A very nice blog on the Telangana Movement and my response to it: http://yemanna.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/telangana-regional-identity-and-the-telugu-language/
Great research work done on getting some facts straight on the language and culture based issues dogging Andhra Pradesh. While I appreciate the great call you have made for all Telugus to be truly united irrespective of their cultural or political roots, I feel driving the need for such unity falls outside the periphery of Lok Satta or any political establishment for that matter. Democracy as a system thrives in an egalitarian system of governance and society. If you go back to the modern roots of democracy based on Roman doctrines for governance or way back into Chanakya’s rules of governance in the Arthashastra, you will see that spelled out wide and clear.
However, the irony that several people don’t realize is that, this very egalitarianism cannot survive when the divergent forces of diversity tend to pull a politically bonded society in different directions. In other words-race, caste, language, religion etc. are not uniting but only discriminating forces acting against egalitarianism, especially if they are serving a purpose beyond the rudimentary basics they are meant for. While I believe every language (or dialect) has its own beauty and cultural significance that must not only be appreciated but celebrated, if it goes beyond its basic purpose in life- i.e. to communicate in society- it starts creating a ‘you vs me’ mentality. That is basic human nature. This has been beautifully explained by Dr. JP in the succinct message he shared.
Due to the way we are taught our history in schools and our own reluctance to unlearn what we agreed to accept as kids, we fail to realize the true functioning of democracies. More so, we fail to realize that India as a country is a political creation that began to take shape when the British started mapping out their colonial conquests. The Indian Union of today was an uneasy relationship accepted by Nehru’s visionary team after our independence.
In a tremendously diverse nation like India, pursuing these egalitarian ideals of democracy meant that there was a need for some form of standardization (or commonality) to be carved out of India. This took the form of a national language in Hindi which wasn’t widely used before, a common macro-cultural identity based on the roots of Hinduism and Islam and so on. Every state in India was also formed with a largely inefficient but standardized format based on language with a common disregard for dialects. No other country in this world (barring China) has this humongous challenge at hand when it was in its process of nation building. While we celebrate the democratic principles of the USA and yearn to be like it one day, we comfortably fail to realize that a country like USA was able to succeed democratically as it was “politically” able to sideline the divergent factors that affected its stability since its creation as a nation – race is still predominantly White, religion is still predominantly Christian, language is still predominantly English. While as a social entity, diversity has been accepted with an open heart (you can build temples and celebrate being a Hindu in the US), as a political entity, the US doesn’t deal with the complexities of diversity that uproot egalitarianism and in turn defeat democracy. Changes today are affecting some of them and in those places, you do see friction and a not so progressive form of democracy – Hispanic and African American population and their growing significance, multiple religions like Hinduism and Islam bringing in a different perspective on daily life are some examples of those changes and they are slowly creating points of friction in American society. Coming to China, while the World may reject it as a non-democratic nation, it still had to face the same challenges in its nation building. Luckily for China, it grew out from a uniform central core into vast geographical tracts occupied by other diverse people. The core being Han Chinese are the dominant force in that nation and so is their language (Mandarin) and religion (lack of one under Communism). The outliers consisted of the Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongols and so on. If you look at the map of China, you will realize that they all form the peripheries of the country and are slowly losing their identity while slowly being integrated into greater China. While several examples can be gleaned out from our past and present, the key point I want to drive is that political governments can never be in the business of promoting extreme diversity as it runs counterproductive to the growth of democracies. Having said that, India is already stretching a lot to accommodate this from a political standpoint and it explains the rather slow and painful progress we afford to make in every step of our growth as a nation. Whether this is good or bad is again an exercise in personal perspective. I personally feel we are painfully slow in growth but vastly mature in our dealings as a country. But my impatient and greedy self that looks at fast results and better changes, sees the country’s approach as an impediment.
The reason I digressed to explain non-Telugu related aspects of the World is to help bring a change in our perspective of what democracy (something that Dr. JP is passionate about) and the Lok Satta party should mean. While the current political commitments of the Lok Satta party is towards the state of Andhra Pradesh, its true leanings are towards the promotion of democracy in the Indian Union. We should realize that while coastal Andhra culture and language became the predominant force in Andhra Pradesh much to the loss of identity of the other Telugus, this progression has a logical explanation, very similar to how we are still sitting idle in our homes while corruption and bad politics continue to happen around us. What happened in Andhra Pradesh was what happened to most people pushed as a herd to accept the changes happening around them. British Andhra was the most politically strong entity prior to our independence as that is where Education, the press and other forms of British governance saw their implementation. So did the movie industry and other large industrial establishments that in turn fed political organizations. The Nizam ruled regions of Andhra Pradesh bought their freedom from British interference but at the same time continued with all their past policies which as we see today were not supportive of the diversity of the Telangana people. What happened since our independence were just incremental steps in political adjustments that happened to carve out the identity of a then non-existent state called Andhra Pradesh. As one can imagine, such changes were just influenced by people from places where the capabilities existed. In other words, you can expect a person to file a lawsuit against another person who affected his living only if a judicial system, police, administrative bureaucracy and press exists. If one lived in a country where none or some of them exist, then that person will not even know what to do in such instances. Such was the parallel you could draw between the various factions in Andhra Pradesh. When such changes did happen during the formation of Andhra Pradesh, one particular system of identity was carried forward and the herd followed.
Now there are two pressing questions that need to be answered – the formation of a separate state of Telangana? and recognition and equality for the Telangana people and their unique Telugu diversity? While we can try to be politically correct and neutral in our statements on the first question, the facts are pretty simple. The creation of a separate state of Telangana will help in the creation of yet another democratic structure that will slowly or rapidly adjust itself to a standardization. That political standardization may come in the form a state board of education that teaches the Telangana dialect, a Telangana religion (all may be allowed but one will prevail politically), a Telangana caste and so on. This may still continue to not provide a solution to the Maoist separatists of Telangana and that will continue to be a pain point. Hence, there is nothing wrong in creating a separate state of Telangana provided its purpose is not to promote the diversity of the Telangana people, its literature and culture or create a one-Telugu movement. It will definitely provide state administrative jobs and better land deals for sure to its people. If the Telangana movement is mostly about this (which is not so depending on whom you talk to), then a separate state will definitely provide it.
This takes us to the second question, the question that the original blog was trying to address. What about the recognition and promotion of the diversity and the Telugu heritage of the people of Telangana or the one-Telugu unity? One must realize that when political organizations or governments promote language, literature or culture it is for the purposes of propaganda. They will always contain the truth presented in a way and manner to suit the greater needs of people with a political agenda. Even US textbooks and government literature are littered with trash on the exploits of Columbus, the founding fathers and the native Americans. Only literary works and materials outside of political interference have had the tenacity to show alternative perspectives. These still remain unknown to the blind eyes of meaningless existence that most people proudly lead as their normal lives.
The true dissemination of the literary greatness, cultural richness or linguistic beauty of any region comes from its own people – not from its elected political governments or external promoters. The fact that this blog was still able to access the literary gems of Telangana writers is testimony to the fact that preservation happens from within, not from outside. The Bhagavad Gita was not preserved because we had successive governments promote it over more than 3000 years or because the Indian democracy requires it for taking oath in a court of law. While Sankritized Telugu may not be the true language of the Andhras, it is still a literary art form that also has its place in Telugu history. The ballads of Telangana poets also have their unique place in our lives. Their recognition will however come from one going out of the narrow purview of textbooks (again driven by political governments) and actively pursuing and promoting them on our own. If this is the Telangana Movement, then it doesn’t need a KCR or a TDP or a Congress or a bandh or a rasta roko or lost lives to support or grow it. It can come from the several thousand NRI Telangana Telugus who have the capacity to do a lot more today or from any one of us truly interested in propagating diversity in life irrespective of its origins. Governments were not created by us (yes, sad but true) to leave everything to them. They were created to serve us in our daily life while we take care of the rest.