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Updated: September 28, 2013 00:23 IST

Seeing Madras in Hyderabad

A. R. Venkatachalapathy
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The bitterness that existed in the 1950s between Tamil and Telugu speakers on Chennai parallels the fight for the Andhra Pradesh capital in the Telangana agitation

"We learn from history,” we are often told tritely, “that we do not learn from history!” Perhaps there is more than a grain of truth in this clichéd observation, and this is evident from the ongoing Telangana crisis. So what did we fail to learn from the 1950s agitation that led to the formation of an Andhra province in the first place?

It is now forgotten history that the city of Chennai was the bone of contention between the advocates of a separate province of Telugu-speaking people and the then Madras State (Tamil Nadu) in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Though Telugu speakers, about 15 per cent of the population compared to about 70 per cent of Tamil speakers (1931 Census), constituted a minority in the city, they had a high visibility for a variety of historical reasons. With Indian nationalist politics at the threshold of its mass phase combined with the emergence of a linguistic and regional consciousness, legitimate demands were voiced for a separate province of Andhra as early as the first decade of the 20th century. During the early 1910s, B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya wrote extensively in the pages of The Hindu articulating this demand.

Largest stumbling block

By the time of its Nagpur session in 1920, the Indian National Congress had reorganised itself on linguistic lines and the newly-formed Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee demanded the city of Chennai for its jurisdiction. Though this demand was articulated intermittently through the subsequent decades, it came to a head only as independence became imminent. However the Telugu demand for Chennai got tied to the formation of a separate Andhra state and turned out to be the single largest stumbling block to the creation of Andhra state.

In 1938, with the formation of the first Congress ministry, the Madras Legislative Assembly recommended the formation of ‘separate Provinces for the Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Kerala regions.’ The demand for Andhra got enmeshed in Congress factional politics with intense rivalry between C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) and T. Prakasam. The fall of the Prakasam ministry in the Madras Province, largely as a result of Congress factional politics shortly after Independence, further fuelled the demand for a separate Andhra province.

In June 1948, the Constituent Assembly of India appointed a commission headed by S.K. Dar to examine the formation of new provinces. The Dar commission recommended reorganisation not on “linguistic consideration but rather upon administrative convenience.” In the wake of the calamitous Partition, this found support in Nehru.

In its Jaipur session in December 1948, the Congress appointed a Linguistic Provinces Committee with Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and Pattabhi Sitaramayya (the JVP Committee), which in its report presented in April 1949, accepted the Dar Commission’s views by recommending the postponement of linguistic reorganisation by a few years. But Andhra was an exception. “In some ways,” the committee observed, “the demand for an Andhra Province has a larger measure of consent behind it than other similar demands.” However, it added ominously that, “Yet there is controversy about certain areas as well as about the city of Madras.”

Therefore the thinking of the Congress leadership at the top was clear and unequivocal right from the beginning. In November 1949, the Congress Working Committee recommended the formation of a separate Andhra province excluding the city of Madras. Inextricably linked with the demand for Chennai, the declaration of the Andhra province came to be delayed by a few more years. It also occasioned the unnecessary and tragic loss of lives and property, and caused teething problems to the fledgling nation state.

A Partition Committee was formed in November 1949 and the Madras Cabinet approved its report in January 1950, but was mired in controversy with T. Prakasam signing a note of dissent that the apparatus of the new province should reside in Madras city until a new capital was ready.

Andhra continued to be on a boil. It all at once came down to one issue: while the protesters demanded a separate Andhra state and the government was more than eager to grant it, the claim over Madras city stalled the issue.

Widening fault lines

As the agitation for a separate Andhra got protracted, the fault lines within the Andhra Congress widened. It became obvious that those advocating the interests of Rayalaseema and the coastal districts of Andhra did not see eye to eye. To this may be added the view that Madras city should become a Chief Commissioner’s province, effectively under the control of the Central government, or a joint capital or even a Union Territory — reminiscent of the story of Solomon’s justice over the disputed child.

The first general elections of January 1952 added further variables. The Congress failed to win a majority in the Madras Presidency, weakening the hand of K. Kamaraj, its leader, and paving the way for Rajaji to form a Congress government; T. Prakasam too lost badly. Despite Rajaji’s view that the cry for linguistic provinces was a “tribal demand,” he supported the formation of an Andhra province but without conceding Chennai.

Various Andhra leaders such as Neelam Sanjiva Reddy and V.V. Giri — the philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan not excluded — put pressure on the Central government. Nehru not only refused the demand for the appointment of a commission without a general agreement but also ruled out a plebiscite. By July 1952, Nehru declared that “there ha[d] been so much argument on this subject that no one can say anything new or worthwhile.”

This, however, was to change with one as-yet-unknown Congressman’s fast. The death of Potti Sriramulu on December 15, 1952 led to large-scale violence in Andhra. Despite Nehru’s bold statement in Parliament that “we must not mix up various things because a riotous mob did something,” the Government of India appointed in December 1952 a committee under Justice K.N. Wanchoo. Wanchoo’s report, submitted in early February 1953, favoured the creation of the Andhra state and recommended that, until a new capital was built, the Andhra government could be lodged in Chennai. Nehru was inclined to accept this recommendation but was stoutly opposed by Rajaji.

The popular nationalist writer and journalist, Kalki — the alter ego of Rajaji — captured the dangers of declaring Chennai the temporary capital: This move could pave the way for the influx of excited agitators from outside leading to violence triggering police action. The ensuing loss of lives would lead to further claims on the ground that the soil of Chennai had been sanctified by the blood of martyrs. Soon the city would be termed ‘a disputed area’ and would lead to unending controversy and agitation, like Kashmir.

In the light of this premonition Rajaji even went to the extent of threatening to resign from the premiership finally convincing Nehru this move would only result in “unseemly agitation, acrimonious controversies and administrative conflicts.”

By 1953 the question of Chennai was pretty much settled. The bitterness between Andhra and Tamil Nadu soon evaporated, as a united Andhra Pradesh was forged over the decades, and a new and thriving capital built. That this has not lasted is the present issue.

Issues of identity

What lessons does this now-forgotten story teach us? Is it a case of history repeating itself as tragedy? If issues of identity and territorial claims in so-called more enlightened times could have been so acrimonious, little needs to be said about the implications for more cynical times such as ours. The delay in addressing genuine popular concerns makes them an electoral issue leading to competitive inter-party and intra-party politics. Decisions taken in the heat of large-scale violence and bloodshed tend to be not so well thought out. Appointing commission after commission in the hope that agitations will dissipate simply doesn’t work. When popular mobilisation gathers force, fault lines become chasms. Soft-pedalling on implementation confounds matters. This is amply borne out by the Seemandhra backlash. One hopes that the Central government will keep in mind the Chennai lesson in deciding the fate of Hyderabad.

(This essay draws from the author’s earlier contribution to A.R. Venkatachalapathy (ed.), Chennai, Not Madras: Perspectives on the City, Marg, Mumbai, 2006.)

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Dear Sir,

Every historian loves the proposed new state and makes an appeal to
the Government of India not to grant even transit halt to the people
to be driven out. Seemandhra People are very much part of Indian union
and they have never sloughed off the national outlook. Are they to
content themselves with the refugee-like status ?

What he has written is only a history but not the history.

from:  R. Rama Krishna
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 19:50 IST

There is no need for bifurcation of the state at all. In the previous
Hyderabad state Kannadiga districts like Bidar, Gubarga, Osmanabad,
Raichur etc are happy within Karnataka with a capital more than 500
Kms away in Bangalore, and Marathi speaking districts like Nanded,
Aurangabad, Beed, Phulbani etc are happy within Maharashtra with the
capital Mumbai more than 400 Kms away. But people of Telangana
enjoying the Capital of Hyderabad are not happy. Reason?? The Andhra
people are more enterprising and hardworking and have come from far
off places and become successful which is not to the liking of the
Telangana population. They cite lame reasons like exploitation,
grabbing their share of wealth etc for their lack of enterprising
nature. Why are they not complaining about Non-Andhra enterprises like
Reliance, Bharti etc who are doing business in Hyderabad.

from:  Prakash
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 13:45 IST

Baseless and unpleasant argument raised by the author. Chennai
agitation differs from Sammayikandra agitation. Because., in the
Chennai agitation Andhra people demand for separation from the Madras
presidency in the linguistic way to form new state and in that way we
demanded for Chennai as a capital. But., at this point we are
demanding for united Andhra parade-sh, we never argued and demanded
only Hyd city province. We are asking 23 districts unitedly should
call the AP. Some people and writers were tried to hammering lies to
dilute the agitation which evolve in the region of in Ap people.

from:  lakshiaakula
Posted on: Sep 29, 2013 at 22:41 IST

It is a ridiculous comparison.Seemandhra people are not agitating for bifurcation of the State. They are agitating for keeping the State united in protest against the stand taken by UPA2 Government to carve out separate state for Telangana region.The author's narration of events that led to carving out of separate State for Telugu speaking people from the composite State of Madras can not be equated with the present movements in Andhra Pradesh.The Capital city of Hyderabad has turned out to be an inalienable portion of the State. The interests of all stake holders are interlaced with the Capital city which has grown into a gigantic mega city with the efforts of people of all regions.Pandora's box has been opened.It should be very carefully closed to avoid being hit upon by it.

from:  Araja Ramakrishna
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 15:59 IST

@ Dr. R. Prabhakar - Get your facts correct. You are talking about Indian Tamils who migrated there to work in tea plantations. SL Tamils are the original inhabitants of the island. Sinhalese migrated later and occupied the land. It has been proved beyond doubt through archaeological evidence that Tamils lived there for thousands of years ago.

from:  Venkatesan
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 14:39 IST

Census Tamil(%) Telugu(%)
1901 61.2 21.3
1911 62.3 20.7
1921 63.9 19.8
1931 63.6 19.3
1941 NA NA
1951 67.9 19.3
1961 70.9 14.1
1971 73.7 12.0
1981 74.5 12.0
1991 76.7 10.5

These are the official census details from 1901 to 1991 , and at no point in time have Teluguites even crossed even 30%. So based on what information are you making Teluguites 55% claim.

Please don't make such ridiculous claims when you don't have proofs for the same !

from:  Bharanithar Babu E
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 13:23 IST

May be we should redraw states along rivers for a change and keep changing boundaries till a thorough mix up of all people happen and they all become indians..

from:  ramesh
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 13:21 IST

It is not the right comparison , the writer should understand the people of other region does not want division on "self interested" motives . During Orrisa state formation in 1938 British regime by Mr.C.H.Phillip & A.C. Duff commission visited of Oriya speaking people upto then waltair (now Vizag)before actual separation made Cuttack as capital . Like wisr Mr. Nehru & Mrs. Indira Gandhi has broad vision and handled both Telangana & Andhra issues in spite of wars 1956 - 65 and 1971-72 Bangladesh war stalled agitation. Full co-operation & credit goes to all CMs.Post agitation re-work by Dr.M.Chennareddy & J.Vengal rao then chief ministers consolidated party result 1971,77 & 80 general election posted Congress in AP could win 40 plus MPs for Integrated Mission. As a result so many PSUs established in and around Hyd. The then sentiments of Chennai is exclusively political of either regions. No water disputes at all.

from:  Ravindra
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 12:33 IST

I see only resemblance that day Andhra leaders were thinking about their leadesip
with less competition and today Telangana leaders are looking for the same.
If Andhra is separated Mr P.V.Narasimharao will go in history as the only PM from
Telugus. Andhra leaders to be blamed for leaving half chennai, Arcot districts to
Tamilnadu, Kolor and Ballari to Karnataka, Parlakimudi and Berhampur to Orissa.
To day the Telugus are called migrants though they were living there for the time
of Shalivahanas. That time division is between two people with different language
and culture.They cannot communicate with each other because of language is
totally different. Here the division between brothers If you say the slang is different
then the slanf of north and south coastal regions id different. I read articles written
by eminent people that Telangana development is less comparing 90's 2010 and
not 60;s 2010. Check the figure from date f amalgamation then you will know who
is benifitted

from:  B. P. Kamalkumar
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 12:10 IST

Its one of the good articles from The Hindu. Potti sri ramulu was forced
to go on fast even when a decision was made to create a seperate state
for Andhra, why? solely for Madras. Even Prakasham panthulu was fighting
for Madras only. Tell me one thing, Will so called Samaikyandhra
movement continue for so called 'unity and integrity of Telugu Speaking
Andhra Race' even if Hyderabad is not in question? Telangana would have
been formed decades back. Accept the facts please.

from:  sunilkumar borra
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 11:46 IST

It is sad and surprising that the 60th Anniversary of the formation of
Andhra Rashtram on 1st October 1953 with the Capital at Kurnool and Sri
T.Prakasam Panthulu as the Chief Minister, is totally forgotten and
neglected by the Govt and also the Media.

from:  Rao BV
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 11:08 IST

The article highlights how politicians of the day played their
political game and today it is again resurfacing in a new political
gamble on the streets of Andhra Pradesh. Today, the people are not so
ignorant of the developments with media and information tools in their
hands, but the agitations today are different from those took place
then. The politician of that day were able to hoodwink and play the
game with their own rules but gone are those days, where people would
listen to them. The tide now is that politicians and administration
should respect the public voice and move according to the tide if not
I fear a situation the nation that is called India would be at
stake.Today, the agitation started with development as an issue and
took different turns/colors and now it has bogged down to fight for a
City which is developed. If the Telangana people are so concerned
about development they should ask for a new capital city and leave
Hyderabad as a separate entity of its own.

from:  Hari Prasad
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 10:59 IST

Dear Editor,
Setting the context straight, Firstly, your assertion of 15 % Telugus
in chennai is GROSSLY WRONG.I am sorry for being little harsh, but the
fact is at the time of Andhra state formation, Telugu population
constitute more than 55 %. I am an independent activist who works
closely with ASI and various other organizations. To substantiate the
claim there are quite a lot of maps and inscriptions available.In fact
you can very well verify the maps present in 15th century and
composition of population in the then chennai(Damerla Chennakesava
nayakudu).

However it is of not much relevant to today. Coming to Hyderabad, I am
from Warangal dt. A good number people very well knew that Telangana
and Andhra are just synonyms.For Pure political reasons, politicians
are widening the barrier among the public of 2 regions( so called,
though i don't buy this).We would appreciate if you can come up with
Complete Truths/Comprehensive Truths/Thorough Truths.

from:  Sai Kiran
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 10:51 IST

It is evident, how facts are tampered in Samaikyandhra movement. The intention behind Sri Ramulu's fast unto death was Madras, but not for a linguistically separate state, as it was declared three years before his immolation.

from:  Srinivas Bandameedi
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 10:03 IST

. This article is nothing short of a clear distortion of ongoing
agitation by millions of voluntary millions of anguished people
Coastal Andrha, Rayalaseema and also of majority in Telangana Regions
for unity and integrity of Telugu Speaking Andhra Race in present
State of Andhra Pradesh. Your article is an attempt to project the
agitation is only for Hyderabad Twin City. History resembles in
several aspects but ingredients will be different. Fighting for a
separate entity and identity is the root cause in every case. There is
no such element in separatism launched by Politicians in Andhra
Pradesh. We respect the conservative and preservative quality of
Tamilians towards their linguistic, cultural and traditional heritage.
Recent history also show how Tamilinians migrated to Sri Lanka around
2-3 hundreds ago as Tea plantation and for works, how started
demanding separate Eelam (Nation), why more than 30,000 people are
killed there. Try to understand the emotional sentiments of people.

from:  Dr. R. Prabhakar
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 09:37 IST

Thank you for your very detailed yet irrelevant op-ed. There is absolutely no comparison between what happened then and what is going on now. If you can do you fact checking, Telangana and Seemandhra are areas where Telugu is spoken unlike in the scenario you submit. Please Hindu, when will you take the blinders off? I am not even a Telugu person, but being a resident of Hyderabad, I can see that this was all a political song and dance that was introduced by the Congress to stave off the threat of YSRCP growing and that spineless Naidu/TDP just played the game sitting on the wall, ready to jump on any side that assured them a few seats. How come The Hindu, with all its journalistic prowess is unable to detect this? Please, please, please for God's sake, report the truth or get out of the business of reporting. I am not even sure if this comment of mine will grace your comments section.

from:  Sanjay Sethi
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 08:27 IST

This is indeed a good write up & analysis by the author! Telugus used
to constitute about 20% of Madras population and their presence is
reflected everywhere. TN political leaders used to help them when
Telugus are in need and distress. Cinema used to play a catalystic
role in creating friendly relation between Tamils and Telugus. Fearing
Telugu invasion,CR meticulously convinced Panditji to ease them out of
Madras province. In this process he had given up god's abode Tirupati.
Had the Tamils accommodated Telugu capital around Anna Nagar-Ambattur
belt (It was a jungle then) with large heart, Chennai city would have
been the best cultural & political centre and a world-class affluent
metro by now. Tamils may be happy with Telugus exit from Chennai and
Telugu is hardly spoken in TN these days. But Telugu cinema's
voluntary exit from Chennai put the last nail in the coffin of this
amity. Similarly Khargpur once a Telugu pocket in Bengal is lost in
time to the detriment.Healing needed ?

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 07:17 IST

Excellent summary of post independence history of linguistic type of separatist
movements fueled by politicians with vested interests in their own personal futures!
Hope the Andhras of old do not win out again against the Hyderabadis who were the
ones taken over!!

from:  sriram
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 06:36 IST

Let author be reminded that history will not be allowed to repeat! Hindu seems to be
showing rather unusual interest in AP issues. Andhra and Telangana are bound by
Telugu and unlike Tamilnadu and Andhra. This issue will be sorted by Telugus. Please
mind your other business....

from:  Arjun
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 06:23 IST

In this day and age, it's better, all the states in India are abolished,
and ONE NATION INDIA is heralded. None of the regional languages will
ever disappear. It's better the states' political apparatus are forever
abolished. Yes, it is revolutionary step, but the time has come. No
fears, no tears. One parliament of 'law makers' is enough for corruption
saturated India

from:  S. N. Swamy
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 05:09 IST

The article must have mentioned Madras Presidency not State. However,
as a student of Engineering at Kakinada between 1948and 1952 me and my
friends from Tamil nadu who were sent to East Godavari by the venerable
Avinashilingam Chettiar promoting regional cooperation, could feel that
the animosity against the Tamils was acute. The Ramapada Sagar project
with a dam across the Godavari was to provide a huge canal leading even
to Chingleput was torpedoed by the ApCC even though Dr.K.L.Rao who
proposed it was himself was a staunch Andhra with a Ph.D from
Loughborough, U.K.Rajaji has been right in his assertion that
linguistic states creation " was a tribal idea".

from:  subbanarasu Divakaran
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 01:48 IST

In whichever way the Andhra-Telengana tangle unfolds, it appears most likely that the Hyderabad district a) will be contained well within the geographic area of the Telengana State, and b) will not have a border with the yet-to-be formed Seemandhra state.

One serious proposal is to keep Hyderabad as Centrally administered territory (like Chandigarh), as the joint Capital for both Telengana and Seemandhra. This is a bad precedent for many reasons, political, economic, cultural, and social.

But even as bad as it is, if this arrangement indeed happens, this will be a very bad deal for Seemandhra. This will be the only state in the union of states of India -- may be in the whole wide world -- without a state capital within its own territory.

This is a very absurd arrangement.

It is better that Seemandhra start building a new capital from day after its formation.

from:  Kollengode S Venkataraman
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 01:20 IST

The writer omits the fact that Chennai for Andhra agitation petered out once Hyderabad/Telengana was granted to Andhra. So while history repeating itself is a convenient cliche that never resolves anything, today's agitation is an outcome of a hasty division done more than sixty years ago. It is all the more reason that any division shouldnt be done if it cannot pass in the current Andhra assembly.

from:  ashokr
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 01:17 IST

The issue of Chennai made a mountain by the author , was settled by 1952 so amicably! The writer worked backwards from the current example of Hyderabad and reached a non issue.

from:  nadeeem ansari
Posted on: Sep 28, 2013 at 01:10 IST
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