Why Bangalore Hates the English Media Culture

RAJEEV RAO writes from Bangalore: I was bemused and bewildered to read the Outlook cover story, “Why Bangalore hates IT Culture“. The choice of topic and the headline used would have been acceptable had it been by an intern at a journalism school submitting a project report for his/her course.

But a correspondent of a national newsmagazine?

A large City never has a white or black, either-or relationship with anybody or anything. There are hundreds of shades of grey in between. It is too simplistic (even stupid) to view Old Bangalore’s relationship with the IT industry through the monocle of “hate”.

It has a love-hate relationship. Just like old and new Madras, old and new Bombay, old and new Delhi. And the myriad towns and villages of Bharat that is India.

But the premise and conclusions of the Delhi-based magazine’s article sort-of epitomises everything that is wrong with the English media’s (in specific, and the national media’s, in general) coverage of and attitude towards Bangalore, Kannada, Kannadigas, and Karnataka.

If there is one thing that Bengalooru and the rest of Karnataka hates, and I am sure I am not alone in this, it is the English (national) media’s carelessness, callousness and general indifference to all things involving our State.

Not just the print medium, but all other vehicles of mass communication—radio, television, internet, etc, not excluding churumuri.

And here are the reasons (the list is by no means exhaustive):

# Because the broadcast bozos can’t even get the name of our language or our State right. Kannada is Kannada not Kannad. And Karnataka is Karnataka, not Karnatak. Are they blind? Can’t they see the ‘a’ at the end? Or don’t they just care?

# Because even prominent Kannada/Karnataka names are wrongly pronounced/spelt. Is it really so hard to pronounce names like Deve Gowda and Yediyurappa if you can master Nordic European names? It’s not Deve Goud, darlings; and it’s not Yedi-ury-appa, Rajdeep Sardesai.

# Because despite their deep pockets, all that these English TV honchos can hire are 20-something immigrant journalists who do not know their Mysoorus from their Mangaloorus (let alone our Haassanas from our Arasikeres). With just a passing acquaintance with Kannada or the history of the State, relying on “experts” who know even less, they dish out muck on every topic under the Karnataka sun with frightening poise that it takes the breath away. What a shame.

# Because Bengalooru for our English media has become just about M.G. Road, Brigade Road, Koramangala and Indiranagara. They forget, or rather ignore, that Bengalooru is also and more about Basavanagudi, Jayanagara, Vijayanagara, Peenya, Rajajinagara, Malleshwara, Hebbala, etc. More people live in and experience Bengalooru in these localities, but shockingly they just don’t seem to count.

# Because industry for our media has just come to mean the IT industry. Because infrastructure problems for our English media has just come to mean the road to Whitefield and Electronics City. Vadi? Yadgir? Pavagada? Where’s that?

# Because a college campus in Bengalooru for them only means St. Joseph‘s and Mount Carmel never National College, MES or Vijaya College. A school means Bishop Cotton’s. And of course a restaurant always has to be Koshy‘s.

# Because the English media propagates the fallacy that Kannada is understood only by a minority in Bengalooru. Sorry. People with Kannada as their mother tongue may be fewer than 50%, but more than 75% in Bengalooru understand Kannada, i.e. they can speak, read and write the language. Kannada is the single most used language in Bengalooru. This is never highlighted. This has singlehandedly hurt Kannada and the Kannadigas as a perpetuating self-fulfilling prophecy.

# Because the Kannada/Karnataka view is never highlighted in important issues like Cauvery dispute, the renaming (right naming) of Bangalore as Bengalooru etc. On the other hand, the same media doesn’t squirm when it comes to effectively highlighting the local point of view on issues in other States.

# Because the English media fails to project and highlight legitimate demands of Kannada and Karnataka, be it the Cauvery river water dispute or demand for classical language status. Sugata Srinivasaraju (the author of the Outlook article on “Why Bangalore Hates IT Culture), himself has the following comments on the Cauvery judgement: (a) “fair judgement” …. stuns Karnataka into a sputtering funk after the din of shrill sub-nationalistic rhetoric”, (b)”Karnataka can gladly focus on the pluses”. I wonder what the Tamil Nadu representatives had to say at the same time (or at different points of time during the dispute).

# Because in every forum on Bengalooru and Karnataka on the news channels and in the morning papers, immigrant intellectuals like Ramachandra Guha, and only like-minded Bengaloorigas like T.V. Mohandas Pai of Infosys and Kiran Majumdar Shaw of Biocon are invited, U.R. Anantha Murthy being the odd exception. Do they truly represent Bengalooru? Why not leading Kannada journalists like Vishweshwar Bhat or Ravi Belagere to present a different view. Except a Girish Karnad and Anantha Murthy, don’t we have someone with enough exposure to Kannada and Karnataka talk about issues pertaining to Kannada and Karnataka?

# Because a concert of Shah Rukh Khan in the City with 20,000 people attending is given front-page coverage in the English papers while a ‘Kannadave Sathya‘ concert by C. Ashwath at the Palace Grounds on the same day where close to a 100,000 people attended is buried deep inside.

# Because our English media always find the space, time and inclination to plug third-rate Bollywood, tamilwood and teluguwood content/people than to quality, original Kannada cinema. There is more coverage for Sivaji than for Mungaaru Male, there is more wisdom on Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam stars in the Sunday magazines than about Kannada stars. Because their film critics think all Kannada movies are “remade” while failing to point out that Paheli (India’s Oscar entry) was based on Nagamandala and Swades (another Oscar entry contender) was a remake of Chigurida Kanasu.

# Because the English newspapers have all the space in the world to list out the schedules of 10 Hindi channels on the listings page while they can accommodate only a couple of Kannada channels of the ten or more around.

# Because national media houses on radio consistently ignored Kannada for five years by beaming Hindi songs on Bengalooru’s first FM channel, Radio City, 24 hours of the day. The best (or should it rather be the worst) that they did was telecast Kannada songs on Saturday and Sunday mornings (when research has shown that the listenership numbers are significantly lower than weekday mornings) thus reducing Kannada to the status of “reserved category”. Today, Big FM and Radio Mirchi, predominantly belting out Kannada music, lead audience charts. Radio City has even stopped claiming to be No.1 in the city. Thankfully one end to the self-fulfilling prophecy.

# Because they constantly undermine the achievements of Kannadigas (example: recent churumuri article about Anil Kumble‘s success being despite him being a Kannadiga a case in point). I can only remember one cover story on Outlook about Karnataka cricketers when 6/7 players from Karnataka were playing for India and Kannada was as much of a lingua franca of the team as English/Hindi.

# Because the 14th (or 15th as the case maybe) of January is Makara Sankranthi, not Pongal; the festival of lights in Karnataka is called Deepavali not Diwali. Just for the unknowing, diwali in Kannada means pauper, or bankrupt, and that we most definitely are not.


So, what’s your favourite crib about the English media’s coverage of Kannada, Kannadigas and Karnataka?


Crossposted on sans serif