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Why have Statues on Tank Bund – Hyderabad?

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Telangana: A separate ethnic region merged with Andhra in 1956; Seemandhra: A region carved out of Madras State in 1953; consists of areas of Coastal Andhra and Royalaseema; Andhra: Short for Seemandhra; Tank Bund: A name given to a bridge on Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad; Telangana uprising: A non-violent movement for demerger of Telangana from Andhra. It is an ongoing struggle since its merger with Andhra State in1956.

Why have Statues on Tank Bund?

It is fairly accurate to say that Indian politicians cherish a veritable passion for erection of statues anywhere and everywhere.  This became apparent to me in my recent visit to Andhrapradesh and Rajasthan in January of this year. As I toured Rajasthan, I saw many village four-corners spruced up with statues of prominent personalities. It beats me why these places that are subject to heavy vehicular traffic were chosen to honor their illustrious dead? Could it be to take them up to even greater heights or popularize them even more? Whatever the reason, it was pathetic to see these statues breathing in and out the black toxic fumes from the passing diesel vehicles. I doubt if anyone ever cared to dust off the dirt from these statues to give them a respectable look. It is a given that India abounds in beautiful edifices coalesced with Hindu and Moghul architecture in the world, and it is also a given that India sadly lacks the foresight to maintain them appropriately.

My stay in Hyderabad was full of nostalgic feelings of my college and High School days. The city has changed beyond recognition. My alma mater, Nizam college, was still there but obscured by commercial buildings and a massive flyover.  Air and noise pollution were in their intense form.  The traffic congestion, one-way streets and missing road signs made it virtually impossible for me to visit my alma mater. But the Tank Bund was one that I was determined not to miss.

My visit to Karimnagar in Andhrapradesh took me over the Tank Bund, a road that links Hyderabad with Secunderabad. As the driver drove me up the Bund, it was all a Déjà vu.  It brought forth the nostalgic feelings of my days in high school and college.  In those days it was a serene place for students as well as families to gather at sunset to imbibe the beauty of nature and the serenity of the lake. The sail boats that moved around slowly gave the lake the grandeur of an evening splendor. It was an ideal place for meditation.

The Bund has now changed a great deal. It is widened to accommodate the ever growing vehicular traffic. The incessant honking of cars had become the order of the day. It resembled a paradise in shambles.

I saw many marble and granite statues meticulously lined up along the sides of the Bund.  All in all there were 33 statues and an exquisite Budha statue in the middle of the lake. These statues were no different from statues in Rajasthan in that they did not escape the wrath of nature or the abuse from birds.

The statues on the Bund piqued my curiosity. I asked the driver if he knew whose statues they were.  He let out a cynical laugh and said in an uncompromising tone “Sir, I do not know beans about these statues but I know for sure that they do not belong to persons from Telangana. I don’t know why these statues are here in Telangana in the first place?” Subsequently I came to know that 27 of these statues were of kings, poets, revolutionaries and social reformers from Seemandhra.  They were erected by an actor turned Chief Minister from Seemandhra with heavy taxpayers’ money.

My journey to Karimnagar was no different from that of Jaipur to Jodhpur or Jodhpur to Udaipur. Every village center has a statue of one kind or another. The trucks enjoyed the free-for-all driving on the narrow roads. Honking was incessant and dreadfully annoying. The trucks conspicuously displayed the signs “blow horn, blow horn to pass” or something of the sort on the rear ends.

Particularly painful was the sight of the statue of our “father of the nation” in the center of a street junction in Karimnagar. The white statue with mini dhoti and a staff in the hand hardly looked white anymore. It was covered with dirt and soot. In the wee hours of the morning, the statue became an attractive place for sparrows, crows and stray dogs.

In my last few days in Hyderabad the political grapevine was laden with the fear of an impending mammoth Million-March that would paralyze the normal life in the city. The march was attributed to Telangana activists agitating for demerger of Telangana from Seemandhra.  My desire to stay in the city at once got transmogrified into a fear of missing my return flight to America. But that fear was unfounded.  We reached home on February 9 without a hitch.

On March 10 the internet buzzed with news of the Million-March. The news conveyed that the march braved the assaults by the paramilitary force, dodged the barbed wires, and surged through barricaded gates in waves unseen never before to reach the Tank Bund. Seven statues on the Tank Bund were destroyed. The unexpected had now happened.

What then was the reason for destruction?

No one denies that illustrious and famous should have coveted niches in the history of their land.  A statue is one such niche. But a statue must have a rightful place that befits the stature and status of the icon. Is Tank Bund an appropriate place for a statue? No. Why?

Not too far away from where I live in America there is a beautiful lake called “Canandaigua Lake.” The British settlers could have named it Victoria Lake, but they didn’t. They were magnanimous to have it named “Canandaigua Lake” as a tribute to the valiant native Indians who fought a fierce battle against them to the end. In naming the lake so, the settlers desisted from the hegemonic subjugation and cultural degradation of the natives.

Canandaigua Lake is humongous in comparison to Hussain Sagar Lake. It is adorned with vineyards, wineries and picnic spots all along its East and West shores. In summer it becomes the busiest tourist attraction. The docks will be filled with myriads of anchored boats of all sizes and types. Ducks and cranes hover over in the sky looking for live fish. The lake simply transforms into an unforgettable, idyllic and enchanting sight. For locals it is a sought-after picnic spot for relaxation and enjoyment.  Parents bring their youngsters to feed the ducks and take them on boat rides.  The roads converging to the lake are all beautifully laid out by green trees and lawns. So why are there no statues of illustrious and famous?  It beats me! By the same token, why are there no statues on Rainbow Bridge to Canada or Washington Bridge in New York? These questions deserve an answer.

The world’s tallest statue of Abraham Lincoln stands in Ashmore, Illinois, the State of his birth. The 72 feet tall statue was built in 1969. It was placed at the entrance to a campground, an unlikely place for a famous person. The passing of time took a toll on it. The body was sprayed with bullets; fingers were broken; the paint began to peel off and the attachments were blown away. Birds found a way into the statue.  Slowly the statue began to crumble and wear off. It is now dubbed as the ugliest Lincoln statue. Out of respect to Lincoln, people want now to dismantle and move the statue altogether.

In the words of Abraham Lincoln “common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them.” Sure, Abe would have been happy to see his statue removed.

Therefore, an appropriate place for a statue is neither a tank bund nor an amusement park.  A Museum or a memorial park in his/her birth place will pass for appropriateness.

The story of statues on Tank Bund is no different from that of Abe Lincoln. These statues if not protected and guarded will in time become spit-spots for pan-chewers, perches for birds, rest stops for pigeon droppings and dog stops for relief.  The talk of the government now to reinstall the broken statues defies good judgment?

Nonetheless, the troubling question now is, “why were the statues mutilated by Telanganites (T’Nites”) after a quarter of a century?” The answer is simple and clear. It is the meltdown of reactions bred by vicious and unfair actions of the Government and the police brutalities against T’Nites. President Kennedy reflected this beautifully.

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable.

–    John F. Kennedy

Behavioral psychology amply demonstrates the relevance of actions to their reactions. Judicial system is none other than an institution for enforcing reactions appropriate to the committed crimes.  In animal kingdom reaction is the God given defensive mechanism for survival. Science theorizes that an action generates an equal and opposite reaction. Rocket science, aerodynamics and thermodynamics are full of deductions that quantify reactions for the comfort and enjoyment of mankind. In a nutshell some reactions are essential and some are not. Whether good or bad, they are all here to stay as long as the actions keep rolling. But we can eliminate bad reactions only and only if we can nip in the bud the related primary actions.

Violent actions by the Government against the activists of Telangana movement are plenty to quote despite the movement’s non-violent nature. The movement is built on the principles of Sathyagraha and non-cooperation as espoused and preached by Mahatma Gandhi.  But strange as it may sound, these principles find no takers in a land that Gandhi is revered as the father of the nation and apostle of non-violence.  The peaceful marches, processions and sit-ins have all become the targets for lathi charges, rubber bullets, unjust arrests, random jail lock-ups and police brutalities, worse than those that Gandhi ever met at the hands of British rulers. Was there a good reason to drag the injured students from an ambulance and beat them mercilessly?  Why were not these vicious acts ever found a way to mass media? The truth is that the media barons are all from Seemandhra region and they monitor and manage what is heard, printed and videoed.  As a consequence the violent actions committed by the Government are now being translated into reactions of the worst kind.  The destruction of the statues on Tank Bund is a case in point.

The media hype on the destruction of statues on Tank Bund likens to the saying in Urdu “Cheel uditho Bhail udi.” This hype is the most egregious chicanery to malign a non-violent movement. Would I tolerate the statue of Churchill or Chou En- Lai on the Tank Bund? Would America allow Barack Obama’s statue erected on the Tank Bund? Would I like to see an unfamiliar icon’s statue implanted in my backyard? Tank Bund would be the least desirable spot for persons of fame in other lands. So it is fair to say that all statues have their own abodes and places.  Installation of statues from one region in another region when the regions are mutually disconnected in culture and history defeats the very purpose of the installation for honor and respect.

“However great a person might be,�
Should he remain obscure  from me,
The great statue will never exact
Honor or homage deep from my heart.”

– Gopal Alankar

Statues are not everlasting. They have finite life. They succumb to vagaries of weather and vicissitudes of human behavior. Buddha’s statues have all but disappeared from Afghanistan. Whatever has happened to Stalin statues in Russia or those of Saddam Hussein in Iraq? Why was President Sanjeeva Reddy’s statue destroyed in Vijayawada in Seemandhra?

Having said that the Tank Bund is not a place for statues, I do not condone the destruction of extant statues. Destruction is not a righteous deed. And the destruction of Telangana culture is not righteous either. The destruction of social fiber of Telangana through film characterization of T’Nites as lowly, brute and uncivilized is righteous neither. I see nothing wrong if T’Nites fight tooth and nail if their Telangana History is effaced from the pages of the books they read. I say that they must resist with all their might the plundering of their beautiful land around Hyderabad, and oppose the usurpations of Telangana river waters.  Aren’t these the righteous things to do? What is unrighteous about decrying the insensitivity of the government towards the fluoride victims in Telangana?

Frankly, the huffing and puffing of Andhra media on fallen statues has a hidden agenda to discredit the Telangana movement as violent. The incessant moans and groans on the front pages of print media by Andhra elite have a veiled threat of retribution. The unabated shedding of tears on TV screens for lifeless fallen statues has the symptoms of a theatrical act purported to mobilize the public denunciation of Telangana movement.

Where have all the tears gone when 600 precious lives were lost since the movement began? Where have all the moans and groans gone when many students lost their lives in suicides? Where have all the sobs and throbs gone when students were beaten to bleeding? Where have all puffing and huffing gone when Telangana jobs were pillaged? Where was the Andhra fury when President Sanjeeva Reddy’s statue was destroyed in Vijayawada? Give me a break!

Andhra journalism has become the perfect quintessence of smoke screen for shenanigans. It does not measure up to standards of good reporting. The time has come now for them to resort to fair and balanced journalism, and it is time to call a spade a spade. There isn’t any other way to cut the mustard for good journalism.

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Retired specialist in Management Sciences and Computer Aided Mechanical Design. Active in social problems pertinent to Indian Americans. Frequently writes on social issues. Has a doctorate in Management and Administration.

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22 Responses to "Why have Statues on Tank Bund – Hyderabad?"

  1. Anil Reddy says:

    What is Telangana ethnicity? Do you mean Telangana people have different ethinicity than other indians. Even though you are a marathi born in erstwhile Hyd state, u belongs to indian ethinicity. Dont u agree sir? I request you please dont get involved in telugu peoples affairs.

    Anil Reddy

  2. Sridhar says:

    Very nice and informative article.

  3. anjan says:

    Anil Garu
    It is not uncommon for any one to comment on any ehinicity. I dont see any wrong in Gopal’s comments about T’nites. In fact Gopal not only mentioned (if you read carefully) Tank bund statues but Abs’s too in USA . Does that qualify him as an American or Indian for discussion in point? If you have realistic facts to write or discuss, you are welcome but please do not blame non T’nite for bringing out the facts and present realities. It is the ongoing war of words between the for and aginest supporteres of T’agitaion since the forpmation of AP. Also It makes me wonder about you whether you are a T’nite or Seemandhra supporter.

  4. Shilpa says:

    The article is very well written and heart touching for every T’nite.

  5. kiran says:

    Its an informative post.. gopal garu please keep it up…

    @ anil reddy,
    who are you to tell him to not to involve in telugu peoples affairs… As a telanganite, he is expressing his experience. he has every right to express his views in our democratic country…. first you should know your limits…

    there is no doubt u r a seemandraite… i didnot see any telugu feeling nowadays, If you see, please let me know… for your kind information, seemandra people are not speaking telugu, u people are speaking andramu, and telangana people are speaking telugu…

  6. krishna alankar says:

    There are statues in USA like Ab Lincoln in Washington and Mount Rushmore. Unlike in India these statues are constantly repaired and maintained

  7. Chand says:

    Gopal, thanks for educating me and lot others like me about this front
    burner isssue. I have read about it here and there but never in such detials. I have seen statues in Delhi littered with birds waste. This idea prevails from our temples.

  8. Bider Khan says:

    The bright side of the destruction of the statues is that it revealed the fraud and corruption of the government. The government spent more than 8 crores of rupees on these statues and claimed that the statues were made of granite and marble. The destruction showed that they were made of cheap Plater of Paris. Where did 8 crores of rupees go? Did not they go into the pockets of Andhra Chief Minister and ministers? What should we call these thugs? Seemandrites!

  9. Colonel Narayan Deshmukh says:

    Dear Gopal,
    I fully agree with you about the right of the people of Telangana to demand a separate state.I however disagree that tankbund is not an appropriate place for erecting statues.I thought they added beauty to the area.As to the choice of whose statues were ercected, I agree that they should not have been predominantly of people from Seemandhra.You are right that once the statue is erceted, those responsible for it must also make sure that they are properly maintained.
    Lastly, Anil Reddy’s comments are disgusting.I know that you are a telugu speaker, but even if you were not,your freedom of speech can not be restricted.
    Keep up your good work

  10. Varsha says:

    @ Anil Sir..few words regarding your above comment:
    “What is Telangana ethnicity? Do you mean Telangana people have different ethinicity than other indians”-you are right telangan have no seperate ethinicity and at the end of the day we all are INDIANS but just as an info, telangana have its own language, culture and many years back a seperate state(one of the richest state). But after merging with seemandhra at present the most backward places in andhra pradesh are none other than telangana regions…how sad!!
    “Even though you are a marathi born in erstwhile Hyd state, u belongs to indian ethinicity”- i dint get this part of sentence, did u generalise it or did you mean to say this to gopal sir?! Either way Ethinicity or Nationality do not play any role in developing a place, region, state or even country.
    “I request you please dont get involved in telugu peoples affairs”- This is pretty interesting sentence..dont get involved!! this made me curious to know which part of AP are u frm?! Jokes apart try to come into the real world and know wot is happening around you anil garu, i really get very disappointed whn ppl oppose T-agitators without knowing the facts, pain, problems they went thru etc.,

  11. Varsha says:

    I truly liked this article and as my personal opinion i feel that AP govt wasted many crores on these statues, instead they shud hve used the same money in developing a poor and backward village of our state. People are always remembered by their good and noble work and not by placing their statues on streets n public places.

  12. SURI Y SURAINDER says:

    Hi Gopal, This is very scholarly and analytical. The statues on Tank Bund were probably built spending public money. Donations or private money raised for the purpose of statues may be appropriate after the approval of the city council/municipality. Public money may be utilized for more important projects.
    Thanks for sharing your views. You have given much thought to the problem, analyzed it well and expressed it clearly.
    I enjoyed spending some time with you and Devyani. Look forward to see you again in St.Louis, if you come there.

  13. Gopal Alankar says:

    Anil Reddy read it all wrong. Ethnicity is not what he says it is. Wikipedia defines it:

    “An ethnic group (or ethnicity) is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture (often including a shared religion) and an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy.”…in general it is a highly biologically self-perpetuating group sharing an interest in a homeland connected with a specific geographical area, a common language and traditions, including food preferences, and a common religious faith”.

    One can’t be erudite enough until he understands what Alexander Pope wrote.

    “A little learning is a dangerous thing;
    Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:”

  14. Panditji says:

    Nice article, I give it 10/10 for revealing facts. Basically system has to improve in Indian politics and operations. I dont blame politician at all for the country’s cancer, I completely blame public for choosing uneducated and selfish people to rule us. I am not much updated with current Telangana movement as my interest is towards poverty line, corruption in the system and external affairs of subcontinent. All I know is Separate Telangana is a fireball for Andra people who use Telangana money to develop their areas. If not Congress, BJP will make it anyway in near future.

  15. Shri Shailam says:

    Dear Gopal:

    The demolition and destruction of stautes were a reaction to police brutality supported by present government. However I will not support the idea of recreating and rebuilding of those stautes. That will be a waste of tax payers money. Instead the funds should be utilized to create a trust fund in their names to give financial aid and scholarships to deserving students and or feeding the hungry people. The disputes should be resolved through democratic process. Your article is well researched and anlysed. You have the right to express your feelings and ideas.

  16. Sri says:

    Taliban destroyed Buddha statues in Bamiyan. Oddly I find your reasons are very much similar to their reasons. Before Nizam invaded Telangana, there is no separate telangana as such. People from region right now called Telangana settled in region called Andhra and Rayalseema. Similary people from these regions moved there. Quoting hunderd quotations does not make your arguments logical. Even Taliban can quote hundred verses that can support their misdeeds.

  17. Gopal Alankar says:

    Dear Mr. Sri, the article is not about what Talibans did or why Andhras hurdled chappals and shoes at Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao when he visited Kadapa. Nor it is about how Rajagopal Chari out maneuvered Andhra leadership to deny Chennai to Andhra even after Potti Sriramulu undertook fast unto death and ultimately sacrificed his life. It is about the ephemarality of statues and the inappropriateness of Tank Bund for statues of great men.

    Now that you have digressed, let me ask you this. Does not your statement “Before Nizam invaded Telangana” confirm that Telangana existed before Nizam. Let us not go that far back. The fact remains that Telangana under the name of Hyderabad State existed before it was merged with Andhra. You may be interested to know that Hyderabad State of Nizam consisted of Telangana districts, Kannada speaking districts and Marathi speaking districts. After states’ reorganization, Telangana districts retained the name, Hyderabad State.

    People moving into Rayalaseema or Andhra or vice versa is outside the context of my article. Your meandering into impertinent discussion only lends legitimacy to what Alexander Pope said:
    “Little learning is a dangerous thing.”

  18. Dr.Shanker says:

    What mr.Gopal Alankar has said is totally reasonable and correct.If the Rulers do not respond to the Non violent agitation, people resort to violence,because there is no other go.It is a natural process.To correct one person the stages usually followed are Request-Threaten-Punish.
    why some statues were destroyed?It is the outcome,outrage of subdued,supressed,depressed and frustrated students and other persons.Did any Seemandhra person comment when around 600 students and people sacrificed their precious lives?Why Seemandhra people are making lot of fuss,hue and cry after destruction of statues?Life is not precious to some people.They give lectures and go for debates in TV about the inhuman nature of destruction of statues.Some respected members try to go to the extent of raising the Tank Bund issue in Assembly and Parliament.
    This does not mean I am supporting the dismantling of statues,but I am trying to analyse the causes leading to such acts.Even about our Country’s Independence there was Violence associated with Non violence.What happened in Egypt, everyone knows.

  19. Joshua says:

    Great men are not always great to all people and universal. There is no point in erecting a statue in a place where it is not considered important. This does not mean the person is not great but for a particular group of people it is of no relevance.This is what happened with the statues on Tank Bund, they were erected only to show off the dominance and political power. In the name of these Great men the political powers of Andhra and Seema always remember every Telanganite that they are oppressed in Independent India. Where are my Hero’s who fought the Razakars, Nizams, who uplifted our societies, our poets, our artists, our kings? If pople feel there’s been a mistreatment please erect these status in places where it gets its due respect and not on a foreign soil where its not considered great. Jai Telangana.

  20. Dr.Shanker says:

    Mr.Gopal Alankar has gone into depths of many issues which are eye opener to many people. As he said Tank Bund was not an appropriate place for installation of the Statues in so many numbers. They could have been erected in different parts and villages in as many numbers as the local people wanted. Tank Bund did not find place for many valiant personalities who sacrificed their lives for our country’s freedom.
    The person who closely observes the statues finds similar faces in almost all statues,that is of Mr.N.T.Rama Rao,then Chief Minister of A.P.
    As Mr.Alankar pointed out the vicious acts by Police were not shown in the Media,as TV channels and major News papers are managed by a dominant sect of very rich people who are not impartial.
    In Telangana,people of two Regions with different cultures,customs and accent are staying together friendly and happily. But due to various major and relevant causes Telangana people want a separate State. In friendly manner they can be separated and if it is prolonged, many untoward things may happen and it may not be congenial to both the regions.
    Mr.N.T.Rama Rao started formation of many Mandals in a District for smooth running of the Gov’t,then where is the hindrance for DEMERGING of Telangana State taking into consideration of various facts and documentary evidence?

  21. vijay says:

    M.r. N.T Rama rao startedformation of many mandals in a district for running tem very smooth of the government,then where is the demerging of hindrances of the telangana state taking into considerationof various of documency evidence and also various facts

  22. Sriramulu Appana says:

    Dear sir,
    It is not your driver’s mistake not knowing about the great personalities of Telugu history. It is the system’s failure not to integrate the Telangana people with the people of other Telugu regions and also not make them informative of their glorious shared history with Telugu people of other regions. Please ask your driver whether he knows who is Pothana or Suravaram Pratapareddy or Makhdoom Mohiuddin. My inquiry may prove you that he may not be able to distinguish between Telangana personalities and others. A learned scholar like you may not write an article based on his ignorant comments.
    The Telangana identity should not be based on the misrule by nizam (Only a minuscule part of gigantic shared history of Telugus) which made the native people devoid of their rights and made them slaves to the seat of nizam. It should be based on cultural differences, if there are any. Telangana means a region between Krishna and Godavari rivers which extends to Draksharama in East Godavari district. Until 1753, when Asif ad-Dawlah Mir Ali Salabat Jang, a subedar of Deccan, leased the Coastal Andhra region to French troops, there was no region called as Telangana and most of Telugu speaking regions were under common rule either from Golconda or Orugallu or Vijayanagaram or Rajamundri. In 1758, in the English-French war, the French lost the control of coastal Andhra and it became permanent part of British Empire. Later, Rayalaseema districts were ceded to British. Every region in India would have its own significance in the history of India; Telangana is no exception.
    I appeal to all of my Telugu brothers to be united in spirit, not to swallow the venom spilled by the politicians to create hatred among us for their selfish endeavors.
    I have written a small article in Telugu about this burning issue.
    Please read it if you are a Telugu literate; if not, please let me know so that I can translate it to English for you.

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