“A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.” – Jawaharlal Nehru, “Tryst With Destiny” speech celebrating Indian independence.
August 15, 1947 midnight India won its freedom from colonial rule ending nearly 350 years of British presence in India. But, freedom was not without pains. It also saw the saw the birth of the new Islamic Republic of Pakistan. When the British left, they partitioned India, creating the separate countries of India and Pakistan to accommodate religious differences between Pakistan, which has a majority Muslim population, and India which is primarily Hindu. While the Indian National Congress called for British to Quit India, in 1943 the Muslim League passed a resolution demanding the British Divide and Quit. Before British, Mughals ruled India for over 300 years.
It is still a debatable point whether the partition of these countries was a wise move by the British. The partition has not stopped conflict between India and Pakistan. Boundary issues, left unresolved by the British, have caused three wars and continuing strife between India and Pakistan. Sixty years on, the status of Kashmir remains unresolved despite a tenuous peace process between India and Pakistan. The bad blood between the two countries is largely due to the ideological divide between the Muslims and the Hindus of India. Incidentally Pakistan became world’s first Islamic Republic in 1956.
British India, which included most of present-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, consisted of fifteen provinces, all British possessions, ruled directly by the British in all respects, either through a Governor or a Chief Commissioner and officials appointed by the Viceroy. Existing alongside British India were 565 princely states, ruled by local hereditary rulers, who acknowledged British suzerainty but who enjoyed local autonomy. It may be recalled the British Crown assumed control of British India from the East India Company in 1857 and thereafter controlled the internal governance through a Secretary of State for India in London and a Viceroy in India.
In 1724, Nizam-ul-mulk Asif Jah (Asif Jahin Nizam dynasty) established his independence and made Hyderabad the capital of his empire in 1769. In 1799, the British signed an alliance with Nizam Asif Jah who ceded coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions to the British. The region remained under the British and the Nizams till 1946, the year of Telangana rebellion, which was quelled by the Nizam’s Razakars (mercenaries).
The states varied greatly in size and the four largest princely states were Hyderabad, Baroda, Mysore, and Jammu and Kashmir. Following independence in 1947, the 565 princely states were given a choice of whether to either join the new Dominion of India or the newly formed state of Pakistan or to remain independent. The Nizam Osman Ali Khan of Hyderabad initially chose to join neither India nor Pakistan. He later declared Hyderabad a free, self-governing independent state but the Government of India refused to accept his independence. The Indian Army invaded his princely State on 13 September 1948 and Nizam forces were routed and he was forced to accept accession to India.
In December 1953, the States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) was appointed to form states on linguistic bases. An agreement was reached between Telangana leaders and Andhra leaders on 20 February 1956 to merge Telangana and Andhra with promises to safeguard Telangana’s interests. After reorganisation in 1956, the region of Telangana was merged with Andhra State to form Andhra Pradesh. Following the Gentlemen’s agreement, the central government established a unified Andhra Pradesh on November, 01 1956. Thus, Andhra Pradesh was the first state to be carved out (from erstwhile Madras state) on linguistic basis. It had Kurnool town (in Rayalaseema region) as its capital after the death of Potti Sriramulu who went on a 53-day fast-unto-death demanding the creation of a new state.
Since then there have been several movements to invalidate the merger of Telangana and Andhra, major ones occurring in 1969, 1972 and 2009. The movement gained momentum over decades for a new state of Telangana.
The name Telangana is derived from the word Telugu Angana, which means a place where Telugu is spoken. The Nizams (1724-1948) used the word Telangana to differentiate it from the Marathi speaking regions of their kingdom. From 230 BC to 220 AD the Satavahanas ruled this region between Krishna and Godaveri rivers. The region experienced a Golden Age, in between 1083-1203 under the reign of the Kakatiyas who established Warangal as their capital. In 1309 AD, Allaudin Khilji’s general Malik Kafur attacked Warangal which led to the decline of the Kakatiyas. The region came under the Delhi Sultanate till 1687 when Golconda (near Hyderabad) fell to Aurangzeb.
Members of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) launched an indefinite hunger-strike on November 29, 2009 demanding creation of Telangana. On December 09, 2009 the government of India announced a process for the formation of Telangana state. Following violent protests led by people in the Coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions immediately after the announcement, and the decision was put on hold on December 23, 2009.
The Centre then constituted a five-member Committee on February 03, 2010, headed by former judge Srikrishna, to look into statehood demand. The Committee submitted its report to the Centre on December 30, 2010.
Telangana region witnessed a series of agitations like the Million March, Chalo Assembly and Sakalajanula Samme (general strike) in 2011-12 while MLAs belonging to different parties resigned from the House.
With its MPs from Telangana upping the ante, Congress made Union Home Ministry to convene an all-party meeting on December 28, 2012 to find an “amicable solution” to the crisis.
On 30 July 2013, the Congress Working Committee unanimously passed a resolution to recommend the formation of a separate Telangana state. After various stages the bill was placed in the parliament in February 2014. In February 2014, Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 bill was passed by the parliament of India for the formation of Telangana state comprising ten districts from north-western Andhra Pradesh. The bill received the assent of the president and published in the gazette on 1 March 2014.
As mentioned above Telangana became the 29th state of India, consisting of the ten north-western districts of Andhra Pradesh with Hyderabad as its capital. The city of Hyderabad will continue to serve as the joint capital for Andhra Pradesh and the successor state of Telangana for a period of ten years. After the division the remaining part of Andhra will be called Seemandhra. The decision to create a Telangana state has predictably given an impetus to statehood demands in other parts of the country.
Telangana is bordered by the states of Odisha and Chhattisgarh to the north, to the west by Maharastra and Karnataka, on the south and east by Andhra Pradesh Telangana has an area of 114,840 sq.kms (44,340 sq mi), and a population of 35,286,757 (2011 census). Hyderabad, Warangal, and Nizamabad are the major cities in the state.
The following schedule shows the 29 Union states of India and 7 Union Territories, their date of establishment, capitals etc.
Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao was elected as the first chief minister of Telangana, following elections in which the TRS party secured a majority.
The creation Telangana rubbishes the arguments that people who speak the same language, despite regional differences can’t have two states. Language is only one component that goes towards the creation of a homogeneous culture. Two groups of people could be speaking the same language, professing the same religion and yet consider themselves poles apart culturally. The people of Telangana consider themselves distinctly different from their counterparts in Andhra because of their different histories that have led to the creation of diverse cultures.
After the merger in 1956, the Telugu people of Andhra were ecstatic. For the first time after 1323, an integrated Telugu state came to be established. But people of Telangana were in for a rude shock. Their conception of Telugu state was quite different from that of the Andhra people.
Fissures began to emerge when Andhra proper began to discriminate people of Telangana as poor relations. A perception was created that bordered on arrogance that Telugu proper were superior to the local Telangana population in terms of modern education and the mores of modern life. Very soon the Andhra people were denigrating at their culture, their language and work ethics. For historical reasons the Telugu spoken in Telangana was laced with many Urudu words. Thinking of themselves as the rightful representatives of Telugu culture, the Andhra people were able to thrust their brand of Telugu as the language of the government. This was the language as spoken in the Krishna district located in the Andhra area. Though there is no standard version of Telugu, this Krishna district Telugu came to stand for the real Telugu. All other variations were considered inferior in status.
Other representations of Telangana culture are also ignored and festivals like Batukamma are not recognized as a state festival. Textbooks for schools perpetuate the Andhra culture as if there was never any Telangana culture. Nowhere has the misrepresentation of Telangana culture been more striking than in Telugu films. People of Andhra Pradesh are avid film viewers and the Telugu film industry churns out more movies every year than even Bollywood. But in these colourful extravaganzas, the hero and heroine mouth the Telugu spoken in the Andhra area. However, the villain, vamp and the comic characters speak Telangana Telugu. This despite the fact 50 per cent of the revenues grossed by Telugu productions come from the Telangana area.
Speaking about the people of Telangana, the Telugus used language that was quite derogatory, if not out right insulting. Nearly 90 percent of Telugus from Telangana are of the opinion that Andhra Telugus are cunning and business-minded whereas they believe in friendship and kinship. However, about 10 percent of Telangana people conceded that Andhra people were more enterprising.
There are certainly differences between the cultures of the people. Telangana was under feudal rule and this reflected in the extremely servile behaviour of the people who had never been allowed to think, much less take any initiative. This continued till the 1960s, much after the Nizams had gone. But in Andhra Pradesh there was no feudalism, so the attitude of people was different and they could not figure out what was wrong with the Telangana people. Paradoxically, though Telegus openly lampoons Telangana people for their laziness, yet assert that there is hardly any difference between the two. On the contrary, the Telangana people harp on the differences and highlight how different the two peoples are.
During the past 700 years Andhra Telegus and Telangana Telugus lived separately. Urdu was the language of education and official language of Telangana. Andhra and Telangana have distinctive cuisines. Semi-arid Telangana state region millet-based breads (rote) are predominant staple food, while rice and rage are popular. Many of the curries (known as okra), snacks and sweets vary in the method of preparation and differ in name, too.
The state being the leading producer of red chilli, rice and millets in India influences the liberal use of spices — making the food one of the richest and spiciest in the world. Vegetarian as well as meat and seafood (coastal areas) feature prominently in the menus. Dal (lentils), tomato and tamarind are largely used for cooking curries. Spicy and hot varieties of pickles form an important part of Telugu cuisine.
Since independence India has got split first language-wise and later due to regional and cultural differences. Though Hindi is the linqua franca in states like Uttar Pradesh, Madya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh (January 21, 1971) Uttarankhand (November 09, 2000) Jarkhand (November 15, 2000) Chhattisgarh (November 01,2000) they have created separate states.
Modern democratic nation-states are based on the principle of the right of people to self-determination. The right to self-determination, whether as a nation-state or as a more limited state within a nation like Telangana, flow not merely from a people’s assertion of their ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural, or any other social identity, but more from the political legitimacy of people’s right to self-determination and from universal and inalienable human rights. It is the only sensible way to forge unity, not unity from homogeneity or uniformity, in ethnic diversity.
A state belongs to the people who live in it and Telangana is the latest example.