The Telugu World column# 16
You have read so far about how Telugus ‘transplanted like rice’ distinguished themselves, have spread all over India and contributed to the development of several states. The Covid-19 pandemic that threatened the whole world showed how Telugu students “stuck” in many countries were rescued and brought to India by the Union Government whose record in this regard was far better than that of many countries. Going to England or the USA is quite common, but it was a surprise to read of Telugu students being brought to Delhi from Italy, quarantined there and then brought to the Telugu states. Quite a few Telugu students are studying medicine in Russia because of the mutual recognition of each other’s medical degrees and the examinations qualifying for them.
Telugus therefore have distinguished themselves all over the world. In the IT world of Silicon Valley in the USA a substantial percentage of Indians is of Telugus and according to one report Telugu is the fastest growing foreign language of the USA. In Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam almost every other house has one person either studying or working in the USA. Going to the US after doing a B.E or B. Tech. Degree is considered as normal for a boy as getting married is for a girl in the two Telugu states. That explains why more and more schools switch over to English medium every year and the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to have English as the sole medium of instruction in all schools at all levels. Some Telugus who just got ‘transplanted’ thus to other states may know how to read and write the language. Their children may speak Telugu but rarely can read and write it. The third generation can neither speak nor read/write Telugu.
At the risk of repeating myself for the umpteenth time, I stress that Telugus need to learn their mother-tongue. The just-ended lockdown period when all people were forced to remain indoors for long periods provided the best opportunity for all to learn Telugu and know about glorious history and literature of te language and the culture of those who speak it. If, thanks to social distancing, there is no one to teach, the ‘Learn Telugu Alphabet and Numbers’ app can be downloaded from Google Play. It can also be accessed at http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.devstudios.learntelugualphabets. Having studied in English medium without any Indian language as supplementary (as I did) is no excuse for not knowing mother-tongue.
The list of Telugu people who lived in other states and distinguished themselves is too long and my own knowledge on the subject is limited. Even Google is not of much help. It is not only the Congress party which had Telugus as national leaders. Godey Murahari of Lucknow who led the Socialist Party of Lohia may not be known even to Socialists today (because he is not a Yadav). The same party entrusted digging up the LIC scandal in early 1960’s to Pusapati Venkata Gajapati Raju, Raja of Vizianagaram, a Socialist. Asked to leave the party when documents on the scandal were stolen from him, he joined the Congress and was Education Minister or AP when he went into a coma, becoming the only Congress leader who did not know of Jawaharlal Nehru’s death for many months. His son Ashok is a Telugu Desam leader and was a union minister responsible for the phenomenal growth of civil aviation in India. Chandra Rajeswar Rao headed the Communist Party of India for many years. Pucchalapalli Sundarayya led the Marxist faction of the party which is now headed by a Telugu, Yechuri Sitaram. Vice-President Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu was also once president of the Bharatiya Janata Party as was another Telugu leader, Bandaru Dattatreya. Under both the Congress and the BJP-led NDA many Telugu leaders, as mentioned earlier, were named governors of states.
People of the Telugu states have been politically very active and distinguished themselves in politics both at the state and national levels. They excelled in other fields too, like Dr, Nayudamma who once headed the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and several governors of Reserve Bank of India from the Telugu states. The south Indian film industry was once almost totally in the hands of Telugu producers and directors and singers like Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao, P. Susheela and P. B. Srinivas almost monopolized playback singing in all southern languages once.
The Telugu people are no more the ‘Madrasis’ mentioned by poet Indeevar in the famous poem that moved Jawaharlal Nehru to tears, ‘Jara Ankhon Me Bharlo Paani.’ Indeevar cannot be blamed for it. That was the perception then of the people whose struggle led to linguistic reorganization of India