The 1969 Telangana agitation is a clear proof of this. As a sociological-caste-cultural phenomenon, it raised many questions with regards to the coastal Andhra settlers and their positions in the socio-economic and political structure of Telangana.
Hyderabad: This article is in continuation to the last article focusing on the Jai Telangana Movement (1969-70), which is one of the important topics for the government recruitment examinations.
Land, caste and the ‘Settler’ in Telangana
Formation of a united linguistic State disregarding patterns of economic and agrarian change caused several problems
The State of Andhra Pradesh came into existence in 1956 as a consequence of the historic movements launched by the Telugu-speaking people living under two different political regimes, namely the British and the Nizam of Hyderabad. The roots of popular movements for redrawing and regrouping of provincial boundaries lie in the divergent socio-cultural awakening, which can be traced to the early decades of the twentieth century.
An accelerated sense of regional, linguistic identity and cultural consciousness, alongside the rising tide of nationalism, successfully mobilised the support of dominant caste/class elite, based on landed property, wealth, education and profession. The articulation of such elite in terms of the unity of Telugu people on linguistic basis sought to wipe out the sub-regional distinctiveness in the state. It also attempted to minimise the socio-economic disparities within the macro-region as well as to underplay the long-term damages to the backward sub-region.
The formation of a united linguistic State disregarding the patterns of economic/agrarian change and socio-economic transformation caused several problems. The merging of two unequal regions and the subsequent inter-regional mobility of people paved the way for social/caste tensions in rural Telangana. The 1969 Telangana agitation is a clear proof of this. As a sociological-caste-cultural phenomenon, it raised many questions with regards to the coastal Andhra settlers and their positions in the socio-economic and political structure of Telangana.
Historically, the migration of coastal Andhra peasantry to Telangana began during the first two decades of the present century. Although the Telangana region was endowed with abundant natural resources, it did not provide opportunities for the local peasantry to undertake intensive agriculture mainly due to the autocratic rule of the Nizam and his feudal lords whereas the coastal areas under the British colonial rule witnessed noticeable agrarian transformation, especially after the construction of Godavari-Krishna anicuts. Thus, it became agriculturally dynamic in terms of better irrigation system and expanding commercial farming.
Cash crop cultivation gradually replaced the growth of subsistence crops. The rise in agricultural prices, growth of agrarian market and export trade in cash crops like cotton, tobacco, etc., provided ample opportunities for the peasantry to obtain profits. The accumulated profits were, in turn, ploughed back into agricultural sector in the form of money lending, investments land purchases, agrarian trade in paddy, tobacco and the establishment of agro-industries like rice mills, oil mills, tobacco and sugar factories.
Therefore, by the first quarter of the twentieth century, a new strategy of dynamic rich peasantry had emerged in the delta districts of Krishna, Godavari and Guntur. In caste terms, the entrepreneurial farmer capitalist class of the coastal region belonged mainly to Kamma and Kapu communities.
To be continued…