Are we really living in a democracy?

With elections in the air, we urge KARNATIQUE readers to contemplate on a very important and apt question: Are we really living in a democratic state? Is this really a democracy?

The correct definition of "Democracy" is that it is a system of governance in which people rule themselves. This simple definition is often forgotten in India, and such forgetfulness is the cause of quite a lot of confusion. But who form a "people"? When is the "ruler" of a people to be considered one-of-us, and when an outsider? What is the litmus test of whether or not a democracy is existing? The answer is surprisingly simple as is accepted world over: It is language which unites a set of individuals into a people, and it is when a linguistic people is ruling itself that we can call it as a democracy. When the French rule themselves, it is called a democracy. When the Germans rule themselves, it is called a democracy. When the Germans even think of ruling the French, it's called the beginning of a world war. Not democracy.

The French are a linguistic people, the Germans are a linguistic people. So are the Kannadigas and so are Tamils or Malayalis or Bengalis. We are different linguistic people who have come together in a federation of states called the Indian Union. They are different linguistic people who are still deciding whether or not to come together in a federation of states called the European Union.

But why is it okay when the Kannadiga people are "represented by" Hindis or Tamils or what-have-yous? Why is it okay when New Delhi rules Bengaluru either directly or through decisions taken in party high commands? Why is it okay when the topmost offices in the city corporation of the capital of Karnataka are filled by Tamilians and every one of their cousins? Why is it okay when political parties such as AIADMK and MES - with published agendas totally against the good of Kannada, Karnataka and Kannadigas - are even allowed to contest elections in Karnataka? Is it a valid democratic electoral system which allows parties whose ideologies consider linguistic diversity as a hurdle to progress to contest elections in different linguistic states? Is it a valid democratic electoral system which allows parties which are controlled by non-Kannadigas to contest elections in Karnataka? So what if the pawns speak Kannada?

Why do we still call the system of governance (if any governance has ever existed in Karnataka after the collapse of the Vijayanagara Empire) in Karnataka a democracy?

Dial 'S'ilence for death!

The Kannadiga consumer has been stuck in strange circumstances in a market, which in reality exists only because of him. While the consumer's language and hence the consumer himself are being neglected in business, a language alien to them is receiving red-carpet welcome as the medium for all business activities. This has led to a situation that is inconvenient and insulting to the Kannadiga consumer. There is an urgent necessity for awareness among Kannadiga consumers. The consumer needs to be educated of his stance in the market, and the finer details of the market's economics. This awareness will help turn the situation in the consumer's favour and get them the very much deserved reverence in the market.

Unfavourable environment around consumer
There are several occasions in the market around Kannadiga consumers wherein products and services in business are either offered in a limited fashion or not offered at all in the consumer's language, while its importance in any business activity is commonplace among businessmen. Let us dive a little deeper and find out some such occasions where the Kannadiga consumer is being belittled:
  1. Certain products which are of critical value to consumer's health like medicines have none of the important information in Kannada, thereby making English learning compulsory for activities which could be performed in Kannada more conveniently.
  2. Products on sale in commercial establishments have name tags in one or two languages, but not in Kannada - the language consumers of this land speak. This has projected a false image of Kannada as a language incapable of helping consumers in making their choice.
  3. Information about medical examinations that are an important first step for a doctor's decisions are all found provided in English but not in Kannada. Owing to such setup patients unaware of English have to run the risks posed by some investigative tests. Safety of these consumers is being compromised as an outcome of linguistic neglect.
If these are just a few examples of market situations where a consumer's priorities are being sidelined because of neglect displayed towards his language, there are other cases where the consumer's identity in the market is being injured because of forced domination of other languages in the market.

Consumer's rights and responsibilities in the market
In the wake of such incidents in the market that are subjecting the consumer to unfair treatment, the consumer needs to become aware of his rights and responsibilities in the market scenario:
  1. Expecting the market to provide products and services in a way that he likes is not wrong on the part of the consumer. In fact not meeting these expectations is a mistake on the businessman's side.
  2. The market will simply cease to exist without the consumer, and the existence of the market is hinged around the consumer himself.
  3. The Kannadiga consumer has to expect to be served in Kannada, and this is not at all a crime. It is definitely not a matter of insult to expect local language presence in one's market.
  4. The denial of products or services in Kannada to a Kannadiga consumer is but denial of service, and is a violation of consumer's basic rights in a business.
  5. As a duty on the Kannadiga consumer's side, one needs to encourage and congratulate efforts in making products and services available in Kannada. This way the market will consequently allot more space to Kannada in the market, and hence encourage more Kannada presence around us.
The inclination of any developing market to adopt foreign languages that have already found widespread use in business, is an automatic development. This needs to be opposed for sustainable development to take place in our market too. Achieving market goals without involving our language in it is a short-lived experience, and the consequences of such growth can be disastrous to the cultural richness that Kannadiga consumers currently possess.

Consumer "how-to"s
Quite often nowadays a Kannadiga is subject to neglect in the market, and gradually Kannada is being subdued by the dominance of other languages as medium of business conduct. While this is a widespread experience, it calls for planned opposition and demand for correction in business practices. Approaching this problem according to its magnitude opens the following avenues to oppose this linguistic oppression in the market, and demand deserving respect to Kannada and Kannadiga in business:
  1. Firstly, every consumer should press for service to be rendered in Kannada, and no other language in the Karnataka market. Presence of any other language in Kannada's absence is an insult no Kannadiga consumer should withstand.
    • Nearly 60% of such cases of Kannada neglect will bend to these demands itself.
  2. In cases where this simplest form of protest doesn't fetch desirable results, seek to complain to the dealer's higher-ups and authorities monitoring the business at a higher level.
    • While in some cases (10%) a mention of higher authorities may yield results, in some other cases (20%), with continued pressure, the higher authorities in business will be forced to put efforts to resolve our problems, eventually.
  3. The rest 10% of cases are where the consumer is really being troubled and denied service in a way he desires. This being a violation of the rights bestowed upon a consumer, can be contested in a consumer court of powers.
    • The consumer court is aware of the linguistic angle of consumer's rights and will be the right platform to provide justice.
Reflecting upon success stories such as Radio Mirchi, Petrol bunks in Bengaluru, ICICI ATMs across Karnataka help reveal the real power of collective consumer demands and protests against unfavourable practices.

As a final note, the Kannadiga consumer needs to wake up to these three potential damages owing to Kannada's absence in businesses around him:
  • Difficulty he is subject to because of Kannada missing from businesses around him
  • Insult to his language, and projection of an inferior image that Kannada is incapable of being a good business language, which is untrue.
  • The consequent economic degradation Kannadigas will notice in them, and an eventual shortage of jobs for Kannadigas with declining usage of Kannada and thereby Kannadigas in businesses.
It is time the Kannadiga consumer woke up to all this and raised his voice to protect his own interests in the market.

Karnataka's "linguistic inferiority complex" must go

PUROHITA writes from Singapore: Just as the effect of hundreds of years of environment can be seen in the bark of a tree, the effect of hundreds of years of history can be seen in the linguistic inferiority complex that prevails in Karnataka today. I use the term linguistic inferiority complex (LIC) to denote inferiority complex relating to one’s own language, its utility, its boundaries and its importance. The disastrous effects of this inferiority complex can be seen in our education system, our society, industry, and in general just about everywhere. LIC is so second nature to the so-called "thinkers" of Karnataka today that even its existence is not acknowledged by them. LIC in Karnataka is made up of the following four unwritten linguistic inferiority complexes, not one of them scientific or democratic or supported by commonsense or fact:

  1. Kannada can be used only for "simple conversations and light stuff like poetry, drama and other non-scientific things"
  2. English is the best language for "conversations between intelligent people; definitely the language for any scientific topic"
  3. Samskruta is the only language for anything even slightly spiritual
  4. Hindi is more important than Kannada in India

The first inferiority complex can be traced to India’s colonial past. The British who opened English schools instead of Kannada and Samskruta schools sowed the seed of linguistic inferiority complex. School students used to get punished for speaking in Kannada (this is seen even today in most of Bengalooru schools) and rewarded for every small achievement in English. With this a sense of achievement got attached to English and a sense of non-achievement to Kannada. Kannada came to be slowly regarded as a language fit only for simple conversations and light stuff like poetry, drama and other non-scientific things – because the British simply didn’t let anything other than that to go on in Kannada. They truly didn’t think Kannada was fit for anything at all. Even after independence and consequent formation of linguistic states, Kannada is not fully implemented in administration, education or industry.

Since the British introduced English as the panacea in the atmosphere of inferiority which they themselves created, it slowly replaced Kannada as the language for conversations between intelligent people; definitely the language for any scientific topic. The English education system was nothing but an engine producing more and more people with this fatal inferiority complex, fit to serve the British crown. Those who came out of the system took pride in hating Kannada, making fun of Kannada and being able to speak English. The flawed arguments that English (as opposed to knowledge) is the strength based on which we can win global markets today, that English is the language of science and technology, stem from this very same inferiority complex continuing to pollute a Kannadiga’s blood. Although examples exist of countries like Japan, Israel, France, etc., which have all their systems in the language of the land, a Kannadiga is blind to this because of this second inferiority complex.

Samskruta enjoys a special place in Karnataka because of the huge corpus of spiritual literature which exists in it (not that we read or understand it). Almost every spiritual thinker of India – real or fake – has resorted to Samskruta as the language for his spiritual literature. This has been disastrous from the point of view of dissemination of true spiritual thinking among Kannadigas. Even today, most of Karnataka remains spiritually challenged because of this single mistake. Kannadigas have come to believe that spiritual literature cannot exist in Kannada, that our Gods understand only Samskruta! We are so spiritually blind and so mesmerized by Samskruta that we think anything and everything written in Samskruta is divine, that even the language and its grammar are divine and worth imitating in Kannada. It’s a pity that even our grammarians have bought into the flawed theory that Kannada – a Dravidian language – is derived from Samskruta, a theory proven totally wrong by linguists all over the world. This is our third inferiority complex.

The issue of Hindi (at best a budding language when it comes to age or achievement compared to Kannada) is more recent but reminiscent of British imperialism. Although there is no constitutional provision granting Hindi the status of "National language", Karnataka has been made to believe so. Hindi is merely – but undemocratically – the only official language of the Indian Union, but schoolchildren in Karnataka are taught the blatant lie that Hindi is the National language of India. The central government invests hundreds of crores of rupees every year to impose Hindi on Kannadigas in education and central government institutions, even banks, using every medium possible. In the name of urbanization, entertainment media has very tactfully imposed Hindi on Kannadigas and made us believe that real entertainment can exist only in Hindi. Slowly, therefore, the suicidal feeling that Kannada is "not enough" to get on to Mainstream India has crept into a Kannadiga’s thinking. Kannadigas have come to believe that Hindi is a more important language than their mother-tongue in India. This is our fourth inferiority complex.

Linguistic inferiority complex is draining the life-blood of Kannadigas, turning us into inferior individuals building an inferior Karnataka. It has already brought about a class divide in Karnataka. The "higher class" slights Kannada and Karnataka, experiences physical pain living in Karnataka, is devoid of self-respect, cannot compete with westerners in true intelligence because of having to use a foreign language, and is waiting in long visa queues to escape from reality. The "lower class" – which cannot slight Kannada and Karnataka – is removed from education, science and technology (due to English) and commerce (due to English/Hindi). Both classes are removed from spirituality (due to Samskruta). It is clear that linguistic inferiority complex must be rooted out from the mind of every Kannadiga if at all we wish to progress. There is no option but to think of ways in which Kannada can completely replace English in education, science and technology, and Samskruta in spirituality and religion. Hindi together with the baggage of lies must be removed from school syllabi and the constitutional priority of Kannada in Karnataka must instead be taught; Kannada must replace it in central government offices, banks and commercial institutions.

Hogenakal in Karnataka

There has been considerable news coverage in the English media on the Hogenakal row for the past couple of days. But as usual the news reports by the English newspapers and channels have not provided enough space and time for the issue at large and ended up spending most of the space and time on film personalities and their phoney protests.

Mainstream English media has not really provided enough opportunities for Kannadigas to put across their views. Hence putting across a few points that have been carefully missed out by the mainstream English media.

  1. Tamilnadu planned to use the current situation of Karnataka being under President's rule to go ahead with the Hogenakal project. As usual, the spineless Karnataka politicians from the national parties were not concerned about this issue and were busy shortlisting candidates for the assembly elections.
  2. It was only because of the vigilance of the Kannada media and the strong agitation by Kannada organizations that enough pressure was created on the Central Government and the Tamilnadu Government. It was only when the situation was getting out of control that Karunanidhi backtracked on his misadventure. Tamilnadu has now put this project on hold until elections to the Karnataka assembly are over.
  3. Hogenakal area is a part of Karnataka. Since Tamilnadu has been disputing this, Karnataka and the Central government had agreed to a joint survey. But Tamilnadu has not been co-operating on the survey as they know that as per the revenue records, Hogenakal is a part of Karnataka. Therefore, Tamilnadu government should not go ahead with the project in a geographical area which is part of Karnataka but it claims as disputed.
  4. While it has been agreed upon that any project undertaken in the Kaveri basin areas will need mutual consent apart from the Central government, Tamilnadu government has blatantly been exhibiting hypocrisy in this matter. It has earlier objected to every project in the Kaveri basin proposed by Karnataka by having gone to the extent of writing to the Japanese agencies (who were funding the drinking water project for Bengaluru) objecting the Kaveri (Cauvery) drinking water project for Bengaluru. However for the Hogenakal project, Tamilnadu has gone ahead without even providing Karnataka any details of the project. They even expect co-operation from Karnataka in this matter! Co-operation is not a one-way street, right?
  5. DMK and allies are an important part of the UPA alliance. These parties have perfected the art of blackmailing the Union Government into accepting unreasonable demands without ever thinking about the impact of their actions on the federal nature of India. Using the blackmailing tactics, Tamil Nadu has influenced the Central Government against Karnataka on multiple occasions. Nothing new with the Hogenakal project either!

Hogenakal, Stanley, and Dharmapuri?

Having mentioned all these fine details about the whole scene created by Tamilnadu, it would make much sense to digress a little, say 45-50kms from the place of this scene. One finds that there already stands a Stanley reservoir in Mettur, spread on a sprawling area much bigger than the Krishna Raja Sagara reservoir, which is humbled in front of the former's watery expanse. With this bigger reservoir already standing so close to Dharmapuri district, why, with all the urgency, is Tamilnadu so charged up to feed its citizens with drinking water from the Hogenakal falls? Won't it make much more economic sense for it to pursue a much cheaper project to connect Stanley to Dharmapuri? Question no one raised before, you say?