Karnataka Election Politics: Through an anthropologist eye

Radhakanta Barik

Karnataka has been formed as a State taking regions from various provinces such as Madras, Bombay Presidencies and Hyderabad Nizam State. Writers belonging with different linguistic backgrounds went for the development of its Language Kannada. Some of them Tamilians, some from Marathi and Some belonging to Kannada created a powerful literature in this language. Human creativity flows in a language be it poetry or novels or plays. Most of the novels speak out the social oppression of Dalits. Although Dalit scholarship has evolved over the time and they have a scholarly journal in English in articulating the grievances of the Dalit community. The Muslims have got their share of jobs in the state of Karnataka which is an exception in India. The city of Banglore created space for flow of individual creativity. Individuality is the characteristic of a city life. Banglore is the post independent wonder of India. A small town with some public institutes today is harboring some of the leading MNCs. The managers of these MNCs came to India sometime after 1990 selected the places for their investment. They prefer the cool places such as Banglore and Ranchi with best school and clean environment. But they found Ranchi is having the problems of law and order and lethargy of Bihar intelligentsia and officials. In Karnataka they found work culture and trained skilled labour and better law and order which encouraged them to invest in Banglore. These trained skilled labour are being trained in private colleges and rich with agricultural surplus invested in creating these private institutions which draw students from all over India and from abroad. The best laboratory and teaching staff helped these institutions. Under the Congress rule who provided the best infrastructure in Banglore and this has grown into mega poly. This is the second biggest Odiya town after Bhubaneswar. People from all linguistic backgrounds have settled here. Today Banglore provieds employment to skilled people from North India. Some years back I was travelling in Banglore Rajdhani from Delhi which was carrying unemployed engineers from here. On inquiry they are going to Banglore for getting employment which happens in the first week of January of every year. Wealth can be created with technological innovation and ideas prove a point today in the case of Banglore.

 Gujarat is a declining economy as textile industry got closed because of riots in Ahmadabad. No modern economy has grown there. In UP the only industrial town Kanpur is destroyed by the Babrimasjid and Ram Mandir fury. These are reasons why Yogi and Modi must be laughed by Kannadigas. Yogi has returned back from the war field like Srikhandi who did not fight the battle of Mahabharata. Modi is going to return after some time. Let people respect prosperity and intellectual wealth of Kannadigas. As the district collectors of Tumkur and Mysore gave a parting statement to the officials visited them," They will never like their administration to be turned into UP model where there is virtually failure of governance." They have a tradition of liberal technical culture which made them to cast their votes in an intelligent manner despite provocation by the Hindutva forces' they are the Hindus and vote for the BJP'. This did not work. We must offer our thanks to the people of Karnataka but the BJP has got the largest number of seats. They are desperate to form the government for which they have a shortage of some MLAs. They have the Reddy brothers who have appropriated 30,000 crores who would buy these MLAs on a condition the BJP government would give in to their demand that all mining operations will be given to them without following the procedure. They can loot the property and invest in the foreign banks and allow them to migrate to the foreign country and settle there. Let us congratulate the people of Karnataka not political parties.

 The Karnataka has created a great number of writers, artists and painters who created a literate culture. With the coming of Narayan Murti and the millennium City of Banglore the literate class turned into literate- technical culture which created a vibrant economy and society. With the coming of hundred engineering colleges mostly sponsored by the religious maths a technocratic class has been created in the liberalised phase of economy who has no sense of history or culture of Karnataka. They belong to a great technological class without any roots going abroad and acquired wealth and collected huge dowry from their families of caste chief tans. This class has taken interest in religion not spiritualism of Karnataka and this class has supported the Hindutva ideology without any critical thinking. Their parents and grandparents built this society based on harmony and social compactness this class is ready to destroy the social fabric by going for Hindutva. This class behaviour needs to be told straight that " Fuck up this technocratic middle class".

We visited Karnataka with a team of officers for understanding the District administration as an organisation. Those who visited were working in the central secretariat in Delhi felt embarassed while looking at the way office was organinised at district level. This is the nodal agency for providing basic services to its citizenry. It has more than sixty divisions under the supervision of district collector. Each division is headed by office superintendent supported with two to three people. Regarding each division they started providing information to us. While we were there the district collector was on a tour to study the Morarji Desai schools at the block level for better students of those villages. These schools were having a number of teachers proportionate to the number of students. The proportion was a healthy one. Their performance was getting evaluated by the district collector which we later visited these schools at Tunkur district. That is the reason why students do not prefer the private schools. They have a better command over their language of Kannada and English. But mostly the private colleges provide the technical education to students with a reasonable rate. Most of the technical colleges of Tunkur are managed by a trust of a Matha which is very popular there. It provides free school education to 5000 students coming from different corners of the province. Here they get free education with food and dress. I wrote an article by comparing with a temple trust of Chatrapur in Delhi which has a largest number of temples. In this article I suggested that these temples number might increase but without services like education and health to its people. After we had a meeting with the district collector regarding the functioning of various divisions specifically education, health and social welfare he gave us a see off and told a parting statement, " we are scared of one thing that our administration does not go in the lines of UP where the district level offices do not function well." This observation still haunts me that if Karnataka elects the BJP government then the district level administration may get reduced to the level of UP. The UP chief minister Yogi was not accepted by crowd in Karnataka that explains that the state is not going in the lines of UP.

 Idea of national movement against the British imperialism got picturised in political and literary culture of Karnataka. R K Narayan's Malgudi days (1940) shows the behaviour of a child nationalist in his innocuous ways. The child goes to the school where teacher is teaching about the glory of the Britishers which he feels like protesting and gets rusticated from the school which troubles his Khadi clad lawyer father. It is in psychic structure of a society gets reflected in the writings of many writers Kuvempu's poetry to Ananthamurty's novels. Social reforms against the caste system and Land reforms have been discussed in their literary writings. Gandhi and Nehru and Congress have entered into their world view. It got reflected in social practices of the villagers. The day Gandhi died on 30th January 1948 by Godse Prof Srinivas was conducting his field work in a village of Coorg which got published in his memoirs of a village. The whole village went for a funeral function in an imaginary manner and men and women cried the whole day as if somebody a part of close kinship died that day. The Congress Party of Karnataka carries that living memory. The RSS had no role in the national movement of Karnataka and they sided with the Britishers. In popular culture of Karnataka the Congress and Gandhi and Nehru remain there. These memories cannot be obliterated so easily by the communal jargon and media crazy society. Today the writers and artists speak out against the Hindutva. That is the living tradition in a society which gets expressed in election times.

Hindutva is dead against humanism of anthropology as Indian civilisation needs to be understood in an anthropological framework. It is based on oral tradition and community life their worshiping of animals or trees based on totems. Let us examine a tribal community lives in Ooty who speak Kannada language worships buffalo that the animal is their totem. The district is dominated by Kannadigams but live in TN and they are the people who adopted the potato as a symbol of modernity. Potato has got introduced by the District Collector who was a Britisher by looking at climate of the district and made them prosperous. Buffalo- cow combination is the characteristic of Karnataka society. Hinduta took cow as their political symbol but drink the milk of buffalo. This hypocrisy has entered into politics where they use anti dalit and anti-tribal and anti-minority language without any anthropological understanding of Karnataka society. Their selective animal and their selective national hero such as rejection of Tipu Sultan as a modernist in Karnataka have been against humanism. Christianity and Islam came at initial phase of its religious spread through the port town of Mangalore which the Hindutva forces look at the religion of conquerors. Their selective reading of history and society has created problems for people of Karnataka. Karnataka society carries a multi layered civilization where many new symbols have been accepted by their society on popular culture level. The man who made an engineering plan of Mysore a modern city was a Muslim which creates modernity in urban design. Layer of urban civilization is coexisting with its tradition. The first airport started in the early 1930s in Manglore in helping its trading people to move to Bombay. They are the prosperous businessmen in the most industrial city of India. A large scale migration from this coastal belt to Bombay has created a dislocation in the coastal Karnataka.  With the decline of Bombay as the industrial town the migrant labour feel desperate for employment which Mumbai could not afford but they got the first lesson of Hindutva lecture there. With the coming of the unemployed people brought with them frustration and Hindutva which has been dominating this belt of politics. This is being exploited by the BJP, a party which is against humanism of anthropology and communitarian traditions prevailing in Karnataka. A strong literary- technological culture got expressed in the class room of teaching English literature by the famous Kannada literary person in Mysore university explains the integration of low and high culture of a society. Prof Ananthamurti started his lecture with Kalidas's Sankutalam via Keats poetry to Kannada medieval Bhakti poetry to modern writings in Kannada which reflect his originality in class room and in his writings. This brings synthesis between popular culture and modern culture.  In the last election he campaigned against the Hindutva forces for which he got a thrashing from the Hindutva politics. This time he is no more but anti Hindutva politics reflect the writings and films and paintings and those artists and scholars are fighting against the Hindutva politics which does not happen in the UP. Hindutva is creating its tenuous relation with Karnatak society and culture which will not allow them to have hegemony over their culture.

Karnataka carries its civilizational tradition by its peasant communities, pastoral and tribal communities. There is a convergence of many civilizations in its social formation. For instance rice and millet two important crops are being gifted by tribals and sustained by peasant society. In most parts of India millet has vanished but it is kept here. Pastoral community is vanishing everywhere because of lack of pastors but somehow maintained here. It has produced a powerful leader Siddaramayya who is in a battle with Modi backed by the RSS. Complexities of a social formation make it more beautiful. To sustain it people of Karnataka needs to vote wisely who can contribute to its civilisational growth. It needs to mediate among diverse groups but the BJP wants to represent the upper castes by ignoring the three important civilisations. Their activities are going to harm the civilisation of Karnataka.

In the Mahabharata battle between Kaurabs and Pandavs the Kaurabs got the support of maximum number of kings like the all the ministers of Modi government and some chief ministers of the BJP ruled state have gone to Karnataka to campaign for the party. But their commander in Chief Modi as Duryodhan is a wounded general. As the story goes Duryodhan wanted to take rest in his mother's lap. While he was going and he had to cross the river of blood but there was no hope of crossing the river but found his dead son helped him to cross the river. Such a man like Modi used lies and blasphemous statements in the election without any knowledge of Itihas of people who is being worried of the election result and gone back to Nepal their imaginary Hindu Rashtra where he would take rest. Let people of Karnataka decide in favour of the secular and progressive forces by which Modi learnt a lesson.

 It is the primary school teacher carries his or her emotional affinity with his students from the villages or small towns. They played a catalyst role in social transformation of a traditional society. They motivated their own children and students in making them aspiring persona who struggled to achieve something in modern India. It was a difficult and strenuous road but they succeeded to move on this thorny path to achieve destinations. Many of civil servants belonging to Odisha came from this background who had no financial resources but carrying dreams in combinations with their intellectual capital. In the case of Karnataka there are two rare personas need to be recognized here. One created wealth with honesty and innovation that is Narayan Murti brought Karnataka into industrial map of the world. There is another Reddy who siphoned thousand crores from the district of Bellary and became famous for his notoriety in measuring his personal wealth. These Reddy brothers must have learnt from their teacher father the number million or billion which made them dreamy to achieve those in terms of making money without generating wealth in the drought prone district of Bellary. Yes some five star hotels have come up which do not serve any ordinary citizen where their daughter got married with expenditure of 100 crores of rupees where an average citizen was struggling for liquidity for running their households. What a contrast of two primary school teachers whose sons have created wealth one for the country and another for himself. Karnataka people having such literary technological culture will not support the communal corrupt of the BJP which has already defamed the state for plundering their wealth. Another wealth has played a creative role in reconstruction of economy and society in a progressive sense.

Indian society is a network of communities. One finds the way social space is being controlled by each community. State needs to recognize this while implementing social welfare programmes such as education, old age pension. I did a study of implementation of welfare programmes in the state of Karnataka. Our research finds that state has arranged hostels for each community and tutor in each hostel for providing additional coaching for students in schools and colleges. This has resulted benefits for each community including the Muslim community. In Northern India there is provision of reservation of jobs without the supporting activities. This benefited the BJP for its social engineering in UP election where the other social backward castes joined the Hindutva bandwagon. Siddaramayya government has increased its allocation for the welfare activities of people in general and particularly the other OBC groups and Dalits. It is Modi regime at the centre has made less allocation for social sector including the National Rural Employment Guarantee programmes to trouble the opposition government be it Sarkar's govt in Tripura or Karnataka government. As the majority of districts are drought prone and backward districts where the employment under NREGA is very critical. Karnataka government has to make special allocation for these programmes here. This reflected in the share of jobs in the state government or public sector that there is an adequate representation of each community including the Muslims. This is being recognised by the Sachar commission on Minorities. This makes the difference between the Gujarat government and Karnataka government that there is a very low representation of each community belonging to Dalits, minorities and backwards. Overall social backwardness of these communities in Gujarat has further intensified with Modi rule and its model state. People of Karnataka will compare the Modi's slogans with its social content and then they will decide to vote against the BJP.

After the seminar I went on a trip to rural Karnataka with a Ph. D student in Economics of Mysore University. The young scholar belongs to the village from Hassan district which is being controlled by Devi Gowda, former Prime Minister of India. The dominant cultivating community belongs to his community. They used to support him wholeheartedly some years back but now the community is a divided one. All political groups are active there. The young scholar's parents are working in the field with his uncles on irrigated land. He himself contributes to family labour during the harvesting time and cultivating time. With their limited resources they are educating their boy and other children are studying in the schools of nearby village. Education in rural India has created an aspirational community. To achieve their aspirations they need jobs in the state sector. Father of the young scholar made a request to me to help the boy in getting the job. That was the time Modi's 2014 election posters were hanging in the lanes of village and local towns. He promised a million of jobs to be created by his government. Four years have passed that no job has been created. The scholar's marriage has been postponed for these years.

Moreover, their parents suffer from agrarian distress whereas the Modi government promised them cost of production plus fifty percent. As a loud mouthed speaker Modi wants to win the people of Karnataka this time. In his meetings no claps and no spontaneity but his dry speech without any passion and feeling for people. This has created fear in the minds of the editors of the various channels in the electronic media where they used to speak loudly that the BJP was picking with the academic dhobi Sanjay Kumar who is on his poll survey. They do not want to predict this time at least the channels such NDTV and India Today. They are not ready to speak in favour of the great magician India has produced that is Modi. Who has created fear in their minds? It is Siddaramayya the chief minister of the state. Who is he that while going through Hassan district one finds that shepherds were moving with their sheep. Their dusty dress with their brownish hair carrying a long bag with some essentials were on the move. Their able son Siddaramayya as the leader of the Mahabharata battle is the commander of the Pandus who with his sharp arrows has already wounded two generals from the Kaurabas that Yogi has returned back from the Kurukhetra and Amit shah is already wounded where his commander in chief Modi is struggling like Duryodhan. He is the real hero in the present battle and bringing out one story and after another from his long bag by branding these wounded heroes as ' Ali baba chalis chor' and many more stories he has remembered while carrying sheep with his parents in this belt. That is the only source of entertainment for most of Indians. Mysore University celebrated its centenary year with an international seminar organised by the Department of Political science where I presented a paper on Food Security System in Odisha. The seminar happened sometime after Modi's coming to power in the centre. We discussed on the character of Modi rule where I raised a point that the present rule had a fascistic tendency. This was being questioned by some of the participants but with the passage of time they all realised that my point of view was correct one. I did a survey on the food security system in Karnataka while the BJP was ruling in the state. It was hijacked by the trading community who are the supporters of the BJP. One trader having a ration shop used to run the hotel in the city of Mysore. He admitted that the income generated by the non-distribution of rations helped him to invest in the hotel business. Everything was being done under the blessings from the BJP. I did a study in Odisha prior to Naveen Patnaik rule and found that the whole system was hijacked by the Marwari traders. The present government led by Sitaramayya succeeded to improve the food security system. With access to food has made possible for children to have an access to education and health. This has improved the human capital of Karnataka.

Mysore University has a close association with the illustrious names such as Radhakrishnan who later became President of India. U R Ananthamurti who became a Gyan pitha award winner. He wrote a novel Sanskar which was an originally Ph. D thesis work from Oxford University. It was an autobiographical novel where he was critical of his Brahminical father who had a sexual relation with a Dalit woman but without any responsibility towards the child born out of this relation. This city had figures such R K Narayan a leading novelist in English. He used to have a close friendship with Prof M N Srinivas (sociologist) who on their morning walk discussed their research work and exchanged their notes. This is the city where Narayan Murti a leading modern Industrialist is born to a primary school teacher's family. They have provided new literary culture and technocratic culture over which modern Karnataka stands. It is the number 3 in the hierarchy of industrial map whereas Gujarat stands at 12th the so called model state in the BJP propaganda machinery without backing of human capital. People of Karnataka needs to use their literary and political imagination for casting their votes in the coming election. The chief minister of Karnataka has got the award from Indian Today group as the best chief minister of the year. Last year chief minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik got this award. I did a small paper on his performance as the chief minister for twenty years which got published in Outlook. Odisha and Karnataka have one similarity that the drought prone districts of Karnataka have a similarity with backward districts of Odisha in terms of agricultural productivity and in terms of human development indicators. I conducted a study on the PDS system in the State of Karnataka during the BJP regime and got a startling information that PDS system got hijacked by the dalals of the State who had a close association with the party. The Party support hailed from the trading community supported by the Brahmins as ideological supporters brought them to power. In the city of Mysore I found that some of the traders have diverted their resources from the siphoning the rations to the hotel business. The hotel was doing good business and on my inquiry I found that this was possible because of the failure of the PDS system. In the case of Odisha the traders hailing from Marwaris have hijacked the PDS system where the local MLAs used to get a share with the civil servants. Here the similarity between the two States end. After coming of Siddaramaiah as the chief minister he has dismantled the nexus between the dalals and PDS sytem which has improved the Public Distribution System. It has improved the level of nutrition and level of literacy which has resulted in better quality of life. Moreover the city of Banglore has grown into bigger in size with better access to urban services have created a chief minister as a performer. We have found this is the first city which has turned Sewage water into portable water with the help of technology. The average citizen has is richer and his or her per capita income jumped from Rs77,309 to Rs 1,74551 during the same period. Unemployement is among the lowest for all the states. This has got him an award from India Today group. Electoral politics is a mixture of slow batting and with an occasional stroke player which is combined in him. He can speak loudly and clearly against the Hindutva bluffs raised by Modi and Amit Shah. Banglore has provided city space for creativity to flow and flowering of ideas. It is like Calcutta in the South where differences of opinion are sharp and profound. People pursue their ideas and artistic expressions. The city space has created a great painter like Hebber and many great film makers and TV serial such as Malgudi days. It has regular theatre where plays are being staged. People produce Kannada plays with a wider appeal. Two years back an experimental play taking help of tribal boys and girls ' Eklabya' got staged in Natioanal School of Drama's annual festival which got an award. They have questioned the Brahminism in a bold and clear tone. Untrained and unprofessionals can produce great plays. It seems that there is a great churning going on in their society among the tribals and Dalits. It is interesting to note here that there is a debate going on religion which is peculiar to Karnataka now. This is an interesting debate and proves a point that Hinduism is pluralistic in nature and there are minority religions in India. Bashava teaches something which does not fit into the Ram cult of Hinduism. It is based on Vaishnavite love and monotheism. There are rationalists and Marxists who create a healthy debate. But Hindutva does not know debate and discussion for which they believe in the RSS version of Hinduism based on caste hierarchy. Hindutva created an intolerant environment which resulted in killing of a leading journalist and rationalist in the city of Banglore. Gauri Lankesh a rationalist and a leading Kannada journalist publishes a weekly which has a circulation over a lakh. He was carrying the tradition of her father. Rationalists do not believe in religion and they are atheists and they carry the tradition grew in ancient Indian philosophy Charvak. But Hindutva does not have any reading of these various philosophical viewpoints in ancient Hindu philosophy. Their militancy is based on their ignorance of pluralistic thinking in Hinduism and a variety of ways of life among Hindus. They quote a statement by Supreme Court from Radhakrishna's book that Hinduism as a way of life. What ignorance they breed in India. These groups sent three killers who shot dead Lankesh in the heart of the city. Investigation has found that Hindutva fringe groups are involved in the murder. This city has never experienced of killing of any thinker or artist before Lankesh. Yes they have killed Kalburgi a leading Kannada literary figure from another city. Kannada as an imagined community lives in ideas cannot accept Hindutva or Modi who does not believe in ideas. Why does Modi use a little respectable language in his campaign in Karnataka? He does not use the language of Aurangzeb or Pakistan agent such vulgar words who used in the recent election in Gujarat. Is it because that Kannadiyas are educated have produced eight the highest Gyan Pitha award winning writers more than Hindi. Many of them who are living today oppose Modi raj and his use of vulgar words in politics. A great dramatist Karantha has created plays like Togaloq who came to the street in Banglore in protest against Modi raj ' not in my name' in his eighties in state of dialysis. Adiga wrote an English novel got him the international award. Film star Prakash Raj who is a dead against his vulgar rule. The great fighter like U R Ananthamurty who came to the street last time campaigned against him. He is no more. There is a galaxy of writers and poets and each district is being imagined in the name of these writers. If talk to somebody from which district you come he would give a list of writers belonging to his district. Each region is being imagined and placed before the audience. Karantha's Togalog can be compared with present ruler Modi. He changed his capital but Modi destroyed the Planning Commission who had a face of poor in each planning document. He is destroying all modern institutions such as parliament or judiciary. Modi is aware of this that is the reason he is using the more respectable language in the election campaign of Karnataka. Let educated and intelligent people of the state decide intelligently to whom they want to vote. Surely not corrupt Reddys or Yeddyuruppa.

May 19, 2018

Prof Radhakanta Barik [email protected]

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