The Revolutionary Struggles of the People of Telangana, India
By BETH HARPAZ
Some 40 million people live in the state of Telangana in India. A new book, Media, Nationalism and Globalization: The Telangana Movement and Indian Politics, chronicles the history, plight, and activism of the Telangana people, along with the creation of the state of Telangana. The book, by Professor Sumanth Inukonda (LaGuardia Community College), also explores the meaning of nationalism in a “post-colonial, globalization” context.
It was 1956, nine years after India’s independence from British colonial rule, when the state of Andhra Pradesh was established by merging the state of Andhra with Telangana areas from the state of Hyderabad. But this new state put the Telangana community at a tremendous disadvantage. It reinforced privileges enjoyed by members of the Andhra community, including their widespread fluency and literacy in English and higher levels of education. The Telangana people were left scrambling for resources like water and shut out of good government jobs and perks, despite official policies that were supposed to help them.
Inukonda argues that official indifference to ethnic divisions between the haves and have-nots increased Telangana resentment of the status quo. Economic globalization in the 1990s only worsened these inequities, and efforts to invoke “Telugu nationalism in service of globalization by the Andhra Pradesh government in the 1990s” backfired, generating a counter-reaction among the Telangana.
Other factors that helped build cohesion and activism in the Telangana community included student protests, cultural events like performances and festivals, and social media and digital communication. An expansion of local media also helped “give vent to local aspirations, regional identity and self rule.” Eventually, the separatist movement realized its dream, and the state of Telangana was created in June 2014.
The author credits “the revolutionary struggles of the people of Telangana,” whose stories he heard from his father and later witnessed himself, with inspiring him to write the book.