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Telangana (India)

Last modified: 2009-06-06 by ian macdonald
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About Telangana

"Telangana is a region in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It more or less corresponds to that portion of the state which was previously part of the princely state of Hyderabad. The region lies on the Deccan plateau to the west of the Eastern Ghats range, and includes the northwestern interior districts of Warangal, Adilabad, Khammam, Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda, Rangareddy, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Medak, and the state capital, Hyderabad. The Krishna and Godavari rivers flow through the region from west to east.
Telangana region was mentioned in the Mahabharata as the Telinga Kingdom which said to be inhabited by the tribe known as Telavana and said to have fought on the Pandava side in the great war of Mahabharata. It is also evident from the fact that there is Pandavula Guhalu in Warangal district(wherein Pandavas spent their life in exile (Lakkha Gruham)). And, in Treta yuga, it is believed that Lord Sri Rama along with his consort Sita Devi and brother Lakshmana, spent their life in exile at Parnashala on the banks of Godavari river which is about 25 km from Bhadrachalam in Khammam District of Telangana.
Telangana region has been ruled by many great dynasties like Sathavahanas, Chalukyas, Kakatiyas. Telangana came under Muslim rule in 14th century for the first time by Delhi Sultanate followed by Bahmanis, Qutb Shahis and Mughals. As the Mughal Empire began to disintegrate in the early 18th century, the Muslim Asafjahi dynasty established a separate state known as Hyderabad. Later Hyderabad entered into a treaty of subsidiary alliance with the British Empire, and was the largest and most populous princely state in India. Telangana was never under direct British rule, unlike Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of Andhra Pradesh, which were part of British India's Madras Presidency.

India became independent from the British Empire in 1947. The Nizam of Hyderabad wanted to retain his independence from India, but his state of Hyderabad was forced to become part of India in september 17 of 1948 as the Hyderabad State. When India became independent, the Telugu-speaking people (although Urdu is spoken in some parts of Telangana districts) were distributed in about 22 districts; 9 of them in the Telangana region of Nizam's Dominions (Hyderabad State), 12 in the Madras Presidency and one in French-controlled Yanam. Andhra State was the first state in India that has been formed on a purely linguistic basis by carving it out from Madras State in 1953. Andhra State was later merged with Telugu speaking area of Hyderabad State (Telangana), to create Andhra Pradesh state in 1956.

In December 1953, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru appointed the States Reorganization Commission to prepare for the creation of states on linguistic lines. This was headed by Justice Fazal Ali and the commission itself was also known as the Fazal Ali Commission. The efforts of this commission was overseen by Govind Ballabh Pant, who served as Home Minister from December 1954. The commission created a report in 1955 recommending the reorganization of India's states. The States Reorganization Commission (SRC) was not in favour of merging the Telangana region with the then Andhra state. Para 382 of States Reorganization Commission Report (SRC) said "..opinion in Andhra is overwhelmingly in favour of the larger unit, public opinion in Telangana has still to crystallize itself". The concerns of Telanganas were manifold. The region had a less developed economy than Andhra, but a larger revenue base (mostly because it taxed rather than prohibited alcoholic beverages), which Telanganas feared might be diverted for use in Andhra. They also feared that planned dam projects on the Krishna and Godavari rivers would not benefit Telangana proportionately even though Telanganas controlled the headwaters of the rivers. Telanganas feared too that the people of Andhra would have the advantage in jobs, particularly in government and education. Para 386 of States Reorganization Commission Report (SRC) said "After taking all these factors into consideration we have come to the conclusions that it will be in the interests of Andhra as well as Telangana area is to constitute into a separate State, which may be known as the Hyderabad State with provision for its unification with Andhra after the general elections likely to be held in or about 1961 if by a two thirds majority the legislature of the residency Hyderabad State expresses itself in favor of such unification." The central government decided to ignore the SRC recommendations and established unified Andhra Pradesh on November 1, 1956. However, a "Gentlemen's agreement" provided reassurances to the Telangana people.

In the following years after the formation of Andhra Pradesh state, however, the Telangana people had a number of complaints about how the agreements and guarantees were implemented. Discontent with the 1956 Gentleman's agreement intensified in January 1969 when the guarantees that had been agreed on were supposed to lapse. Student agitation for the continuation of the agreement began at Osmania University in Hyderabad and spread to other parts of the region. Government employees and opposition members of the state legislative assembly swiftly threatened "direct action" in support of the students. This movement, also known as Jai Telangana movement, led to widespread violence and deaths of hundreds of people and students of this Telangana region. Approximately 360 students gave their lives in this movement. Although the Congress faced dissension within its ranks, its leadership stood against additional linguistic states, which were regarded as "anti-national." As a result, defectors from the Congress, led by M. Chenna Reddy, founded the Telangana People's Association (Telangana Praja Samithi). Despite electoral successes, however, some of the new party leaders gave up their agitation in September 1971 and, much to the disgust of many separatists, rejoined the safer political haven of the Congress ranks.

The emotions and forces generated by the movement were not strong enough, however, for a continuing drive for a separate state until 1990s when Bharatiya Janata Party, promised a separate Telangana state if they came to power. But the BJP could not create a separate Telangana state because of the opposition from its coalition partner, Telugu Desam Party. These developments brought new life into the separatist Telangana movement by year 2000. Congress party MLAs from the Telangana region, supported a separate Telangana state and formed the Telangana Congress Legislators Forum. In another development, a new party called Telangana Rashtra Samithi (or TRS) was formed with the single agenda of creating a separate Telangana state, with Hyderabad as its capital. Proponents of a separate Telangana state feel .. all the agreements, accords, formulas, plans and assurances on the floor of legislature and Lok Sabha, in last 50+ years, could not be honoured and Telangana was forced to remain neglected, exploited and backward. The experiment to remain as one State proved to be a futile exercise and therefore, separation is found to be the best solution.

In 2004, for Assembly and Parliament elections, the Congress party and the TRS had an electoral alliance in the Telangana region with the promise of a separate Telangana State. Congress came to power in the state and formed a coalition government at the centre. TRS joined the coalition government in 2004 and was successful in making a separate Telangana state a part of the common minimum program (CMP) of the coalition government. In September 2006 TRS withdrew support for the Congress led coalition government at the centre on the grounds of indecision by the government over the delivery of its electoral promise to create Telangana. In December 2006, the TRS won the by-election to the Karimnagar parliamentary constituency, which is considered by many as a referendum on a Telangana state, with a record margin. There was lot of pressure on the Congress party to create a Telangana state in 2008.

All TRS legislators in Parliament and in State (4MPs, 16MLAs, 3MLCs) resigned in the 1st week of March 2008 and forced by-elections which can be viewed as a referendum on a Telangana state, to increase the pressure on Congress party, and to intensify the movement. By-elections for the 16 MLA seats, 4 MP seats were held May 29, 2008. During the election campaign the TRS party said it is a referendum on a Telangana state but both Congress and TDP parties said it is not a referendum on Telangana and also said that they are not opposed to the formation of Telangana state. To the disappointment of Telangana proponents TRS retained only 7 out of 16 MLA seats and 2 out of 4 MP seats after the by-elections. Telangana proponents are also happy that all major parties in the state said that they are not opposed to the formation of separate Telangana state. In June 2008, Devender Goud, who is considered number two in the TDP, a politbureau member and Deputy Leader of the Telugu Desam Legislature Party, resigned from the party saying he would devote his time and energy to the formation of a separate Telangana state. In July 2008, Mr Goud along with some other leaders like Mr. E Peddi Reddy formed a new party called Nava Telangana Praja Party. On 9 October 2008, in a historical turnaround from its 26-year history TDP announced its support for the creation of Telengana.

The Nava Telangana Party, led by the former home minister of Andhra Pradesh, T Devender Goud, declared Telangana as a separate province within India on November 2, 2008. Konda Laxman Bapuji announced that "We solemnly declare statehood for Telangana on November 2, 2008." Goud released ten pigeons in the air symbolising the ten districts of the region, while he also unfurled the national flag on the occasion. Along with his party activists he was later arrested when they tried to barge into the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat to change the name plate from Andhra Pradesh to Telangana. A scuffle then followed between between the police and the NTP workers before the party workers were taken to the Chikkadapalli police station. Other NTP workers soon descended on the scene and staged a dharna clarification needed] to protest against the arrest.

Ahead of the 2009 General Elections in India all the major parties in AP supported Telangana state. Congress still says it is committed to Telangana statehood. But it does not have convinsing answer when it asked why it could not create Telangana state in last 5years. Also it claims muslim minorities are opposed to creation of separate state. TDP promised to work for Telangana statehood. TRS joined the Mahakutami (or grand alliance) with TDP and left parties to defeat congress party for cheating Telangana people on statehood. Praja Rajyam Party(PRP), newly founded by film star Chiranjeevi, too supports Telangana statehood. NTP merged with PRP after it realized that there is not enough political space for two sub-regional Telangana parties with Telananga statehood as main agenda. The BJP again announced their policy of having smaller states and will create 2 more states Telangana and Gorkhaland if they win the election. They also said that smaller states are better governed and developed."

Telanganan national flag

[Telangana] image by Chrystian Kretowicz, 13 April 2009

James B. Minahan (Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations - Ethnic and National Groups Around the World - volume IV) presents the flag of unspecified national movement: "The Telenganan national flag, the flag of the national movement, has four horizontal stripes of white, blue, orange and green". Although I couldn't find any other information about this particular flag, there is a similar one, reported by Jaume Ollé years ago in the Flag Bulletin, which has a configuration of four horizontal stripes in colors of light orange, blue, red and green.

As all the major parties in Telangana, both national and local support now the idea of statehood, their colors are taking on another dimension and could be the basis for the eventual state or "national" flag of the Telanganans in the near future.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 13 April 2009