The upsurge in the demand for classical language status for Kannada—immediately after Tamil was “granted” the honour by a UPA government dependent on the DMK for support—has been one of the more perplexing preoccupations of Kannada fans, followers and fanatics in recent times.
M.S. Prabhakara, the long-time Guwahati and Johannesburg correspondent of The Hindu and a fully paid-up Kannadiga, has counted 46 news times in the Kannada print media apart from photographs related to the subject in the last six months alone.
These report meetings, demonstrations and protests over the ‘step-motherly’ attitude of the Union Government towards Kannada and Karnataka, memoranda, journeys of delegations to Delhi. At least, one Kannada worthie, the former Mysore Unviersity vice-chancellor D. Javare Gowda, has found his USP in the evening of his life.
Why, asks Prabhakara.
“Why this desire to secure such a status for one’s language since ‘classical languages’ are, or at least were, assumed to be virtually dead languages unlike Tamil or Kannada which are alive and vibrant?
“In what way will the language and its speakers benefit by this tag? Neither the several memoranda on the subject nor the subsequent literature following the September 2004 decision provides a satisfactory answer—except to claim that the recognition accorded to Tamil, the first living Indian language to be so recognised (a point that is sure to be endlessly bruited), acknowledges the antiquity of the language, its unbroken literary tradition and the uniqueness of its literary sensibility and other equally ponderous points of self-congratulation and self-gratification, and massaging of one’s egos.
“The Kannada nationalistic urge to emulate Tamil in each and every respect also bespeaks insecurities that have affected Kannada sensibility…
“Failure to successfully emulate the Tamil may make for more serious dislocations that are sure to be exploited by forces always predisposed to demonise the other. Above all, such obsessions about the diminishment of Kannada by malevolent anti-Kannada forces deflect attention from the far more serious problems affecting the consolidation of the Kannada sensibility, historically beset with caste and religious divides, and of late the incipient sub-regional divides, apart from more general divides brought about by unequal economic development.”
Read the full article here: Between the dragon and his wrath