'Liberate' Hyderabad from divisive politics
Shed British Raj relic of divide and rule, let’s unite and progress
Circa 1970. I entered my junior college at Bolarum in Secunderabad Cantt, inquiring, in my pucca Andhra accent, about fee payment counter. A student asked me: "Nuvvu Andhrodiva? (Are you an Andhrite?)". I was shocked as I thought I was quite polite and why this rude question to me? Shocked because in our primary and high school days, we were taught that 'India is one and all Indians are one nation' and here I was asked this question as though I was a foreigner.
Subsequently, I was heckled, harassed and often fellow students would steal my books, and even tamper with my bicycle. Hailing from army family – my dad was in theArmy Education Corps – I could have taken the help of couple of soldiers in uniform and taught a lesson or two to these rowdy elements. But no, my dad said: have patience, Things will be alright. Just focus on your studies. That's more important. Dad was right.
Eventually,with my focus on studies and general knowledge, I became the favourite of my teachers, headmaster, and many students. I quickly picked up Telangana accent and won over the hearts and minds of those who heckled me over my Andhra accent. The high points were when I won the first prize in a science exhibition and was picked up by my headmaster for reading dailywar bulletins during the Bangladesh war. My dad, my first teacher, prompted me to focus on life and move ahead. My humble gratitude to him on this Teachers' Day.
I was in Andhra when the Telangana agitation of 1969 broke out and in Telangana when JaiAndhra stir was launched in 1972. Thus, I escaped the loss of studies. But, had enough opportunities to learn about the people's feelings and insecurity on both the banks of Krishna and Godavari. Much water has flowed into these two rivers, as well as the Musi in Hyderabad since then.
By now, in the millennial and Amrit Mahotsav era, socio-economic dynamics have changed a lot. Post Telangana creation – rightly or wrongly – the two Telugu States are living in peace hopefully without any rancour and ill-will. They deserve to live in peace and harmony and pursue their path to progress. We have suffered a lot. We do not need any more of divide and rule tactics.
Britishers managed to divide and rule India for over 200 years and political parties, with their appeasement policies carry on the legacy. Unfortunate. Politicians continue to whip up cast,communal, regional and political passions to suit their petty, short-term goals.
That the BJP is always in an election mode is now very well known. Gujarat is in an election mode and the top leaders from Delhi have been visiting the State, launching variousdevelopment schemes – reminiscent of Swarnim Gujarat summits. Uttar Pradesh? The Stateelections are long way to go. But BJP there is preparing on a war footing for the Lok Sabha poll of 2024. As we discussed in previous columns, it is what the party and double enginegovernments did during the last eight years that matters and not the progress that the nationmade in 67 years before that. Fair enough. In a democracy, everyone has that freedom to say whatever one wants to say.
That brings us to Telangana. The elections are long way to go in December 2023. The BJPdoes not trust KCR who it feels can call for a snap poll just he did in 2018. So, the party hasalready got into an election mode blasting TRS, dynastic rule, lack of progress and what not.
Not to be outdone, TRS started hitting back at Modi, pointing out his unfulfilled promisessuch as price check and housing for all by 2022.Will the Hyderabad Day be left out of the BJP Vs TRS propaganda? BJP wants to use theevent with a year-long celebration calling it Hyderabad Liberation Day. TRS planned National Integration Day events. Unfortunately, politics is being played in these events. Letthere be political divisions in a democratic manner. But the state should not suffer any more.The whipping up of political passions should not lead to communal feelings. Hyderabad hadenough of communal riots and today the City and, of course, Telangana are leading apeaceful and harmonious life. Businesses are doing well. The State has just begun to recoverfrom COVID and lockdown shocks. Hindus and Muslims, Andhrites and Telangana people, all are living happily and if they have any issues, they are the same as anyone else in India is facing – price rise, unemployment, education, housing or environment.
All political parties, social welfare-oriented organisations must come on one common platform and work for a new liberation movement – to free the State and the country from economic problems. Let there be an integration of minds in this liberation movement.Political parties may make, or break promises, let the people decide their fate at the hustings. Let us not mix politics with national and State's day events. My 45 years of media experience prompts me to write that Hyderabad (that includes Andhra, Telangana and Maharashtra) has suffered a lot; Let's stop dividing the people. Hyderabad is a global city now. In this IT and ITeS, AI or digital era. Let us call this day – September 17 as Hyderabad Day. Let Biriyani and Poota Rekulu (paper Sweet) continue to unite us. Let us tell the world – HumHyderabadi, Khamakhan Baataan Nahin Kartay ji! (We Hyderabadis do not indulge in frivolous talk).
(The columnist is a Mumbai-based media veteran now running websites and Youtube channel known for his thought-provoking messaging.)