S.S. KARNADSHA and PALINI R. SWAMY write from Bangalore: Ours is a State of a million self-appointed Kannada activists. We have dozens of bodies to protect and promote Kannada. Our intellectuals are ever so vigilant in detecting any threat to Kannada. From politicians to film stars and everybody else in between, everybody is duty-bound to pledge their love for Kannada every few days.
Yet why is there not a whimper, not a protest, not a contrarian voice at the grisly sight of a 168-year-old English lady snatching away a 78-month-old Kannada baby in broad daylight?
We are talking, of course, of The Times of India—and its planned purchase of the Vijaya Karnataka and its younger siblings, Vijay Times and Usha Kirana.
Is there no pride—no swabhimana, dammit—left among Kannadigas in general and Kannada newspaper readers in particular at losing something their own? Is there no shame, no scare, no disgrace at the gobbling up of a product that was a Kannadiga’s baby; no worry, no concern at a monopoly situation that might strangle dozens of other smaller Kannada newspapers?
“I remember in the early 1970s when the Times of India tried to buy a small stake in the Nalapat family’s holding in Matrubhoomi, there was a major furore across Kerala,” recalls a Malayalee journalist. “There were angry protests at an outsider from Bombay eating into a newspaper that was part of the freedom movement. The protests were such that ToI had to tuck its tail between its legs and run.”
(A similar reaction came once again in the late 1980s when ToI tried to print an edition out of Kerala using Mathrubhoomi infrastructure, in return for a Mathrubhoomi edition from Bombay to service the Gulf region.)
Contrast this with the shocking silence, the quiet acquiescence, among Kannada writers, “intellectuals”, journalists, readers, politicians, language activists to Vijaya Karnataka’s majority sellout to a group that knows no business rules, no journalism ethics to write home about.
Ask yourself just two questions: Are we really bothered about what is ours—our State, our language, our people, our businesses, our arts and letters, our journalism?
Or are we just a bogus lot, just good at what most Indians are good at—bullshitting till the cows come home?
On the other hand, you can also ask yourself a third question: Why should anybody protest at what is a straightforward business deal between an unsentimental buyer and and even more unsentimental seller in this totally unsentimenal post-liberalised age?
So, to the question why avowed Kannada lovers and supporters are not springing up in angst, anger or anxiety at a mercenary Marwari organisation muffling the pride of Kannada journalism, a good counter-question is, was VK an emblem of Kannada pride to start with?
Pride may pass off as an emotional term, but it too has a sense of history and it is only when such history is confronted will the flags go up and slogans rent the air.
CHURUMURI NOTE: A section of the original story has been edited out in view of some distortions, assumptions and misrepresentations that have been brought to our notice. But our basic premise stands. Should the torch-bearers of Kannada not debate and discuss a sale of this nature that could alter the very DNA of the State?