Kannada, Kannadiga, Kannadigaru, Karnataka,

Kannadigarella ondaagi Kannadavannu ulisona, kalisona and belesona

`Kannada should not subsume State’s plurality of identities’

`Kannada should not subsume State’s plurality of identities’

B. Damodara Rao




Sri Vijaya, the author of Kaviraja Marga, speaks of the special identity of Karnataka, which is part of a larger whole. He speaks of the plurality of Kannada dialects, not of languages.

After Ekikarana (unification) in 1956, Dakshina Kannada came to be included in the State. We, the people of the coast, came into the newly formed Karnataka not only with our languages, but also our cultures. Therefore, the emotions of Bangalore do not tally with the emotions of people in the coastal region. Obviously, when there is a bandh call over Belgaum, linguistic sentiments are not whipped up in Dakshina Kannada, and this does not surprise me. So, when Kannada groups make statements on the Kannada language, they forget the multiple identities that exist here, as they forget the 1,000-year history of Tulunadu.

With Kannadigas in various parts of the world, Tulu is now on the international scene. There has been a plea to include it in the Eighth Schedule for a while now. I think it is a justified demand, with so many Tulu scholars, a rich folklore and a developing body of literary work in the language. Somehow, Kannada organisations don’t seem to take the demand seriously. The State Government too is not taking ample interest in the matter. The plurality of identities in Karnataka should not be subsumed in the larger identity of Kannada itself.

`Not endangered’



As far as Kannada itself is concerned, in every Kannada Sahitya Sammelan, the chairman is asked to pronounce the imminent death of Kannada, though I personally feel it is not an `endangered species.’ Think of the Jnanpith output; the literary use of a language is the optimum use of it.

The danger for Karnataka is the co-presence of militancy and linguistic fanaticism. There are Konkani and Beary languages, apart from Tulu, in the coastal districts, with a healthy and peaceful co-existence among them. However, there are various linguistic militant groups, which take out provocative rallies and incite trouble. Also, these districts are not free from shades of religious fanaticism. If the State acts firmly, I think these groups can be controlled.

`Good decision’

I’m all for the Government’s recent decision to teach English from the first standard. Along with English, Kannada must be taught in English schools too. This will not just prevent a cultural disconnect, but students from rural areas will stand a better chance in competing with their urban counterparts. In principle, what the Government has done is good.

I am troubled by the trends in higher education. It has, both literally and metaphorically, taken away breathing space. I see a tremendous pressure on both students and teachers who have come to be supervised by managements and parents. In such a situation, there is very little time to introduce anything beyond the test and text.

The humanities component has been largely neglected in higher education. Let’s take the case of software engineers. Their non-exposure to good literary work makes life look too simple and devoid of human values.

Karnataka’s economy is growing at a very rapid pace. Sadly, this hasn’t percolated downwards. Now is the time for us to look at the forgotten, under privileged sections of the society.

As told to Deepa Ganesh

(The writer is an eminent English scholar, who taught at the postgraduate centre of the University of Mysore for three decades. He has worked extensively on issues such as Tulu culture and plurality. He was also the editor of the journal `Odanadi.’)


November 1, 2006 - Posted by | Bangalore, Karnataka and Kannada, Nanjundappa Report

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