Friday, April 23, 2010

TELANGANA IX: EPW goes on the Telangana trail

The globally reputed independent social science journal Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) came up with another insightful article on the multiple dimensions of the Telangana movement - On the Telangana Trail. The journal which every week brings together academics, researchers, policy makers, independent thinkers, members of non-governmental organisations and political activists for debates straddling economics, politics, sociology, culture, environment and numerous other disciplines has recently started what it calls "Special Issues", which deal with subjects of contemporary interest. And this article is one such Special Issue.

The article starts by questioning 'What is Telangana? Why does it stir such powerful sentiments?' and then the writers, Kalpana Kannabiran being one of the 5 from different NGOs, go on to find answers and record their conversations with 'a cross section of people on their participation and their aspirations – people across political formations and social backgrounds'. They meet small farmers, pastoralists, intellectuals, coal miners, schoolteachers, weavers, traders and dhobis; Muslim, adivasi, dalit and student leaders; They attended meetings in adivasi hamlets, in working class urban neighborhoods and they visited shibirams (tents) across the region and spoke to people on relay hunger strikes. They conclude 'We see quite clearly the emergence of a new politics that is committed to deliberating over the meanings of democracy and direct action. People’s demand for Telangana elaborates a complex set of arguments in relation to investment, employment, education, land, water, and resources. But more importantly it has to do with self-rule, dignity and self-respect, which are the fundamental premises of the Telangana movement. The separate state is seen as only the first step towards democratization.'

Earlier this year, EPW published 2 other articles -
'The Historical Context of Andhra and Telangana, 1949-56' by Mr. Gautam Pingle and The Movement for Telangana: Myth and Reality by Rama S Melkote, E Revathi, and others. Mr Pingle is Director, Centre for policy and governance Administrative Staff College of India and his article is very rare in the sense it examines the role of caste and other social equations that, in the first place, forced the Telangana merger in the 1950s and how they now get unsettled. Some of this content was later republished in Indian Express as 'Caste and the politics of merger'. The second article discussed threadbare widely-publicized perceptions of the people's movement.

In light of these interesting pieces, it would surprise us how less informative or analytical the mainstream vernacular and national press has been about the the basis of the Telangana struggle. How many articles/programs were produced in at least AP about the reasons behind the the initial merger of Telangana, the present demand for demerger and the consequences if or not the demand is met? At least, It was the most basic of duties of the journalists to at least report happenings as they were during the last few months of struggle, pre and post December 9 announcement. Even while the issue was making national headlines, disrupting life in AP, mainstream national media did not initiate any debate on the real/perceived grievances of Telangana, obviously because of, on one hand, the ignorance/prejudice of the reporters while on the other the networks did not go beyond '15 minutes of fame' type news.

Photo Courtesy: REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi,

do check this out

http://www.thehindu.com/mag/2010/04/18/stories/2010041850170500.htm

nice reading all your posts especially posts on Telangana !

Amar said...

@Anon,

That is a fantastic article. Thanks for sharing. And thank you.