Karnataka Rajyotsav- Can’t it be more than just a ‘Utsav’?

In the month of the state’s formation, Dr Vincent Alva, PrincipalMilagres College, Kallianpur(alvavincy@gmail.com) examines the conundrum of Karnataka Rajyotsav in the minds of its people.

Among all the things that unite people, language is the most prominent one. No doubt people unite in the name of caste, religion, culture, tradition and creed. Sometimes people unite in the name of colour too. If this unity is due to the feeling of biological and environmental belongingness, there is yet another unity which forms due to the sense of nationality and linguistic belongingness.

After Republic independent India was divided into different states mainly based on the linguistic status. Maharashtra was born to accommodate Marati speakers, Tamil Nadu was formed to satisfy Tamil speakers and on November 1, 1956 Mysore, the precursor to Karnataka, came into existence. One of the main reasons for the creation of Mysore state is the unity mantra chanted in the name of Kannada language.

The state of Mysore was created by merging various parts of the region, which were ruled by kings. Due to this several districts, now called North Karnataka, Hyderabad Karnataka were dissolved into the new state. But the people of North and Hyderabad Karnataka were not for the name “Mysore”. The government had to yield to the demand of change of name by these people. After a prolonged discussion the then Chief Minister of state Mr DevrajUrstook a landmark decision by declaring Mysore as Karnataka on November 1, 1973. Hence, every year, November 1st is celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava or Kannada Rajyotsava.

“Utsav” has a special attraction for Indians because it is not a new term to us. But one shouldn’t forget the fact that every Utsav has a special and unique meaning of its own. If Independence Day celebrated the birth of a Nation, Karnataka Rajyotsava celebrates the birth of a state within the nation. Both are celebrations at different levels.

My fear is whether we are keen in celebrating these ‘Utsavs’ or do we limit the celebration only for a day? I don’t find a reason to say no to my own question. The answer is a simple ‘Yes’ with many conundrums attached. We give more importance to external celebration than to the ideas and the ideologies behind it. Karnataka Rajyotsava should ultimately motivate us to love and nurture Kannada language and culture. But now, come November 1, we are in a joyous mood to enjoy a public holiday rather than involving ourselves in the true spirit of Rajyotsava celebration. Karnataka Rajyotsava doesn’t fill enthusiasm in us, the enthusiasm if any is all but a short-lived euphoria.

Further, the division of the state in terms of language has led to polarised fanaticism. Kannadiga wears for a day the mask of ‘protector’ of the Kannada language. He will carry the yellow and red colour flag and move in the streets with heavy steps and shout slogans “Jai Karnataka” and “Jai Kannada”. The sad plight of this protector is that all his kith and kins could be found studying in the sophisticated English Medium schools. Just imagine the present state of Kannada medium schools all over Karnataka. They are literally empty with no students.

Due to linguistic division we have always faced a problem in accepting languages other than Kannada in the state. Though all the state languages we speak within the state are Indian languages, when it comes to state language we become fanatics and in Karnataka we have faced the brunt of Tamil and Marathi language. Many a times our over zeal towards Kannada also has created problems.

What is more interesting is the ‘distribution ‘of awards during Karnataka Rajyotsava. Some people are crazy for awards. Especially they take Rajyotsava award as a prestige issue. There is no end to the lobbying to get that award. Due to the immense pressure the Government faces during Rajyotsava to give awards, in order to satisfy all, it has adopted the method of distributing the awards even to those who are unworthy of it, thus degrading the weightage of Rajyotsava awards.

Still one cannot be blind to the feeling of belongingness during Karnataka Rajyotsava. There is no doubt that it has united the people in terms of language and culture. It has also united the people ideologically. The rich and the poor, educated and uneducated enjoy the sense of equality and belongingness that the Karnataka Rajyotsava kindles.


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