The educational cost of political bifurcation

I have said much of what there is to be said about the political nonsense at play behind the call for a new Telangana state. But what continues to intrigue me is that there are some people who spread the superstition that having the northern districts of Andhra Pradesh report directly to the Indian Parliament (by way of forming a new state called Telangana) instead of the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly is a method of increasing the pace of economic development of the people therein. One wonders why they don’t take that argument to its logical next step and say that it’s even better for those districts to report directly to the United Nations by way of declaring them as a new country!

In reality, the political bifurcation of the Telugu people has a strict long-term negative impact on the economic development of Telugu people as a whole (yes, I mean not just of the people of Telangana, but of all the people of undivided Andhra Pradesh). To understand why, one needs to pay due respect to the most important ingredient of economic development of any people – that long forgotten ingredient called education, and to the long forgotten fact that education of the Telugu people is best conducted in the Telugu language. I will, perhaps, repeat this truth about the importance of education and the role of the mother-tongue therein unto my last, because truth is the only thing which is worth repeating, the only thing whose repetition does not strain the repeater.

In short, my point is that the proposed political bifurcation of the Telugus has a net negative impact on the education of the Telugu people – something which will hurt the economic progress of the Telugu people in the long run.

To appreciate the truth behind this rather convoluted-looking claim, readers must pay attention to the fact that the state is the most important actor in the education sector of Andhra Pradesh (and of every other Indian state too, including Karnataka). That is, there are no non-state actors who play any significant role in the education of the Telugu people. It’s the state which runs more than 80% of schools in Andhra Pradesh. It is the state which runs almost all the Telugu medium schools in Andhra Pradesh (the only medium of instruction which bears any promise for the future). It is the state which runs any schools in the rural areas of Andhra Pradesh – areas from which private schools are repelled.

Languages being what they are, Telugu is spread out as different dialects over what is known as Andhra Pradesh today. Thus, the Telugu spoken in the northern districts of Andhra Pradesh is simultaneously similar to and different from the Telugu spoken in, say, the coastal districts. Linguists and educationists who are firmly rooted in the truth that mother-tongue education is best know that this internal diversity is a very important asset of the Telugu people as a whole. This diversity is the most important raw material for the development of each dialect as the language of science and technology, of all higher learning. It is therefore the most important raw material for the educational and consequently the economic development of the speakers of every dialect of Telugu. Thus, the northern dialects spoken in Telangana have much to learn from the southern ones in Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, and vice versa. What do they have to learn? Each has to learn from the other words, the ways of combining them, the ways of coining new ones, the true grammar of the Telugu language, etc., etc. In Indian states, as in France and Israel, these things related to language are the responsibility of the state. Now this fact is not appreciated by “less government” freaks whose ideology emanates out of large linguistic deserts such as the United States of America. It is very harmful for Indians to forget that this great responsibility lies with the state. I will be happy to withdraw this statement on the day someone can show me a single non-state institution which takes up these tasks and is able to sustain itself. But what I can tell you is that this is not going to happen in Indian states for long, and there will be no need to withdraw this statement for a long time to come – atleast not for the next 200 years.

The foregoing being the importance of the internal diversity of the Telugu language and the responsibility of the state in the development of the language, the consequences of a political bifurcation should be easy to understand: with two different states, the prospects of the Telangana dialects learning from the Coastal and Rayalaseema dialects and vice-versa will be significantly harmed. The very idea of bifurcation is rooted in the destructive belief that the Telugu language, its diversity, the burning need for the diverse dialects to “work with each other” in the synthesis of a new-age Telugu, the development of Telugu as the language of higher learning, and very importantly, the role of the state in these matters – are all of no importance. It is rooted in the feeling that the very identity of the Telugu people is unimportant. It is rooted in the utterly false belief that a divided people are better than a united people (if this is true, why should India not disintegrate into dozens of different countries?). Political bifurcation will bring about all that; it will ensure that the Telugu language remains unimportant, that the education of the Telugus will leave much to be desired forever, that the economic situation of the Telugus remains in a sorry state forever.

The problem is, nobody is paying attention to these facts of crucial importance. Many even claim that the only support for an undivided Andhra Pradesh comes from purely political and irrational quarters. At Banavasi Balaga, we beg to differ. It is support for bifurcation which stems from purely political and irrational quarters, and to them we’d like to say “Welcome to the science of language, education and economic progress”.


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