Telangana state may help settle old caste war
The creation of Telangana is likely to solve a long-standing social dispute in Andhra Pradesh: the demand for a scheduled caste sub-quota by the Madiga caste.
To put it simply, Madigas, the most numerous Dalit caste in Andhra, feel that the benefits of reservation have been cornered by the more advanced Mala caste, another prominent Dalit community in the state. Thus, they have been demanding bifurcation of the SC quota in the state.
The Usha Mehra Commission constituted to examine the Andhra situation found merit in the grievance and recommended sub-quotas to ensure that the weaker communities among the Dalits did not get left out. However, things haven’t moved either way five years after the report.
There are two reasons why the dispute is likely to ebb with the announcement of Telangana. One, Madigas outnumber Malas in Telangana, while Malas outnumber Madigas in coastal Andhra. This means their domains of domination will get separated.
“In coastal Andhra 58 % of the SCs are Malas, while Madigas constitute 20 % of the SCs there. In Telangana the situation gets reversed. In Rayalseema, their populations are 45-45%,” says Yagati Chinna Rao, an expert on the Andhra Pradesh Dalit movement who teaches at JNU.
Rao cites another reason why the dispute is likely to ease out. He says that the levels of advancement of the two warring Dalit castes are similar in Telangana and coastal Andhra. The backwardness of Madigas, in other words, is also because they are found in large numbers in backward Telangana.
“Coastal Andhra was under the British and saw Christian missionary educational efforts and better irrigation, which Telangana did not enjoy historically. This is the reason why Malas are better off than Madigas. But with the state’s bifurcation, this disparity would end in the states that are created,” Rao adds.
The Mehra commission found the representation of the Malas in the IAS and the IPS ranging from 76% to 86% against 13% to 23% for the Madiga caste. Numerically, however, the Malas constitute 41% of Andhra’s SC population against the Madigas 49%.