“Do we belong here?” — this question directed at the American administration by a heart-broken Sunayana, wife of aviation engineer and victim of hate crime, Srinivas Kuchibotla, has found an echo back here in Andhra Pradesh. Following the ascendancy of the right in the land of the free, there is a creeping sense of discomfort among middle-class parents in the State whose sole ambition is to send their sons and daughters to the US by hook or by crook.
A doctor couple from Vijayawada cancelled their daughter’s wedding to an NRI based in the United States. Many others, who had been proud of their sons and daughters living the American Dream despite feeling abandoned, now find themselves answering the question “are your children safe?”
Some may brush it off as a knee-jerk reaction to an isolated hate crime, but it reflects the changing perception of the American Dream in a society that is obsessed with it to such an extent that the very definition of a respectable family has become synonymous with a ward settled in America. The tragic incident in Kansas could just be the trigger for a long- overdue introspection and course correction. It’s estimated that one in every four Indians in the US is a Telugu. But for each such success story, there are thousands of failures back home.
A majority of the engineering graduates coming out of the scores of engineering colleges here are simply unemployable. The Andhra Pradesh government has now begun opening skill development centres to impart job skills to them, but if their hearts and minds are not on engineering, as is the case in respect of most students who take to the course only to please their parents, no programme is going to benefit anyone. The only way to help them is for their parents to let them live their dream, not the American Dream.
Journalist beaten up
In the wake of the Kansas shooting, all eyes are on US President Donald Trump whose visceral hatred for the media is making news every other day, but for some inexplicable reason, the same kind of intolerance for the media in Andhra Pradesh has failed to attract attention. The ruling TDP’s MLA from Chirala Amanchi Krishna Mohan’s brother Amanchi Swamulu and his supporters battered a journalist, Nagarjuna Reddy, in full public view with sticks even as his 11-year-old son tried to save him, for merely writing against them. No concrete action has since been taken against the culprits and adding insult to injury, the journalist was booked under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The legislator’s brother was apparently furious that Reddy exposed how the man and his aides borrowed loans from banks in the name of eligible beneficiaries who were left speechless when the bankers knocked on their doors for repayment. All that the State government could do was pay lip service and promise action.
Close on the heels of the incident came Speaker Kodela Siva Prasad Rao’s angst against the media for reporting his by now infamous ‘women and cars’ comment. Though he didn’t mean to offend, his comments betray the ingrained attitude towards women in the coastal region he hails from. But that’s beside the point. What followed was a clear caution to the media to regulate itself and the justification for Kodela’s remarks — “expression problem”!
Task cut out for Nara Lokesh
By Telugu New Year’s Day, Ugadi, in April, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh could well be in the State Cabinet.
The party politburo, which met on Sunday, decided to get Lokesh elected to the Legislative Council through the MLAs’ quota in the elections scheduled in March. Lokesh, who has been looking after party affairs as its general secretary, has been a behind-the-scenes player so far.
Once in the Cabinet, comparisons with Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s son K T Rama Rao are inevitable. KTR, as IT minister, has been proactive and slipped into his role effortlessly. The elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation further strengthened his political career. Lokesh, coming in at a critical juncture, would have his task cut-out. Amaravati’s construction is yet to take off and both he and his father will have to walk the talk before they face the next elections in 2019.
Waiting for them would be an aggressive YSRC chief Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of the late YSR and main Opposition leader, and a combative actor-cum-politician Pawan Kalyan.
2019 will be Lokesh’s moment of truth.
Deputy Resident Editor, Andhra Pradesh