Category Archives: People

Three years since the Indian election mandate in 2014: A subjective analysis

This is the third article in an annual series that has examined the Indian central government’s hits and flops since the general election in 2014. (Part 1, Part 2)Once in a generation mandate

From July 2016 to July 2017, the Indian union government took some bold decisions.  The rolling out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the midnight of June 30th, was probably the most significant, and may I say, a wise decision. I do not fully understand the GST yet. I can’t think of anyone who understands the Indian GST, except perhaps members of the GST council set up by the central government. At this stage, GST is one of those pills that many believe is good for the nation’s economic body, which may boost its circulatory system without any side effects.

I feel sorry that coveted constitutional posts remain highly politicised in India ever since Independence. However, within such constraints, India has seen some outstanding persons in those posts.  Last month, Mr Ramanatha Kovind was elected the 14th President of India. From everything we have heard of him, he has all the credentials to be a good president and deserves the highest constitutional position in India. His past and current sympathies with some political pressure group (namely the RSS) should not be an issue since others in past who had strong connections with other political dynasties and loyalties had become Presidents of India. Him being a Dalit (a class of people oppressed in India, for centuries) became a talking point only because the opposition (UPA) reacted and fielded their own Dalit contestant in the race. There is no doubt that Mr Kovind’s election marks an important milestone in the current union government’s tenure. I must also say a few words about the outgoing president Mr Pranav Mukherjee, who is a Congress veteran (so why not Mr Kovind?). Mr Mukherjee took much needed decisions on many mercy petitions (by criminals on death row) languishing for decades with the President’s office. He occasionally warned the government by returning legislative amendments sent to him without parliamentary scrutiny. He also made his customary speeches on tolerance, calling for social harmony. The Indian President is the Commander in chief of Indian armed forces and s/he is the symbolic head of our union. Mr Mukherjee fulfilled these obligations adequately. Apart from that, he was busy visiting temples and he was in news only when he visited temples. In comparison, the Vice President (the Chairperson of the upper house) holds more operative power in our democracy. At least in theory, the upper house must raise above party politics, and be the non-partisan jury of the Indian legislature. The newly elected Vice President (who shall remain unnamed) does not inspire any confidence.

Some of the positive initiatives by the Union government in 2016-17 (in my view) are the following:

  1. National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme: Planned expenditure of 10,000 crore over the next 3 years to create 50 lakh jobs by 2020.
  2. Introduction of full paid maternity leave for women working in the organized sector, in any company or organization employing 10 or more persons. This was a significant amendment to an old maternity benefit act (1961).
  3. Merger of rail budget with union budget: An important step towards improved efficiency and focus.  Takes away useless sop-announcements from the Railway ministry.
  4. The Government will be investing thousands of crores in several new IITs, a few new AIIMS all across India. New institutes of potential are welcome. Please do not neglect what is already there. Governance structure in many of the existing central and state universities is opaque to say the least. The newly introduced national university ranking system may serve the purpose of internal disaster assessment and they must not be indicators of performance. There is nothing to write home about. Every state government I see, has its head buried in sand.
  5. National highways and the rural road construction projects were among the biggest achievements of NDA-1 (under Mr Atal B Vajapayee). NDA-2 continues to impress when it comes to investing in road infrastructure. 
  6. Bilateral agreements on security, aviation, agriculture and in other sectors between India and other countries.

Point 6 has been the boon and the bane of the current government. The Prime Minister was on a foreign visit spree even in his third year in office. His visits to Israel, Germany, USA, Russia (I don’t know in which order) and how many more…were important events for sure.  He is not tiring from his foreign trips but, I am tired of his foreign trips. A warm reception to our PM in any country is always welcome. However, Mr Modi’s arrival in all these countries has also enthused a handful of billionaires and people of Indian origin who are now permanently citizens of other countries for whatever reasons. I am not comfortable when the PM addresses select groups of PIOs or cheered by masses of NRIs who see him as a facilitator of FNRI (not generic FDI) in India. This extravagant flag waiving on foreign soils is not needed if they want to help their former mother land.  Those with a heart (either genuinely good or even guilty) have always done their bit for India no matter who, where, or what.

While Narendra Modi loves his professional tours, the would-be opposition leader (Rahul Gandhi) loves his personal vacations abroad 6 months a year. I have nothing important to say about him (that should say a lot). In effect, both are on self-imposed exile at any given time, except when canvassing for elections. The government has not turned off election heat from the day it took charge in 2014. Goodness knows what it will be like when the next general election comes around in around 16 months. The PM’s radio soliloquies have garnered a few crores of much needed revenue to the ailing All India Radio. My reactions to the PM’s publicity seeking manners is summed up by my diary notes that I quote below.  If the PM loves promoting his mediocre acronyms, I think copy pasting my own (slightly better than mediocre) flourish is acceptable once in a while 😉. Here is what I wrote in my diary on June 17th, 2017

The Prime Minister of India inaugurated a metro train service in Kerala, a South Indian state (June 16th, 2017; yesterday). He travelled approximately 13 km in an empty metro train. He also inaugurated one of the longest river bridges in Arunachala Pradesha, a North East Indian state (May 26th, 2017; a few weeks ago). He was standing alone on a bridge too far. The PM also inaugurated a tunnel road in Jammu & Kashmira, a North Indian state (April 2nd, 2017; a few months ago). The photograph of the PM waiving his hand alone in front of a dark empty tunnel is still fresh in my mind. The PM posed for the cameras in a train in South Africa (July 10th, 2016; was it last year?). He was alone and the train was empty. He was safe and insecure. Can’t he see the emptiness of this all? Train travel is good but it is neither a necessary nor sufficient precondition to understand Mahatma Gandhi”.

I mentioned implementation of the GST as the most significant of all the decisions made by the central government in 2016-17. GST was rolled out after many years of deliberation. The PM also took another bold decision when he unleashed a demon in demonetisation on the fateful night of Nov 8th 2016. Demonetisation was meant to be a shark attack on black money hoarders, but it turned out to be a piranha attack on the skinny feet of innocent, vulnerable, ordinary people. I have written on demonetisation in detail in a post three months ago. In short, unleashing the demon was bold, and the government was clever enough to make a political capital out of that decision. History will judge the decision as one that was probably unwise and certainly irresponsible.

If we take ‘the demon’ away from the legislative year 2016-17, there is nothing left to talk about. A series of state assembly elections happened and NDA won most of them. The farmers’ agitation in Delhi caught some eyes. There was widespread concern against antisocial elements (still) beating and lynching in the name of saving cows. The unrest in Jammu and Kashmira is nothing new. The unrest at the borders with China and Pakistan are not new.  We, the people of South India, are far removed from everything happening there. However, the unrest against Hindi imposition in Karnataka is worth a mention. The agitation against Hindi imposition in Namma Metro in Bengaluru city caused a huge uproar locally in Karnataka.  The national (Delhi centric) media did not do justice to the broadcasting of the sentiments expressed by Kannada peoples.

The Indian identity is a complex mixture of many identities. Political parties with a near-pan Indian presence (BJP and INC) have always tried to undermine local aspirations for cultural and fiscal autonomy. They have tried to homogenize our public spaces. I hated the past when there was a single dominant political party in India.  I hate to see a future where there is only one dominant political party in India. Some pro-government media houses are running a gunny bag race with the central government to an unknown finish line. There are many political leaders who are corrupt to their bones, and no torch is required to find them in day light. If only the central law-enforcing agencies (under UPA and NDA) acted where needed, with or without HMV records playing in the background.  The rate at which regional (state-level) political parties are capitulating without a trace, and succumbing to central tactics of (a) lure (money), (b) seduction (power), and (c) threat (from ED and CBI) has continued to damage Indian democracy.

India faces an almost insurmountable challenge of severe drought and water crisis in the 21st century. State governments are sparring over river water that isn’t going to be there. Land grab scams are killing lakes in cities and forests in rural India. Nobody cares when in political office, and those not in political office (ordinary people) do not want to care because they are busy getting their next meal. I fear that a large majority of our politicians will sacrifice sustainable habitability of our lands for their own exploits and their party’s short-term selfish agendas. Such politicians are inspired by us, the ignorant citizens. Of course, business cronies, negligent bureaucrats, and a subservient police force do not help. I wish to believe that I am neither pessimistic nor anti-politics. In fact, I know that I am not (Can’t hee rava?).

Tricolor-india-in vegetables
The Indian Tricolor (photo courtesy: pinterest)
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ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ನಡೆದ “ಒಕ್ಕೂಟ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಾದೇಶಿಕ ಪಕ್ಷಗಳ ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತತೆ” ಚಿಂತನ ಗೋಷ್ಠಿ: ಒಂದು ವರದಿ

ಒಕ್ಕೂಟ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಾದೇಶಿಕ ಪಕ್ಷಗಳ ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತತೆ ಎಂಬ ಚಿಂತನ ಗೋಷ್ಠಿ ಹೋದ ವಾರ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿನ ಭಾರತೀಯ ವಿದ್ಯಾ ಭವನದಲ್ಲಿ ನಡೆಯಿತು. ಈ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮವನ್ನು ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿನ ಮುನ್ನೋಟ ಪುಸ್ತಕ ಮಳಿಗೆ ಮತ್ತು ಐಟಿ ಕನ್ನಡ ಕೂಟವು ಜಂಟಿಯಾಗಿ ಹಮ್ಮಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದವು.  ಅದರ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ನಾಲ್ಕು ಸಾಲು ಸಹ ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ಯಾರೂ ಬರೆಯಲಿಲ್ಲ.  ಮಧ್ಯದ ಪುಟದಲ್ಲಿ ಎಲ್ಲೋ ಮೂಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸಾರವಿಲ್ಲದ ಸಾರಾಂಶವನ್ನು ಗೀಚುವ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಗಳನ್ನು ನೋಡುವ ಅಗತ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲ. ಇಂಥ ಮುಖ್ಯವಾದ ವಿಚಾರವನ್ನು ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಗಳು ವರದಿ ಮಾಡುವ ವಿಧಾನವನ್ನು ಮೂದಲಿಸುವ ಗೋಜಿಗೆ ಹೋಗದೆ ನಾನು ಆವತ್ತು ಕೇಳಿಸಿಕೊಂಡ ವಿಚಾರಗಳನ್ನು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಮುಂದಿಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ.  ಮುಖ್ಯ ಅಂಶಗಳಲ್ಲಿ  ನೆನಪಿನಲ್ಲಿರುವುದನ್ನು ಮಾತ್ರ ಬರೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ಯಾವ ನೋಟ್ಸ್ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲಿಲ್ಲ, ಯಾವುದನ್ನೂ ರಿಕಾರ್ಡ್ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲಿಲ್ಲ.  ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮ ನಡೆದು ಒಂದು ವಾರ ಕಳೆದಮೇಲೂ ನನ್ನ ನೆನಪಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲವು ಅಂಶಗಳು ಉಳಿದಿವೆ ಎಂದರೆ ಅವು ಪರಿಣಾಮ ಬೀರಿದೆ ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಬಹುದು.

okkoota-pradeshika-BVB-May18-2017
Relevance of Regional Political Parties in the Indian Union- A discussion in Bengaluru, held on May 18, 2017,

ಸಭೆಗೆ ಮುಖ್ಯ ಅತಿಥಿಯಾಗಿ ಬಂದಿದ್ದವರು ಎಚ್ ಡಿ ದೇವೇಗೌಡರು. ಸುಮಾರು ಒಂದೂವರೆ ತಾಸು ತಡವಾಗಿ ಬಂದು ಕ್ಷಮೆ ಕೇಳಿದರು. ಅವರಿಂದ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮ ಸಂಜೆ ೪ ಗಂಟೆಗೆ ಶುರುವಾಗಬೇಕಾಗಿದ್ದುದು ೫:೪೫ ಕ್ಕೆ ಶುರುವಾಯ್ತು. ಮುನ್ನೋಟದ ವಸಂತ ಶೆಟ್ಟಿ ಪ್ರಾಸ್ತಾವಿಕವಾಗಿ ಸುಮಾರು ಹದಿನೈದು ನಿಮಿಷ ಮಾತಾಡಿ, “ಕರ್ನಾಟಕಕ್ಕೆ ಈವತ್ತು ನಾಡು-ನುಡಿಯ ನಾಡಿ ಮಿಡಿತ ಬಲ್ಲ ಪ್ರಾದೇಶಿಕ ಪಕ್ಷವೊಂದರ ಅಗತ್ಯ ಯಾಕೆ ಇದೆ” ಎಂಬ ವಿಷಯಕ್ಕೆ ಪಾಯ ಹಾಕಿ ಕೊಟ್ಟರು.  ಹಿಂದಿ ಹೇರಿಕೆ, ಕೇಂದ್ರ ಸರ್ಕಾರಿ ಕೆಲಸಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕನ್ನಡಿಗರ ಅವಗಣನೆ, ನೀರಾವರಿ ಮತ್ತು ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ಕ್ಷೇತ್ರಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ಸ್ವಾಯತ್ತತೆಯು ಸಾಯುತ್ತಿರುವ ಬಗೆಯನ್ನು ಶೆಟ್ಟಿ ಗಟ್ಟಿಯಾಗಿ ಹೇಳಿದರು. ಅವರ ನಂತರ ವಕೀಲ-ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿ ಬಿ.ಎಲ್. ಶಂಕರ್ ಸುಮಾರು ೪೦ ನಿಮಿಷ ನಿರರ್ಗಳವಾಗಿ ವಿಷಯದ ಹಲವು ಆಯಾಮಗಳ ಕುರಿತು ಮಾತಾಡಿದರು. ಅವರು ಹೇಳಿದ ಅಂಶಗಳು…

  • ಭಾರತದ ಸಂವಿಧಾನದ ತಕ್ಕಡಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕೇಂದ್ರ ಸರ್ಕಾರದ ಬೊಟ್ಟು ರಾಜ್ಯ ಸರ್ಕಾರಗಳ ಬೊಟ್ಟಿಗಿಂತ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ತೂಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಸಂವಿಧಾನದ ತಿದ್ದುಪಡಿ ಮಾಡಲು ಲೋಕಸಭೆಗೆ ಅಧಿಕಾರವಿದೆ. ಲೋಕಸಭೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ೨/೩ ರ ಬಹುಮತದೊಂದಿಗೆ ಭಾರತ ಒಕ್ಕೂಟದ ಶೇಕಡಾ ೫೦ ರಾಜ್ಯಗಳು ಒಪ್ಪಿದರೆ ಸಾಕು, ಯಾವ ಬದಲಾವಣೆಯನ್ನು ಬೇಕಾದರೂ ತರಬಹುದು (ಉದಾ: GST ಮಸೂದೆ / ಕಾಯ್ದೆ). ರಾಜ್ಯ ಸರ್ಕಾರಗಳು ತಿದ್ದುಪಡಿಗಳನ್ನು ಸೂಚಿಸಲು ಕೂಡ ಅಶಕ್ತವಾಗಿವೆ.
  • ಒಕ್ಕೂಟ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ರಾಜ್ಯಗಳು ಕೇಂದ್ರದಷ್ಟೇ ಬಲಿಷ್ಠವಾಗುವ ತನಕ “ಫೆಡರಲಿಸಂ” ಪದದ ನಿಜವಾದ ಅರ್ಥ “ಟ್ರೀಟಿ ಅಥವಾ ಒಪ್ಪಂದ” ಕ್ಕೆ ನ್ಯಾಯ ಸಿಗದು.
  • ಕನ್ನಡೇತರ ಐಎಎಸ್ ಅಧಿಕಾರಿಗಳಿಂದ, ಸ್ವಂತ ಬುದ್ಧಿ ಇಲ್ಲದ ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿಗಳಿಂದ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕಕ್ಕೆ ಕಂಟಕ ಬಂದಿದೆ

ಇದರ ನಂತರ ಪತ್ರಕರ್ತ ಎನ್. ಎ. ಇಸ್ಮಾಯಿಲ್ ಅವರು ಹಿಂದಿ ಹೇರಿಕೆಯ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಚುಟುಕಾಗಿ ಆದರೆ ಮೊನಚಾಗಿ ಮಾತಾಡಿದರು.  “ಹಿಂದಿ ಭಾಷೆಯ ಬಗ್ಗೆಯಾಗಲೀ ಅಥವಾ ಬಾಲಿವುಡ್ ಸಿನೆಮಾ ಬಗ್ಗೆಯಾಗಲೀ ದಕ್ಷಿಣ ರಾಜ್ಯಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಎಂದೂ ಹೆದರಿಕೆ ಇರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಕೇಂದ್ರ ಸರ್ಕಾರದ ಹಿಂದಿ ಹೇರುವ ನೀತಿಗೆ ಕೇಂದ್ರ ಸರ್ಕಾರದ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಅಸುರಕ್ಷಿತ ಭಾವನೆ ಅಥವಾ ಪೊಲಿಟಿಕಲ್ ಇನ್ಸೆಕ್ಯೂರಿಟಿಯೇ ಮುಖ್ಯವಾದ ಕಾರಣ” ಎಂದು ಇಸ್ಮಾಯಿಲ್ ಹೇಳಿದರು. ” ಹಿಂದಿ ಹೇರಿಕೆ ಒಂದು ರಾಜಕೀಯ ತಂತ್ರ. ಅದನ್ನು ಎದುರಿಸಲು ನಾಡು-ನುಡಿಯ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕಾಳಜಿ  ಇರುವ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಹೋರಾಟ ಬೇಕಾಗಿದೆ” ಎಂದು ಅವರು ಹೇಳಿದಾಗ ಪ್ರೇಕ್ಷಕರು ಕರತಾಡನ ಮಾಡಿ ಒಪ್ಪಿಗೆ ಸೂಚಿಸಿದರು.

“ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರೀಯ ಪಕ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ರಾಜ್ಯಗಳಿಗೆ ಆಗಿರುವ ನ್ಯಾಯಾನ್ಯಾಯಗಳು” ಎಂಬ ವಿಚಾರವಾಗಿ ಮಾತನಾಡಿದವರು ಶಿಕ್ಷಕ-ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿ ವೈ.ಎಸ್.ವಿ. ದತ್ತ. ಇವರ ಮಾತಿಗೆ ಸಮಯದ ಅಭಾವ ಉಂಟಾಗಿತ್ತು.  ಹಾಗಾಗಿ, ಇವರು ವಿವರಗಳಿಗೆ ಹೋಗದೆ ಸೂಚ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಕೆಲವು ಉದಾಹರಣೆಗಳನ್ನು ಸ್ವಾರಸ್ಯಪೂರ್ಣವಾಗಿ ಪಟ್ಟಿ ಮಾಡಿದರು.  ಕೊಟ್ಟ ಉದಾಹರಣೆಗಳೆಲ್ಲವೂ ಸೂಕ್ತವಾಗಿದ್ದುವು ಮತ್ತು ಕರ್ನಾಟಕಕ್ಕೆ ಸೀಮಿತವಾಗಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ.  ಬಲಿಷ್ಠ ಪ್ರಾದೇಶಿಕ ನೇತೃತ್ವ ಇದ್ದಾಗ ಕೇಂದ್ರವು ರಾಜ್ಯದ ಪಾದಸೇವೆಗೆ ದೌಡಾಯಿಸುತ್ತಾ ಬಂದಿದೆ ಎಂದು ಅವರು ಕಾವೇರಿ ನ್ಯಾಯಮಂಡಳಿ ರಚನೆ ಮಾಡುವಾಗ (ತಮಿಳಿನಾಡಿನಲ್ಲಿ) ನಡೆದ ಬೆಳವಣಿಗಳನ್ನು ಉದಾಹರಿಸಿದರು.  ಎಚ್. ಡಿ. ದೇವೇಗೌಡರು, ದೇಶದ ಪ್ರಧಾನಿ ಆಗಿದ್ದಾಗ (ಯುನೈಟೆಡ್ ಫ್ರಂಟ್ ಸರ್ಕಾರ) ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ಕೃಷ್ಣಾ ಮೇಲ್ದಂಡೆ ಯೋಜನೆಗೆ ಅನುಕೂಲ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಡುವ ಸಲುವಾಗಿ, ಹಣಕಾಸಿನ ಕೊರತೆಯಿಂದ ನೆನೆಗುದಿಗೆ ಬಿದ್ದಿದ್ದ ದೇಶದ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ನೀರಾವರಿ ಯೋಜನೆಗಳಿಗೂ ಹಣ ಒದಗಿಸುವ ನಿಷ್ಪಕ್ಷಪಾತ ನಿರ್ಧಾರ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಂಡರು ಎಂದು ಸ್ಮರಿಸಿದರು. ಆದರೆ, ದತ್ತ ಅವರು ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಂಡ ಬಹುತೇಕ ಉದಾಹರಣೆಗಳು ನೀರಾವರಿಗೆ ಸಂಬಂಧಿಸಿದ್ದೇ ಆಗಿದ್ದರಿಂದ ಕೊಟ್ಟ ವಿಷಯಕ್ಕೆ ನ್ಯಾಯ ಸಿಗಲಿಲ್ಲವೇನೋ ಎನಿಸಿತು.

ಇವಿಷ್ಟೂ ಚರ್ಚೆಗೆ ಪ್ರತಿಕ್ರಿಯೆ ಕೊಡುವ ಜವಾಬ್ದಾರಿ ದೇವೇಗೌಡರ ಮೇಲಿತ್ತು.  ಅವರು ತಮ್ಮ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಸ್ಥಾನಕ್ಕೆ ತಕ್ಕುದಾದ ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಯಾರನ್ನೂ ವೈಯಕ್ತಿಕವಾಗಿ ದೂಷಿಸುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋಗಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಕಾವೇರಿ ವಿಚಾರದಲ್ಲಿ ರಾಜ್ಯ ರಾಜಕಾರಣವು ಒಗ್ಗಟ್ಟಾಗಿ ನಿಲ್ಲುವ ಸಂದರ್ಭದಲ್ಲಿ ದೇವೇಗೌಡರು ನಡೆದುಕೊಂಡ ಸಮಯೋಚಿತ ರೀತಿಯನ್ನು ಸಭೆಯಲ್ಲಿದ್ದವರೆಲ್ಲರೂ ಭಾರೀ ಕರತಾಡನದೊಂದಿಗೆ ಶ್ಲಾಘಿಸಿದರು. ಕೇಂದ್ರದಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಈಗಿನ ಸರ್ಕಾರದ ಕಾರ್ಯವೈಖರಿಯನ್ನು ಟೀಕಿಸುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ದೇವೇಗೌಡರು ಹಿಂಜರಿಯಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ, ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮದಲ್ಲಿ ಇತರರು ಮಂಡಿಸಿದ್ದ ವಿಚಾರಕ್ಕೆ ನೇರವಾಗಿ ಪ್ರತಿಕ್ರಿಯೆ ಕೊಡಲು ಅವರಿಗೆ ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಗಲಿಲ್ಲ. ತಮ್ಮ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿ ಅನುಭವಿಸಿದ “ನೋವು” ಎಂದು ಪದೇ ಪದೇ ಪ್ರಸ್ತಾಪಿಸಿದರು.  ಆ “ನೋವು ಏನು ಎಂದು ವಿವರಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲ” ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಿದರು.  ವಿವರಿಸಲು ಇಷ್ಟವಿರದ ವಿಚಾರವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಸ್ತಾಪಿಸುವುದಾದರೂ ಯಾಕೆ ಎಂಬ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆ ಅನೇಕರಲ್ಲಿ ಎದ್ದಿರುವಂತೆ ಕಂಡಿತು.  ತಮ್ಮ ಪ್ರತಿಕ್ರಿಯೆಯ ಉದ್ದಕ್ಕೂ “ನಾನು ಪ್ರಧಾನಿ ಆಗಿದ್ದಾಗ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಂಡ ನಿರ್ಧಾರಗಳನ್ನು ಯಾರೂ ಸ್ಮರಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲ,  ನಾನು ಕರ್ನಾಟಕಕ್ಕೆ ಅನುಕೂಲವಾಗುವ ಅನೇಕ ನಿರ್ಧಾರಗಳನ್ನು ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಂಡೆ.  ಅದರ ಹೆಸರು ಬೇರೆಯವರಿಗೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕಿತು” ಎಂದು ಹಲುಬಿದರು. ದೇವೇಗೌಡರ ಇಳಿವಯಸ್ಸಿನ ಪ್ರತಿಕ್ರೆಯೆಯಿಂದ ಇನ್ನೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನದನ್ನು ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಿಸಿದ ನಮ್ಮದೂ ತಪ್ಪಿರಬಹುದು.  ಅವರ ೮೫ ನೇ ಹುಟ್ಟಿದ ಹಬ್ಬದ ಪ್ರಯುಕ್ತ ಅನೇಕರು ಅವರನ್ನು ಸನ್ಮಾಸಿದರು. ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮದುದ್ದಕ್ಕೂ ಅವರನ್ನು ಎಲ್ಲರೂ ಹೊಗಳುವವರೇ ಆಗಿದ್ದರು. ಯಾರೂ ಸಹ ಪ್ರಾದೇಶಿಕ ಪಕ್ಷಗಳು ತಮ್ಮ ಜವಾಬ್ದಾರಿಯನ್ನು ನಿರ್ವಹಿಸದೇ ಹೋದ ಯಾವ ಸಂದರ್ಭವನ್ನೂ ನೆನಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲಿಲ್ಲ.  ಪ್ರಾದೇಶಿಕ ಪಕ್ಷಗಳು ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತವಾಗಬೇಕಾದರೆ ಏನು ಮಾಡಬೇಕು ಎಂದು ಪರಿಹಾರಗಳನ್ನು ಹೇಳಲಿಲ್ಲ.  ಈ ಕೊರತೆಗಳ ಮಧ್ಯೆ ಯುವಕರ ಸಮೂಹವೊಂದು ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ಪರ ಯೋಚನೆಗಳನ್ನು ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾ,  ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ಹಿತವನ್ನು ಕಾಯಲು ಸಂಘಟಿತ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನದ ಮುನ್ನುಡಿ ಬರೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಎಂಬ ಆಶಾ ಭಾವನೆ ಎಲ್ಲರಲ್ಲೂ ಇತ್ತು.  

                

Karnataka ≈ the United Kingdom: Things to learn from each other

There are startling similarities between the United Kingdom and the State of Karnataka.  The numbers in the table below speak for themselves and the figures reinforce the fact that Karnataka is a country within the Indian subcontinent. Of course, the table does not compare the two entities comprehensively.  Any comparison between the UK and Karnataka in the spheres of economics, human development indices, and global diplomatic presence will find Karnataka seriously wanting. However, there are other things concerning governance and citizenship, which are far more fundamental to any thriving democracy. It is in this regard that the two political and geographic entities can learn a lot of good things from each other.   

Karnataka and the UK_a comparison
Karnataka and the United Kingdom have a lot in common

The UK democracy has matured to a level where they are now talking mostly about National Health Service, Foreign Policy, Border Control, and Devolution of Power among member states. In the upcoming assembly election in 2018, if Karnataka can discuss its forests, rivers, schools, hospitals, languages, and rights of its own citizens in the Indian Union, we will have started in the right direction.  But, we are too far away from such a discourse. In Karnataka, the elections are determined by Caste Equations, Party Doctrines, Powers of Alien Masters (Central leaders), and Wild Corruption Allegations from people who are corrupt themselves. Karnataka can learn a thing or two from the UK in setting the right agenda for elections.        

Last year, the UK voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. The problem faced by the UK because of EU membership is very similar to the problems Karnataka is facing from being a member-state of India. Many of the laws governing Karnataka citizens are made by a few aliens sitting in New Delhi. Natural resources and infrastructure in Karnataka is crumbling mostly due to the greed of the locals, but the vast number of people migrating to our home state from other parts of India are not helping (the reason for their migration is not Karnataka, rather their home states). These circumstances in Karnataka should typically lead to an IN/OUT referendum, but the referendum will not, and dare I say, should never happen. The question of separation of Karnataka from India does not arise. Kannada in Karnataka is what English is in the United Kingdom. But, Kannada has not ill-treated other native languages in Karnataka, whereas English has stifled other languages in the United Kingdom. While there is a sense of alienation and neglect in some provinces within Karnataka, these resentments will never become separatism within Karnataka. We have so far been sensible enough to disregard make-believe propaganda from fringe elements.

It is true that the Indian Central Government is not devolving enough powers to Karnataka legislature.  The Indian Central Government’s behaviour towards state assemblies such as that in Karnataka, is very similar to how the UK government is treating Scottish and Welsh parliaments. Having said that, I think the UK has done a lot better than India.  UK has devolved a significant share of legislative and budget making powers to local parliaments. We in Karnataka, will not take the route of referendum for independence or whatever.  The UK will benefit from a lesson or two in pragmatism from Karnataka and see the value of staying united despite grave grievances. We are happy at the moment to be citizens of Karnataka and India. We will protest and resist the attempts of Union of India which is killing native culture, language, and the landscape of Karnataka.  There is an economic angle to every argument.  There is an emotional angle to every argument.  But, Karnataka’s and India’s cultural and territorial integrity go beyond emotional and economic arguments (respectively). We are bound by a collective consciousness, which is always aware of the collective sacrifices of our forefathers and mothers who knowingly or unknowingly made Karnataka and India. They never knew that Karnataka will be Karnataka of today and they never saw India as India of today. But, we know where we are and how we came here.  We have to accept our current flaws, acknowledge the past, and strive towards a better tomorrow.

ELECTIONS IN THE UK

In 2014, Scotland (a member state of the UK) voted in a referendum to decide whether to stay in or out of the UK (Scotland narrowly voted to stay in). In 2015, the UK voted in a general election and elected 650 MPs to the parliament at Westminster. In 2016, the UK as a whole voted in a referendum (the Brexit vote) on UK’s membership of the European Union.  UK as a whole chose to exit the EU, although some member states voted to stay in. In 2017 (next month), the UK is now going through another ‘premature’ general election (June 2017) to decide who will lead them through thick and thin of Brexit.

ELECTIONS IN KARNATAKA

In 2012, Karnataka voted for its State assembly. Karnataka voted for the Congress party. In 2014, Karnataka voted along with other member states of the Indian nation to elect a Union government in New Delhi. The Indian Union voted for the BJP. In 2018, Karnataka will be voting again for its State assembly. 

Gopalakrishna Adiga on Poetry and on Being a Poet

m-gopalakrishna-adiga
M. Gopalakrisha Adiga (1918-1992); photo courtesy: kamat.com

Mogeri Gopalakrisha Adiga (1918-1992) is one of the pioneers of the Navya (post-romantic) literary movement in Kannada that began in the second half of the 20th century. Some argue that MG Adiga (MGA) is to Kannada what TS Elliot is to English. The Waste Land (1922) by TS Eliot is one of the landmark poems of the 20th century English literature, marking the beginning of a new era of free verse, an era where a sense of despair triumphed over the sense of hope and harmony of the Wordsworthian Romantics. Adiga’s critically acclaimed poems in the navya genre punctuated the looming deterioration of Nehruvian Romanticism in India (late 1950s and early 1960s).

Kannadiga teenagers, who are introduced to Adiga in high school, generally fall in love with him because for them Adiga personifies angst and disillusionment. I was one of those teenagers who found Adiga the most practical and the hardened realist of all poets in my textbooks. However, I grew out of Adiga’s frustration as I got older. On my way to rediscovering my roots, I became more and more at home with the Navodaya (Romantic) tradition (B.M.Sri, Govinda Pai, Kuvempu, DR Bendre, Pu.Ti.Narasimhachar, SR Ekkundi, Kadengodlu, KSNa, SV Parameshwara Bhatta, GS Shivarudrappa and others). The Navya school of Kannada poetry, to which Adiga was the fountain head, rejected the style and interests of Navodaya poets. In my view, to reject a noble tradition (in this instance, the Navodaya tradition) one has to be steeped in it. When someone who is steeped in a tradition rejects his tradition, it is easier to believe that the rejection is authentic and legitimate. Many of Adiga’s poems that are popular with the commoner today were written in the romanticist style (including Yaava Mohana Murali Kareyitu, Aluva Kadalolu Teli Barutalide). Adiga was perhaps eligible to reject the style and mindset of the Navodaya tradition because Adiga was perfectly capable of writing some of the best Navodaya poems of his time. The same cannot be said of many of his contemporaries and literary successors.

I know Gopalakrishna Adiga through his poems. Many like me, who read modern classics in Kannada poetry, never saw the great poets and will never know what it is like to be one of those towering intellectuals of a given generation. It is important that we understand the poet to understand his poems.  Reading a few magic lines of verse has never been sufficiently satisfactory and certainly not to me. A few weeks ago, I was reading U R Ananthamurthy (1932-2014) and his recollections of Adiga and suddenly I realised that the year 2018 will mark the birth centenary of Adiga.

Here, I have translated (from Kannada to English) excerpts of an interview with Adiga done by U R Ananthamurthy (URA). URA was a pupil and an approving critic of Adiga. The interview was published in the deepavali special issue of Udayavaani in 1980. In the full Kannada version (available at kanaja.in) URA asks ten questions and Adiga has answered them all. In this excerpt, I have selected and combined a few of those questions and answers and I feel these are of interest to poets of any language. It is intriguing that a post-romantic socialist and existentialist like U R Ananthamurthy sounds very romanticist in his questions to Adiga. Don’t we all romanticise people we adore?

URA: Your poems draw a lot of inspiration from memories and experiences of your childhood.  Why is that? Will you illustrate one or two important incidents from your childhood that moulded your intelligence for writing poetry?

MGA: There are no easy answers to your question. It is worth searching for an answer though. Everything in this world looks fresh and new when seen through a child’s ever curious eyes. A child’s mind is like a (semi-molten) ball of wax and the worldly experiences get imprinted invisibly, only to reveal themselves at the right time later.  While this is true for every human being, the collective experience of a childhood takes a new dimension in the life of anyone [poet] with a creative imagination. These experiences and imaginations go beyond the standard notions of spatiotemporal reality and some of my successful poems may have experimented with such acts of creativity. It is difficult to tag distinct childhood experiences as less or more important.  When I look back, immediately I can hear the outcry of a frog struggling to escape the clutching pair of beaks of a crow. I can hear my own despairing heartbeat failing to save the frog.  I can hear and see tens and hundreds of big frogs in the pond near my home, making their ritualistic noise after the rains… I can go on listing many more.  None are less important and none are more so. Each incident had appeared important to me at some stage.

URA: It appears that you shifted from urban(e) symbols in some of your early poems to rural contexts in your later poems.  Has this shift anything to do with your childhood in rural Karnataka? Did the constraints of a language [Kannada] play any role?

MGA: It is true that at the time of Indian independence, we [poets and creative thinkers] were responding to our immediate past, which was characterised by an urbane consciousness. We were trying to escape from the shackles of urbane symbols and inadvertently I used urbane symbols in my early poems.  Perhaps, I should also acknowledge the influence of English poetry since urban thought was characteristic of many western civilisations.  However, writing poetry requires a lot more than merely being conscious of one’s surroundings.  A literary consciousness has to not only recognise and acknowledge the astonishing diversity of life but it also has to draw from a rich array of transient and symbolic inner experiences. Our [Indian] urban construct has not evolved to the level where it can distinguish itself from its rural roots. An adulterated urban language (a mixture of English and Kannada) is incapable of capturing transient inner experiences.The urban consciousness lingered in the superficial layers of my mind for too long and that may have forced me to search for vitality in a rural context (despite deterioration of the rural ideal).  It is natural that a person like me with a rural background, goes in search of a language framework in his rural roots. A poet succeeds when he finds a language that reconciles his inner [sub-conscious?] experiences with the conscious external experiences and knowledge.

This takes me to the constraints of Kannada on thinking and writing poetry [in 1980s] .  The formal form of Kannada language has evolved over many hundred years to serve the poets. There is the spoken form of the masses, and there is the modern scientific and technological vocabulary which is growing by the day. It is a constant three way dialogue between these three forms. Kannada as a language has to produce independent books and articles on the state-of-the-art scientific knowledge, which is still a long way away. A Kannada poet who wants to think about these modern challenges is struggling and his best bet is to go for the language that realistically captures his experiences [implied: rural and childhood experiences].

URA:  Do you feel you should write poems that are accessible [comprehensible] to the people?

MGA: When you say people, immediately the question arises which people? No art is easy for any people. Let us leave the common people alone.  Don’t we see many of those who are supposedly enlightened [educated?] showing limited or no sensitisation to art?  It is important that simple experiences materialise [in poems] with an ease that matches the simplicity of those experiences. At the same time, there will be other more layered and complicated experiences that require an equally sophisticated form of expression. It is wrong to say that a poem becomes a poem only when it is easily accessible and it is equally wrong to think that a poem is a good poem only when it is inaccessible. It is necessary that one has to break the boundaries of literary rhythm and [this is possible] only after one masters the form. However, the aim of breaking free from rhythmic verse is not a quest for ‘loose verse’.  We break free from one rigid frame [form] only to reframe [reinvent] ourselves in a new form. I agree that in the current context we [poets] have a duty to be accessible to the people [India was fresh out of political emergency in 1980]. This must be achieved through good education, through mass media and through nurturing a robust intellectual discourse.

ಕರ್ನಾಟಕವನ್ನು ಪ್ರತಿನಿಧಿಸುವ ಭಾರತೀಯ ಕ್ರಿಕೆಟಿಗರು / Cricketers who represent Karnataka for India and the world

ನನಗೆ ಖುಷಿ ಕೊಡುವ ಕೆಲಸಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಛಾಯಾಚಿತ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ಜೋಡಿಸುವುದೂ ಒಂದು. ನಾಡಪ್ರೇಮ ಹೆಚ್ಚೋ ದೇಶ ಪ್ರೇಮ ಹೆಚ್ಚೋ ಎನ್ನುವ ಚರ್ಚೆ ‘ಕಾವೇರಿ’ರುವ ಸಂದರ್ಭದಲ್ಲಿ, ಕನ್ನಡ ‘ಮಹಾದಾಯಿ’ ರಾಜ್ಯೋತ್ಸವ ಹತ್ತಿರ ಇರುವಾಗ, ಅಂತರ್ಜಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಲಭ್ಯವಿರುವ (ಕಾಪಿರೈಟ್ (ಬಹುಶಃ) ಇಲ್ಲದ) ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ಕ್ರಿಕೆಟಿಗರ ಫೋಟೋಗಳನ್ನು ಬಳಸಿಕೊಂಡು ಪುಟ್ಟದೊಂದು ಪೋಸ್ಟರ್ ತಯಾರಿಸಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ಆ ಪೋಸ್ಟರ್ ಅನ್ನು ಈವತ್ತು ಕಣ್ಠೀರವನ ಮೂಲಕ ಎಲ್ಲರೊಂದಿಗೆ ಹಂಚಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ.

“ಕರ್ನಾಟಕವನ್ನು ಪ್ರತಿನಿಧಿಸುವ ಭಾರತೀಯ ಕ್ರಿಕೆಟಿಗರು / Cricketers who represent Karnataka for India and the world”. 

ಅಕ್ಟೋಬರ್ 22, 2016 ಕ್ಕೆ ನನ್ನ ಈ ವೆಬ್ಲಾಗ್ ಕಣ್ಠೀರವ (CanTHeeRava)ನಿಗೆ ಎಂಟು ವರ್ಷ ತುಂಬುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಕಣ್ಠೀರವನನ್ನು ಎಂಟು ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಸಾವಿರಾರು ಮಂದಿ ಓದಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆದ ಬರಹಗಳು ಸಕಾಲಿಕವೋ ಅಥವಾ ಆಕಳಿಕೆಗೂ ಅರ್ಹತೆ ಇಲ್ಲದ್ದೋ ಎಂಬ ತೀರ್ಮಾನ ಓದುಗರದ್ದು. ಬರೆದದ್ದನ್ನು ಓದಿದ, ಓದುತ್ತಿರುವ, ಓದಿ ವಿಚಾರಗಳನ್ನು ಹಂಚಿಕೊಂಡ ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ಕೃತಜ್ಞನಾಗಿದ್ದೇನೆ.

ಅನೇಕರು ನವೆಂಬರ್ ಒಂದರಂದು ರಾಜ್ಯೋತ್ಸವ ಆಚರಿಸಿ ಅಂದು ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾತನಾಡುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಆದರೆ ನಾನು ನವೆಂಬರ್ ಒಂದರಂದು ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾತನಾಡುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ಉಳಿದ 364.25 ದಿನಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕನ್ನಡದ(ಲ್ಲಿ) ಆಲೋಚನೆ ಮಾಡುವ ನನಗೆ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ ೧ ‘ಪ್ರತಿಭಟನೆಯ ದಿನ’. ಕನ್ನಡ ಬಂದರೂ ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ನಲ್ಲೇ ಮಾತನಾಡುವವರನ್ನು ವಿರೋಧಿಸುವ ದಿನ. ಕನ್ನಡ ಮಾತೃ ಭಾಷೆ ಆಗಿದ್ದರೂ ಒಂದು ವಾಕ್ಯವನ್ನು ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲೇ ಆರಂಭಿಸಿ ಕನ್ನಡಲ್ಲೇ ಮುಗಿಸಲು ತಿಣುಕುವ ಜನರನ್ನು ವಿರೋಧಿಸುವ ದಿನ. ಕನ್ನಡವನ್ನು “ಕನ್ನಡ್” ಎಂದು, ಕರ್ನಾಟಕವನ್ನು ‘ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ್” ಎಂದು ತಪ್ಪಾಗಿ ಉಚ್ಚಾರ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕವನ್ನು ಹಿಂಸಿಸುವ ಹಿಂದೀವಾಲಾಗಳನ್ನು (ಉತ್ತರ ಭಾರತೀಯರನ್ನು) ವಿರೋಧಿಸುವ ದಿನ.  ಮನೆ ಮಾತು ಕನ್ನಡೇತರ ಭಾಷೆ ಆಗಿದ್ದು, 364.25 ದಿನ ಕನ್ನಡ ಎಂದರೆ ಮೂಗುಮುರಿದು, ನವೆಂಬರ್ ಒಂದರಂದು ಕೆಂಪು-ಹಳದಿ ಬಾವುಟದ ಶಾಲು, ವೇಲುಗಳನ್ನು ಹೊದೆದು ಕನ್ನಡ ಪ್ರೇಮಿಗಳಂತೆ ನಟಿಸುವವರನ್ನು ವಿರೋಧಿಸುವ ದಿನ.

Today (October 22nd, 2016), CanTHeeRava is celebrating his 8th virtual birthday. I feel immensely happy that he has written regularly for eight years at one place. I leave qualitative judgements to his readers. I wish to acknowledge everyone who has supported him and his weblog. Thank you.

We are going through a phase in our democracy where our imagination for federal identity is gaining momentum. Common people are expressing their views on Kannada and Kannadatva and I hope it culminates in greater psychological freedom and financial autonomy for Kannada people.  I don’t celebrate November the 1st as Kannada Rajyotsava.  There is no need for me to do that because I think about Kannada and think in Kannada during the remaining 364.25 days a year.  What I hate most is the symbolic (useless) love for Kannada that pops up only on this day.  I celebrate November the 1st as a day of protest.  I protest everything that is anti-Kannada and pseudo-proKannada on November 1st.

karnataka_cricketers_a4_posterbycantheerava

ಈ ಪೋಸ್ಟರ್ ನ ದೊಡ್ಡ ಫೈಲ್ (ಹೈ ರೆಸೊಲ್ಯೂಷನ್) ನಿಮಗೆ ಬೇಕಿದ್ದರೆ ತಿಳಿಸಿ. ನಿಮ್ಮ ಮಿಂಚೆಗೆ ಪೋಸ್ಟರ್ ಕಳಿಸುತ್ತೇನೆ.

To mark CanTHeeRava’s 8th birthday, I am sharing with you a poster of Karnataka cricketers. I have put together (freely available?) photographs on the internet.  If you are interested in receiving a high-resolution version of this poster by email, please do let me know, I will send a cleaner version of the poster by email to you.