separate telangana...from a safe distance

this post might not directly speak to non-telanganis and non-telugus..many would not be aware of the background, and the issues involved. but recent events in vidarbha - the suicides and the pm's visit and the despair of the people..and the machinations of politicians trying to reap something out of this unfolding tragedy took me back to a letter i'd written to mr.sudhir kodati, an official with the telangana development forum, an overseas organisation working towards the goal of a 'separate' telangana {please note: they're interested in a new telangana state, to be carved out of andhra pradesh..and not a separate nation}. i have a sizeable number of acquaintances among the 'separate telangana' crowd..some working at the political level, and some working outside india. i did not know mr.kodati ( but i knew people who knew him)..so i wrote to him around a year ago, when i read the appeal.., they'd presented to the pm, on his visit to new york in september, 2004. my letter, was actually written several months after the actual event..but the reality of nris in the u.s., directly involving themselves in ..politics in india, and its implications hit me only when i read the appeal..so i felt charged enough to pull up someone immediately..and hence this letter. i wrote it in an ...emotionally driven hour or two..and i'm posting it here for whatever it's worth. i don't regard it as a private communication, because it doesn't deal with any private/personal issues..it is a letter addressed to an organisation of nris (telanganis, so nrts) working for public causes, so i've no qualms in making it public. my views, as you will see, differ radically from the 'separatists',.. so, here is the full text of the letter..to which, may i add, i also received a reply:


'as a resident telangani, i thank you for your concern for our development. speaking for myself, i wish to respectfully decline your patronage and support. i fully agree with youthat there has been neglect and you have made an effective job of identifying the guilty. i wish to draw your attention to those who haven't been identified in your chargesheet: people without whose tacit approval, the said neglect would have been impossible. the central government and other institutions overseeing the delivery of justice in this countrycan and should rightly be accused of failing in their duties. as they have even failed intheir primary duty of ensuring the implementation of constitutional guarantees, their guilt is more deplorable. therefore, i respectfully urge you to raise the banner of a separate telangani nation as the indian state has gone back on the promises made when hyderabad state was forcefully annexed. the rationale you have laid out for the separation of telangana should, i believe, be carried to its logical conclusion. telangana, as you pointed out, has acharacter and a history of its own and it has very little in common with the rest of andhra pradesh, leave alone the rest of india. i implore you to give this issue your due consideration. and when you raise the banner of telangani nationhood, rest assured, i will be there behind you marching on the streets of storrs, connecticut or providence, rhode island. until then, you must forgive my delinquency.'

that was my letter, reproduced verbatim here, to your associate mr.madhu k.reddy, sent two weeks ago. mr.reddy, in his u.s. acquired wisdom, has chosen not to acknowledge my missive(i shudder to think about how attentive your cronies here in telangana would be when, or if, they come to power in a 'separated' telangana). his reaction is quite understandable, quite in keeping with the general indifference with which 'leaders' here in india tend to treat petitions from members of the great unwashed.why should they change when they don the mantle of leadership when abroad? i kept the tone of my letter deliberately servile (in the vein of peasants pleading with their doras for compassion.....kalmokkutha banchan) in order to drive home the glaring insincerity of nrts crying about injustice being done to telangana when they have already voted against telangana and india with their feet!

petitioning a sikh pm, who is probably as seized of the issue of telangana (and as knowledgeable) as comrade marshall stalin was in 1948 when a somewhat similar plea was made to him by members of the indian communist party, you have revealed the depth of, not your emotions, your own 'separation' from your moorings. why would a sikh pm pay any attention to a plaint of injustice from a minority community when he maintained a studied silence all through the 80s (when you and i were probably loafing it off in osman pasha's arts college) while members of his own community were being brutally suppressed for raising the banner of revolt? silence was a good career move for him then, considering his plans for an entry later into politics. just as ' telangana' is a good career move for guys of your ilk now - prepares the ground for a grand entry later into desi politics, right?

whatever be your intentions, i'm glad that you guys are concerned about the development of telangana - or is that just a reaction to the apparent prosperity of people of coastal andhra? because all your rationale, your evidence and your logic carries the subtext of being 'dominated', 'cheated', 'robbed' by the people from coastal districts. doesn't that sound like the whining of a weak, self-pitying and complaining child to you? where is the grand plan, the great vision you have for the development of telangana in your manifesto ? stripped of its overwhelming concern with 'injustice' ( andhraites seem to dominate your thinking here too) you have nothing to offer the telangana you forsook long ago. development? the pm would have been impressed if you guys had invested even a cent here in business. i would have been impressed if you had business interests in places where it matters the most, like say in other major towns, apart from hyderabad, like warangal or khammam or nizamabad or even siddipet....don't jump to the conclusion that i mean only monetary investments.

i've had the opportunity of working with businesses promoted by the much reviled andhraites in the pharma industry ( right down from dr.reddy's labs to the newest entrant in the industry) and i can tell you that they didn't invest much, by way of money that is, when they started out. what they invested was their undiluted interest, their willingness to commit honest mistakes and learn from them and the untested knowledge they had gained from education. of the twenty odd companies i had done business with only one was promoted by a telangani. a telangani who had come from a much more privileged background than dr.anji reddy himself (who was a small farmer's son, by the way, like most other andhra pharma entrepreneurs) and had great access to both political clout and money. his company folded up within two years of its launch. there was one other entrepreneur, son of a prominent minister in several governments, who i have heard of and don't personally know, from adilabad who was from a similar privileged background, and who duped apsfc of several crores before shutting down. yes, andhraites too have duped sfc...of much more money. but it only shows that they have tried more.
that's the scenario in the pharma industry, the only other industry apart from i t, which seems to be doing well here.

development, in my view, mr.sudhir, is not just about irrigation dams and ayacuts, it is about people. about educated people who are willing to invest their heart and soul in projects that require superhuman efforts to fructify. if you had been an entrepreneur here in the overregulated, infrastrustucturally bankrupt 70s and 80s you'd have appreciated that. you'd have appreciated it more if you had to wait years for a telephone connection for your factory in godforsaken narsapur. or for a simple dirt road to your neighbourhood in kukatpally from where you'd have to ride on scooters and travel in overcrowded buses to reach your workshop in jeedimetla. that's what the now successful andhraites have done. apart from, of course, looting and cheating telanganis as you so rightly point out. their sons now go to the u.s., to study and bring back more knowledge to their businesses. and loot and cheat telanganis more, perhaps.

development mr.sudhir is about doers not petitioners. your logic seems to suggest that once telangana is separated, development would happen automatically. once telangana is separated, you'd have a new set of complaints and a new list of 'cheats'. a separate telangana wouldn't lead to the automatic arrival of a new generation of doers. it wouldn't lead to any wonderful growth in new investments in industry or the services which are employers of the future. what it does for the rural economy would be marginal because agriculture is set to lose more and more jobs even if you manage to increase investments and raise productivity.

if a separate telangana is only about jobs in the government then it is doomed right from the start. increase jobs, or as the separatists seem to suggest, fill the posts left by the departing andhraites and you lead yourself into the death trap of never having any fiscal maneuvering power to invest substantially in anything faintly resembling development. no, mr.sudhir, a separate telangana , if it is going to have a criminally, large and cumbersome bureacracy just as a united andhra pradesh did, in order to accommodate the interests of a frustrated few it would be driving a nail in its own coffin.

i'm not finished, but i'm not sure whether you are going to read any more (if you have managed to read until now i'd be surprised). but i've decided to mail this letter to a few friends in the u.s.,(who had first mentioned your name to me by the way) in order to reach at least some telanganis, so that they would keep in mind the sentiments of the dissenting many in telangana when they make up their minds on the issue.it would also serve, i hope, as a record of sorts, of the opinion of an average dissenting telangani.

i'd appreciate a reply, but i don't expect it. because the issue of telangana, according to many knowledgeable people, should be decided by people with as little appreciation of it as possible, outside telangana, either in delhi or in the u.s.,


a resident telangani. "

i agree..it's a kind of a futile exercise.. but it did generate a response..which was ...hardly a response.. but about that, and my views on the issue of telangana..later,..if any of you who had the endurance to read through this post..is interested in my views, that is.

and btw..i don't really believe andhraites 'looted and cheated' telanganis.that's a crude generalisation. and it's not mine. as i said, the letter was written in a certain kind of moment..and its tone was mostly dictated by the audience it was sent to.
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