Malaysian Telugus are a group of ethnic Indians who are Telugu speaking. Most of Malaysian Telugus today are 4th or 5th generation who migrated during the colonial period. While most of current Malaysian Telugu ancestors originated from what is now Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (then known as Madras state) substantial number of them originated from area of Orissa and Bengal state. While most Telugus come to Malaysia as labourers, some were traders who arrived as refugees. In 1930s anti Indian riots in Burma results in large number of ethnic Telugus fleeing from Burma either back to India, Thailand or Malaya. Another wave of Telugu migration from Burma occurs during world war two, when Japanese invaded Burma
Officially, there are only 40,000 Telugus in Malaysia, but this is probably an undercount as anybody who declares himself as Indian are recorded as Tamil, a fact of which many Telugus are not aware. Other estimates count the number of Malaysian Telugus as high as 250.000 to 350.000. Intermarriages between Telugus with other south Indian community in Malaysia is common and the children of such marriages identifies themselves as Tamils or Indians, and mistakenly counted as Tamils.
In 1981 the World Second Telugu Conference was held in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian Telugu Association, a non profit NGO serves as representative of Malaysian Telugus and is platform for Telugus to voice their opinions. The Telugu Association was first formed in the region of Lower Perak District in Malaysia on 17 July 1955, under the banner of Malaya Andhra Sangamu and officially registered on 17 February 1956. On 16 December 1963 it was renamed as Malaysia Andhra Sangamu. The association name evolved from 1983 onwards as TELUGU ASSOCIATION OF MALAYSIA (TAM HQ) which is also known as Malaysia Telugu Sangamu. The association is formally registered and operates under the banner of as Persatuan Telugu Malaysia in Bahasa Malaysia.
Telugus along with other Indians from the east coast of India and the Bengal Bay arrived to the shores of ancient "Suvarnabhumi" and other parts of Southeast Asia. Indians from Godavari basin arrived in ancient Malay peninsular, trading and settling down, thus influencing local customs and culture. Sejarah Melayu addressed India as Benua Keling and Indians as "Keling", a word taken from Kalinga, an ancient Indian kingdom which is likely the source of Indian influence over Southeast Asia. Kalinga is located at the northern part of Andhra Pradesh covering Godavari basin and the southern part of Orissa and people of this region now speak either Telugu or Oriya
An article under the heading leading Telugus in Early Malaya published in the New Straits Times on Sept 24, 2001, states that the first Indian Association in Malaya was initiated by a Telugu, A.Subbiah Naidu, in Penang in 1892.
The article as follows is, written by history professor Datuk Dr. Khoo Kay Kim of the University of Malaya said that and another branch of the Indian Association was established in Taiping in 1894. This branch was headed by M.A.C. Rao.
However, the Indian Association was not an active movement, and so one reverend Raju Naidu stepped in and inspired the movement. He revived the one at Taiping, which had ceased functioning, in April 1906.
Two other prominent Telugu gentlemen, J, AppaRao and V.Rajagopal Naidu, joined as committee members. Rev. Raju Naidu went on to register the association in Taiping as the Indian Association of the FMS, on April 1906. He formed another branch in lpoh on June 9, 1906 with 12 members. Sengarayan Naidu, a wealthy contractor from lpoh, contributed generously towards the association which was named the Kinta Indian Association (KIA). It remains active to this day. Sengarayan contributed much to the local community, not just to the Telugus, and he was honoured for this, In fact, a road in Ipoh- Jalan Sengalrayan- has been named after him.
Under the British Administration of Malaya, representatives from the various ethnic groups were chosen to sit in the Federal and State Councils. One of them was Subbiah Naidu Veerasamy, a Telugu who also became an accredited leader of the Indians in Malaya. He was a lawyer and went up to St. John's College, University of Oxford, in 1912. Though, few in number, these gentlemen were of an elite class. They strived hard to bring unity to the Indian community, without expecting any reward or personal glory. The Telugus kept a low profile. Many of them who had come to serve in Malaysia prayed significant roles as teachers, traders and businessmen, agricultural labourers and members of various professions.
Immigration from India in an organized manner commenced around 1907, and this was largely as a system of indentured labour to serve the rubber plantations that were rapidly opening up, and as labour for the building of public amenities and the provision of services. Along with them came the more educated group, to serve as clerks, teachers and other professions. The waves of Indian labour to Malaysia for the agricultural plantations and as general labour for public works began increasing so much and there was plenty of exploitation.
The British Administration then attempted to bring some sanity to the process by implementing an organized import of labour”. This took the form of legislation, known as the labour Code of 1912. Under this Code, the Indian immigration Fund was introduced, under which the following facilities were provided to the indentured labourers from South India: Free passage to the Federated Malay states of Johor, Kedah, Perlis and Kelantan Expenses for the recruitment of labourers and the maintenance of homes for workers were reimbursed Quarantine and health facilities were introduced Depots to process the labourers were maintained at Avadi, Madras, and Nagapatnam in south India and at Penang in the Straits Settlements.
The forgotten ones
Exploitation did not end. Another attempt at organized labour import was made with a fresh Labour Code in 1923, which introduced licenses for the so-called Kanganis to authorize agents to recruit labourers under a :manageable: system called the Sanji Labour System.
This method was to better organise the collection of funds and make disbursements as duly authorised under the provisions of the 1912 Labour Code. However, the exploitations never ended, and in 1938 the Government of India decided to cease to allow emigration to the Far East.
Today, many Malaysians of Indian origin as well as those of other races may not know how the early Indian settlers suffered in the developing countries. They came from a fairly good life, hoping for better times. However, it dawned on them, especially those in the plantation sector, that they were just the “slaves” of a system devised to stifle their spirit.
They were provided with poor housing, unhygienic sanitary conditions, long working hours, poor wages and the list goes on. Many untold miseries were suffered by them, and inhumane abuses were hurled at them. They toiled on, undaunted, undeterred. They put up with oppression, suppression, poverty and sickness- what immigrants throughout the history of mankind have faced. It was their tenacity of spirit in the face of hardship that saw them through to making immense contributions to the growth, progress, development and prosperity of Malaysia.
In 1955 the Telugu community formed an organization called as Malaya Andhra Sangamu on 17 July 1955, changing it later on 16 December 1963 Andhra Association of Malaysia and later on from 1983 as TELUGU ASSOCATION OF MALAYSIA (TAM), which is also known as Malaysia Telugu Sangamu or as Persatuan Telugu Malaysia in the national language. The principal objective of the Telugu Association of Malaysia is to unite and merge the Telugus of the country under one roof in an effort to promote the language and culture of the community, their interests and general well being and to foster goodwill and racial harmony among the communities of Malaysia. TAM is serving about 300,000, Telugu population in this country. There are, to date 30 branches nationwide.
Among its endeavours of TAM is Saamskruthika Nilayam (TSN), a cultural centre for Telugus situated in Serendah, Hulu Selangor which is purely depending on well wishers and donors. To name a few other ownerships, TAM has one Sri Venkateswara Devastanamu at Kg Teluk Baru, Sungai Sumun, Perak, a five-storey building(Telugu Bhavanamu) in a strategic location in Kuala Lumpur, a three-storey building in Kulim, an office space in Rawang, Ipoh, Skudai, Johore and a double-storey building at Klang are among some of the assets in its possession. Specifically, the TAM has become a reality in the making and we are confident that others will play an effective role in making this project a SUCCESS and most recently Establishment is the TAM Foundation.
PTM operates from its own premise at No 9-1A Udarama Complex, Telugu Bhavanamu, Jalan 1/64A off Jalan Ipoh, 50350 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Education in Telugu
In 1960's there were more than 60 National Type Primary Telugu Schools in Malaysia .These schools were in Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembian, Kedah, Johore and Pahang, as wherever there were heavy pockets of Telugu population.
Malaysian Secondary School Entrance Examination was then conducted in these schools just like in other primary schools. From 1985 till 1986, Telugu language was offered in OSC/MCE level while from 1968 to 1992 Telugu language was offered as an optional subject in LCE/PMR examination. In 1991 the Education Director then announced that optional papers such as Punjabi, Telugu and French would no longer be offered from 1993. because they were not in the Integrated Secondary School Curriculum but these subjects would be offered at SPM level. It was strange that Telugu language was taken away in LCE/PMR but to be offered at SPM level. But the Telugu Community was greatly disappointed when the promise to offer Telugu at the SPM level was not implemented. Till to date the Telugu language is not offered either at PMR or SPM level. Article 152(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution guarantees to teach or learn any other language.
Since 1993 no examinations were held for Telugu language. As a result, there was no incentive or motivation for the students to pursue the subject. Being already overburdened with exam oriented subjects, the students and even parents find it a burden for their children to attend the Telugu classes being a non-exam subject. Hence, the number of pupils attending Telugu Classes/Pupils own language (POL) had much dropped. But whatever case Telugu is still been taught at about 25 government schools.
TAM is encouraging POL classes by conducting voluntary classes in all 26 TAM branches nationwide, holding educational and cultural seminars/workshops and various other activities. But our efforts seem futile at times, especially among the younger generations. We only ask our mother-tongue which was here prior to independence and after independence till 1992 to be reinstated in PMR examination so that Telugu language and culture will not be decimated. Telugus have contributed significantly, to the rich cultural heritage of our nation. Loss of Telugu language and culture will be a dent to the rich cultural heritage of Malaysia. So, by including Telugu language in PMR/SPM it will facilitate our efforts immensely and it will spur us further in the promotion of Telugu language and the students too will be motivated to take the subject.
Apart from that TAM is also very well known for organizing annual moral camp during summer breaks in order to educate current generation about Telugu culture, tradition,and believes in order to maintain the identity of Telugus in Malaysia. This camp was first organized by Mr Rama Rao Subramaniam also known as Kalla Rama Rao, the Penang Branch Chairman of TAM (current TAM National Treasurer) on December 2002 at Bagan Datoh, Perak. It is recorded that approximately 25-30 students took part in the camp. This camp was continued to be organized by Mr Rama Rao Subramaniam until year 2006. From 2007 until now, this camp is being organized by someone else from TAM. This action by Mr Rama Rao was the turning point for Telugu Association of Malaysia as it revealed the identity telugus in Malaysia to the public and also the Malaysian Government.
To maintain our the identity language is a must. It is the soul of our race. Your action will save the survival of Telugu community. TAM has faith and confidence in you that you’ll not let Telugu language and culture to become extinct in this lovely land. We have appealed to the Ministry of Education and the cabinet to reinstate Telugu language in PMR/SPM
The TAM’s newsletter ‘ Sanga Charyulu’ is published quarterly and carries news about the regional activities of the persatuan in both Telugu and English. Vice President Sri P S Ramunaidu compiles and edits the articles before distributing the newsletter to all branches.
Radio & TV
About 1 ½ hour Telugu programmes daily are except on Sunday. During festive seasons especially Telugu New Year Ugadi special programmes were initiated and aired over national Radio Minnal FM and TV Telugu songs request via SMS is on every Monday from 3.30pm to 4.30pm – MV space…..(message)…. 32770
Presently TV 2 has been screening three Telugu movies yearly. However for last 4four years only one Telugu films were screened. TAM has been appealed to the authorities.
Astro being a private pay R/TV station, it telecast Telugu movies and a drama serials weekly. TAM has been appealing to increase the frequency of the Telugu movies and daily serials.
Sree Venkateswara Devastanamu
This temple is along Jalan Bagan Datoh about 27 km(17 miles) from Teluk Intan, Perak which was established in the 80s. In the year 1983,Sri Venkateswara Temple was built on the land donated by Mr Y S Nook Naidu, MP Appalanaidu,Appalanaidu Akiah, ME Maniam,BK Simachalam, Late Stephen Ramulu,D V Sri Ramulu, KS Somuniadu, Adari Ramulu and Kishnammah under the chairmanship of Sri Gummadi Subrmaniam(1980- 1986) after which two chairman other were Sri S Nooknaidu(1987-1992 & 2006- 2010) and Sri ME Maniam(1993- 2005).
In the year 1997, when Sri M E Maniam was the temple chairman and I (Enkatesulu Juval) was then Assistant General Secretary of TAM cum Chairman of Sabak Bernam Branch played the important role in the registration process of "Sree Venkateswara Alayamu Devotees Association", Teluk Bharu Village, Sungai Sumun, Hilir Perak, Perak and registration reference is(PPP/PK.292/97(4),PPP/PK.27/97(Registration No.1596) as to promote the temple,religion, co-operation in religious activities, bhajans etc. among the devotees of the temple and the Telugu Association of Malaysia. Currently a Telugu priest in this temple as to conducts Pujas,other prayers and Telugu weddings in line with Telugu tradition,customs and culture.
Annually the Sree Venkateswara Devastanamu at Sungai Sumun, Perak of TAM Lower Perak branch conducts Dasara and other festivals. The construction of this temple was spearheaded by Mr Y.S.Nook Naidu, a secondary school teacher, and one of the first university graduate from Telugu community in South Perak. In 2007, he led the team for further upgrading of the temple. The entire temple's old structure and adjoining hall were brought down completely and a new structure were rebuilt replacing the old temple.
Telugus in Malaysia Politics
Among all the Telugus who are in politics, a number of them are found in number of committees and YB K R A Naidu is the only state assembly representative.
TAM also aims to encourage the use of the Telugu language in the country and to popularise Telugu literature and culture. It recognizes that attention is needed to revive, promote and expand cultural activities throughout the country.
It is now hoping to compile statistics of the Telugu populations in Malaysia, in order to use this information as bargaining power when meeting the authorities to seek opportunities for the Telugu people, which are believed to number around 4000,000 in Malaysia.
The association is also initiating several activities to raise funds in order to assist needy Telugu students to pursue tertiary education, locally and abroad. Another project of the association is to encourage the active participation of Telugu in business and in national youth programmes.
Telugu Association of Malaysia Education Foundation (TAM foundation)
Launching of TAM Foundation 22/05/2011 @PWTC,Kuala Lumpur
About 80 students of Telugu Association of members' children were awarded with Medals, Certificates & Cash from RM500 to RM1500 for doing very well in their SPM/STPM
It is Malaysian Telugus' 50 years old dream coming true besides the gathering itself at PWTC, Kuala Lumpur, which is the very first time in the TAM's history. I believe it has all started, way back in 2006 when Dr. Achaiah Kumar, then Deputy President and Enkatesulu juval ( Vice President & Education chairman) attending the Malayalees(Amma) Education Fund Dinner. They were very impressed with their Amma Education fund system. After which, Enkatesulu Juval proposed "Establishment of Telugu Education Fund" together with the bylaws at one of the TAM Executive Committee which was later approved at 36th Biennial Delegates' Conference held on 29 October 2006 as to establish "Education Trust Fund for TAM". Later in 2007 the TAM new committee organised a Gala Dinner raising funds but that it has not being registered for the reason that total fund has not reached 1 million. However when TAM Mega Event "An Evening with Prime Minister was held on 8/10/2010 at PICC Putrajaya and 3 millions from PM had made it reality as "TAM Foundation"
Second World Telugu Conference was held at Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, Malaysia from 11th to 14 April 1981. The conference was organized by the Telugu Association of Malaysia (TAM). Dr. A. C. Apparao was then the President of TAM.
It was launched by the then Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and was attended by more than 2000 Telugu political figures, academicians, artists, poets and Telugu enthusiasts from Malaysia, India, Singapore, Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, United Kingdom and USA. Amongst the prominent foreign Telugus who graced the function were: the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, T. Anjayya, Education Minister M. V. Krishna Rao, Cultural Minister, Battam Sree Rama Murthy, Bejawada Gopala Reddy, Vavilala Gopala Krishnayya, Vempati Chinna Satyam, poets Dr.Dasarathi, Dr.C.Narayana reddy, Dr. Bapu Reddy, Ambassodor N.V.Rao, movie ace producer U.Visweswara Rao, cine artists Satyanarayana, Prabakar Reddy, Sharath Babu, Jamuna, Kanchana, Jayachitra and others.
The four-day function had a number of activities such as the Malaysian Night, a Telugu exhibition, Academic sessions, cultural activities and a Telugu Film Festival. A 10-day exhibition of Andhra culture, arts and crafts and history was held at the National Museum. All art effects and material for the exhibition was brought into Malyasia with the help of Government of Andhra Pradesh. The exhibition was organized under the chairmanship of Mr.V.N.Ramachandran with help obtained from the then National Museum Director Mr. Sharom Yeop and Prof. Khoo Kay Kim of University Malaya.
The Malaysian night which exhibited Malay cultural performances, Boria in Telugu by Koathala Ramunaidu and group, ‘Burra Katha’ on the history of Malaysian Telugus written by Beesetty Nokiah and performed by Apparao, Gangaraju and Maniam, Chiratalu by some youths from Kuala Bernam Estate, Bagan Datoh headed by Sri Adduri Juval and other cultural performances. Numerous academic sessions were held to discuss on the various aspects of Telugu language, culture, arts, history and future.
The evenings were filled with cultural activities mainly brought under the Ministry of Culture and Minister Bhattam Sri Rama Murthy. Amongst the prominent cultural performances were the Dr. Bala Muralikrishna’s melodious Keerthanas, Dr. Chitti Babu’s Veena recital, Vempati Chinna Satyams's Disciples Kuchipudi dance performances, Raja Reddy Kuchipudi Dance performances and Drama and Comedy performances by movie artist. The Telugu Film Festival has screened some award winning Telugu movies such as Alluri Seetharama Raju, Shankarabharanam, Muthyala Muggu and Bhaktha Kannappa.
World Telugu Conference Committee Meeting
Dr Paul Naidu, President and Enkatesulu Juvalu represented at above meeting held 10 -11/ 9/2005 at the Jubilee Hall, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Of the matters discussed were on unity and better ties of the World Telugu Associations and Telugu culture. They appealed and update our timely needs of Telugu of Malaysia at this meeting. And on the subjects we touched base were to grant five medical seat annual at any medical colleges which are recongnised by the Malaysian government at nominal fee or RM100,000/, annually Telugu cultural troupe such Kuchipudi, burrakatha, sivathandam, ghazal, tholubommalata, minicry artists, eminent poets and writers and student exchange programme to intercultural communication. We also requested if Government order(G.O. Ms No 34 dated 27/03/2003) could be granted as promised "Sanction of an amount of Rs. 25.00 Lakhs for the completion of Telugu Cultural Centre at Rawang, Malaysia" as the order issued and as announced by Hon'ble Chief Minister, then on his visit to Malaysia on 11//08/2002 at the meeting at Indian High Commission office at Kuala Lumpur.