November 2, 2006

Karnataka: Preserving Its Culture

November 02, 2006 Posted by Vijay , No comments
On Karnataka Rajyotsava day, as many as nine cities in Karnataka were renamed. Significantly, Bangalore has been rechristened as Bengaluru. However, on such a colorful and joyous day, the scenes were somewhat similar to when Rajkumar passed away earlier in the year. The difference was that there wasn't any violence. But the show of strength and might of Kannadigas was in full display with the yellow and red flags all around.

All the big shopping malls were geared up for any untoward incidences by appeasing these groups and hoisting the flag all over. In fact the flags were pasted all around food joints at Forum where I had been. Though Forum was flooded with these flags, it was ironic to note that at PVR cinemas (inside Forum), almost all seats were available for a Kannada movie, while even badly doing Bollywood and Hollywood movies were housefull.

One can very much empathise with the Kannadigas, because their culture is fast getting eroded. The cosmopolitan populace in the city of Bengaluru has made them feel insecure about their identity. MNC's, international fast food joints, multiplexes, all seem to be nurturing interests of everything which is non-Kannadiga. What was concerning to see was, the show of strength was with an intention to create problems wherever they possibly could. Large groups were going around in rickshaws and vans waving the flags all around the city. A sense of insecurity which can only be overcome by show of strength one could say. Which in a way is right. But to intimidate the citizens and then demand respect is not the way forward.
This invasion of Kannada culture had brought upon a ruling which discredited schools which were teaching in English medium rather than Kannada. This evoked a lot of bad response from the public in general, because going forward, only a well educated English speaking candidate will stand a good chance of getting a good job. So, if the state needs to progress this cannot be the right move. This can only hamper the growth. Clearly a dilemma for the government in general would be, to spread the message of Kannada culture, while also working towards the economic growth of the state.

One of the many ways this can be achieved is by inculcating Kannada culture and it's values in all schools. There can be no doubt that, in the long run, more and more people from outside of Karnataka will come and influence the culture. This is something which is inevitable, since at the end of the day money means everything and if investments have to come from MNC's, so be it. This trend can only be arrested and for this, the awareness has to spread at the grassroots level. For a start, all schools in the state should make Kannada compulsory till Class 5th. This will ensure that all students learn the language and to speak and read. After the 5th, it should be left to the student whether he/she wants to continue with Kannada or the national language Hindi. This will ensure that all students know the Kannada language.

Incorporating syllabus changes to benefit cultural heritage through spreading awareness can also be done. A sense of pride needs to be instilled through chapters in history which would specifically cater to the state at large. How it came into being? What are the various heritage and tourist spots? The various achievements of the state. More importantly, how citizens such as Narayanamurthy have helped change how the world perceives Bangalore and as a result Karnataka as a whole. With the fabulous Western Ghats as a haven for nature lovers, it should not be difficult for subjects such as Geography also to pitch in and spread awareness. A compulsory tour every year to one of the beautiful scenic spots in the state would also help in making every student proud of Karnataka. All these can very well be done in the 7th or 8th grades.

Spreading awareness in such ways, can instill a sense of pride, and belonging to all the students. The students are the ones who can spread the message and bring forth the beauty of the culture of Karnataka. With increasing Globalization, it wouldn't be a surprise if every Indian state faces such a situation. Before things really go bad, and get the passionate cultural lovers to take to the streets, the respective state Governments with the Centre need to look closely at the school level, which is where the seeds of a bright and successful India lie.