Monday, April 5, 2010

Demand for Telangana State: genuine and justified.

The statehood demand of Telangana has exploded to an unimaginable level in 2009 after 40 years of a sad episode of 1969 agitation in the history of Andhra Pradesh. The movement started with an indefinite fast of former Union Minister and Member of Parliament Mr. K. Chandrasekhar Rao and supported by students, quickly spread to urban intellect, towns and villages to give birth to numerous joint action committees independent of political parties to lead their own movement resulting in the democratic protests such as dhoom-dhams (songs and dances), garjanas (hullabaloos), and padayatras (marches) [58].                                                                                     
Further, the involvement of all communities in the villages and towns across Telangana region surprised everyone. The continuous agitations, frequent strikes, raasta-rokos, and the bandh calls in the late 2009 and early 2010 crippled almost all the cities and towns of Andhra Pradesh. The affect on the state economy and common man cannot be ignored, and the lives lost due to suicides for Telangana has even made the central government to appeal the elderly of the society to counsel the younger generations not to resort to extreme steps [59].

How and why it happened.

To understand the present crisis, one should take a quick look at the formation of the Andhra Pradesh and its politics. The Telangana region of the erstwhile Princely State of Nizam called as Hyderabad state is demanding a separate state. In detail, the Hyderabad state comprise the present Telugu speaking Telangana region, and a few districts of present day Maharashtra and Karnataka, and the Andhra region (including Rayalaseema) with a sizable Telugu speaking population were a part of erstwhile Madras Province in the British India. The Andhra’s in Madras state fought and demanded a separate state before and after Independence due to the discrimination of their language and culture, and the exploitation of educational and employment opportunities in the hands of majority Tamils and achieved it in 1953 [23].

During the states reorganization, the Fazal Ali commission in 1955 recommended that Telangana region to be made a separate state and with a provision for unification with Andhra state only after the general election to be held in 1961 with a two-thirds of majority in favor of unification in the Hyderabad state legislature [23]. However, in 1956, the Telangana region was merged with Andhra state to form Andhra Pradesh, with a specific assurance (Gentleman’s Agreement) and declarations by the then Prime Minister Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru. These assurances were hardly respected by the majority Andhra since inception, which led to serious discontent among the people of Telangana leading to agitate and demand a separate state in 1969. After being brutally crushed by the state government, the bruised people of Telangana understood that the political will is the need of the hour, but were exploited by a fellow Telangana politician and former chief minister Dr. M. Chenna Reddy for his personnel gains [60].

The successive state and central governments contained the agitation by further assurances and promises in form of agreements, formulas, amendment and introduction of articles in the Constitution. However, the exploitation in Telangana region by Andhra elite was a never-ending story. In 2000, three new states (Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal and Jharkhand) were created from the existing states but the Telangana was not granted statehood because the ruling Telugu Desam Party in coalition with National Democratic Alliance opposed such a move [55]. The movement got much-needed boost in 2001, when Mr. K. Chandrashekar Rao quit Telugu Desam Party and founded “Telangana Rashtra Samithi” party with a single agenda to achieve a separate state for Telangana region [56]. At the same time the state Telangana congress unit formed a Telangana Congress Legislators Forum to pledge their support for statehood [57]. In the subsequent elections (2004 and 2009) the Congress and the Telugu Desam parties in coalition with TRS, and others promised statehood to the people of Telangana in their manifestos and election speeches.

The unexpected death of the Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajashekhar Reddy in September 2009 and the subsequent political vacuum and power struggles in the state congress unit gave a chance to Mr. K. Chandrasekhar Rao to revive his party aspirations and undertook an indefinite fast to force the central government for the introduction of a bill on Telangana statehood in the Parliament. The subsequent state government action against him, his deteriorating health condition, student protests, and massive people’s movement forced the central government to announce the initiation of process of forming a separate Telangana state on December 9, 2009 with the approval of all the state political parties in an all party meeting held on December 8, 2009 [61][62][63]. The spontaneous political resignations against the formation of Telangana, and the U-turn of main opposition (Telugu Desam) and other parties cheated the people of Telangana and forced the Central Government to constitute a Committee for Consultation on the Situation in Andhra Pradesh on February 3, 2010 headed by Justice B. N. Srikrishna to examine the feasibility of a Telangana state [64].

Why Telangana should be separated.

Let’s look at the opening statement of Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram’s during the consultations with eight recognized parties of Andhra Pradesh on Telangana issue dated January 5, 2010 [1]. Some of his statements are very essential for solving the Telangana issue in a genuine way compared to the main terms of reference “to evaluate the developments in the State to date and their impact on the progress and development in different regions of the State” given to Srikrishna committee [2]. Mr. P. Chidambaram said,

"You are all aware of the long history behind the demand for a separate State of Telangana. It is sufficient to refer to the report of the States Reorganisation Commission; the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1956 and the amendment of Article 371(1) of the Constitution; the Six Point Formula of 1973; and the introduction of Article 371D in the Constitution. More recently, in the elections to the State Assembly of Andhra Pradesh held in May 2009, the political parties outlined their positions in their respective election manifestos. All this is in the public domain [1]."

In addition If one goes through the Reports of the Telangana Regional Committees between 1956 and 1969, the All-Party Agreement of Andhra Pradesh (1969). The Reports on the Quantum of Telangana Surpluses (1969) by K. Lalit, and the Committee on Telangana surpluses (1969) under the chairmanship of Justice V. Bhargava, and the Government Order (G.O.) 36 (1969). Further, the Report of the Officers Committee (1985) under the chairmanship of K. Jaybharath Reddy, the G.O. 610 (1985), the House Committee on Implementation of G.O. 610 (2001), the Report of J. M. Girglani Commission (2004), and the G.O. 1845 (2009) etc., for the violations and the injustices meted to the people of the Telangana region since 1956.

Now the people of Telangana want a separate state, to rule on their own (self-rule or self-governance), want to preserve their beliefs, dialect and the culture for the future generations (self-respect), and not to be ruled any further by the oppressors. Telangana should be made 29th state of Indian Union with Hyderabad as its capital based on the following points:

1.    Vocally Same but Culturally Different
2.    Political Domination and Abuse of Power
3.    Mal-distribution of State Income and Funds
4.    Exploitation of Educational and Employment Opportunities
5.    Exploitation of Water Resources and Schemes
6.    Exploitation of Industries and Mineral Resources
7.    Exploitation of Land in and around Hyderabad
8.    Branding Telangana supporters and Protesters as Maoists or Naxalites 
9.    Hyderabad as a Capital City for Telangana Only
10.  Smaller States are good for Development and Governance