telangana: a movement without a social agenda

it had discussed some social issues during the period of its evolution in the last 15 years, but has progressively abandoned all of them. b.s. ramulu, obc writer and activist ('Dalit Writers, Artists and Intellectuals of Telangana') records here a summary of the discussions, strategies, fortunes of the movement since 1995 till 2007 (it's a very long post). in an act of summing up the varied list of often contradictory perspectives and issues discussed over the years, in the course of the post, he refers to them very optimistically as ' many streams of thought are united and working in union with the Telengana movement'. the list:
1. The need to form small states for greater development and viability
2. Democratic Telengana slogan
3. Velama and Reddy view point
4. Geographical Telengana concept
5. Cultural Telengana
6. The perspective of Telengana Students, Youth and Unemployed
7. The issues of drinking and Irrigation waters
8. The unique historical aspects of Telengana and the separate identities of Telengana Culture and Literature
9. Globalization and Privatization perspectives
10. BC,SC,ST and the Bahujana Telengana view points
11. The aspects of Muslims and the Minorities
12. Mulki, Non-Mulki, Local, Non-local issues
13. Self-Rule, and Self Respect, and the administrative convenience issues
14. Demanding besides implementation of the 610 G.O, creation of jobs of 3 lakhs, and the establishment of educational institutions.
one immediately notices that i) social issues (a euphemism for caste/religious minorities related issues in polite discourse) rank very low in the list, and seemed to have got very little attention (only 2 out of 14 important issues) over nearly 15 years of deliberations. ii) one other important feature one notices is that this is a discussion of problems and issues rather than an exploration of solutions. because they had already decided on a solution and only later started exploring the problems that fit the solution!

feature (i) might look very surprising because many of the earliest supporters of the movement were obc and dalit activists, but it is not really. because most of them had worked for several years in various left groups (several cpi-ml parties) and their overground affiliates, civil rights groups and only later graduated towards dalit/anti-caste agendas. k.srinivasulu (dept of political science, osmania university) provides a very insightful analysis of the kind of resistance movements these veteran activists, mainly from northern telangana, could have been engaged in since the early '70s in this paper ( Caste, Class and Social Articulation in Andhra Pradesh: Mapping Differential Regional Trajectories- pdf)-- page 19:
The history of the CPI (ML)-led agrarian movement in Telangana in the post-Emergency period can be divided into two phases. In the first phase, i.e. 1977 to the early 1980s, the emphasis was on mass mobilisation and popular forms of protest around the issues of landlord oppression and coercion, the practice of vetti, land to the landless, usury, etc. The second phase, the beginnings of which can be traced to the 1970s and relied upon almost exclusively since the mid-1980s, was the armed struggle phase.

Although the beginnings of peasant unrest were visible in the early 1970s, it is only in the post- Emergency period that an increased and expanded mobilisation of the agrarian poor was witnessed in northern Telangana. The defeat of the Congress Party government at the centre, a sense of relief from eighteen long months of Emergency rule, during which even minimum democratic rights were denied, paved the way for popular assertions from below.18 Thus a new phase of agrarian political mobilisation took place in the late 1970s in the districts of north Telangana.

Critical to an understanding of this is the emergence of an educated section of the rural poor. While the developed coastal region has, in a substantive sense, produced two or three generations ofeducated lower class-castes, such as the OBCs and dalits, the rural lower class youth of the Telangana region entered the institutions of higher education for the first time only in the 1970s. This was due to the expansion of education, state support and scholarships to OBC, dalit and adivasi youth. These young people, for whom the oppressive conditions of the rural countryside were a matter of living experience, gravitated to radical politics in a significant way. The swelling of the ranks of the student and youth fronts of the CPI (ML) in the late 1970s was indicative of the restlessness of the post-Emergency phase of student politics in the State in general and in Telangana in particular. (KB, 1984; p.157)

The programme of the Gramalaku Taralandi or ‘Go to villages’ campaign, undertaken by the Radical Students Union (RSU), Radical Youth League (RYL) and the cultural front Jana Natya Mandali (JNM) to spread the message of agrarian revolution attracted these youths. Small groups comprising youths, students and cultural activists participated in this campaign. They moved from one village to another mingling with the rural poor, spreading the message through song, dance and speech. Rural folk forms were experimented with and brought into play in these campaigns. Similarities with the Telangana peasant struggle of 1940s were striking. These campaigns were instrumental not only in the spread of the movement but also in its consolidation through the establishment of the Rytu Coolie Sanghams (the peasant-landless poor organisations, RCS) in the villages.

By the end of the 1978, the RCS were established in most parts of Karimnagar district, Sircilla and Jagityal taluqs being the main centers. The RCS became instrumental in articulating the sharp polarisation that objectively existed in the countryside by organising the poor peasants, farm servants and agricultural labour against the landlords. Thus the RCS came to be seen as the organisational expression of the all the oppressed classes, especially the dalits in the countryside, capable of conducting a struggle against all forms of landlord class oppression.

Crucial to this phase of agrarian mobilisation was what has been described as Jaitra Yatra (Victory March). On 7 September 1978, more than 30,000 people from 150 villages, comprising farmservants, agricultural labourers and toiling peasants, were mobilised in a march to Jagityal town, which culminated in a huge public meeting.19 This was a turning point in the history of the peasant movement in Telangana. With this, new contacts were established, enthusiastic youths showed an interest in starting RCS units in their villages and the Jaithra Yatra was catalytic in the expansion of the organisational network and support bases for the agrarian struggle in the region.
their grooming in the various left movements, as you can see, still influences their views on caste and hence the low priority accorded to caste-related issues in the deliberations. b.s.ramulu, also from north telangana (jagtiyal), formulated the theory of a bahujana telangana, and some other activists also tried to infuse the movement with a caste or anti-caste consciousness, but they seemed to have been very feeble attempts, mere pleas to upper caste political bosses who joined the movement much later to increase representation for obcs and dalits in executive positions.

[more later].


anu said...


thanks for the link to Srinavaslu's paper, seems like a terrific one, particularly for those of us who know so little about the history of telengana movement. will go read now.


gaddeswarup said...

Read it again. A minor comment; the quote fromSrinivasulu's paper starts on page 19.

kuffir said...

thanks, swarup garu. corrected it.

Add to Technorati Favorites