INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WAR – blogging naxalism.

Telangana as Farce

with 22 comments

Since my last post on the ongoing battle for an independent Telangana the story has taken a turn for the absurd. In early December, the central government unilaterally (and suddenly) declared their support for the creation of a new state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh, leading to anger and sporadic violence. Opponents of the decision were particularly concerned with the status of Andhra’s capital, the wealthy technology hub Hyderabad situated deep inside Telangana. After the resignations of a number of Congress politicians in protest at the decision, the central government backtracked and announced that Telangana would only come into being after a process of talks involving all of the local political parties. Again, this lead to violence and resignations, only this time by disappointed Telangana activists. The talks are scheduled to begin on 5 January.

The central government’s handling of the issue has been inept and farcical. First, by rushing through a unilateral decision on the creation of a new state, the government alienated much of the population of Andhra. Then, by backtracking on their decision, they effectively alienated and angered all of those who had supported the initial decision. It’s a mess. Furthermore, the decisions of the government have greatly strengthened the hand of the Maoists.  As this (excessively pessimistic) piece in Pragati states:

Telangana is not only being formed with the support of the Naxalites, but will be encompassing the districts that are their stronghold. The security situation is bound to worsen further.

Not only is the creation of Telangana a potential boon for the Maoists, the muddled process that has so far marked its birth is tailor-made for strengthening their position. The Maoists have strongly supported calls for an independent Telangana. The central government’s moves have created a volatile situation in the state marked by a high degree of political mobilisation. By supporting the pro-Telangana forces, the Maoists have positioned themselves as an armed and disciplined force which can help a popular movement struggle against the central government’s duplicity. They have, for example, already called for a general strike for the 2 January.

If the Maoists play their hand well, they will be in position to gain a tremendous goodwill and popular support by acting as a force which is willing to fight for the sentiments and aspirations of the local population. They will be in an even stronger position to capture the newly independent state once it is created. Delhi could not have created conditions more beneficial for the Naxalites had it been closely collaborating with the Maoist leadership.

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Written by Michael

January 1, 2010 at 5:39 pm

22 Responses

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  1. […] this article: Telangana as Farce « INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WAR- blogging naxalism. Share and […]

  2. Logical fallacy: Guilty by Association.

    Telangana people want statehood.

    Maoists want independent Telangana.

    That doesn’t make demand for Telangana a ‘Maoist demand’ or formation of the state a ‘Maoist success’.

    Idler

    January 2, 2010 at 7:24 am

    • No. You missed my point. I’m not at all making a guilt by association argument. The demand for an independent Telangana is, in fact, a ‘Maoist demand’. It’s a Maoist demand because the Maoists have called for it. I didn’t ever claim that it was only or exclusively a Maoist demand. It is also a popular demand by large segments of the region’s pop. as well as the region’s political elite. As for whether it’s formation would be a ‘Maoist success’, I am only making (an extremely reasonable) deduction that the Maoists would, more likely than not, reap significant benefits from an independent Telangana.

      Michael

      January 2, 2010 at 11:27 am

      • well,
        Can you give reasons and putforth an analysis how maoists would take over if telangana is separated?
        Why do you think Maoists are so big a power to reap benefits from separate telangana?
        Do not you think that your deduction is far from any reasons?
        If you have any valid ones, I am ready to critically analyze them. For if, do you really have any?

        sravan

        January 29, 2010 at 9:06 am

      • Hi Sravan,
        I appreciate your question and your passion. There are any number of reasons that the Maoists would benefit from a separate Telangana. To name a few:
        1) Much of the demand for a separate Telangana is economic. The argument that the region has been neglected by AP and, by getting their own state, development and funds would remain in the region. Really? Telangana is a historically poor part of the country. It seems that the expectations that people have (I’ll get a job when there’s a separate state!) are bound to be disappointed. Telangana will (at least the medium term) continue to be dirt poor. But, not only will it be dirt poor, the average person will be dirt poor, disgruntled and mobilised. Good for the Maoists.
        2) Borders, borders, borders. The Maoists love borders. As we’re seeing from Operation Green Hunt where the Jharkhand and Bihar governments are reluctant to participate, co-ordinating operations against them are infinitely more difficult the more states they are. You’ll recall that when AP pushed them out of Warangal, they ended up in Bastar.
        3) Lack of governance experience. If Telangana gains independence, it’s police forces, judiciary, bureaucracy, will need time to develop. Initially, it will be a weak state. Great for the Maoists who are eagerly awaiting the end of the Greyhound era in the region.

        I could go on….
        Miichael

        Michael

        February 23, 2010 at 9:11 pm

      • you might have been misguided by the interpretations of andhra dominated media on the Job aspirations of telangana people. No one in telangana is, as you might have conjecturally derived, doing this as an exercise to find a job in immediate aftermath.
        The reason why most telangana people rhetorically address jobs is that historically in the past 60 years, lakhs of state govt. jobs that actually are supposed to be allotted to telangana local people were disproportionately given to andhra people by unfair means. For instance the Bharghava committee reported that between 1975 and 1985 about 125000 jobs were allotted in this way by unfair means.
        So you can imagine what was the situation before 1969 uprising.
        Moreover, all these andhra people who settled in telangana by getting jobs through unfair means have over the time became legal residents. They are missing from this list. Their children were counted as locals and the generations of actual telangana people were left out as laborers and unemployed emigrants in dubai and mumbai.
        It is a rhetoric to express this facts when some one says that they will get jobs in separate telangana. You somehow missed the subtle but the darkest truth of Telangana marginalization behind it.

        sravan

        February 24, 2010 at 6:25 pm

      • You’re right. I’m not on the ground (although I have a few Hyderabad friends I’m in touch with, none of them particularly invested in either side of the dispute). I’m hardly relying on the Andhra media since I can’t read Telugu. My information is largely from the international media and the Delhi/Bombay-centric English national press. Your response begs a few questions:
        1) Will the economy of Telangana improve (even in the medium-term) as a result of statehood? If yes, why?
        2) What, in your estimation, are the expectations post-statehood? Not only amongst the Telangana political elite and the urban students, but also among the rural population that has been mobilised?
        3) What would you suggest should happen to those who aren’t ‘true’ locals? Sounds like a Shiv Sena argument. Are you suggested that Indians don’t have a right to live wherever they want?
        4) Hyderabad. Why should the people of Hyderabad necessarily be a part of an independent Telangana? Yeah, it’s in the region, but is it really culturally part of Telangana?
        Michael

        Michael

        February 24, 2010 at 6:34 pm

      • I am sorry I replied in the wrong section. Please take some efforts to scroll up to read my responses to your above comments.

        And coming to hyderabad, the culture is typical cosmopolitan for ages. It provided the ground for the development of satellite towns and cities in the telangana districts. It has been for 400 years the cultural and political center of Telangana. We cannot disown Delhi as Capital just because it is urbanized compared to 70% of rural India. Would you??
        And separating hyderabad from telangana helps nobody. Telangana would loose its nerve center and its ray of hope. Andhra which is widely separated from hyderabad would have no benefits. Most importantly hyderabad would loose it hinterland support, the regions engulfed by the city during its astronomical growth in 20th century.

        That is a very wrong notion that has been propagated in Andhra. Even the so called settlers have already shown solidarity towards telangana movement.
        These were the same kind of rumors that used to fly around in 1970’s(from the news papers of that era). Ironically the movement of Andhra into telangana became 10 fold after the 1969 uprising. And I bet if there were any serious violence against them in the recent days. The most prominent attacks were on those movie buffs who openly commented support for telangana and later made a volte face. Not only that they ran a tirade against the telangana movement later.
        Other than that there were very few isolated incidents that came into light. And no wonder why the andhra mediated media would not hide those incidents given that they are hell bent to discredit the movement. They are ones who are going to face the brunt of violence if at all any. But that is a mere speculation. And law and order in its place and with a separate state I think people would be more satisfied than any thing.
        The only chance is that if some political party(mainly congress) takes the advantage of these rumors to provocate violence.
        More over telangana and hyderabad were always welcome to outsiders. They openly allowed several immigrants from all over india to settle in telangana during the early 1950’s.
        Unlike Bangalore and Mumbai, not a single incident to date has come to my knowledge where settlers were attacked or robbed. This happened several times in Bangalore and Mumbai in the past 60 years.
        I would like to provide you with an excerpt from “City I knew” essay from renowned director SHyam Benegal who was born and grew up in hyderabad.

        sravan

        February 24, 2010 at 7:26 pm

      • I’m sorry. I deleted your excepts. It took too much space in the comment section. If you have a link to the text, please post it.

        Michael

        February 24, 2010 at 8:19 pm

      • Actually I recovered it from a blog post comments. Here is the link.
        “click here”

        sravan

        February 24, 2010 at 8:56 pm

      • I noticed that your comment editor do not support html tags.
        So I am just pasting the link right away. Copy and paste it in the browser.

        http://tinyurl.com/yfg635v

        sravan

        February 24, 2010 at 8:58 pm

      • Well you can say the same like this.
        Demand for an telangana state(do you really think telangana people are fighting for separate nation????), is infact a people’s demand. It is people’s demand because almost all telangana people wish to separate. Their demand is just because the alliance based on an agreement is invalid when the terms of agreement are blatantly disrespected.
        However it is also a demand put forth by Maoist and they have already declared their respect to the people’s demand. Maoist’s claim that they are supporting telangana separation because it is the demand of “all classes” of people in telangana. So by their own principles, Maoists had to concede to people’s demand(It is the old communist philosophy, however maoists have difference of opinion with other communists on the methods to achieve it).
        And regarding your deduction I would be pleased if you can answer the questions I posed before.

        sravan

        January 29, 2010 at 1:52 pm

      • You have a very sanguine view of the Maoists. Are you saying that they just ”respond’ to the people’s demands?

        Michael

        February 23, 2010 at 9:12 pm

      • I am sorry that you thought it that way. I do not have any inclination towards the Maoists or their means of achieving what they call social equality. Social equality is what all the economic systems including capitalistic economy portends to achieve at least in theory.
        If you focus on any movements that may be anarchist or peaceful movements, all have an agenda, a goal that promises some kind of rectification of past injustice. These agenda’s they put forward in to public noise is essentially always altruistic. Even if their actual intent is to take leverage of the situation and get profitable. Or most of the times the movement gradually metamorphose into a corrupt and opportunistic. This is true in most cases of extreme leftist movements that have gained prominence in 1960’s. Maoist movement in India is one of them. I come from a place in telangana where when I was a kid people used to treat Naxals as some kind of Robinhood. This slowly changes as I grew up and I still remember the gory incident in my childhood when these very people’s friendly naxalites killed 50 innocent people by burning a moving train.
        Similar incidents followed each year and slowly the so called robin hood image was replaced with a brutal opportunist.

        sravan

        February 24, 2010 at 9:17 pm

  3. […] I took flak for implying that the movement for a separate Telangana state would objectively benefit the […]

  4. You seem to be looking at the Maoists as a separate entity, something of a race.
    Your imagination is far from the truth. The Maoist insurgency in telangana is a manifestation of underdevelopment. And whether you believe it or not, the most feared person in telangana(not just the interiors)for decades was a police man. Because every person knew that a Maoist is not going to attack him unless he is targeted for unruly business practice or unless he is a corrupt official or if he is a long gone feudal lord(I doubt if that really exists today). And no marks for guessing who were recruited as police officers in telangana back then.
    This notion started to blur in early 1990’s when the unruly and corrupt leadership slowly engulfed the Maoists. And by late 1990’s both Maoists and the Police were equally feared. This situation has drastically affected the caders of Maoists. Along with it the increased police actions in deeper forests rooted them out by 2004.
    And it is your misinterpretation that the naxalites from warangal are pushed into Bastar. Maoist movement was very much active in these remote districts of Madhya Pradesh since ages. The Naxalites from, telangana whatever caders remained, moved to hide in Nallamalla in Andhra region and Manyam of Coastal districts.
    Things have eased up after 2004, with police having little to do and most of the forces withdrawn, the telangana people for the first time after 40 years breathed the air of freedom. Freedom from fear of police or Naxalites. This freedom and courage is the reason why today you see villagers fighting against the injustice done to them in all these 60 years of Andhra Pradesh.

    sravan

    February 24, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    • I’m not at all looking at the Maoists as a separate entity. I agree with nearly everything you’ve said (with the exception of your claim that they weren’t *mostly* pushed into Bastar… my interviews with police, NGOs, Salwa Judum, villagers and Maoist fighters in Chhattisgarh and Warangal suggests otherwise). Yeah, Telagana, next to W. Bengal, has always been a hotbed of resistance. And the police (and the state) have behaved like thugs. No question. And, yeah, the Maoist movement exists largely because of injustice. But, this is only part of the story. And, the simple narrative of them being noble and virtuous fighters for social justice is bellied by the facts in areas they control…. their rule has been marked by brutality and collusion with vested economic and political interests. They are also tactically opportunistic. So, yeah, it’s complicated. The only claim I have made is that the Telangana agitation (as it has unfolded) will benefit the Maoists. I’ve not claim whether that would be good or bad.

      Michael

      February 24, 2010 at 6:49 pm

  5. Andhra media is pervasive in India and has better representation than that of telangana, given the backwardness of its people.

    You may not be aware of things that are taking place in the villages of telangana today. But every day, whether it may be a Dhoom Dham( a dance program in the main streets) or a Dharna(collective protest),all the villages in telangana are expressing their demand for a separate state. But instead of reporting these things in mainstream media they are simply tucked into local district editions. But whenver something big, loud and violent (but incidentally a not very often) happens it is reported as reemergence of Telangana agitation. This is the state of the Indian media today that is covering the telangana movement.

    Whatever may be the state of the media response, telangana people have heightened political awareness and knowledge on democratic means of achieving growth. This was clearly absent in 1969 when about 400 people were killed in a afternoon shoot out in middle of hyderabad to suppress the movement(Some thing more brutal than Tienanmen square incident). This awareness and heightened political consciousness would be the starting flames for better development. And I need not explain to you why smaller administrative divisions would bring better political representation and governance at the state level. Now telangana need not abide by the laws that favor andhra region at the cost its own resources.

    For example, before the two regions were merged, telangana had several river water projects in planning interlaced with projects in Andhra, Karnataka and Maharashtra. After merging telangana by dividing erstwhile hyderabad state into three regions most projects were abandoned by the respective state govts. Andhra was lucky to avoid any disputes that would have arised from hyderabad state. Karnataka simply chaged the projects of hyderabad to only supply its own share of area received. Telangana on the whole was the worst sufferer. All the projects in andhra were completed in haste while telangana’s major project SRSP and projects in Mahboobnagar and on Bheema were indefinitely delayed.
    Result was that,when in 1969 Krishna water tribunal distributed water on “equitable apportionment” the andhra gained reparian rights on a major share of water due to completeness of its projects.

    sravan

    February 24, 2010 at 6:57 pm

  6. If telangana forms, the infrastructure that has been in place will remain. Having the capital with in its region largely helps to boost its development in the quarters that have been marginalized for decades. Telangana is abundant in resources, especially the coal which supplies most power projects in Andhra Pradesh today.
    The due share in water resources that telangana lost as part of much larger AP due to inequitable appropriation between the regions of the state would be regained.
    You may not know but, telangana revenues are 69% of total AP revenues. Most of it is spent in andhra and rayalaseema. You might be astonished to note that, in 1960’s AP govt. argued with planning commission to marginalize telangana over andhra in fundings because telangana before the merger was a surplus region and andhra was in debt.
    The picture has totally reversed in the past 50 years, all the telangana districts today are in BRGY and YSYY sections of Planning commission.

    sravan

    February 24, 2010 at 7:05 pm

  7. Miachel, I appreciate your work, But you are absolutely Naive On Telangana.

    <<< (I’ll get a job when there’s a separate state!) are bound to be disappointed.

    Thats how the National media is projecting it and I dont blame you for that, But Knowing the quality of Main Stream Indian Media, I urge you to follow more Independent Journals like Thelka.

    And about the Security Situation:
    The State of Andhra Pradesh Succeeded extremely well in Crushing all Maoist Activity, But if the Telangana Agitation continues all that will be undone, Currently the State is in utter Chaos and the Heavy handed Tactics the Police are Using to Control the Protestors are Inviting the Ire of Telangana people.
    May be You missed the Statement of "KCR" the current leader of the Telangana agitation
    <<<WE WILL ENFORCE THE AGENDA OF NAXALS IN THE NEW STATE OF TELANGANA.

    If he does, he will be hijacking the cause of Naxals.

    aditya

    January 18, 2011 at 11:20 am

  8. 1) Will the economy of Telangana improve (even in the medium-term) as a result of statehood? If yes, why?

    80% of the Krishna and Godavari in APflow through Telangana but , it doesnt even Utilise 30% of the water of the total AP, Huge Irrigation Projects are supposed to be started years ago but the Construction stopped, If started it will revive the mostly agraraian economy of Telangana.

    2) What, in your estimation, are the expectations post-statehood? Not only amongst the Telangana political elite and the urban students, but also among the rural population that has been mobilised?

    People from Coastal Andhra fill up all the seats in colleges of most top colleges in Telangana, if state forms we will get a fair share, The lands in and around Hyderabad are bought up by Andhra settlers making them unaffordable for telanganites, Telangana gets only 17% of the Canal Irrigation though its population is 44% so more water for Crops.

    3) What would you suggest should happen to those who aren’t ‘true’ locals? Sounds like a Shiv Sena argument. Are you suggested that Indians don’t have a right to live wherever they want?
    The current Telangana agitation by Some estimates is the largest non-violent Civil Movement ,Post 1947, You have to Understand that Emotions Run High and So Far 400 people killed themselves protesting delay in the state formation, But Unlike Shiv Sena So far No Coastal Andhra Settlers were attacked, some times Angry Students make some Statements but the TRS party Made promise to Protect Non-locals.

    4) Hyderabad. Why should the people of Hyderabad necessarily be a part of an independent Telangana? Yeah, it’s in the region, but is it really culturally part of Telangana?

    Telangana is already an impoverished Region and Contains 9 Most Backward Districts Out of 35 in the total Country as Classified by Central govt Funds allocation program.
    How do You think Separating Hyderabad which has 45% GDP of the Region will effect the Hinterland, Naxals will have Recruitment Bonanza in Telangana hinterland, I thought you were a Naxal Expert?.

    Hyderabad Has a Distinct Culture , So is Mumbai , Bangalore, Culcutta, By your Cultural logic every major Comsmpolitan Indianc city will have to be made a Union territory.

    aditya

    January 18, 2011 at 11:41 am


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