The Great Distrust

Published: 07th September 2014 06:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th September 2014 06:15 AM   |  A+A-

By ENS

In a manner, customs, traditions and general outlook on life, the two groups differ, and in a general way, though in a less intensified form, the distrust and apprehension of domination and exploitation which exist in a Telugu mind against the Tamil, find their counterpart in the Rayalaseema mind against the Coastal districts. In order to secure the cooperation of Rayalaseema in the formation of the proposed Province of Andhra, an agreement was made between Rayalaseema and the ceded (sic, probably meant Coastal) districts by which certain concessions were made to Rayalaseema in regard to its development, its voting strength in the legislature and facilities for university education. The agreement is dated November 16, 1937, is popularly know as the Sri Bagh Pact. According to this agreement Rayalaseema has a right to demand equal seats in the legislature, to secure priority for its irrigational schemes and to have the choice of locating the High Court or the capital within its borders and to have a university centre at Anantapur. A great deal of controversy exists as to the present attitude of Rayalaseema in regard to the formation of the proposed Andhra province. A statement was produced signed by 20 of the 25 Rayalaseema MLAs in which the demand for a separate province was opposed as being wholly misconceived and inopportune and its acceptance, if unavoidable, was made conditional upon the literal enforcement of the Sri Bagh Pact. There can be no doubt that one section of the Rayalaseema opinion is definitely opposed to the formation of the proposed Andhra Province……Rayalaseema being educationally, politically and economically backward, it apprehends Coastal domination and exploitation in services, legislatures, and in development schemes. And altogether, it sees a better chance for the future development of Rayalaseema in undivided Madras than in divided Madras after the separation of Andhra, Kerala etc. Equally clearly, another section of Rayalaseema opinion is willing to throw in its lot with the Coastal districts in forming the new province. We are not in a position to judge the relative strength of these opinions, nor is it necessary to do so. It must, however, be accepted that in 1937, when the Sri Bagh Pact was made, Rayalaseema was not willing to form a separate Andhra province except on certain terms and conditions incorporated in the Pact. One section has asked us to hold, on the evidence given before us that, even if the pact cannot be enforced, Rayalaseema is willing to trust the Coastal districts and is prepared to form the province without the pact. But we find ourselves unable to do so, because this controversy in our opinion can only be satisfactorily set at rest by a plebiscite or by an election issue and cannot be satisfactorily determined by a tribunal upon statements made before it by a few witnesses of each side. Some of the Coastal leaders have asked us to recommend that the government might bring about reconciliation between the two groups so that the new province could be formed by consent. The terms of the pact cannot be fitted into the draft Constitution and are unlikely to be enforceable under any new Constitution we can foresee. What steps the govt can take to bring about the compromise we do not know. This inquiry in some ways has been an eyeopener to us. The work of 60 years of the Indian National Congress was standing before us face to face with centuries old India of narrow loyalties, petty jealousies, and ignorant prejudices engaged in mortal conflict, and we were simply horrified to see how thin was the ice upon which we were skating. Some of the ablest men in the country came before us and confidently and emphatically stated that language in this country stood for and represented the culture, tradition, race, history , individuality , and finally, a subnation, that the government of a linguistic group could not be safely left in the hands of a multi-lingual group; and that each linguistic group must have a territory of its own and that its territory was inviolate and and could not be shared with any other linguistic group. “The bitter dispute that rages between Tamils and Telugus in regard to the city of Madras and, in a greater degree between the Marathas and Gujaratis about the city of Bombay, reveals a mentality which to our mind will be the death knell of Indian nationalism.”

(Extracts from the Report of the Linguistic Provinces Commission (Dar Commission ), 1948)

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