Telangana Indias 29th state is born

Telangana India's 29th state is born

Today is a new dawn in the history of the Indian Union. For the first time outside the Hindi- and Bengali-speaking areas two states speaking the same language have been created. Both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the two successor states to Andhra Pradesh, that come into existence on Monday, swear by Telugu.

This knocks down the basis on which the internal map of the Indian Union was redrawn in the first decade after Independence. With the linguistic basis of states language being assumed as the indicator of a homogeneous culture being challenged, there is scope for another exercise to redraw the internal map of India. Whether this will happen or not is a moot point but the question is why did this "Telugu state" break down. And what are the lessons for the future?

Although there was a demand for a composite Telugu state from before Independence, the Nehru-led government created Andhra Pradesh due to Congress's political interests. History has thus come full circle. In Andhra state (which was carved out of the Telugu speaking areas of then Madras state in 1953), the Congress was facing a tough electoral contest from the Communists.

The exercise created a monopoly In the 1977 post-Emergency elections, the Congress was soundly thrashed nationally but won 41 of the 42 seats in AP! The following year, Indira Gandhi romped home to the Lok Sabha from Medak.

The second unstated reason was that the Nehru government, chastened by the experience of the integration of Kashmir, did not want to leave the territories of the Nizam as they were. Therefore, while the Telugu-speaking areas went to Andhra Pradesh, the Marathi and Kannada speaking areas went to Bombay and Mysore provinces.

But the Congress chief ministers did little to promote rural empowerment or land reforms. The only chief minister who tried — Narasimha Rao — faced opposition from vested interests and was axed. Growing rural angst led to Maoism striking deep roots.

The Congress was replaced in 1983 by the Telugu Desam Party, whose founder NT Rama Rao gave a clarion call to "Telugu pride" His son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu became the first chief minister anywhere in India to latch on to economic reforms. Soon capital Hyderabad became swanky with Microsoft and others setting shop. But the countryside was neglected and farmers' suicides increased. In Telangana region, which had been bearing the burden of the Nizam's feudal rule earlier, the situation was worse.

Soon a separate state movement caught on: the people of Telangana believed that they would be better off as a separate state. Naidu lost power and was replaced by Congressman YS Rajasekhara Reddy in 2004 who started a regime of "free-ships" (free power, fee reimbursements to students, free houses, free medical treatment et al).

These moves taxed the exchequer but translated into heavy electoral gains for Congress, enabling it to form a government in New Delhi in 2009. After the sudden death of YSR, the Congress was in a tizzy even as the separate state movement gathered steam.

Then on the eve of the 2014, to beat the nationwide anti-incumbency and cash in on perceived political gain, Congress bosses passed a bill to divide the state. Unfortunately for the Congress, the move failed to reap it political dividends and it was soundly rejected in both regions.
So it was decided to merge Andhra with the Telugu speaking areas of the dominion of the deposed Nizam of Hyderabad. This would create a larger entity where the communists could be defeated.

As the countdown to the birth of Telangana, the 29th State of India, began on Sunday, celebrations erupted all over its territory. When dusk fell, the sky lit up in myriad colours of brilliant fireworks in several districts. People cheered, whistled, turned nostalgic and danced in gay abandon for Monday’s inauguration of the new State.
Women were playing ‘Batukamma’ on the main roads of all districts. Hyderabad led the celebrations with the People’s Plaza on the picturesque Necklace Road reflecting the joy and mirth.

Sporting pink scarves, Telangana supporters set about preparing for the big event. Even telephone greetings turned to “Jai Telangana” instead of the usual “hello.”

The entire stretch of Raj Bhavan Road was festooned in pink. The Old City too joined in the celebrations. Noted singer Khan Athar set the tone by rendering soulful ghazals and national integration songs at Charminar.

At Gandhi Bhavan, the Congress headquarters, State unit president Ponnala Laxman paid homage to Telangana martyrs. The BJP, and even the TDP and the YSR Congress Party also took part in celebrations.

TRS leader K. Chandrasekhar Rao will be sworn in as Chief Minister at 8.15 a.m.

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