Mr. Prabhakar puts the case for ‘Visalandhra’ spiritedly and passionately. My response, like my original essay, may be dispassionate in comparison, since I have, as it were, no dog in this fight. Whether Andhra stays as it is or is divided into two or three states will not affect the way I live or work.
That said, there are a number of logical and historical fallacies in Mr. Prabhakar’s case. Here is the central one. If, as he claims, the “Telugu people” were “together” for “two-and-a-half millenia,” why were the best Telugu musicians in the Tamil country, so many great Tamil and Kannada writers in chiefdoms run by Telugus? The fact is that language as a constitutive feature of political identity is a very modern phenomenon. It originates in the late 18th century in Europe — where it led to the creation of nation-states based on a single language. In mid-20th century India we saw a further innovation — the creation of linguistic provinces.
Mr. Prabhakar could also consider the implications of his claim. If people who speak one language must necessarily be consolidated in a single political unit, as he suggests, why don’t we think then of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh merging now into Uttar Pradesh, so that the Hindi-speakers can feel together and secure?
Need for a second commission
I do, however, agree with Mr. Prabhakar that in every Indian state present and future, there must be effective transferrence of financial and administrative power to city, town, mandal, and village authorities. I also think we need a second States Reorganization Commission to provide enduring solutions.
The first SRC had a jurist, a historian, and a social worker. A second SRC must likewise exclude politicians (retired or serving), and could dispense with a historian too. A jurist like Fali Nariman, a social worker like Ela Bhatt, an economist like Jean Dreze — Indians of all political persuasions might, I think, trust an SRC composed of such qualified and entirely non-partisan experts.
(Ramachandra Guha’s books include India after Gandhi. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)