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Where a state respects its litterateurs…

I was  deeply impressed by the esteem and regard the state of Karnataka has for its poets and litterateurs. When the renowned Kannada poet and writer G S Shivarudrappa passed away in December, the state government declared a public holiday in his honour. Several political leaders, including  Chief Minister Siddharamaiah and literary personalities attended the funeral and paid their last respects. Earlier the state had honoured  him with the prestigious title of Rashtrakavi. The Bangalore and Kuvempu universities honoured him with honorary doctorates.

 I remember a similar honour bestowed on another Kannada literary giant K V Puttappa(Kuvempu) with the state mourning his death for three days, declaring a holiday and the state leaders, including the chief minister, present at the funeral.

 I interviewed the then Chief Minister Veerappa Moily in 1994 for a special issue on Karnataka, I observed the reception hall of the CM’s residence adorned by the photographs of literary giants of Kannada – K V Puttappa, Bendre, Kuvempu, Shivaram Karanth, V K Gokak and Masti Venkatesh Iyengar. You would observe in the Bengalis’ similar pride and regard for Rabindranath Tagore.

 I contrast this with the lack of such a culture in Tamil Nadu. Thanks to E V Ramasamy Naicker’s anti-(Hindu) religious stance, large sections of Tamils were denied the taste of the  great riches and treasures of Alwars, Nayanmars, and Kambar. Even the national poet Subramania Bharati was not given his due place on narrow caste considerations. The division engendered by EVR denied recognition to the  maha kavis and other litterateurs of the state at the national level as well. Sadly, Tamil society continues to harp on differences and divisions, denying the due share for its stalwarts at the national and international plane.

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