‘Kannada language movement hasn’t included articulation of socio-economic, political questions’
The Kannada cyberspace has been abuzz for the last two weeks over perceived insults to Kannada language and its icons. However, several Kannada activists are frustrated at the lack of support for long-term issues such as centralised entrance exams, Hindi imposition, and other issues related to federalism.
The latest controversy is about matinee idol Dr. Rajkumar’s photo being used instead of his namesake Tamil actor online. This is the third such controversy over the last two weeks.
The earlier ones were about Kannada being shown as the result for the online search query “ugliest Indian language” and Kannada flag being allegedly used to stitch women’s innerwear and being sold on Amazon Canada.
In all three cases, several key persons and establishments, including the Minister for Kannada and Culture, the Kannada Sahitya Parishat, and the Kannada Development Authority (KDA), have reacted sharply.
Anand G. of Banavasi Balaga, a Kannada activists’ forum that has been articulating language in terms of consumer rights and larger federal politics, said while these triggered highly emotional responses from Kannadigas, people do not respond in the same way to larger structural issues. “For instance, banking recruitment exams are today centralised across the country which hits at not only job opportunities for our people but also our right to avail of banking services in Kannada in our State. But we have not been able to mobilise popular opinion,” he said.
Arun Javgal, organising secretary, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, said there was a growing articulation of Kannada identity, consumer rights, and federal structure of the country, but it still lacks traction.
“During the pandemic, the State had to go to the High Court to get required oxygen, and for allotment of medicines and vaccines. But these are never articulated in terms of a regional identity. We are being continuously drawn into knee-jerk reactions,” he said.
Historically, while there has been a strong Kannada language movement in the State, it never included an articulation of socio-economic and political questions like seen elsewhere in the Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu, said Kannada writer Baragur Ramachandrappa.
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