ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Between Balance and Bias

In Defence of Telangana

The Fall and Rise of Telangana by Gautam Pingle (New Delhi: Orient Blackswan), 2014; pp xvii + 326, Rs 395.

The movement for a separate Telangana state was able to attract the attention of several intellectuals, both in and out of Andhra Pradesh (AP). Identifying themselves with the movement, several intellectuals in Telangana have written articles and books justifying and popularising the movement. Gautam Pingle is one such scholar who has written extensively on the history, economy, and politics of AP in general and the Telangana region in particular. The Fall and Rise of Telangana is a compilation of his articles that appeared in different newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. The author, while introducing the anthology, promises to maintain a balance, but at the same time declares that he has a “clear bias” and that the volume is for the people of Telangana with whom he has shared joys and sorrows (p 2). What this mixture of balance and bias offers readers is worth examining.

Pingle holds the view that the interests of the people of Telangana would have been better served if the region had continued to remain a part of the multilingual state of Hyderabad, or if it had become a separate state within India. Not taking cognisance of the passionate voices in Telangana that advocated Vishalandhra, the author holds that the plan to create AP was motivated purely by the desire of the political elite in Andhra to overcome their economic problems and have a ready-made state capital. In a couple of places, Pingle even writes as if AP with Hyderabad as its capital came into existence only because of the “wily” manipulations of “veteran” politician A Kaleshwara Rao, and he accuses Congress leader C Rajagopalachari of collaborating with such people (pp 39-40, 73). He argues that Jawaharlal ­Nehru wanted to keep Hyderabad state united and was against the merger of T­elangana with Andhra. The decision to create AP in 1956 was not in the spirit of the recommendations of the States Re­organisation Commission, Pingle says. Given the differences in historical trajectories between the people of Telangana and Andhra, the merger was a mistake.

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