would love to keep this stalemate on. There is absolutely no way they would be able to prevent the state being bifurcated. There is no way they can retain Hyderabad. And there is no way they can justify all the injustices they have meted out to the Telengana region. They can never satisfactorily justify why, in the last five decades, they continued to suck out all the resources from Telengana and kept this place a backward region. This they did despite knowing that the disputed region never wanted to be part of Andhra in the first place and feared, from day one, that the Coastal Andhra would be severely exploiting it. Which the Coastal Andhra did!

Now, what is the contention of Seemandhra? How can they justify keeping the state together whilst the states across the rest of India are happy to be split into multiple pieces. There’s ample evidence that smaller states witness better growth. Haryana and Himachal Pradesh saw their growth surge after they were severed from Punjab. Chattisgarh began to grow after its bifurcation from MP. Jharkhand, I’m sure, would begin to grow after it is released from clutches of the Soren family. Why, even Andhra began to gain identity, build its own cultural space and its own economy only after it was separated from the Madras Presidency.

So, then, why can’t they simply accept to the Telengana demand, which pre-dates even their call for Andhra. When the Hyderabad region was wrested from the Nizam and the Razakars, they wanted to go it alone as a separate state. It was Sardar Patel who annexed it to Madras Presidency of which even Andhra was part of. So there is no justifiable reason why they wouldn’t accede to this demand. In an earlier post, I have listed some statistics to show how the Andhra region has been systematically exploiting Telengana. Everybody knows these data, especially the one who has been exploiting them so long. Still we can’t understand why they wouldn’t budget.

Except that they just would like to continue to exploit the region; that they fear losing their economic stronghold, the Hyderabad; that they are too lazy to develop another city in their coastal region; or that they believe that, if the demand can be swept aside for the past fifty years, it can be swept aside for a fifty more.

Whatever is the reason, as a people, they have fallen in my estimation. I now look at them as bigoted, selfish and exploitative. And I’m sure the rest of India is also viewing them through the same glasses. It’s up to the Andhrites to decide whether they want to reclaim their lost glory. And become the enterprising, tolerant and assimilative culture they really are.