The Politics of Insecurity

Gone were the days when political parties spoke and thought about development as the main agenda of their political manifesto. While they peripherally still speak about development of the state and that of its people to be their main focus, they seldom act in such a way. The trend today seems to be where the political parties and interest groups attempt to achieve political mileage by creating a sense of insecurity among the people or by exploiting the existing insecurity. This is an attempt to establish this theme by looking at a few political movements in India and try to understand its nature as an age-old phenomenon than a recent trend.

The Telangana Issue

I would like to begin with the Telangana movement in Andhra Pradesh, as I belonging to the state and have followed the agitations since 2004. The movement has been in the furnace for decades, long even before the time when the two Telugu speaking regions of South India have decided to merge into a single state called Andhra Pradesh in 1956. I do not wish to delve into the rationale behind the movement, but wish to write on the behaviour of politicians and other leaders of the Telangana movement since 2001, especially of the leaders of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). Undoubtedly, there have been differences in development among all three regions of the state. While the rationale behind the movement has been ‘underdevelopment’ when compared to the other regions, the path chosen by the leaders to put their theory of underdevelopment forward, was mostly hate speech. By deliberately calling the people of Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra ‘looters’, ‘goons’, ‘capitalists’, ‘imperialists’ on multiple occasions over the years, the leaders of the Telangana movement have tried to implant hatred in the people of Telangana. They have succeeded in creating insecurity among the people, especially students, government employees, farmers of the region. A majority of them have begun to believe in the voice that there is ‘one’ magic solution to all their problems, i.e., the creation of a separate state. The leadership has been successful in making them believe that it is only because of the ‘goon mentality’ of Kosta Andhra and Rayalaseema that Telangana remains backwards. This, I believe was a deliberate attempt to make Telangana people believe that they are inferior compared to the others and are unable to compete with them in education and jobs. This I believe, made them insecure and is one of the major contributor for an active participation of students and employees in the agitation, especially post 2009. Also, from time to time, people of Kosta and Rayalaseema, especially the employees working in the Telangana region have been threatened to leave, thus creating insecurity among them and imbibing uncertainty about their status in the capital region if a separate state is formed. For those who have lived for a generation or two and have strong socio-economic ties with the capital, this uncertainty made them feel insecure and forced them to oppose the formation of a new Telangana state at any cost. The recent successful organisation of a meeting by APNGOs in Hyderabad and the overwhelming turnout is a testimony. The point to be noted is that, rather than being responsible and trying to find out mutually agreeable solutions, the leaders seem to have banked on creating hatred and insecurity to fuel their political mileage, thus making the situation complex day by day. This ever-growing insecurity among the people in both the regions seem to fuel the movement in a very strong manner.

The Communal side of Hyderabad: Political angle of Hindu-Muslim divide

It is quite interesting that the second example should come from Andhra Pradesh, this time on communal grounds. The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) traces it’s roots to the pre-independence period and during the independence period, it is deemed a notorious status for taking a pro-Pakistan stand. The atrocities of the branches of MIM (Razakars) under the leadership of Quasim Razvi around 1947-1950 needs no mention. Leaving the past behind, the AIMIM rose from the ashes of MIM as a democratic party, mainly confined to the city of Hyderabad, where their primary interests lie. They represent the majority of Hyderabadi Muslims and portray themselves as their protectors. Being a minority amidst a majority of Hindu population, the Islāmic extremists are constant conflict with the extremist Hindus. This insecurity, as I see, made Muslims of Hyderabad to support the AIMIM as a political voice and the party has been successful all these years banking on that factor. Very less have they worked on uplifting the poor Muslims and making the community empowered. The upper echelons of the Muslim community continue to enjoy the benefits while the others live in the same state of ignorance and backwardness. What makes them think less on development and more on survival and dominance, in my opinion is this insecurity in a common Hyderabadi Muslim.

As an old proverb says, “fire can’t be made by just one stone”. As much as there is insecurity among the Muslims and parties have been successful in exploiting it, the Hindu extremists too have done their part to exploit the insecurity of the Hindus of Hyderabad and they still do. It must be noted that the extremists of both religions made life difficult for common people by pitting against each other. The Hindu extremists of Hyderabad always wanted to keep the Muslims at bay and created a threatening picture among the Hindus thus trying to gain mileage over the Muslim parties. This tug of war has existed for so long that every religious event in Hyderabad is looked at suspicion by the other group. The Bhagyalakshmi temple controversy right inside the Charminar compound signifies growing tensions between two extremist groups. These extremists have made the situation so complex that an average Hindu and Muslim in the Old City of Hyderabad today thinks that his survival very much depends on his allegiance to the political wing representing ones religion.

The Partition of India

As it goes on, I am sad that more and more examples should come out of India and the fact that most politics happening in the country are primarily based on exploiting the insecurity of a group. The idea of the partition of India stemmed from the belief of a section of Muslims that they are never safe in a Hindu majority country and that a separate nation was necessary for them to be safe and prosper. This opinion grew and became a major issue by 1940s. The fact that Muslim League rose to be the single largest party in British Punjab during the 1946 Provincial Assembly Elections by winning 75 seats (from just 2 seats in 1937), shows a wide support from the Muslims of Punjab to secessionist Muslim League. They probably felt, they would be safe in a Muslim majority new country than being together with the Hindu majority. I do not wish to deal with the causes of hostility of Muslims towards the Unionists and Congress, but I think there is strong enough evidence to believe that this reaction in part was due to the policies of the Hindu Majority Congress towards the Muslims and their inability to represent the entire population of India.

I am forced to believe that this insecurity among people has been persistent in different times in all regions of the country for some reason or the other. Examples of perfect harmony have been very less and conflicts have always been a driver for change of attitude of one group towards the others. Be it (i) the Nazi Germans who felt insecure of growing power of the Jews in their society (or) the Westerners who felt threatened by the growing power of Nazis, (ii) the Marathas who felt threatened by of the religious policies of Aurangzeb (or) the British who felt threatened by the power of Marathas, (iii) the native Americans who almost went into extinction because of the Europeans (or) the White Americans who felt threatened by the imposition of British power in the thirteen colonies, one common theme in all these examples is the fear of losing freedom and power to the others and hence striving to negate that influence on the people. This insecurity among people, running parallel to the hunger for power among its elite have shaped the history of the world and it still continues to do so.


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