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Mainstream, Vol. XLIX, No 29, July 9, 2011

Professor K. Jayashankar: A Tribute

Sunday 10 July 2011, by C.H. Hanumantha Rao

With the passing away of Professor K. Jayashankar on June 21, the movement for the formation of Telangana State has lost the foremost academic and intellectual actively working for this cause for over half-a-century. The void created by his demise cannot be filled except by imparting to the whole movement the values he embodied: a firm commitment to the cause of separate Statehood combined with a highly informed and reasoned approach to the many issues faced by the movement.

In many ways, Prof Jayashankar revealed a Gandhian approach in his working. From the very beginning, starting from the Mulki agitation of 1952, he had a steadfast belief in the justness of the cause he was espousing. He was always laborious and careful in marshalling the relevant data and intellectual reasoning in support of the cause. Like Gandhi, he was fearless and fully confident of facing and convincing his adversaries on the relevant issues. This made him travel throughout Seemandhra several times to discuss, argue and try to convince the intellectuals on many issues concerning the need for Statehood for Telangana; on how this will not adversely affect the interests of Seemandhra; and, on the contrary, how both the Telugu-speaking States can develop faster in an environment of harmony. This mission also took him abroad, particularly to several places in the USA. He also played an active role in Delhi towards convincing and persuading the leaders of various political parties to send their letters of consent for the formation of Telangana State, to the Committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee. Again, like Gandhi, his style was one of relentless persuasion through data and arguments without any trace of bitterness. Finally, he was totally selfless and free from any desire for position or power. His gentleness and humility were disarming. All these qualities made him a strong exponent, endearing and credible. This indeed explains the unprecedented and overwhelmingly touching tributes paid to him by the people of Telangana.

In view of his life-long academic career, culmi-nating as the Vice-Chancellor, Kakatiya University, Warangal, he would perhaps have preferred to keep himself away from active politics. But given his strong commitment to the formation of Telangana State, he had the practical wisdom to see that the pursuit of such a goal requires not merely intellectual advocacy through writing papers and books, but a meaningful participation in a promising movement towards achieving this goal by providing intellectual inputs. The subsequent developments have fully vindicated the wisdom of his decision. The Telangana movement today is stronger than ever before, not the least because he and some of his academic colleagues have thrown their lot into this movement. It is indeed tragic that he should have been taken away precisely at a time when the Telangana movement is at its peak, when his advice and leadership are needed most and when there is every likelihood of himself seeing his dream fulfilled.

An eminent economist, the author is an Honorary Professor, Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Hyderabad.

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