Voices Against Displacement – Gender & Adivasi perspective శుక్రవారం, ఆగ 31 2007 

Polavaram Submergence Zone


In Sriramagiri panchayat, a few Kondareddi settlements want nothing to do with the relief and rehabilitation package for those who would be displaced by the Polavaram dam. Fighting off underhand tactics by officials, they are determined to remain in their homes, amidst their culture and its history. R Uma Maheshwari reports.

They said her name was Seeta mahalakshmi. It conjured up in my mind an image of a middle-aged woman, just another of those proxy women panchayat representatives. I’ve visited many other villages in V R Puram mandal of Khammam district, and one becomes familiar with the typical occupants of these offices reserved for women, but often managed by them in name only. But my mind’s image of this Kondareddi woman vanished with a pleasant surprise. Out walked a young sprightly woman, with a sportsperson’s gait, dressed in pant and shirt, her wavy hair plaited behind. A woman with doe eyes and skin like porcelain. I was introduced to Kotla Seetamahalakshmi, the 23-year-old Panchayat President of Sriramagiri panchayat, amidst the warmth of a late afternoon in early February.

Kotla Seetamahalakshmi, President of Sriramagiri panchayat (Picture by R Uma Maheshwari).

Seetamahalakshmi’s beauty is not a stereotype to bind her character in; it is something that adds to her persona, of one leader, among many, who refuses to move an inch from her stated position. Sriramagiri panchayat is one of the many that will be submerged under the Andhra Pradesh government’s proposed Indira Sagar (Polavaram) dam on the Godavari river. And its sarpanch is firmly against the dam and the government’s ‘packagi’ (the relief and rehabilitation package, as it is referred to in these parts). Her views are heartening, especially since on this particular trip, I’ve witnessed too many people from the submergence-area villages gradually losing hope and the will to resist the power of the state. (మరింత…)


Picturesque tale of Bathukamma గురువారం, ఆగ 16 2007 

A journey through change

The exhibition documents changes in the rituals of a popular Telangana festival

THE BATHUKAMMA Panduga is one of the most unique festivals of Telangana and one celebrated mainly by the women of this region. Celebrated during Navarathri it honours the `life-giver’ Bathukamma, with women seeking her blessings for prosperity and a good year. Colours, flowers and water are all intrinsic to the festival; and the goddess herself is not one rooted in a shrine but made of flowers that signify both life and eternity in their colours as well as impermanence. For, the goddess is `created’ each year, and immersed duly on the 10th day of the festival in local water bodies.

Documenting a festival

The vibrancy of this festival now fills space at the ICRISAT campus as photographer G. Bharath Bhushan premieres some of his collections of the Bathukamma documented over a period of four years. The exhibition, `Bathukamma: a Photographic Journey Into Telangana’s Water Festival’ is being organised by the W.W.F. International ICRISAT Dialogue project as a part of the Global Freshwaters Team meeting.

The significance of the exhibition, lies in the fact that the Bathukamma Panduga has a deep association with water and changes in these have meant change in the basic nature of the festival. (మరింత…)

Tribals of Telangana శుక్రవారం, మే 18 2007 

By J.M Girglani at Prof. B. Janardhan Rao Memorial Lecture on 27 February 2007

Late Prof. Janardhan Rao had studied problems of the tribal areas and had rendered significant service in the cause of the tribals. It is therefore appropriate that the memorial lecture should cover the subject pertaining to the cause, which was dearest to his heart. I had the opportunity of studying Tribal Land Issues in Telangana and had submitted my report on the subject on 16th August 2005 to the Land Committee appointed by the Government of Andhra Pradesh under the chairmanship of Sri Koneru Ranga Rao, Hon’ble Minister for MA & UD. I shall therefore dwell on this theme for today’s memorial lecture.

Saga of the tribals in India is a story of Nirbal se ladai balwan ki – yeh kahani hai diye ki aur tufan ki. This is a story of the struggle of the weak against the powerful, of the oil lamp and the storm. It is said that a lamb cannot lie beside the lion even with a fence between them, for long, and will ultimately land up inside the lion.

This memorial lecture comes at a time when we have before us a very significant legislation on tribal rights, The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Tribal Rights) Act, 2006, Act 2 of 2007 passed on December 29, 2006. It comes in the wake of the Draft National Tribal Policy (A policy for Schedule Tribes of India), issued by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, in July 2006.

I shall confine myself to the tribal land issues in the areas of Telangana, listed in Schedule V of the Constitution, viz. Eturunagaram in Warangal District, Bhadrachalam in Khammam District and Utnoor in Adilabad District.


Medaram Jatara (Sammakka & Saarakka Koya Festival) గురువారం, మార్చి 22 2007 

Medaram Jatara (Medaram Festival) 

Medaram is a village in the “dandakaaranya” (dandaka forest ) area of the Mulugu taluk of Warangal district, about 150-km away from Warangal city. Here Sammakka Jatara, non-Vedic and non-Brahminical festival is celebrated once in two years on a very large scale for four days in January-February.  It is a rare confluence of different tribes and castes and their traditions at this biennial Indian fair.  Medaram Festival is considered to be the largest festival in the South India and is one of the largest festivals in the world.  History, Mythology and practices: According to a tribal story, about 6-7 centuries ago, a group of Koya Indians traveling through the dandakaaranya found a little girl playing with tigers. The head of the tribe adopted and named her Sammakka.  


Growing Demand for Separate Telangana: Unethical Politics బుధవారం, నవం 1 2006 

Growing Demand of Separate Telangana- Unethical Politics
Rejoinder to Sreedhar’s “Separate Telangana: Beginning of the End

M Bharath Bhushan and E Revathi

Telangana is today a hot issue and something no party can ignore to address. It has become imperative for every political party worth the name in Andhra Pradesh to acknowledge the issue of separate Telangana. That Congress-I and Telangana Rashtra Samithi had political alliance and ‘controversial’ understanding on the demand of separate state during the recent elections that dethroned Telugu Desam does not require any additional emphasis to point out the importance of the demand for separate state. Today Congress-I at Delhi and Hyderabad and some senior leaders in the state speak regularly of the issue and also claim as the sole force that could give statehood. All the politics are about the “appropriate time” and the art of its interpretation. Bharatiya Janata Party also speaks of being the only party that could get separate Telangana. Both parties ask for the price of giving them the gaddhi to get Telangana statehood. Today even TDP talks of Devender Goud as the chief minister if there is Telangana. It is necessary to accept these facts to acknowledge that demand for the separate state has a history and peoples support and cannot be wished away by the changing equations of political parties.


Photo journalist G Bharath Bhushan బుధవారం, అక్టో 11 2006 

Life beyond the lens- Profile of G Bharath Bhushan 

G Bharath Bhushan’s who turns 50 this year is a celebrated photographer whose pictures spoke the language, the culture, life of Telangana and even adorned several covers of prestigious publications. 

Bharath Bhushan, a well-known photojournalist, is synonymous with his art works on Telangana that evocatively describe the linkages Telangana people have had with the ghadis and forts, the mud houses with traditional darwazas and the colourful patang. Having `excavated’ the cultural richness of Telangana with his lens like nobody else could, Bharath Bhushan’s work has predictably found takes in publications in and out of Andhra Pradesh.  He worked for Jyothi Chitra, Andhra Jyothi of Hyderabad, and Udayam. His works featured in English dailies like the Deccan Chronicle, Indian Express, and in journals such as The Illustrated Weekly of India, India Today, The Week, The Hindu (Folio), Asian Photography, among others. (మరింత…)

KOITOR OF GODAVARI మంగళవారం, అక్టో 10 2006 

“A society turns itself to its landscape, mountain side, river fan or foot hills oasis, until it seems to an outside observer that it could not possibly be anywhere else than it is, could not be otherwise than what it is”   – Geertz

The submergence area of Polavaram project is part of land of Koitor or Gonds or by a variety of other names by which trey are referred by outsiders. The land of Koitor consists of the picturesque hilly and forest region boarded by the Indravati river at the north, covering parts of Bastar (Chattisgarh), Koraput (Orissa), Warangal, Khammam, East Godavari and West Godavari Districts(AP). This region with heights between 150 and 300 meters include Indravati, Godavari, Sabari and Sileru rivers and the Eastern Ghats. The region is what once was called a “Confused triangle of very malarious hills” (మరింత…)

Polavaram dam & need for national debate మంగళవారం, అక్టో 10 2006 

Polavaram Dam is controversial and is opposed by varied sections in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere in the country. The claims of Andhra Pradesh government are questioned and the manner in which it has carried out the works has raised serious doubts about the importance it gives to any national norms and transparency in a project that would have irreversible implications to ecology and people.


The Electoral Battle in Telangana – Politics of Failed Promises మంగళవారం, అక్టో 10 2006 

-M Bharath Bhushan & E Revathi

There is much talk of the bye elections and Telangana. Each party claims to be sure of successfully winning the seat or defeating the enemy. People wonder what they have to gain by giving once again the evidence of their concern. What would Sita have done if she was called to undergo the test of fire second time?

Telangana is a hot commodity. Every party wants a share in it and plans for mileage out of it. It is gaining greater currency and sooner or later the state is imminent, if the signals of changing times are any sign of the things to come. It may take another two years or more when elections come again for the entire state.