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Telangana, as a geographical and political entity was born on June 2, 2014 as the 29th and the youngest state in Union of India. However, as an economic, social, cultural and historical entity it has a glorious history of at least two thousand five hundred years or more. Megalithic stone structures like cairns, cists, dolmens and menhirs found in several districts of Telangana show that there were human habitations in this part of the country thousands of years ago. Remnants of iron ore...
Telangana, as a geographical and political entity was born on June 2, 2014 as the 29th and the youngest state in Union of India. However, as an economic, social, cultural and historical entity it has a glorious history of at least two thousand five hundred years or more. Megalithic stone structures like cairns, cists, dolmens and menhirs found in several districts of Telangana show that there were human habitations in this part of the country thousands of years ago. Remnants of iron ore smelting found at many places demonstrate the hoary roots of artisanship and tool making in Telangana for at least two thousand years. The reference to Asmaka Janapada, part of present Telangana, as one of the 16 Janapadas in ancient India proves that there existed an advanced stage of society.
One of the first five disciples of the Buddha, Kondanna is a typical name from Telangana and though there is no exact information about his native place, the earliest known Buddhist township of Kondapur in Medak district is believed to be after him. The Buddha himself famously acknowledged that it was Kondanna who understood him properly. The Buddhist sources say that Bavari, a Brahmin from Badanakurti in Karimnagar sent his disciples to all the way to north India to learn Buddhism and spread the message in this region. Megasthenes, who visited India in the 4th century BCE, wrote that there were 30 fortified towns of Andhras and a majority of them were in Telangana. In the historical age, Telangana had given rise to mighty empires and kingdoms like the Satavahanas, Vakatakas, Ikshvakus, Vishnukundins, Chalukyas, Kakatiyas, Qutb Shahis and Asif Jahis.
The emergence and flourishing of these powerful political formations is in itself a proof of existence of a sturdy economic, social and cultural structure. Thus Telangana has been a vibrant social entity by the time of the Buddha and continued to be so for the next two and a half millennia. Endowed with such rich cultural heritage, despite the attempts by historians and scholars from Andhra region to obfuscate and erase its history, Telangana always retained and fought for its self respect and self rule. Due to the official efforts to ignore, erase, belittle and look down Telangana history and turn it into an appendage or a footnote, particularly during 1956-2014, much of Telangana history is either not properly researched or not recorded even if it was studied. Telangana rose again and secured its political identity now and is in the process of resurrecting its own glorious past. Here is an attempt to reconstruct the history of Telangana, the wonderful musical instrument with a thousand strings.
In early 1950s, people of Telangana region in Hyderabad state, started organizing themselves with a demand for separate state. In 1953 the Indian government appointed the States Reorganization Commission (SRC) to look into various statehood demands in the country. The Commission was headed by Fazal Ali, Kavalam Madhava Panikkar and H.N. Kunzru.
Telangana leaders insisted on a Gentlemen’s Agreement before the merger could take place. The agreement was signed by Andhra and Telangana leaders and provided safeguards with the purpose of preventing discrimination against Telangana by the Andhra leaders.However, the agreement was violated from day one by the Andhra leaders.
Non-implementation of Gentlemen’s Agreement and continued discrimination to Telangana region in government jobs, education and public spending resulted in the 1969 statehood agitation.
In January 1969, students intensified the protests for a separate state. On 19 January, all party accord was reached to ensure the proper implementation of Telangana safeguards. Accord’s main points were 1) All non-Telangana employees holding posts reserved for Telangana locals will be transferred immediately. 2) Telangana surpluses will be used for Telangana development. 3) Appeal to Telangana students to call off agitation.
Mrs. Indira Gandhi had called snap parliamentary elections in March 1971. In these parliamentary elections, Telangana Praja Samithi won 10 out the 14 Parliament seats in Telangana. However, Indira Gandhi’s Congress (R) Party scored a landslide victory on a platform of progressive policies such as poverty elimination (Garibi Hatao). She was reluctant to accept the Telangana statehood demand at that juncture. Sri M Chenna Reddy then merged TPS in Congress (R) party, after formulating a Six-Point Formula to safeguard Telangana’s interests. The statehood movement continued until 1973, but subsided later.
Since mid 1990s, the people of Telangana started organizing themselves under various organizations with a demand for separate state of Telangana.
In 1997, the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) passed a resolution seeking a separate Telangana. Though the party created the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Uttarakhand in 2000, it did not create a separate Telangana state citing resistance of its coalition partner, Telugu Desam Party.
Sri Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), who was then the Deputy Speaker of AP State assembly, had started background work on Telangana issue in early 2000. And after detailed discussions and deliberations with a plethora of Telangana intellectuals, KCR announced the launch of Telangana Rashtra Samithi on May 17th 2001.
On Nov 29th, 2009 , KCR had announced an indefinite hunger strike demanding statehood to Telangana. But en route, the state police had arrested him and sent to Khammam sub-jail. The movement spread like wildfire with students, employees, peoples’ organizations plunging into it. In the next 10 days, the whole of Telangana region came to a standstill.
The state government, headed by Sri K Rosaiah had called for an all-party meeting on 7th December. Leaders of TDP and PRP parties promised that they would support a Telangana statehood resolution if it was tabled in the state Assembly. As KCR’s health was deteriorating very fast, on Dec 9th 2009, the UPA government announced that the process of statehood for Telangana would be initiated.
But within 2 weeks, resistance from Seemandhra leadership resulted in UPA backtracking on this issue. KCR then brought all political forces in Telangana region together to form the Telangana JAC – an umbrella body of several organizations and parties, with Prof Kodandaram as its Chairman. TRS cadre and leaders actively participated in several agitations and protests launched by TJAC.
After 4 years of peaceful and impactful protests, the UPA government started the statehood process in July 2013 and concluded the process by passing the statehood bill in both houses of Parliament in Feb 2014.
In the General Elections held in April 2014, Telangana Rashtra Samithi emerged victorious by winning 63 of the 119 seats and formed the government. Sri K Chandrashekar Rao was sworn in as the First Chief Minister of Telangana. The Telangana state was inaugurated formally on June 2nd 2014.
M. D. Vijay
Telangana State Film Development Corporation Ltd.,
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