Monday, December 7, 2015

From the Telugu Lands

A Hindu fundamentalist, a true son of the soil, a burgeois imperialist, the man who saved India from Nehruvian socialism - PVNR can be whatever you want him to be, depending on your political and economic leanings. Described variously as a wicked man who usurped power under difficult circumstances to the architect of modern India and arguably the greatest Prime Minister in the history of the country, the life PVNR is a tale in itself, a tale that run parallel to the story of India itself.

Early Life
Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao (PVNR) was born on June 28, 1921 in the Hyderabad empire of the Nizam, in the modern town of Vangara in Telangana state. His early life was impacted by the brutal regime of the Nizam and his razakars, who unleashed a wave of state-sponsored terror on the Hindu majority of the state while simultaneously dealing with first British India and then its successor states, India and Pakistan. A few years after birth to an agrarian family, PVNR studied most of his primary education in what is now Karimnagar district. He went on to study Arts at Osmania University in Hyderabad and then a Masters in Law from Hislop College.

Rao was a polyglot. Although his mother tongue was Telugu and his higher education was in English, he spoke several Indian languages including Hindi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Odiya, Urdu, Bengali, and Marathi, together with foreign languages such as French and Persian. He read several Indian classical works and was aware of the diversity of cultures in the subcontinent. In every respect, he was an Indian scholar and would have made an excellent academic. But he had other plans.

The Resistance
Rao took up armed resistance against the Nizam while supporting the Indian National Congress in British India in the struggle against the 200 year old British occupation of India. Initially, his resistance was limited to writing for the Telugu weekly Kakatiya Patrika, which he edited. Later on, he took on the huge risk of going to arms, for the Nizam's army had clear instructions to shoot freedom fighters at sight. On Aug 15, 1947, when British India was celebrating Independence from the British in the shadow of the bloody Partition of India, PVNR was in a forest in Hyderabad state, saving himself from a barrage of bullets. That night, he survived.

And that night changed the course of the country.

Next: Political life

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