On Gandhi's Litmus Test and Kannada

"Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man you have seen, and ask yourself if this step you contemplate is going to be any use to him." 
- M. K. Gandhi

Indeed, focusing on Kannada as the cornerstone of Kannadiga development (and similarly on other Indian languages as the cornerstones of the development of speakers of those respective languages) continues to pass Gandhi's litmus test above.

Also, considering (either explicitly or implicitly) any language other than Kannada as central to Kannadiga development continues to fail the test.

No wonder Gandhi himself was a very strong proponent of the development of Indian languages (specifically in education).

Today is Martyrs' Day, the day on which M. K. Gandhi was assassinated.

When calling twice as twice is not quite enough


This ad caught my eye as the height of Sanskritization. Why dvigun'i'kruta instead of immad'i? I can think of no reason other than the inability to realize that Kannada is now being used for purposes other than getting a pat or two from Sanskrit poets.

It's none of your business, Minister!

As if proof were required that the Karnataka government does not even possess a clear stream of reason which can be accused of losing its way into the dreary desert storm of dead habit, Karnataka's Primary and Secondary Education minister Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri has come out with fresh nonsense about setting up a Sanskrit university in Karnataka. The minister delivered the following message to Sanskrit students and promised more funds for Sanskrit:
“Fight against the injustice being done to Sanskrit and send a strong message against those opposing the university. If we do not, then we would be overlooking the language,”
Note how glibly Kannadigas are accused of doing injustice to Sanskrit, while it (a northern language) has actually been patronized a lot more in Karnataka than anywhere else in South India. After all, what's the big deal if Kannadigas overlook a language which is not local to Karnataka, one which is not spoken in Karnataka, one which exists only in scriptures? 

Indeed, why would anybody overlook any language? It is only when that language is perceived to be useless to them, and when it is not their own. Thus, the overlooking of Sanskrit is not due to any concerted effort of an assumed organized opposition but is simply the by-product of Kannadigas' identity and their focus on secular pursuits. If Sanskrit had had what it takes, it would have been where the minister likes it to be. 

There are a thousand other languages which Karnataka overlooks, for the reasons above. We can't go on building universities for all those languages, can we? 

Truth be told, Mr. Kageri's government in its asinine focus on Sanskrit is overlooking what is a crime to overlook: Kannada, the language of Kannadigas whom his government is expected to represent! 

Being the state government of Karnataka, the BJP government's first and foremost focus ought to have been Kannada and not Sanskrit. Sanskrit is merely a language which influenced religious and spiritual literature in Kannada long ago, with negligible influence on the Kannada used for any secular pursuit - such as plain day-to-day usage! 

Since democratically elected governments are expected to indulge in secular works such as education, employment, law and order, one expects the government of Karnataka to invest public money in secular projects such as Kannada linguistics - a field which has suffered just too much neglect in the universities of Karnataka. Not siphon off public money to fund private, non-secular and useless pet projects such as Sanskrit universities whose graduates will at best be left dreaming of jobs for which they don't qualify, as if in punishment for having studied a language irrelevant for secular pursuits. 

Also, I'd like to remind the minister that Sanskrit has nothing to do with Karnataka's Primary or Secondary education. It's none of your business, Minister! Listen very carefully: it does not take a Sanskrit university to do your job well. In fact, when you talk about a Sanskrit university, you make it public that you have no clue of what your job entails, dear Minister! 

Of all things, Primary and Secondary education must be freed from the ills of over-sanskritization, because it is in the early stages of a student's development that his/her mother-tongue plays the most important role. In fact, today's Kannada medium education system is so full of Sanskrit that it has rendered the Kannada medium difficult to Kannadigas themselves (take Vasant's challenge here). 

If there is anything the minister has to do, it is to first acquire a clear stream of reason unpolluted by non-secular ideologies, and then to fund research into improving the quality of the Kannada medium education system by taking it closer to the people, not away from. 

That would require the courage to question and jettison established superstitions - such as the superstition that Sanskrit can help in the upliftment of Kannada or Kannadigas. It's obvious that Mr. Kageri or his government or his party or its alma-mater (RSS) have no such intentions, because by neglecting Kannada they have shown that it is Kannada which they consider as useless to them, and as not their own.

If 1,00,000 < 328, the English Media is Right

It's a pity our friends in the English media have become such baavi kappegal* that they assume that the English Medium CBSE education system is equivalent to the nation's education system, as Vineeta Pandey assumes in her DNA story here. So let's have the the data speak for itself.

According to the 2008-9 CBSE Annual Report, there are only 328 CBSE schools in Karnataka (see pg. 113). Contrast this with the more than 1 lakh schools affiliated to the Karnataka State Department of Education, and it's easy to see how wrong the English media is. In Karnataka, Kannada medium schools attract 82% of the total number of schoolchildren, and 77% of all the schools in Karnataka are directly run by the Govt. of Karnataka (a further 6% run from Govt. aid). Only 8% schoolchildren go to English medium schools in Karnataka.


(click on picture for a high-res graphic)

The above makes it clear that the Central Government plays no significant role in the education system of Karnataka. Nor do English medium schools, nor does the CBSE board, nor do private schools in general. This is the story of pretty much every other state of India, too. Hence, the nation's education system is everything but what the English media tells you it is!

Can someone tell me what makes the English media believe that 1,00,000 is less than 328? How did 328 come to define the nation's education system and how did 1,00,000 come to be neglected in the nation's education system? 

Is this only arithmetic dysfunction or the propaganda of an unholy nexus? Or is this just a case of what the English media prefers were the case because CBSE schools are basically English medium schools whose children would tend to read English newspapers which they sell? In any case, shall we request that data be considered holier?


*Note: baavi = well, kappegalu = frogs (I've eliminated the usual "u" from "kappegalu" so that "kappegal" and the next word "that" can form a Kannada-English sandhi, making it easier to read, as happens in Kannada speech). The term baavi kappegalu connotes frogs in the well which believe that the well is all there is to the world.

V. P. Menon on British role in political consolidation of India

Perhaps the most definitive answer to those who claim that India was politically united from time immemorial comes from none other than V. P. Menon who was considered the "right hand" of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The two gentlemen were tasked with the herculean task of the political integration of India after independence from the British. Mr. Menon writes in the very first paragraph of the very first chapter of his 1956 book Integration of the Indian States:
India is one geographical entity. Yet, throughout her long and chequered history, she never achieved political homegeneity.
Mr. Menon then goes on to state how sporadic-but-ultimately-futile attempts were made in history to bring under a single ruler a large part of what the British left behind. The author surprisingly mentions only kings from North India, forgetting efforts of Kannadiga kings like Pulakeshi II and kingdoms like the Rashtrakutas whose conquests of India were no less great or geographically spread out, but that is not my point here.

Mr. Menon also points out that if it weren't for the political unification of India achieved by the British, the peaceful unification of the princely states could have hardly happened:
No greater achievement can be credited to the British than that they brought about India's enduring political consolidation. But for this accomplishment and the rise of national consciousness in its wake, the Government of Free India could hardly have taken the final step of bringing about the peaceful integration of the princely States. Today, for the first time in the country's history, the writ of a single central Government runs from Kailas to Kanyakumari, from Kathiawar to Kamarupa (the old name of Assam).
Note that Mr. Menon also points out that the very concept of "national conciousness" arose due to the political consolidation of India by the British.

Isn't it time Indians realized the fact that the diversity and true history of India cannot be wished away or hidden under the carpet for long? Truth always asserts itself. The diverse linguistic peoples of India will ultimately assert their identity and right to power and the need for less and less power at the center. We already see it happening in many states such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Assam. It is in paving the way for a peaceful re-structuring of India as a true federation of states that the unity and integrity of India can be safeguarded. It is in this that the future of India as a true world-power lies.