Telangana – India’s new state

Photo: Ravikiranr/Creative Commons License

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K. Chanrasekhara Rao ended his  ‘fast-unto-death’ protest on Monday after New Delhi promised to create a new state of Telangana for 35 million people and consisting of 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh with Hyderabad a its capital. TRS’s victory once again highlights the fragile union of India’s 28 state.

Home Minister’s announcement not only got the Telugu-speaking people excited – it also gave a booster to neighboring Tamil-speaking people who has been fighting for an autonomous state within Indian union or an outright independent Tamil Nadu state.

After independence in 1947 – the Congress government has divided the country into 16 states based on ethnic and linguist lines. Later, the Indian map was revised by spliting several larger states into smaller states – which has resulted into 28 current states under central government in New Delhi. Some Indian analyst believe that the creation of a new Telangana state will open a can of worm – and within next decade India could end up with 50 states to satisfy other ethnic factions which are fighting for independence from India.

The region of Telugu-speaking people has been a part of Muslim dynasty of Qutub Shah (1520-1687) followed by Mughal empire (1687 – 1724) and under Hyderabad princely state (1724-1948). It was ruled by Muslims under Nizam dynasty. During the Btitish Raj, Nizams maintained their independence by friendly treaty with the British colonial power. When the British left in August 1947 – The 7th Nizam refused to join either Hindu India or Muslim Pakistan. However, Indian army invaded Hyderabad state on September 18, 1948 and annexed it with the Indian union. Hyderabad city and its surrounding area were predominantly Muslim. However, after its union with India, more and more Hindus from the neighboring areas were encouraged to settle in the Muslim-majority areas. Now, Hyderabad is a predominantly Hindu with a strong Muslim minority.

India’s 500,000 soldiers have been fighting the freedom-fighters in its Muslim-majority (80%) state of Jammu and Kashmir since its independence. The other major internal war at Indian army involved is against Naxalite rebels.

Arun Nair wrote last year: “India was home to one of humanity’s greatest Islamic cultures for well over 1000 years. It is not by any means, a dead part of our culture – nearly 160 million Indians are Muslims, several national icons are Muslims, mosques and Islamic architecture litter the country and Muslim holidays are shared by all. And yet, to a lot of Indians, Islam doesn’t feel Indian, but Pakistani. Despite their respective religious majorities, it is odd that Buddhism doesn’t feel Sri Lankan, and Hinduism itself, Nepali….”

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