The Politics of Language

March 31, 2008

Hogennekal is home to one of the most scenic waterfalls, on the border between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Hogennekal gets its name from Kannada Hoge - Smoke and Kal - Rock, after the hazy mist formed when the river Cauvery forms striking on the rocky terrain here. Given the tumultuous past that the river Cauvery has shared with the two states, Hogennekal too is not a tale of great amity between the two states.

Given the rocky terrain and inaccessibility of a good portion of the region, delineation - the politicians from both side claim was never accurately done, and hence both sides claim ownership of the region.

Other than the scenic spectacle that this place offers, the bone of contention lies in an island, which both sides claim to be their own, and the Tamil Nadu government wants to go ahead with a hydroelectric project. Rivers and Hydroelectric projects, in India come under the state list, and therefore are always sought after for political oneupmanship.

So what was always a contentious issue, took another turn when the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, came out and issued statements remarking that the project would go ahead at any cost, and even taking a dig at Karnataka's chief minister for 3 days, Mr Yediyurappa; who had staged public demonstrations against this project, asking him not to test his patience.

So at a time, when the state doesn't have a government, the Kannada Rakshana Vedike, has been quick to latch on to this opportunity to protest, and have begun their action by attacking Cinemas screening Tamil movies, in Bangalore.
So before you start picturing the Kannada Rakshana Vedike as an organization very similar to Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Nav Nirmana Sena, there is a difference. Kannada Rakshana Vedike is an organization, which claims itself as apolitical, and doesn't claim allegiance to any political party. However what should be noted, is the rapid pace with which the organization is spreading is tentacles throughout the state. Headed by Narayana Gowda(neither a MLA, nor an MP nor a corporator), the organization is now ubiquitous for yellow-red regionalism(yellow and red being the state flag colours). The organization is the foremost to protest any action perceived anti-Kannadiga. This was the same organization, that protested lack of local jobs at Infosys, and other software companies. This was the same organization broke into Sasken Technologies a couple of weeks back, to ransack the place against an employee at the company defaming the state language. This is the same organization that protested Laloo's Railways giving away jobs to people from other states(read Bihar) by ransacking railway property and computers. This is the same organization that lead the protest against Billboards in English. This is the same organization that is the face of any protest - regional in the state. Remember the violence that gripped the state after the thespian Dr Rajkumar's death, remember the fear that gripped the state after the Cauvery tribunal verdict was delivered in 2007, which thankfully passed off relatively peacefully.

I have no qualms with any organization, seeking protest to express their dissent, against acts perceived to be unjust. I even see no harm in a so called non-political organization leading the protest, but what I oppose is acts of hooliganism, and violence passing of as patriotism and worst of all - "love of the land", and that precisely is what Kannada Rakshana Vedike is guilty off. But the kind of fervour, and sheer numbers that the organization manages in some of its demonstrations, sometimes scare me. Maybe there is an underlying lava of discontent, which organizations like these feed of.

If you were a theatre owner screening Tamil movies, in Karnataka, I empathize with you.

Sathyanarayanan Chandrasekar is a coding monkey, working out of Bangalore. He rues the number of trees being cut in Bangalore in the name of road expansion, and the number of characters wasted in spelling his name. If left to himself he would refer to himself as the 'Kaiser'. He dreams of a day when IE would render his page without Javascript errors and CSS malfunctions. This and beyond he is a dreamer, and he says he is not the only one. He blogs here
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Ayan Roy
April 1, 2008
06:54 AM

"Maybe there is an underlying lava of discontent, which organizations like these feed of."

Maybe the "discontent" could be lack of jobs, and huge inequality in distribution of income?
The strain between the haves and the have-nots?

There are too many jobless, low-IQ people out there in the cities and villages, especially in India. They are cannon fodder for hate-mongering politicians/individuals and get easy brainwashed into comitting acts of mindless violence.

"An idle mind is a devil's workshop" This proverb is proven time and again in India.

I think every human comes with a store of natural "fire" and "energy". If this "energy" is not tapped for hard-constructive work, it will vent itself in acts of destruction.

Also, no true, self respecting patriot will cause violence and destruction in his own region/ country. Instead, he/she will work hard to ensure that their state/country is the most prosperous, clean, humane and admired.

Love and peace to all,

April 4, 2008
12:38 PM

why don't you elaborate on what the chief minister of tamil nadu as well?

May 26, 2008
12:07 AM

There should be some kind of social security system whereby food, education, clothing and homes are provided, and those who benefit do civic work in return, ie making roads, cleaning railway tracks, planting trees, making compost, collecting rubbish, maintaining public gardens,etc.

When their time and minds are occupied, and they are getting roti, kapda, makan, there is hopefully bound to be much less trouble.

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