A theatre in Gujarat’s Gandhidham village is showing the Telugu film Rachcha. The house is packed. Surprising? Kutch, India’s largest district, is home to a large number of people from Andhra Pradesh. At 60,000, Andhraites are the single largest non-local community in the Kutch. Most of these 60,000 Andhraites have migrated to Gujarat from the West Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam.
A majority of the Andhraites here are second generation Telugu-speaking people whose ancestors had emigrated in the 1950s in search of employment. Trivia holds it that since there was no direct route to Kutch back then, they had to make a five- to six-stage journey and finally reached Jamnagar by sea.
“From the illiterate population working in the small scale industries, our people have come a long way,” said Mr Abis Jesudas, a local businessman. Primarily engaged in shipping and export sectors, Andhraites in Kutch are a thriving community accounting for a bulk of engineers and workers in the Kandla and Mundra ports.
“We try to preserve our social way of life,” said Mr Bokha Srinivas. “There is an Andhra Pradesh Vidyalaya School catering to our people, a Tirupati Balaji temple and Sai Baba temple as well.” N.T. Rayudu, who has his roots in West Godavari, said that theatres play latest Telugu films and local newspaper vendors supply Telugu newspapers.
The Andhraites have formed an umbrella organisation – Kutch Andhra Abhuydya Seva Samaj — to look after the social well being of the community. The Samaj organises a weekly Annadanam for the poor and also celebrates festivals like Ugadi with pomp. With no direct rail connectivity, going back to their roots in Andhra Pradesh is a nightmare for most. The Samaj has launched a campaign to petition the authorities concerned to establish a rail link with Andhra Pradesh. courtesy: Deccan Chronicle