Viewed from the outside, many separatist movements can seem inexplicable if the course of history and chance are not taken into account. That said, in the era of globalization, when so many barriers seem to dissolve, and national boundaries seem less important, movements to divide states into smaller units do seem to be somewhat against the tide.
At this point in time, the movement for the formation of Telengana has considerable momentum, and it is not clear how things will work out in the next few days/weeks/months. Exactly what the issues are and why things have come to such a head is the subject of a recent book, Battleground Telenagana: Chronicle of an Agitation by Kingshuk Nag.
When the state of Andhra Pradesh was formed in 1956, the people of Telangana (the region ruled by the Nizams at the time of independence) did not want to be a part of it, fearing that they would be displaced by the more enterprising and better educated migrants from the Andhra region. In 1969, massive agitations for a separate Telangana left 400 people dead but the movement petered out.
With the creation of new states like Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Uttaranchal in 2000, the battle for Telangana began once again. In 2009, the Indian government announced that Telangana would be a separate state, but is now dilly-dallying, worried about the backlash from the Andhra region. At the heart of the problem is the city of Hyderabad, which lies bang in the middle of Telangana but is being claimed by both sides.
Is the upsurge in Telangana so strong that the Indian government will be unable to resist it? Is there a middle course? This book explores the complex issues, and the underlying causes of the Telangana movement.
Nag has been a journalist with The Times of India for some time, and is currently the resident editor of its Hyderabad edition. He is a winner of the Prem Bhatia Award for excellence for his coverage of the 2002 riots in Gujarat. He combines a reporter's analysis with a genuine desire to understand just what is going on in this very readable book of the moment from Harper Collins.
In our Politics and History sections, in paperback, 248 pages Rs 350, ISBN: 9789350290743