Does the identity of Anglo-Indians not count?

D.P. SATISH writes from New Delhi: Former Indian all-rounder Roger Binny was a nominated MLA in the Karnataka Assembly under the Anglo-Indian quota. He never opened his mouth during his five-year term. He attended sessions just three or four times during his entire tenure. His silence was a topic of debate in the media. Gentleman Binny chose not to react to any criticism.

I was among those who thought that India’s first Anglo-Indian cricketer at the international level wasn’t doing his job well. Now I think he was right. He would have been stopped by overenthusiastic guardians of Kannada.

The Derrick Fullinfaw incident proves it. The new Anglo-Indian MLA is running for cover after he dared to speak in his mother tongue English in the Assembly.

Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) is busy ensuring that he will not open his mouth. These self-styled cultural custodians now tell Kannadigas what they should watch, listen, write, speak, support, and so on.

But do they know who Anglo-Indians are?

The Constitution of India has made a provision for nominated Anglo-Indian MLAs in some States and two MPs in the Lok Sabha. It guarantees this tiny community, whose total population in India is less than 2 lakh, the right to protect and promote its distinct identity.

Just as the Vedike has right to promote Kannada, Anglo-Indians have the right to use their language English in all spheres of life. They are as much a part of Karnataka as anybody else. The Vedike must understand that it can’t preserve and popularise Kannada by simply emulating the strong-arm tactics of the Dravida movement in Tamil Nadu and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

The role of the Kannada media is questionable. It is stoking the fire by encouraging the deep anxieties and insecurity of Kannadigas. Barring one or two newspapers, the rest are supporting the Vedike and its mindless acts.

As eminent filmmaker M.S. Sathyu once famously said:

“No Vedike is needed to safeguard Kannada. First of all, why need protection for Kannada? The Vedike is just a sort of political outfit with no concern for the language… Are they aware of the latest novel of Dr U.R. Anantha Murthy or the stature of Dr Masti Venkatesh Iyengar? Do they know the achievements of Kuvempu and D.R. Bendre? With not an iota of knowledge on Kannada literature how they can protect the language?

They have constituted the forum to protect themselves, not the Kannada language. Devoid of them, Kannada can still survive and grow with full glory. For any language to survive and sustain the culture, poets and litterateurs are responsible. Their toil only can boost the language.”

I am writing this at my own risk. I know I invite the ire of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) and its supporters by talking this way about the so-called sole custodians of my state. They will call me an insane journalist. Naive Kannada enthusiasts will say I am anti-Kannada…. But I know that I am a better Kannadiga and I have a much greater knowledge of Kannada and Karnataka.

Even I wouldn’t support anyone who act superior and make a big virtue of a closed mind. But, it is a fact that blindly opposing English will not help Kannada in any way.

How can Rakshana Vedike be the sole custodians of a great 2000-year-old language and culture?

If the KRV could celebrate when Cherkalam Abdullah took oath in Kannada in the Kerala Assembly and P.M. Sayeed replied in Kannada in the Lok Sabha, is Derrick Fullinfaw beyond his rights to speak in his mother tongue?