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Mainstream, VOL LX No 11, New Delhi, March 5, 2022

Review: Story of the Telangana Region - in the Republic of India | Sreerupa Saha

Saturday 5 March 2022


Review by Sreerupa Saha*

The Fall and Rise of Telangana

by Gautam Pingle

Orient Black Swan, India


pp xvii+ 326


Rs. 395

The demand for separate statehood soaked in the spirit of subnationalism had a number of eruptive nodes in Indian federal polity, of which the demand for a separate Telangana state carved out from Andhra Pradesh remained active for the longest period in the history of independent India with a successful fulfillment of the demand. As a result, a large array of books and journal articles kept on adding to the literature in and around the particular theme. The book named ‘The Fall and Rise of Telangana’ was related with my research work so I have gone through it. The region’s fall and then rise is the focal point of this book by Gautam Pingle. The author brings into focus the admiration for the people of Telangana during the years of suffering i.e. the fall and to those of previous generation that laid foundation for its rise. The book consists of twenty one chapters, short chapters with vivid empirical data in the form of tables. This book is a compilation of his articles that got published in various newspapers, journals and magazines. The book devotes considerable space to discussing the report of the Committee for Consultations on the Situation in Andhra Pradesh, popularly known as the Srikrishna Committee (SKC). The author argues that Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to keep Hyderabad state united and was against the merger of Telangana with Andhra. The decision to create Andhra Pradesh in 1956 was not in the spirit of the recommendations of the States Reorganisation Commission, Pingle says. He contends that between 1977 and 2004, the Telangana movement was largely contained by the co-option of politicians into the state system. Author of the book Pingle felt it necessary to publish this volume when there was duality in the centre about the formation of the new Telangana state in 2009. This book is a narration of the sequences that helped Telangana to frame its public policy over the years. It attempts to counterbalance the entire history of the region from the time of independence for a greater historical perspective. Pingle penned the volume for the people of the region as mentioned earlier, so that people get a view of the past and also can discuss the matters that happened through his writings, in future. It focuses on what the people, leaders and government will make of the new state and it depended on the policies that are framed sensibly across all sectors and implementing them honestly. The volume entails about the fair and efficient governance in the state of Telangana and above all clear thought provoking leaders who can get going with the people along good and bad times. This book was published before the state formation took place and highlights the policies and the probable outcomes of the Commission’s report.

The opening write up (State on the Edge) begins with a quote of Iqbal saying worry for the nations trouble is on its way, prenominations of disaster are in the air. This line explains about the nation .i.e. Indiamay be in trouble with the demand of different regions, but there is an uncanny feeling that the disaster i.e. new state formation will definitely happen. Pingle tried to bring out Telengana’s identity within the republic of India with the historical analysis. With Hyderabad’s demographical illustrations, he narrated the present and past situation of that particular place. Multiple quotes has been picked up from various references, biographies etc. to describe the reorganization of Indian states along linguistic lines. Pingle elaborated the election situation in Andhra and Hyderabad around 1952 and 1956 to bring the perspective before the readers before the actual merger took place in 1956.

Pingle tried to bring out the other aspects of society through the dimension of identity politics through the communities which dominated the region i.e. the Reddis or the Kammas. The author tries to bring into focus several issues which were instrumental in the decision of the merger. The merger took place with no sentiment, no reason, no recommendations by SRC and no interest shown by Nehru. The author shows that Congress party ignored important interests with a regional base, and the developmental needs in Telangana with serious issues to be faced in future. Telangana’s misfortune and the movement for separation and the blame were equally distributed between Andhra Congress leadership and Telangana politicians. The author said that even after the process for statehood was complete Coastal Kammas and Raylaseema Reddys were reluctant to give up Telangana votebank. Caste rivalry did not end so Pingle tries to say that trifurcation of Andhra Pradesh would be an equitable solution. The promises in form of quotations of various leaders and opinion of the political maestros from other states were seen, with it he tried to depict the assurances that were laid before, he also says that whenever consensus was made whether in 1973 or 2006 or 2009 the high command of the Congress party chose to ignore it and acted against it. The author therefore described the approach as politicized and if there was reduction on the politics and caste issue it would have lessened the time taken for the procedure of state formation. He tried to explain with the help of the insightful chapter of Rayalaseema that Telangana would provoke Rayalaseema to create a separate province of its own as the region was backward to factional politics and by the neglect of its elite. The tribals of the region, who are said to have enjoyed better protection under the Nizam’s rule, lost their land rights with the migration of enterprising farmers from coastal Andhra. The sons of the soil were denied their due share in government jobs and promotions because of manipulations by the migrant Andhra elite. The political and economic status of Muslims declined due to the changing demography, and also because of the new economic and urbanised policies pursued by the state government. Pingle infers that the support dalits extended to the movement for a separate Telangana was partly motivated by the desire to find solution to the Mala-Madiga conflict over scheduled caste (sc) reservation.

He tries to bring forward the consequences of the neglect of tank irrigation issue and increase dependence on well irrigation. The data cited show that some progress has been made in canal irrigation in Telangana and it is better irrigated than Rayalaseema. The author thinks that all the problems of the people in Telangana were due to the Seemandhra elite, a separate state was the only way of resolving the problems of all sections of the people in Telangana. Pingle nowhere mentions that the left opposed demand for bifurcation and did not participate in the movement which took place in1960 and 1970. He believes that Hyderabad was a multilingual state where majority of Hindus were governed in peaceful ways until outsiders came in to interfere like the Communist, the Congress and the Arya Samajists. Pingle was sympathetic about princely states, he opined that by removing the characteristics and the individuality of the princely states the government have tried to delete the history of the region.

This book has taken a substantial space on Srikrishna Committee reports. Four chapters within the book explain detailed reports and findings on Srikrishna Committee. The author laid down the number of heard and examined witnesses of political parties and the ordinary people in the form of summary submission to the Srikrishna Commission. The chapter named ‘The Srikishna Commission Report- The Judgement’ is about the report the judgement of the secret chapter which was challenged by the court. It also puts forward six options before the government, four of which were said to be unworkable. It preferred continuation of the united Andhra with a statutory regional council for Telangana and on the other hand formation of Telangana state would be second best option. Pingle tried to bring out cousins of Telangana within India and abroad in doing this he has identified the upcoming states which will demand for separate identity within India.

In the concluding chapter of the book the author tries to give many suggestions like what can Telangana do differently that is the state should take initiative to solve internal problems, to do this, state will have to be small and manageable, which in future will be an example for the rest of the country. He deduces that historical perspectives of the movement and tribulations may have set the political issues. People of Telangana felt that every problem will be solved once the state is formed. But the author feels that the statehood is only a process for ensuring democratic accountability. It is a necessary step but not the sufficient one. Pingle holds the feeling that interest of people would be fulfilled if the region would remain a part of Hyderabad or it had become a separate state within India. The objective of the book is to show the downward and upward variation that the state of Telangana has gone through the last 60 years. The flow shows that he was in favour of the creation of the new state i.e, the demerger. But four consecutive chapters on Srikrishna Commission is a bit monotonous for a reader who is not that much keen to know the minute descriptive facts about the committee. Overall it is a good book to get a comprehensive knowledge about the region as a whole.

This book is a collected work of Gautam Pingle, anthological volume has some contradictory and controversial declarations. Since the articles were written in different timeframe the continuity and parity to some extent is missing. Some chapters could have been omitted like the one Summary on Srikrishna Committee. It could have been clubbed with the chapter on findings. The book can be read by scholars and researchers of Indian politics and regional issues. Skilful presentation, empirical and logical thought and analysis, creative and impressive facts and policy recommendations by the author was laid down in the volume, but he has not clearly stated when Telangana had a glorious past and when the fall began.

* (Author: Sreerupa Saha is Assistant Professor, Political Science at Shirakole Mahavidyalaya, West Bengal - contact: sreerupa.saha[at]

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