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SECOND EDIT

No jingoism, please

Sahitya Parishat, under its new chief, should have a cosmopolitan outlook

It remains to be seen how the euphoria created over the election of Prof Chandrashekhar Patil, an author who had non-conformist literary leanings and hailing from an integrated area of Karnataka, as the President of the Kannada Sahitya Parishat, will be translated into reality to give a distinct literary orientation to the affairs of this premier institution.

Mr Patil, in a mood of elation on his making it to the presidency of the Parishat remaining a just a formality, has sought 100 days’ time to reform the Kannada Sahitya Parishat, and this promise at best can be greeted with guarded optimism. These reforms should encompass “electoral reforms” in view of the apprehensions that the parishat elections have acquired most of the negative trappings of the elections in the political sphere.

Anyway, if the Kannada Sahitya Parishat, established on May 3, 1915 by H V Nanjundaiah and other doyens of Kannada literature, has found its literary moorings weakened eventually that is mainly because of the increasing tendency to allow non-literary and even extraneous events to overshadow the literary aspect in the affairs of the parishat.

The other equally unhealthy tendency of the parishat depending heavily on government funds for its activities has diminished the stature of the literary institution and often dented even the calibre of those at helm. The tawdry pattern in which the annual literary conferences of the parishat are conducted and litterateurs are elbowed out by politicians in office is an indication of this steady decline in standards. Moreover, Mr Patil is too familiar with the unsavoury past of the parishat to need any elaboration.

Therefore the thrust of the President-elect should be on making the parishat autonomous financially and on lending renewed vigour to the healthy development of Kannada language and literature. The care of office will hopefully nudge Mr Patil, known for his admirable talent, sharp wit and exuberance, to carry on the task on hand in a congenial atmosphere that is prerequisite in a cosmopolitan order that is shaping up all over the State.

In sum, Mr Patil and his team of parishat office-bearers cannot just remain purblind to the simple and stark truth that any language including Kannada can be nurtured with only affection and a sense of attachment. Any effort to foster Kannada by spreading disaffection and antipathy towards other languages and linguistic groups would be a recipe for unmitigated disaster and this they should avoid like the plague. Both Kannada language and literature are rich enough to flourish on the strength of their innate beauty and worth.

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