Professor Jayashankar Sir – Ideologue of Telangana
Some individuals leave such deep footprints in the soils they tread on that it continues to define the path that their posterity would follow. The life and works of Professor Jayashankar Sir is one such exalted example. Born as Kothapalli Jayashankar to Mahalaxmi and Laxmi Kantha Rao on 6th August 1934 in Akkampet region of the Warangal district, Professor Jayashankar Sir, as he was more popularly known, was an academician by profession. He completed his PH.D in economics at the Osmania University. He is popularly known as ‘Pedda Sir’ in Telangana.
His tenure as a professor and then a Vice Chancellor of the Kakatiya University made him research deep into the problems generating from regional disparities. His education made him realize how these disparities affect development and growth with reference to the context in Andhra Pradesh. He has also published several papers in the domain of Economic Development and Educational Economics. His involvement in the Telangana movement was therefore not ignited merely by passion but was also a result of intellect. It was the perfect combination of both which helped to drive him towards his goal.
Professor Jayshankar’s determination and perseverance to fight for a separate statehood for Telangana was the result of his understanding and analysis of several factors and conditions. These were a result of his understanding of the history, the nature of the people, their lifestyle and social customs. It is his analysis of these factors that helped him formulate theories and ideas to help in the effective formalization of the movement. Armed with his deep involvement with the region and his analysis of its various problems, he stepped forward to formulate plans, chart out strategic action items and define the future of the modern Telangana. The effectiveness of his directives was firmly rooted to his deep set beliefs, understanding and association with the region and its people. It was therefore sure to spell success for the movement. He was in all respects the true ideologue of his generation.
The first signs of the fire he carried could be seen when Kothapalli Jayashankar at the age of 12 refused to sing songs in praise of the Nizam and insisted on singing Vande Mataram instead. The child grew up to become a young man with an equally strong opinion of doing what he perceived as right. As an intermediate student, in 1952, he walked out in protest of the State reorganization plans being prepared. This was the same year when in his role as a student leader, he joined the Telangana movement. This was his first step into active movements.
Professor Jayashankar Sir’s initial days in movements are marked by the Non-Mulki go back and Idli Sambar go back movement. In 1969, Professor organized a 10 member team to fight against the implementation of the agreements and guarantees of state reorganization plan. The student group which began in Khammam gradually spread to other parts of the region and assumed a mass group status. In January of the same year, the student agitation turned violent as the protestors tried to set a sub-inspector’s bungalow on fire. The Army was needed to be called to maintain peace. In April once again, violence broke out. Intense police firing to restrain the protestors killed several agitators. Professor Jayashankar Sir was one of the few survivors. Post this incident, Professor launched the Telangana Jan Sabha which was however declared a banned organization by the Government of India.
In 1999, Professor Jayashankar Sir launched the Telangana Development Forum in USA. This helped to give his cause a worldwide reach. His voice was heard at international forums like the American Telugu Association where he expressed his concerns over the future of the Telugu population and elaborated on the various aspects of the Telangana movement. His speeches dwelt heavily on the need for an evolving concept of freedom from political, economic, administrative and cultural exploitation of his motherland. He looked at the problem from its very roots. He believed in uprooting the whole tree and plant fresh saplings for a new beginning. He was like the gardener who knows and understands his plants and nurtures them the way that would help them bloom in the best possible manner.
Professor Jayashankar Sir died on June 21, 2011, two years before his dream of perceiving a separate state of Telangana finally fructified. He was 76 years old. At the time of his death he held the office of Chairman of Centre for Telangana Studies. This is involved in the research and publication of problems of Telangana. He was also on the Executive Committee board of the Telangana Aikya Vedika.
Professor Jayshankar Sir were among those individuals who believed in devoting their life towards a cause; a cause that would not only shape their own life but also the lives of their peers as well as their future generations. He was totally enmeshed in the Telangana people so much so that he had no other existence other than his cause. His was a life spent in crafting a future for others. He was so firm in his belief of the need for a separate Telangana State and in the resilience of the Telangana people to help achieve it that he felt it would be done in his lifetime itself. Unfortunately, that was not to happen. Nevertheless, he lives on in the hearts and minds of the people whom he so loved and it is through their eyes that he continues to witness the fruits of his labour.