'jai andhra' movement: does it have a social agenda?

self impression

wherever sound loses
silence wins
after digging for many days
your hands may become sore
but your eyes moisten
soon as you see a little water.

returning from cutting ribbons at all doors
i realized i had not opened the door to my own room
someone's calling me, repeatedly,
i thought i was being called
i realized later that they were calling themselves.
whenever i climbed up
they invited me with applause
but when i started for the next step
i heard someone asking me to step down.

i roamed all over the garden
a jasmine creeper caught my eye
it had its own personality
whatever it clung to was covered
it could look at the world on its own.
i will win the whole world
some victor
would arrive and win me,
it's useless

first, i will
win myself
i'll run the world.

that's my translation of katti padma rao's sweeya mudra ( from his collection of poetry bhoomi bhasha). padma rao is a dalit poet, telugu and sanskrit scholar, and activist-theorist whose hands have grown immensely sore with years and years of digging in and fighting caste from countless trenches across coastal andhra and the rest of the state. so, why is he fighting for a narrow, sub-regional cause now? the 'jai andhra' movement wants a separate state comprising coastal andhra and...? it's not clear whether they want north coastal andhra (3 districts) and rayalaseema (4 districts) to go along with them. or whether people of those regions want to go along with the 'jai andhra' agitators. many political leaders of rayalaseema want andhra pradesh to remain united, and if it's divided, they want a separate rayalaseema too, or even tag along with telangana. and as padma rao himself has admits in this interview, most of the political leadership and public opinion in coastal andhra (including north coastal andhra) and rayalaseema are in favour of 'samaikyandhra' or a united andhra pradesh:
What do the people of Coastal Andhra want?
Many are supporting Samaikyandhra due to several apprehensions. They need clear answers to certain questions - Will the new state be bound by Bachawath award on river waters? Will the Telangana doras let river water to flow towards the people in Coastal Andhra? There are 30 lakh middle class people from Andhra in Hyderabad. Only a hundred among them are exploiters. Every Telangana MP, including KCR has good connections with them. Telangana leaders say that these exploiters will be welcomed whole heartedly to invest here. Selfish people exist on both sides. KCR and Lagadapati are good friends. We want separate Andhra, irrespective of the formation of Telangana state.
does he have to fight for a separate andhra? if telangana is separated from andhra pradesh, what would remain is the old andhra state, comprising coastal andhra, north coastal andhra and rayalaseema. so, why does anyone need a separate agitation to fight for a separate andhra when they could as well join or support the separate telangana movement? one can think of a few reasons:

* because the overwhelming majority of the people in coastal andhra, rayalaseema and north coastal andhra support a united andhra pradesh and hence need to be convinced of the merits of bifurcation, as the jai andhra agitators see them?
* because the 'jai andhra' activists feel coastal andhra ( excluding rayalaseema, which was a part of the old andhra state) would develop faster in a separate state of its own?
* because the 'jai andhra' activists feel a particular region in coastal andhra ( excluding north coastal andhra, and comprising east and west godavari, krishna, guntur, prakasam and nellore districts) would develop faster in a separate state of its own?

the jai andhra movement doesn't seem to have decided on a region, or society, it should fight for. does it have a social agenda? katti padma rao had been one of the main architects of the dalit movement in andhra pradesh, had set its tone and tenor in the 80s, its agenda. but the agenda, if any, of the jai andhra movement hasn't been set by padma rao, but by certain upper caste politicians from the krishna-godavari region in coastal andhra: vasantha nageshwara rao and harirama jogaiah, senior politicians who have moved through so many political parties and factions in the last thirty years that the general public doesn't attribute any particular political agenda to them anymore. nor can they win from any constituencies in their home districts on the strength of their past performance as legislators or ministers. while fighting caste has been katti padma rao's lifelong mission, harirama jogaiah and nageshwara rao believe strongly in fighting for castes, or their own individual castes. harirama jogaiah has only talked about the kapus, for several years now, and had played a pivotal role in persuading chiranjeevi to enter politics and lead the kapu nation, or kapu nadu. the kapus, a large collection of peasant sub-castes, have long nursed the 'grievance' that no politician from their caste has ever occupied the chief minister's chair since the formation of andhra pradesh. there have been chief ministers from the reddies, kammas, and velamas: why should the kapus be denied? so dragging chiranjeevi into politics was part of that project. that's jogaiah's social agenda.

what's vasantha nageshwara rao's social agenda? a revival of kamma fortunes? it's even less inspiring. so, again, what's katti padma rao doing in the jai andhra camp, among people closer to the perpetrators of karamchedu and chunduru than the victims of both tragedies?

it was katti padma rao, and a few others, who'd been the driving force behind the protest movements of karamchedu and chunduru, in bringing together dalit leaders, activists and ordinary people from across andhra pradesh to take the voices of the victims to delhi, and to the rest of the country.

balagopal, in the august 15, 1987 issue of the economic and political weekly writes (in the article 'Karamchedu: Second Anniversary') :
The movement was fortunate in having from the start two leaders who were well known and respected in their own Tight for many years before Karamchedu. They are Katti Padma Rao and Bojja Tarakam, currently general secretary and president of the Mahasabha, respectively. Padma Rao belongs to the tradition of organised rationalism that has long been a signifi- cant movement in South India. Rationa- list and atheist associations-for all their dissensions and splits-have a sizeable membership and a larger audience, especially in the coastal Andhra districts. Padma Rao, who teaches Sanskrit (a peculiarly appropriate vocation for a dalit and a rationalist) in a college in Guntur district, is a leading rationalist, and within the rationalist movement has been a spokesman for the Marxist approach to the criticism of religion. Tarakam was even closer to the Communist movement, and was for some time an activist of Virasam, the Revolutionary Writers' Association of A P. As a lawyer, he was active in the civil liberties movement in the state, until he accepted a government pleader's job in 1983 and quit active association with the democratic movement.

Karamchedu brought these two men into the streets. Tarakam resigned his government pleader's job and Padma Rao more or less suspended teaching to settle down at Chirala and organise the victims of the assault, who have refused to go back to the village and have built a colony for themselves at Chirala. Slowly, the protest against a particular assault built itself into the Dalit Mahasabha, whose formation on September 1, was attended by about three lakh dalits and sympathisers. [emphasis mine].
K.Y.Ratnam also notes at some length, in the paper 'The Dalit Movement and Democratization in Andhra Pradesh' (you'll find the paper here), how katti padma rao had filled a crucial theoretical and leadership gap in the dalit movement in andhra pradesh in the aftermath of karamchedu, when widespread anger combined with despair was spreading across the community in general and the protesters in particular. he had helped the movement gain a new direction and much needed vigour, to put it very mildly.

so, what is he doing in the 'jai andhra movement' now? a movement without any identifiable social agenda? perhaps, you could say, padma rao's presence is the movement's only social agenda. has katti padma rao allowed himself to be 'won' by some passing 'victors'? does he plan to 'win himself' and 'run the world' ever?

more later.


the hindu problem

It is usual to hear all those who feel moved by the deplorable condition of the Untouchables unburden themselves by uttering the cry "We must do something for the Untouchables". One seldom hears any of the persons interested in the problem saying ' Let us do something to change the Touchable Hindu '. It is invariably assumed that the object to be reclaimed is the Untouchables. If there is to be a Mission, it must be to the Untouchables and if the Untouchables can be cured, untouchability will vanish. Nothing requires to be done to the Touchable. He is sound in mind, manners and morals. He is whole, there is nothing wrong with him. Is this assumption correct ? Whether correct or not, the Hindus like to cling to it. The assumption has the supreme merit of satisfying themselves that they are not responsible for the problem of the Untouchables.

How natural is such an attitude is illustrated by the attitude of the Gentile towards the Jews. Like the Hindus the Gentiles also do not admit that the Jewish problem is in essence a Gentile problem.
from here.

time to recognize that the dalit problem or the muslim problem or the adivasi problem or caste problem is essentially the hindu problem. how much has india progressed since dr.ambedkar identified the hindu problem? well, it is more politically correct now: the caste problem is now the problem of 'excellence' and 'merit', the adivasi problem is the 'internal security' or the 'maoist' or the 'development' problem, the dalit problem is the 'poverty' or inequality' problem, and the muslim problem is the 'terrorist' or 'pakistan' problem.

and how does brahminized or hindu india deal with all those problems? tell itself that those problems are smaller than, say, the 'telangana' problem.


democracy is also jantar mantar

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed at the admission stage a writ petition for a direction to the Centre and Andhra Pradesh to implement the provisions of the 1956 Gentlemen's Agreement of Andhra Pradesh.

A Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice Deepak Verma dismissed the petition filed by one M. Narasimha Swamy of Hyderabad, seeking enforcement of the Agreement contending that it had been violated.

The petitioner submitted that the Gentlemen's Agreement provided safeguards with the purpose of preventing discrimination against Telangana by the Andhra Pradesh government.

“The alleged violations of this Agreement are cited as one of the reasons for the demand for separate statehood for Telangana.”
you've probably heard the argument that the maoists are not involved in the separatist movement. and that's very true, in my view. the maoists are quite busy right now in various other states. but would the maoists agree with the argument that global corporations aren't involved in the war in chhattisgarh or orissa?

the maoist contempt for parliamentary democracy, or 'bourgeois democracy', is well known. don't you notice strong traces of that contempt in the lawyer's petition before the supreme court?

the maoists have gone over to chhattisgarh and places further east, but if you listen closely you can still hear the ringing echoes of their voices in telangana. a telugu saying tells you, roughly: the husband turns into the wife and vice versa after living together for some time. telangana has lived with maoists for over forty years, it's not unreasonable to expect maoist thought to have left its traces. and the maoists are a political party, and they've every right to propagate their views, and not only because they have a lot of reasonable things to say. and i don't find anything wrong with others expressing those views, or the separatists expressing those views.

elections in a parliamentary democracy, as the maoists say, might only produce legislatures which endorse and work for the interests of the ruling classes. but do the lawyers, professors and politicians from mainstream political parties now leading the separatist movement, who want a parliamentary solution to the problem, also believe in what the maoists say? if yes, haven't they chosen the wrong solution to the problem?

from prof.jayashankar to the abvp hoods gheraoing film stars to make them chant 'jai telangana', everyone of the separatists has expressed, at various times, the view that the 15 elections to the state assembly held since 1956 did not reflect popular opinion in telangana. you might think they all believe in a 'new democratic revolution'. but no, they don't all believe in maoist ideology, it's only their political language that seems unable, anymore, to rise above the grammar and idiom set by the maoists. and there are many among them who don't wish to rise above that grammar. and the contagion seems to have spread too: in arundhati roy's 'lovely, 'beautiful' and 'fabulous' chhattisgarh, you hear the same ringing echoes.

in one place, roy asks, something like: should the adivasis have sat in a dharna near jantar mantar?

no, but i expect people like roy to sit in a dharna near jantar mantar. people like vara vara rao and prof.hara gopal to sit in a dharna near jantar mantar. i know, they've tried those things a lot of times, but you can't expect all the 'biggest internal security threats' to take up guns and die all the time. it's okay for the sections of the brahminized classes supporting 'democratic protests' to continue to preach contempt for electoral democracy and jantar mantar because all they need to do is produce evocative prose about how 'lovely', 'beautiful' and 'fabulous' those struggles and deaths were, either in telangana or chhattisgarh, not a hair on their own carefully disturbed heads disturbed. but should they continue to disparage jantar mantar, and jeopardize so many dalitbahujan lives, only because they've a difference of opinion with people from their own baradari like manmohan singh or whoever on who should have a right to loot chhattisgarh or telangana: the government owned companies and babus or private corporations and babus? because the bauxite in chhatisgarh, for instance, shall continue to be prized as 'national' wealth, by a socialist or a liberalized india, no matter what. wouldn't it be nice if they could spare a thought for those 'lovely', 'beautiful', 'fabulous' strugglers, once in a while?

so, why don't they keep trying those dharnas at jantar mantar? because they can always return to india international centre in the evening (and not forget to take their cousins, the maoist bosses and their corporate counterparts, along with them) and continue the debate in cooler climes, over wine and whatever, with montek singh ahluwalia or p.chidambaram. and the impure masses, in telangana or chhattisgarh, can stop expressing their 'democratic aspirations' through their deaths, rather than their votes.


telangani steel

Bangalore: Call it the search for the leadership particle. What was the magic behind Tipu Sultan’s sword? How was it crafted from the earth?

Researchers from Bangalore-based National Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS) and UK’s Exeter University are tracing the origins of the metal used to make the Sultan’s sword, which was known for its toughness due to high carbon content.

Wootz steel, an exceptional iron ore grade which was first made in South India around 300 BC, is said to have originated in Telangana, between Hyderabad and Nizamabad.

“The high carbon content, which provides extra strength to the metal, was exported to Europe in the 17th century from Telangana. However, the production and technology have died down in the area. Our research is an attempt to revive ancient Indian metallurgy,” says the lead investigator, Sharada Srinivasan, who is also an NIAS faculty member.

The team has already interviewed traditional blacksmiths and the descendants of the last smelters of the region.

Wootz steel is the primary component of Damascan steel which was used to make the popular Damascus swords. Syrian blacksmiths used wootz steel slabs to produce extraordinary steel weaponry during the middle ages.
not just tipu, saladin too probably used a sword made with telangani steel. think of that. why didn't the professors think of it? telangani steel industry collapsed because of the andhraite rule, obviously.


sharad yadav typifies all obcs....?

neerja chowdhury mulling over the hindu women's reservations bill, in the indian express:
It goes without saying that if an OBC male can win from a constituency because of a combination of caste and other alliances at the ground level, the party should be able to get an OBC woman elected for the same reason, if that constituency becomes reserved. There is little chance of a parkati urban woman from Delhi or Mumbai winning from Mainpuri or Madhepura.
can't decide which one among those lines, thoughts, is the least offensive.


politics is so impure

k.g.kannabiran on the demand for a telangana state:
THE Telangana people’s demand for a separate State is a very constitutional one.
true. it is also relevant here to refer to what dr.ambedkar had to say about the insertion of the article 3:
Article 3 of the Constitution gives power to Parliament to create new States. This was done because there was no time to reorganize the States on linguistic basis for which there was a great demand.
back to kannabiran's article:
Very often public disorder is caused by bad governance and the movement for a separate Telangana was the direct consequence of flagrant and culpable indifference to Article 38 (2) which reads: ``The State shall, in particular, strive to minimize inequalities of status, facilities and opportunities, not only amongst individuals, but also amongst groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.’’ Failure to perform this obligation for over a period of sixty years gives us the right to ask for a separate State. Telangana has again raised the issue of rethinking a federal structure that would be manageable.
the people of telangana hadn't judged the governance in andhra pradesh through fifteen elections since 1956, correctly.
Article 3 of the Constitution of India provides for the formation of a separate State. The process has to be initiated by public demand. Now that there is a demand that formation of Telangana State be conceded -- and there is enough evidence on the ground that this is necessary -- the rest of the administrative processes can be dealt with by the Committee headed by Justice Srikrishna.
again, the people aren't the right judge of what is 'public demand' in telangana. only the separatists are.
We need to question the terms of reference set out for the committee, as it is not in order for the Government to ask the committee to go into the feasibility of a separate State. The constitution of the committee itself is recognition of the fact that the demand for Telangana is a legitimate one. Had this not been the case, this struggle would have been suppressed and ignored like other mass struggles. Paradoxically, although this struggle has been violently suppressed, it has not been possible for the government to ignore it. And this points to the recognition of legitimacy in the demand for a separate Telangana by the State.
there were around a hundred suicide attempts during the first anti-mandal agitation. a mass struggle?
In anticipation of situations where public demand might force re-examination of governance, the Forty-Second Constitutional Amendment introduced Part IV A, setting out the Fundamental Duties of Citizens, which, like the Directives, while not enforceable in courts, cannot be ignored in governance either.

In assessing the conduct of citizens and in assessing the character of the claims of citizens, the Fundamental Duties set down the permissible limits of governance and citizens’ claims. Such assessments lead to the evolution of constitutional culture.

Article 51 A (e) of the Constitution reads: ``To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people in India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities.’’ Large States contain large pockets of backward regions, which are largely neglected and do not receive the attention they are entitled to under the equality code of the Constitution.
kannabiran seems to have forgotten that the separatists have mostly shifted gear now: their demand for a separate telangana now harps on the theme of 'self-respect' and not 'backwardness'.
In all these years of the Constitution, we have not developed a constitutional morality or culture that enables us to act effectively on issues of plural societies that confront us from time to time.
The failure to comprehend the reasons for a separate State for Telangana may be attributed to the failure to understand the workings of plural governance.

Although the State of Andhra Pradesh was formed in 1953 on linguistic grounds, one of the principal grounds for a demand for a separate State was the uneven development of the Andhra region in relation to the Tamil region. This was done without the matter being referred to a States Reorganization Commission, which came into being after the Andhra State was formed.

The resistance of the government to conceding the demand for a separate state of Telangana raises for consideration the issue of citizenship and the rights that arise from it. We must remind ourselves that the inauguration of the Constitution represents the transition of Indian people from subjects to citizens who bear rights, vote and voice.

again, it wasn't the citizens of telangana who voiced their opinions in the last 15 elections?

another lawyerly voice, like this one. and in all these lawyerly voices, and in the professorial voices, and in the voices of the many rights' activists, you notice a barely concealed patronizing air, directed towards those among the great unwashed who commit the cardinal sin of voting, on the one hand, and a not so barely concealed contempt for those who get elected. the upper caste, educated middle classes of india grow more and more intolerant towards elections and politicians as yadav after yadav, or mayawati after paswan begin to claim more and more political space. politics is becoming so impure!

sad that kannabiran chooses to make this purely legalistic argument. like so many of the other, but much less credible, supporters of separation.

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