Happy Independence Day, Telengana

During the formation of Andhra Pradesh, apparently Nehru remarked that the joining of Telengana region was like an alliance of matrimony between unwilling partners with a provision for divorce later. I’m not sure Nehru really said that, and there have been conflicting reports. I skimmed through the Collected Works of Nehru for evidence of this, but couldn’t find it. Some say he made this remark, but deleted it later.

Whether he really said it or not, I think that kind of sums of what really happened. It was an unholy alliance from the first day. Telengana was not interested in being part of Andhra, as it feared political domination from agriculturally rich Coastal Andhra. Fifty years later, we know that the fear was justified. Coastal Andhra literally lorded over Telengana whilst simultaneously exploiting latter’s natural resources.

At that time, the central government was sceptical of Telengana staying alone. After a bloody battle, the Princely state of Hyderabad had just recently been annexed to Union of India. The Razakars who fought a bitter battle are probably still active somewhere and leaving them as a separate state might revive the claims for independence. Hence it was joined with Andhra. That both regions spoke more or less the same language actually became convenient for that ‘matrimony’.

So the single statehood happened more out of fear than out of linguistic convenience. And this matrimony wasn’t unconditional. Telengana was given 12 years to decide if they’d like to continue and Andhra was told to ‘treat’ Telengana better.

Andhra didn’t treat Telengana better, and exactly after 12 years, the protests resumed. Indira Gandhi, characteristically, crushed it with an iron hand. It, however, took different forms with brush with Naxalism, and continued to smoulder. And oblivious of its existence, Coastal Andhra continued to dominate and plunder the Telengana region.

After a number of bloody riots, protests and fast unto deaths – some real, some fake – Telengana has now finally become official. Now, there may be some debates on the manner in which the bill was passed in the Parliament and the way Congress squandered the opportunity it had. Yes, Congress went back and forth in 2009 and that oscillation has probably what led to the politicians in Andhra believe that may be, just maybe, there is a chance that Telengana may not happen. And when horrendous dramas such as pepper spray episodes were stages at the well of the Parliament, when the main opposition party played cat and mouse game, Congress perhaps was pushed to the corner. They had absolutely no option but to pass the bill in this session. They could not have gone to elections in the Andhra or Telengana regions with this bill hanging in the air. It was the case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. So they decided to do and be damned.

Now, once the dust settles in, we will know how things shape up. Yes, it would get worse before it gets better. But it will nevertheless get better. Some people claim that we shan’t disturb the linguistic divisions. The thing is it had already been disturbed with the bifurcation of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

Division of linguistic states was the need of that time. And then, once things stabilised, they needed to be divided further for better administration and representation. History shows that states that have been divided have begun to see dramatic growth and development. Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand, etc., with the only exception being Jharkhand, which I’m sure will begin to turn around once it is out of the clutches of the Shorens.

Some are worried that this idea of divide, divide and more divide won’t be good for our country. Division actually means better representation of power and therefore ensuring a feeling of contentment for the people. Linguistic division of states was one of the most successful decisions made in India, because, around the same time India was dividing states for the linguistic communities, two of our neighbours have been denying representation for their own linguistic communities. West Pakistan set out to impose Urdu on East Pakistan and refused representation for Bengali, which resulted in a bloody war that killed hundreds of thousands and led to the breakup of the country. Sri Lanka refused representation for the minority Tamils and imposed Sinhalese on them, which resulted in a long and bloody civil war that killed hundreds of thousands, destroyed the economy of the island nation whose effects are still being felt until today.

For once, I take sides with what Congress has done. The woman who has endured a forced marriage for 50 years with an insensitive and domineering husband has finally got her divorce granted. Now Telengana can use its resources for its own development and be free from the clutches of the Reddy/Kamma domination. Happy Independence Day, Telengana.