Kannada a minority language in Karnataka's capital, Bangalore

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Wed Aug 17 13:14:01 UTC 2005

>>From The Fifth Spot
_The Asian  Age_ (http://www.asianage.com/)  India |

Only 30 per cent of Bangaloreans have Kannada as their mother-tongue.

H.Y. Sharada Prasad

At the end of the 19th century, the big five among the cities of India  were
Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Lahore and Allahabad. The British  established their
first universities in the three presidency towns in 1857  and the next two in
1881 in Lahore and Allahabad. These five cities were  also the seat of the
earliest high courts.

The next century, the 20th, was barely a dozen years old when the  capital of
the Indian empire was moved from Calcutta to Delhi. But even 20  years after
its elevation, Delhi did not move into the league of the Big  Five. It was
only after Partition and the huge influx of refugees from the  north that Delhi's
population burgeoned. Partition also removed Lahore  from the list. The
census of 1951, the first decennial count held after  Partition and Independence,
gave the population of the first four cities  as follows: Calcutta 4.67
million, Greater Bombay 2.96 million, Chennai  1.54 million, and Delhi 1.43 million.
Hyderabad had jumped into the fifth  spot with 1.13 million. Allahabad was
nowhere in the picture.

The decline of Allahabad, despite the fact that five of the Prime  Ministers
of free India have come from there, needs to be studied, but it  is enough for
the purpose of this article if we note that employment  opportunities and
commerce, and not political prestige, hold the key to a  city's growth. Allahabad
had no industry and no commerce worth the name.  It was Bombay which had
plenty of both. That is the reason why between  1981 and 1991, Calcutta lost its
position as the No. 1 city in India to  Bombay, and Delhi overtook Madras. The
census of 1991 gave the scores (in  million) as: Bombay 12.59, Calcutta 11.02,
Delhi 8.41, Madras 5.42, and  Hyderabad 4.34. The 1991 census also revealed
that there were 23 cities in  the country with a population of a million and

But Hyderabad's hold on the fifth slot is only tenuous. It has a great  rival
in Bangalore. In fact in the 1981 census, Bangalore was ahead of  Hyderabad
and was at the fifth position. It looks as though Bangalore is  once again in
the fifth slot, going by some statements of business leaders  and official
spokesmen. Both cities have jumped far far ahead of three  other cities — Kanpur,
Ahmedabad, and Pune — which at one time or other  looked like posing a
challenge to them.

The rivalry between Bangalore and Hyderabad is not a new one. It dates  back
to the days when Hyderabad was the capital of the Nizam, widely  regarded as
the richest man in India (and the most miserly) and Bangalore  was the seat of
government of Mysore, most progressive among the princely  states. But the
rivalry assumed a new keenness with the advent of the Age  of Information
Technology. Shining IT parks have come up in both cities,  and the governments of
both states are busy wooing foreign partners and  investors.

Bangalore claims the distinction of being  the home of the richest Indian
currently, Azim Premji of Wipro.  Non-resident Andhras and Kannadigas are working
as enthusiastic  drummer-boys advertising the comparative advantages of their
own state.  The competition reached a peak when Chandrababu Naidu was chief
minister  of Andhra Pradesh and S.M. Krishna guided Karnataka. Both took pride
in  being modernisers who understood the need to provide the infrastructure
that a high growth rate in IT requires. The reins of office in both states
have since then passed into the hands of leaders with a more traditional  rural
background. It would be a pity to lose the momentum, for what is at  stake is
the future of the whole country, not just the  state.

The very name Bangalore has acquired a  talismanic quality. If it rings of
hope, it also arouses misgivings. It is  seen as the hope that the future holds
for the deprived of the earth, but  also as a clear warning that the smart
young men and women of Asia are out  to do Americans and Europeans out of their
jobs. White-collar workers in  the West who have lost their jobs due to
outsourcing wear T-shirts  proclaiming "I have been Bangalored."

There is interest in finding out what  Bangalore does and how it does it.
Industrial planners, management  consultants, authors, and editors from the West
and from the East make a  beeline for Bangalore. Presidents and Prime
Ministers on a state visit to  India include Bangalore in their itinerary. The chief
minister of  Karnataka, Mr Dharam Singh, recently told an interviewer that the
Russian  President had tried to impress upon him the importance of building a
good  enough airport for Bangalore, and that he had assured Vladimir Putin it
would be done. But the idea of a new airport for Bangalore will depend on
the same larger question which determines so many things in India, namely
whether the bickering within and among political parties will allow sound  and sane
economic decisions to be taken.

What kind of place is Bangalore? In the old days visitors from Bombay  and
Madras used to find it too sedate with nothing much happening. Proper
Bangaloreans, on the other hand, rue the passing of that leisurely age and  complain
that the city has lost its charm which was the art of making  haste slowly. But
the young are happy that Bangalore has acquired the  reputation of being a
swinging city, a city which is the first choice of  rock bands touring India, a
civilised town where you can go into a bar or  a discotheque without being
written off as a rake or a slut. They are also  proud of the astonishing range of
eating places and music stores and  garment shops in their city.

Bangalore is a city without much of a  history. It hasn't given the country
many great men or great ideas. It is  also not the birthplace of any
venom-spitting political ideology or  fire-eating social movement. It has not learnt to
do first things first.  Its poor record in infrastructure has now begun to be
talked the world  over. Whatever good marks it gets for its weather round the
year, it loses  on account of its execrable roads and its chaotic traffic

With all that, the Cubbon Park and the campus of the Institute of Science
are civilised places to have a walk in, and Bangalore isn't too bad a city
to fall ill at. It is a city which is hospitable to outsiders.  No other
big city in India has fewer "natives." Only 30 per cent of Bangaloreans
have Kannada as their mother-tongue. True, once in a few years the
pro-Kannada sentiment overflows into an agitation which takes the form of
demanding that cinemas should show more Kannada films and the government
should release a smaller volume of water from the Cauvery to Tamil Nadu.

If you want to know more about Bangalore there is  an attractive new book
that will help you. It is called Bangalore and  Karnataka, published by Stark
World. Sumptuously illustrated with  imaginative photographs, and written in
crunchy prose, it packs a great  deal of information. I was glad to find that it
even mentions the fact  that a groundnut fair is held every year at the Bull
Temple, a famous  landmark of old Bangalore.

But the book is somewhat weak on history. It shows inadequate  appreciation
of the contribution of the Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas to the  history and art
of Karnataka and India. It leaves some loose ends even in  tracing the history
of Bangalore. Having pointed out that there is a  reference to Bengaluru in a
9th century inscription of the Ganga dynasty  (P. 33), how could it describe
Kempe Gowda, who lived in the 16th century,  as the founder of Bangalore (P.
246)? What that feudal chieftain did was  to build a fort and four watch towers
which served as the starting point  of a big, strong Bangalore.

The real makers of the modern Bangalore were Cubbon, Seshadri Iyer, and
Visvesvaraya. But the little essay on Visvesvaraya is most inadequate. To  praise
Visvesvaraya for establishing the sandal oil factory and not to  refer to the
Bhadravati Iron Works and the Krishnaraja Sagara and Cauvery  irrigation
system which he built, and the university and the state  economic conference which
he initiated, would be like praising Nehru for  establishing the National
Botanical Garden and not say a thing about the  five-year plans and his work for
the Constitution. It is also sad that  there is no mention at all of C.V.
Raman, the most illustrious Bangalorean  of our time.

And is the award of the Padma Bhushan to Hebbar, Anantha Murthy and  Girish
Karnad so epoch-making as to be listed in Karnataka Through the  Ages? But
these are minor faults in a wonderfully lively book. Some of the  pictures will
linger long in memory, especially a couple of views of  Hampi, of artistes at
Nrityagram, and pilgrims at the birthplace of the  Cauvery. The architectural
photography of the old and new buildings in  Bangalore is most competent.

News -- Kundapur: Kannada Script for Konkani Language  Welcomed
Kundapur, Aug 11:

The Karnataka Konkani Sahitya  Academy's decision to adopt
Kannada script for teaching Konkani in schools  from the next scholastic year
has been welcomed by Ganesh Kamath,  correspondent of S V Educational
Institute, Gangolli near here. He was  speaking as the chief guest at the 'Mhan Monis
Ek Mulakhat" programme  organized by Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy at
Gangolli recently. He  said, "This decision should be backed by all since it has
been taken after  taking into consideration the regional situation. It is a
brave decision  because it helps the students to be in touch with the local
culture." Fr  Stany Pereira was the guest of honour while Karnataka Konkani Sahitya

 Academy president Eric Ozario presided over the function. The academy
registrar K Duggappa Kajekar, local convener Narayan Kharvi, Kharvi  Mahajan Sangh
president Purushottam was present on the dais. Noted social  worker and
retired teacher C G Devrai Kharvi and well-known Konkani  literature Vinod Fernandes
were felicitated. Karnataka Konkani Kharvi  Mahajan Sangh secretary Ganapati
Shipay extended warm welcome to the  gathered and academy member Vincent Alva
proposed the vote of thanks.  Keshav Tandela compered the programme.

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