What the Hyderabad-Deccan area teaches us about belonging

Occasions like ‘Hyderabad Liberation Day’ celebrations are anchored in a dominant concept of belonging to 1 house, however Hyderabad-Deccan’s historical past teaches us that cultural belonging will not be so easy.

This piece is a part of TNM’s Deccan Collection dropped at you in collaboration with the Khidki Collective, a set of eight essays that can have a look at what it means to belong to the Deccan, which doesn’t exist as a state or administrative entity, however nonetheless defines folks and communities, how they reside, what their politics is.


Throughout fieldwork for my PhD on Hyderabad-Karnataka within the yr 2017, I used to be interviewing ladies migrants from the area dwelling in Bengaluru and dealing as development labour,  about their expertise of migration. The area is without doubt one of the most uncared for elements of Karnataka and in common narratives, its poverty is blamed — wrongly — on its having been a part of the Nizam state. For the reason that Eighties, there was a gentle misery migration from the area to Bengaluru. The ladies recounted their helplessness within the preliminary years in Bengaluru once they couldn’t perceive the native Kannada dialect in any respect. 

“We might simply stare at folks blankly in the event that they spoke to us. We didn’t perceive what they mentioned and they might not perceive what we mentioned,” one lady advised me. To them, the actual fact of belonging to a linguistic state had supplied no consolation in occasions of their misery migration. What did supply them some consolation was a way of neighborhood they felt staying along with different migrants from the area. Collectively, they shared a belonging to the desha, an area of familiarity the place people shared frequent practices of language, meals and dwelling. 

Over lengthy years of residence within the metropolis and the continual round migration between the area and town, Bengaluru needed to some extent turn into a part of the desha for the ladies I interviewed. However these belongings remained unrecognised by the state for whom the migrant needed to at all times return to her correct house of belonging — the village — after she served town along with her labour. Within the dominant worldview of states and its ideologues, one can belong to just one house — to 1 nation, to 1 linguistic neighborhood, to the village your husband hails from. 

This concept that we are able to belong to just one entity has additionally formed up to date historical past and politics within the Deccan.

Territorial formations within the Deccan

On September 17, 1948, Hyderabad-Deccan ceased to exist as a princely state and was annexed to the newly fashioned Indian Union by an Indian Military operation termed ‘Police Motion’. On today, the final Nizam of the Asaf Jahi dynasty, Mir Osman Ali Khan, gave up his declare to retain the state as an unbiased unit which was not aligned to Pakistan or India. 

Years later, on November 1, 1956, the Hyderabad-Deccan state itself ceased to exist as its constituent elements of Hyderabad-Karnataka, Telangana and Marathwada have been joined into the linguistic states of Mysore (now Karnataka), Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra (then referred to as Bombay state till 1960). In June 2014, the Telangana districts of the erstwhile Hyderabad-Deccan state have been separated from Andhra Pradesh state to type a brand new state. 

On September 17, 2019, to mark what’s now being referred to as ‘Hyderabad Liberation Day’, the-then Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa renamed the Hyderabad-Karnataka area as Kalyana-Karnataka. This was each a promise that ‘kalyana’ (progress) will probably be introduced into this uncared for area and a nod to the political predominance of the Lingayat religion for whom the place Kalyani (now referred to as Basavakalyan in Bidar district) holds an necessary place in its historical past.

Every of those occasions converse of how concepts of territorial belonging tackle a political type. If the annexation of Hyderabad was the fruition of a dominant sentiment that Hyderabad-Deccan belongs correctly to India alone, the disintegration of the state was an assertion that totally different linguistic areas don’t belong with one another however with their linguistic counterparts neighbouring them. The separation of Telangana was an assertion of the distinctiveness of the area whereas Yediyurappa’s renaming of Hyderabad-Karnataka could be learn as an try and erase the area’s connection to Hyderabad state and yoke it to the dominant caste neighborhood that has been his loyal assist base.

Hyderabad and India

In a White Paper on Hyderabad in 1948, the Indian authorities claimed that there had been a ‘full collapse of regulation and order within the state’ and that almost all neighborhood was being harmed and that Razakars had taken to looting, arson and violence. Though new archival materials has referred to as into query this narrative of widespread violence, the narrative has sustained over time in public creativeness. The calls to time period today as ‘liberation day’ is a provocative amplification of this narrative.

The Indian Union’s actions at the moment have been justified by vocal calls for by non-state actors such because the Hyderabad State Congress (HSC) and  the Arya Samaj amongst others. The premise was that the one proper type of belonging for everybody, significantly the state’s majority Hindu topics, was to the Indian nation. 

Nevertheless till about 1946, even the HSC and the Arya Samaj, weren’t demanding that the Nizam be overthrown or changed. Somewhat, their demand was for consultant establishments to share state energy with the Nizam. It’s only when political processes in British India started to offer concrete form to the thought of an unbiased Indian state that allegiances have been shifted to the brand new nation to return.

These particulars are necessary as a result of it alerts us to a time when neither the form and type of the Indian nation nor the connection of varied territorial entities (which we now name as federal states) to the Union was settled. Belonging to the Indian Union was not crucial; within the Nineteen Forties, it was nonetheless evolving, being negotiated and needed to cope with different assertions of belonging. 

Hyderabad and its disintegration

Within the early Nineteen Fifties, the demand for linguistic reorganisation of states started to develop in south India. Key to this reorganisation was the disintegration of Hyderabad. Claims have been made that the state was an ‘unnatural entity’ as a result of 4 dominant linguistic communities had been ‘pressured’ to remain beneath a ‘feudal’ ruler. 

The motion for linguistic reorganisation was primarily based on the premise {that a} linguistic neighborhood wanted to belong to a territorial unit the place its language was predominant. Inside this world-view the place a person is taken into account as belonging to just one linguistic cosmos, the existence of Hyderabad itself was thought of offensive.

Once more, it’s helpful to keep in mind that these have been simply one of many many visions within the Nineteen Fifties. For instance, when talks of disintegration of the state have been afoot, even Pandit Narendra of the Arya Samaj and later Congress, who had been a vocal critic of the Asaf Jahi dynasty opposed it. He argued that there was no large-scale assist for the disintegration of the state; if the state was ‘unnatural’ as a result of it was multilingual, then the identical may very well be mentioned of India the place a minimum of 52 languages have been being spoken. For him there have been no right or unilinear types of belonging. Diversities and multiplicities may co-exist and weren’t threatening to 1 one other. 

As occasions performed out in Hyderabad-Deccan, these totally different visions of belonging circulating within the Nineteen Forties and 50s in and concerning the area could have died. However the ladies like these I interviewed throughout my fieldwork create and reside in a number of areas and occasions to which they really feel a way of belonging. They defy territory. These belongings are sometimes bodily and emotionally extra enduring than the nation or the linguistic state. These are the anchors of neighborhood.

Swathi Shivanand is an unbiased educational in Bengaluru and has labored on concepts of improvement surrounding Hyderabad-Deccan and Karnataka for her doctoral thesis.

The Khidki Collective is a gaggle of students committing to reimagining and constructing views on regional identities with a view to difficult established narratives round historical past, nationhood and belonging. Areas have existed even earlier than India got here into being and live on. By not neatly becoming into dominant notions equivalent to Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan, areas develop our imaginations. The collective takes its identify from Khidki – window, the early medieval identify of Aurangabad metropolis, in addition to the identify of a well-known octagonal mosque in Delhi constructed by an administrator who recognized himself as a Telangani. The collective is anchored on the Hyderabad City Lab.

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