E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: On 20 January 1961, in his inaugural address after taking over as the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
Forty-seven years later, one of the ‘stalwart’ leaders of our disunited states has turned this statement on its head and seemed to ask, “Ask not what I have done the State; ask what the State has done for me!”
Now let’s see who are all the people who have made our State proud. And who are all the people the State is proud of.
We have to go back to the early days. There was Krishna Devaraya, was the greatest king ever who ruled Vijayanagara, much bigger than the present Karnataka; the architect of Bangalore Kempe Gowda; the Tiger of Mysore Tipu Sultan; the builders of modern Mysore, the Wodeyars. All of them fit in the category described by Kennedy.
What about Purandaradasa, born as Sheenappa, the founder of Carnatic music?
If we go back even further, the literary greats Ranna, Pampa, and Kumara Vyasa, the German author Kittel who compiled the first Kannada dictionary. Along the way came Masti Venkatesha Iyengar, Da Ra Bendre, D.V. Gundappa, T.P. Kailasam, U.R. Anantha Murthy and Girish Karnad with their contribution to literature.
No doubt we would have missed several names as we span centuries. Sorry. No disrespect meant to anybody. Put it down to plain ignorance on the part of yours truly. Or just a playful memory.
Can we forget the Karanths—Shivarama, B.V., and Ullas? The R.K. brothers—Narayan and Laxman, famous with their pen and brush. Then there was the father of the bomb, Raja Ramanna.
Surely they too must have been proud of their birth in Karnataka too?
What about Raj Kumar who sang Huttidare Kannada naadalli hutta beku, and Kuvempu who sang Elladaru iru. Enthadaru iru. Endendigu nee Kannadavagi iru’? D.S. Kirkee who wrote Hacchevu Kannadada Deepa? You don’t get truer sons of soil than these. Did they bother how much credit they got for their efforts? Did they carp in public?
What about AaNaKru, ThaRaSu, Thriveni and S.L. Bhyrappa?
May be some of them were not born in Karnataka at all and yet did the State proud. We don’t even know where they were born, but proud they did of the State.
Who can forget the architect of Karnataka, Sir M.Visveswaraya, Veene Seshanna, Bidaram Krishnappa, Diwan Madhav Rao and Sir Mirza Ismail? Did they ever feel their efforts have not been appreciated enough?
Why only men? What about Rani Kittor Chennamma, Sanchi Honnamma and Salumarada Thimmakka? And Shanta Rangaswamy and Soundarya, whom we lost so tragically.
M.N. Srinivas, Kengal Hanumanthiah, Dr. H.Narasimhaiah, Ramakrishna Hegde, Devaraj Urs, S. Nijalingappa all made the State proud in their own ways, and indeed the State was thankful of their deed.
What about the musicians, T. Chowdiah, Mallikarjuna Mansoor, Gangubai Hanagal, Bhimsen Joshi and now R.K. Srikantan, whose melodies lifted souls of generation of listeners. Were they not happy doing what they did?
How can we forget Erapalli Prasanna, Gundappa Viswanath, Bhagwat Chandrashekhar, Javagal Srinath, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Syed Kirmani? What to say of Prakash Padukone and even Pankaj Advani? And the greats of hockey Deshmuthu, Peter and Rajagopal who played for India ?
Did they ever regret why they were born in this State?
In fact generations of citizens, unknown and unsung, have toiled over centuries to make the State what it is today without cribbing for recognition and acknowledgement for their efforts.
Nobody seemed to have regretted that they were born in our State—call it Vijayanagara, Mysore or Karnataka. In fact they were proud, honest and kept their promises and wished to be born here again and here alone.
Only a few seem to be ashamed to have born in Karnataka, only a few wish not to have been born in Karnataka, and only a few carp that the State has not appreciated their “efforts”.
Few? Come to think of it. It’s actually, only one!
Abraham Lincoln, nearly 150 years ago, in his famous Gettysburg address, said: “That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Sadly, at least for some, at least for one, the running of Government has come to mean ‘of the family, by the family, for the family.’ All this in the name of service to the people!