Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhara Rao deserves to be complimented for the success of the World Telugu Conference. Among the highlights of the Conference was KCR's scintillating speech.

KCR recited passages from Telugu poetry and literature he had learnt as a child, with effortless ease and earned the applause of all the delegates and participants. The way he referred to classical Telugu poets, writers and books through literary allusions was enthralling. The Telangana CM transmitted the distilled wisdom of Satakams in Telugu (such as Vemana Satakam and Sumati Satakam) to the younger generations.

Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, who has his own signature style of public speaking was all praise for KCR. But then comes the question--was the conference really global in nature?

One tends to think that the discussion was all narrowed down to Telangana Mahasabha and it would have been more appropriate had it been called Telangana Telugu Conference. Poets, writers and litterateurs from Telangana were accorded great importance in the name of World Telugu Conference. Moreover, a person of the stature of Deputy Chief Minister Kadiyam Srihari observed that it was Telangana Telugu which could be described as "pure and authentic" and this makes us feel that the Conference had clear political dimensions. There is no doubt that regardless of the number of dialects it has, Telugu is indeed a great language and poets and writers from all the regions of both the Telugu speaking states have beautified and enriched it immensely.

It would be erroneous on their part if politicians speak from a parochial standpoint perceiving the dialect from Telangana to have been suppressed and ridiculed. In the past Telugu Conferences were never held along these lines. History also tells us that the politicians of the day derived no political benefit from them in any way, though one must admit that they find a mention in the pages of history.

Similarly, KCR has earned a good reputation for holding the World Telugu meet and people once again got a glimpse of the literary side of his personality. Such occasions kindle in youngsters an interest in the nuances of language and literature. But to hold a conference related to Telugu on this scale without a reference to the great Sri Sri or balladeer Gaddar, who was in the forefront of the agitation for a separate Telangana through his songs and performances, is not proper. Dr. C. Narayana Reddy, needless to say from Telangana, always maintained that the Telugu language remained essentially one regardless of the many dialects of the tongue.

In reality, Telugu cannot be divided between the two regions of Andhra and Telangana, in terms of dialect. Andhra itself has a variety of dialects. Krishna district has many shades of dialect of its own, as do the districts of Godavari. Srikakulam has its own unique range of vocabulary and this is true of Nellore and Rayalaseema, as well. However, all these hues of the language fall under the rubric of Telugu. Similarly, the variants of language when it comes to North and South Telangana are vastly different. Hyderabad, for instance has a Telugu dialect which is interspersed with Urdu words. It is not as though the leaders are unaware of this. If the objective is to promote Telugu writers and poets from the Telangana region, there is nothing wrong with that.

Had the conference embraced the diversity of Telugu across all regions and invited lovers of the Telugu language, writers and others from everywhere, it would have been truly commendable. The conference would then have gained in stature.

If writers from Andhra get into this whole linguistic competition claiming superior status for the local dialects of the Andhra region, that would lead to avoidable controversies. There is criticism that the name of NTR, who first brought the issue of Telugu pride on to the national stage, did not figure anywhere. Despite everything that is being said, we need to bear in mind that the language of Telugu is not one which builds a wall between people, but brings them together. The World Telugu Conference was an opportunity to showcase this point. There may be two Telugu-speaking states, but the simple truth that the language they share is common and brings them together, should have been the underlying message.

While KCR, his daughter and MP Kavitha and KTR gained some more recognition with this mega event, Harish Rao was conspicuously absent. In the final analysis however, KCR deserves to be applauded for this conference and keeping his promise of giving a fillip to Telugu.