D.P. SATISH writes from New Delhi: For the first time perhaps in post-Independence history, three very vital ministries on Raisina Hill—home, defence and external affairs—are in the hands of South Indian Congressmen who have three different mother tongues: Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada, respectively.
While one doesn’t know how A.K. Antony and P. Chidambaram are making up for their lack of proficiency in Hindi, Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna, according to the grapevine, is quickly realizing that it is not “politically correct” to be found wanting in your Hindi language skills in the corridors of power in Delhi.
Although Krishna has been a Member of Parliament five times in his long and chequered career—he first entered the Lok Sabha as a Praja Socialist Party (PSP) candidate from Mandya in a by-election in 1968—he never tried to learn the language of the cow belt in his 40-year association with Delhi.
Probably never had to.
But, in his latest stint as the nation’s external affairs minister, it is coming back to bite.
In the just-concluded session of Parliament, Mulayam Singh Yadav‘s Samajwadi Party, which supports the UPA government from the outside, launched an all-out attack on the Congress and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the ‘badly’ drafted Indo–Pak joint statement at Sharm el-Sheikh.
The Congress MP from Mysore, H. Vishwanath, who had rubbed the former chief minister on the wrong side by writing about Krishna’s “old flame” in his autobiography Halli hakkiya haadu, noticed Krishna sitting alone, in deep thought, in the front row of the treasury benches in the Lok Sabha.
Vishwanath went and sat next to his ex-boss.
This is what transpired between them, according to those in the know.
Vishwanath: Yenu saar? Thumba serious aagideeri? (Sir, why are you looking so serious?)
Krishna: Yenu maadli, Vishwanath. Prime Ministeroo ee Mulayam haththirra swalpa neevu maathaadi antha heli hodru. Aaadre nange ondakshara Hindi baralla. Eeeyappange ondakshara English baralla. Addike yochne maadtha eedeeni. (Vishwanath, PM asked me to talk to Mulayam. But I don’t know a word of Hindi and he doesn’t know a word of English.)
Vishwanath: Paravagilla saar. Mandya gowdara bhaashele maathaadi. Avarige artha aguththe. (It’s OK, sir. Speak to him in the Mandya dialect. He will understand!)
Krishna: I have been in and out of Parliament for 41 years. I never tried to learn Hindi. Never imagined that it would create so many problems one day. But, no excuse, no excuse. It is entirely my fault. I can’t learn it now.
Photograph: A television hand adjusts the microphone cable for S.M. Krishna during campaigning for the assembly election in 2008 (Karnataka Photo News)
Also read: Bangalore’s idiots who speak an idiolect at home
If Chiba San is not a son of the soil, who is?
Whereever you see Marathi, replace it with Kannada
What a picture sirji!
Krishna’s handicap is not limited to Hindi unfortunately.
Everyone wondering what happenned to Krishna of yesteryears? Why has he been so unimpressive so far in his stint?
Is it age (Krishna is 78 years old) or reality catching up to hype?
Or as some say he is being controlled by Yellow Pages Shastri? (whom Churumuri profiled some time back)
Those in the know in Delhi are sure Krishna won’t last in his position for few more months considering disasteroous performance so far.
Did media create larger than life image of S.M.Krishna that he is unable to meet their expectations now? This is a classic case of building image through media – like SM Krishna did by doling out sites to Editors in Bangalore.
If root cause is Shastri one can only pity ourselves. Here we are an emerging nation, a nuclear power – whose external affairs are now being guided by likes of Shastri whose expertise is running Yellow Pages!!
I have always believed that it is good to learn the language of the place you stay in. Not learning the language not only smacks of disrespect towards the language but also towards the culture of that place.
However, I think it is unfair on criticizing Mr. Krishna on this count. English like Hindi is the lingua franca of India and I doubt if this statement by Mr. Satish makes any sense:
is quickly realizing that it is not “politically correct” to be found wanting in your Hindi language skills in the corridors of power in Delhi.
Churumuri should have put this new item online…two kannadiga kids win first and third place in the national spelling bee champs held in Washington DC.
Kavya Shivashankar, the first price winner, hails from Mysore. And the third price winner, Aishwarya Pastpur from our very own Gulbarga!
Their news is found on Akka homepage
How are other South Indian politicians surviving? Do they all know Hindi?
The issue is not with learning or rejecting Hindi. The issue is Hindi speakers’ attitude that rejects other languages. Until they start learning a SI language through a Three Language formula in NI schools, I don’t see much hope other than a take over of governance by SIs.
Then within such corridors of power, NIs will have to speak Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu with Angla bhashe thrown in.
This will take the kind of audacity that currently only Tamilians possess.
Malayalis and Andhras have other ways to assert their independence.
We are so stuck!
Exactly. Everybody living in Karnataka for a long time should know Kannada. I should never have to deal with vendors in their own languages.
Now for SMK. What exactly is it that sets him apart from others? Intellectually, there must be something to him because he spent a year at Yale as a fellow, unless, of course, he got the fellowship through some crafty shenangigan or other.
Party (in both senses of the term) hopping, doing the bidding of those above him, building a financial empire, not really projecting a selfless vision and not showing any particular talent for dealing with international issues, just how much did he pay for the ministership? Like all living former chief ministers of Kannada Nadu he is floating on, or drowning in, money. I hope GOI can engineer an intricate crisis somewhere in the west and make Krishna its sterling resolver. We need at least some respect for Kannada in New Delhi.
ಯಾಕೆ ಸಾರ್, ಎಸ್ ಎಂ ಕೃಷ್ಣ ಅವರಿಗೆ ಅವರ microphone ಅಡ್ಜಸ್ಟ್ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳೋಕ್ಕೆ ಬರಲ್ವಾ…. ಎಂಥಾ ಪ್ರಬುದ್ಧ ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿ ಅವರು… ಏನ್ ಸಾರ್ ನೀವನ್ನೋದು? ಮಾನ್ಯ ಕೃಷ್ಣ ಅವರು ತಮ್ಮ ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿ ಎಂಥೆಂಥ ಆಟ ಆಡಿದ್ದಾರೆ? ಈ ಫೋಟೋನಲ್ಲಿ ಯಾರನ್ನೋ ಕರೆದುಕೊಂಡು ಬಂದು ಏನ್ ಮಾಡಿಸ್ತಾ ಇದ್ದಾರೆ ನೋಡಿ!! ಅದನ್ನೇ ಸಾರ್ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಅಂತ ಕರೆಯೋದು!! ಕಿಲ ಕಿಲಾ!!
I thought in the cow-belt it is only necessary to know how to milk the cow, use its urine as medicine and burn the cow dung. No, some saffron sevak even suggested to use the cow dung as shield against radiation.
Do cows there speak Hindi as well?
just watching him in press conferences and also his body language makes me queasy…If this is the caliber of people that our state can send , how can we ever stand up to the NI and command respect. Not only SMK, even VM and JR are of the same ‘foot in mouth ‘ disease club
TKM – Who is a Saffron Sevak?
Just as Hindi is imposed on the south, any one south language must be made compulsory for the northies, that is the only fair way of National Integration
The problem (Everywhere!!!).
The attitude ‘you better speak my language, so I can understand you.’ I will speak your language if I am the one going to benefit. If you are going to benefit, then you better learn and understand my language. Don’t try to push down your language down my throat, just because your misplaced language and cultural love.
Survival of the fittest’ for everyday life – that is how the languages survives..and it mutates too.
Pushing my language down your throat is me trying to survive by being the fittest!
Saffron Sevak – It is the same SS from the Second World War – or an off-shoot with the same characteristics..
Anonymous Guy – My sympathies for you…and you can grumble till Armageddon.
TKM – Its clear you know neither SS.
II WW SS carried out the pogrom of the Nazis.
Indian SS carries out the pogrom of the Indian Nazis.
Do I know either ? Of course not.
B’cause I didn’t or don’t live in those outfits.
I can understand bitterness.
TKM- Your understanding of bitterness leaves much to be desired.
First try an understand who the Indian Nazis are. Then make your analogies.