Not a storm in a T-cup


By T S Sudhir

The restaurant where we stopped for tea was called Telangana cafe. This was Mulkanoor, a small town in Karimnagar district in Andhra Pradesh’s Telangana region. Like most such places, this one too has an Ambedkar statue in the middle of the town around which life goes on.

The name intrigued me. Noticing that I had fished out my camera to take a photograph of the cafe, a passerby remarked. “They changed their name to Telangana cafe last year after the agitation.”

“What was it before,” I asked. “Eenadu,” he replied.

It was obvious that political reasons had motivated the name change. To me, it seemed an irony that reflected prevailing sentiment. `Eenadu’ or `this land’ or `this state’ now would rather be called `Telangana’.

“Telangana Kaavali” (We want Telangana) is a most commonly articulated sentiment in these parts. Almost like a greeting. That could turn into a war cry post January 6, when the contents of the Srikrishna committee will be made public. And the mood is building up slowly, the realisation dawning that formation of Telangana state is not just a dhakka (push) away.

I meet Veerabhadraswamy who owns a photo studio next to Telangana cafe. He has got a map of Telangana `state’ painted in front of his shop.

“Our water, coal, other resources have been looted by Andhra people. They have become more rich while we are becoming poorer. They are taking away our food. Is there any Telangana person settled in Andhra but you will find in every Telangana village, 25 to 40 per cent homes are those of Andhra people.”

Swamy is a angry young man, wearing a white T-shirt, again with the outline of a map of Telangana on the back. His shirt pocket would have been a more appropriate place. As he speaks with emotion and conviction, you feel the integration of Andhra with Hyderabad state in 1956 was perhaps only on paper. Every Andhra person who settled down in Telangana has been seen as a settler, a trespasser who encroached into a neighbour’s land to grab it and worse, deprived the locals of their rights. The hearts never quite met.

Mulkunoor sarpanch Padala Gautam of the Telugu Desam admits his chief Chandrababu Naidu’s two-eyes theory (whereby Naidu equates Telangana and Seemandhra with his two eyes and therefore cannot side with either) is an embarrassment in these parts. “We will do a non-violent agitation for Telangana. We will not cooperate with the government. Like last year, we will cook on the roads,” says Gautam.

“It is a bogus committee,” shouts Rajalingam Naik, letting loose a tirade against the Srikrishna committee and the government. “We hear they may recommend a development package for Telangana. Last 54 years, they did not develop the region, are they going to do now? Give it to us, we will develop Telangana ourselves.”

Development indeed is key. Mulkoonor despite being just 4 km from Vangara, former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao’s native village, is a dusty mofussil town. Telangana gained nothing from a son of the soil like PV’s elevation to the top post, you are told in a chorus. Even if they didn’t, it is pretty evident.

“Procrastination by the Centre will not be acceptable,” says Jayant who works in an agri multinational in Hyderabad. “Telangana people certainly lose out in government jobs to the Andhra youth. The feeling of bias and neglect is very strong.”

“Do you feel emotional about it,” I ask.

“I am not an active participant. I am not emotional about it either. But analysed rationally, I feel it is time to set right the wrongs of over 50 years of living together in an unified Andhra Pradesh.”

As I drive to Warangal, I stop by at a field to hear Telangana songs hummed by a dozen-odd farm labourers sowing paddy on a four-acre field. Each one gets 140 for the day’s work. I ask them about Telangana and what difference statehood will make to their life.

“If we get our own Telangana, we will live our own life,” says Komala. Vimala is more aggressive. “Our lives were ruled by them till now. Either they should live or we should live here. If we get our own state of Telangana, they will be thrown out and we can live here peacefully.”

Aggressive posturing that comes from hopes raised by the dream of a new state.

At the Kakatiya University, I meet a group of students who have been part of the campus for quite many years. One of them has done his B.Com, then M.A and is now pursuing PG in Human Resource management. “For me to get a job as a HR manager, there are no industries. Once we get Telangana, we can set up our own industries and generate employment.”

The common thread running in all these stories is anger, anguish, deprivation, hope. They have been let down enough, they say. None of the Constitutional safeguards that were promised as part of the Mulki rules or the Gentleman’s agreement or GO 610, were adhered to. You can almost draw a parallel in Telangana’s revolt to the Dalit’s anger against the upper castes. Over the last 50-odd years, the feeling of discrimination has become part of every Telanganite’s DNA.

A lot of it is also true. Despite the Krishna river entering Andhra Pradesh in Mahbubnagar, the district has the dubious distinction of mass migrations every year. Crores are pumped into irrigation projects like Pulichintala and Polavaram meant for coastal Andhra. With a fickle raingod the only saviour and borewells offering little hope, Telangana has been the breeding ground for frequent drought, crop failure and farmers suicide. The coastal belt in contrast, reaps the benefit of 75 per cent of the irrigation canals.

As I head back to Hyderabad, I cannot help thinking Andhra Pradesh is already divided. The government of India may or may not draw the line but much of Telangana today has indeed decided to separate even if the UPA `court’ does not grant it a divorce.

One thing is sure. The tea that Telangana cafe is brewing is not a storm in a tea-cup.

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About t s sudhir & uma sudhir

Uma Sudhir and T S Sudhir are senior journalists, based in Hyderabad. Both work for NDTV. Uma is a Tamilian, who was educated in
This entry was posted in Andhra Pradesh, Political blogs, Telangana and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Not a storm in a T-cup

  1. hanmireddy says:

    Enough is enough is enough. The Congress should not delay the process of separate Telangana.
    Delay will harm the self destructive Congress which is already facing heat from YS Jagan.
    If Congress fails to fulfill aspirations of the Telangana people, then Congress should forget Andhra Pradesh as the biggest contributor of MPs in the future.

  2. gjnanaswarup says:

    Telangana was opposed by Mrs Indira Gandhi and so is opposed by her progeny . A prestige issue again . So every possible delaying tactic will be used .

    Allparty meets , Sri Krishna Committeeetc are delaying tactics

  3. WOW! Finally an article reflecting the ground realities in Telangana. Thank you guys.

  4. shashi says:

    hello sudhir,
    you got the right mood of Telangana people. The mood is similar in all the 10 districts including nizambad which is my native.
    The division is obvious.
    coming to backwardness, a recent report by Central govt. says that out of 50 odd backward districts in India, 9 out 10 Telangana districts are in that list.
    But one suggestion why dont you cover your tour in NDTV. ? Plz do that because everyone comes to know the reality visually if not sympathetically towards Telangana..!

  5. Ram says:

    Thanks for giving voice to Telangana people. Telangana people are betrayed by Andhra dominated political leadership, bureaucracy, media, judiciary.

    In such situation, support from people like you means a lot. Thanks for standing with the victims of the experiment called Andhra Pradesh. Experiment failed. Let there be de-merger. Let there be Telangana state. Let Telangana people have self rule.

    Thanks.

  6. Dr. Biksham Gujja says:

    Dear Sudhir, It is good report (NDTV) and good write up. I am glad national media like NDTV is focusing on the real national issues like Struggle for Telangana. The struggle for Telangana should be viewed from the context of de-centralization of India. Indian states are too big, while constitution is clearly Federal in nature, by every year India is becoming more and more a central state. Telangana struggle is not about Andhra people or the exploitation, but certain individual how they can exploit a region and dominate over the two regions. Unfortunately, your report too superficially raises the issue of Hyderabad. Hyderabad was built by Nizams with heavy land tax for four hundred years. You should have looked a bit (not too deep) into Hyderabad and the history of establishing capital city.

    The Telangana movement is started and nurtured by Telangana intellectuals. It is one of most popular, democratic, peaceful and broad based movement than any one in post independent India. The movement is not about just Telangana state, it is about a small group talking over entire Telangana and its resources. For example, if you had asked that Cinema guy one simple question ” why not a single, not a single Telugu Hero is from Telangana, though they contribute almost 50% of viewers”. There every one- artists, poets intellectual, writers, journalists, any political leader etc with credibility and name, ALL are supporting a separate state.

    Good report, I hope you do a follow up story after 6th Jan. Not establishing Telangana state soon, will lead to massive political, social and economic problems. All this is due to Delhi not able to see the simple thing, the popular base of Telangana movement. Still the entire government is manipulated by few individuals with money, media and mafia of Andhra lobby. That is sad thing in our democracy. If there is referendum more than 98% of Telangana people want Telangana state. Sure they will get it, but it should happen peacefully, democratic way, that is what many Telangana intellectuals and overseas Telanganites want.

  7. ijswamy says:

    Congress high command (means Soniyaji) depends on her advisors in Andhra for a feedback . These slavish congressmen and women have only one policy . To please Soniyaji . She is now thoroughly misled and confused. Separate Telangana with Hyderabad as capital must be conceded immediately . If coastal cinema figures came from Madras to Hyderabad , it was not a sacrifice or love of Andhra .Cine industry got land at throw away prices and cheap and docile Hyderabadi work force .

  8. Of late, very good articulation of ground realities in Telangana rural parts.The people of Telangana have unanimously resolved to live on their own and now, continuing the unified Andhra Pradesh is at any cost not possible.The rulers must realise this and try to deliver the good before giving any scope for any untoward. The present situation in Telangana is very much boiling&simmering and it may explode at any time to any extent. People lost their faith in Telangana Political leadership, who so far played “hide and seek” with the masses. In an inevitable condition, the people of Telangana are now looking for an alternative leadership. The form of JACs, which the people themselves formed as an alternative for the existing political leadership and political parties, is the only hope for the future struggle and leadership. No one in Telangana had any hope on SKC report and the Seemandhra political leadership and they all are ready to fight back, till the Statehood is achieved. The fact remains one, though rumours galore, that no one now can STOP

  9. ijswamy says:

    In every state in India , government employess specially NGGO s ie Non gazetted government officials have a recognised association .
    Andhra Pradesh is the ONLY state which has recognised TWO associations 1)Andhra NGGOs and 2)Telangana NGGO s associations
    People and the Government know that AP is TWO states forced to live together. It is clear that this “living in ” relation is not working out well. Separate states must be conceded . What about Hyderabad is a STUPID question . Like ” If living in relation fails who will own the house and who will live where ?”

  10. Madhav says:

    Dear Uma and Sudhir,

    Thanks for making the ground realities public! It should go a long way in telling people outside Andhra Pradesh what people in Telangana feel and want. The experiment of Andhra Pradesh failed miserably because of that hasty merger in 1956. The wise advice of Fazal Ali Commission (first SRC) fell on deaf years and Governement of India succumbed to Andhra lobby. It sowed the seeds of suspicion and a sense of alienation in Telananganites’ minds. As you rightly opined the emotional integration never took place. Today, people of Telangana are fighting the system that is unduly advantageous to Seemandhra. If Telangana is not carved out post Srikrishna Committee report, the anger may turn on to Seemandhra individuals who are not responsible in any way for the injustice the Telangana is subjected to! Hope better sense prevails on UPA goernment.

    Statehood to Telangana!
    Safeguards to Seemandhra!!

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