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The 'Composite' State and Its 'Nation': Karnataka's Reunification Revisited

Has the idea of the linguistic state been rendered increasingly irrelevant or less pertinent in the current stage of capitalist development? The unfolding political scenario in Karnataka calls for a return to its founding moments as a linguistic state. In the early 1950s, Kengal Hanumanthaiah developed the idea of a "composite state" partly in order to channelise the discontent within Mysore about the possible loss of (caste) power but equally to provide an alternative matrix (that of development) within the expanded state. What were the roots of that alternative to the (linguistic) state that was being imagined, and have the recent political developments been a realisation of that imagined "composite state" or its demise? This article attempts to frame these questions through a return to the legislative assembly debates of the early 1950s.


The ‘Composite’ State and Its ‘Nation’: Karnataka’s Reunification Revisited

Janaki Nair

Has the idea of the linguistic state been rendered increasingly irrelevant or less pertinent in the current stage of capitalist development? The unfolding political scenario in Karnataka calls for a return to its founding moments as a linguistic state. In the early 1950s, Kengal Hanumanthaiah developed the idea of a “composite state” partly in order to channelise the discontent within Mysore about the possible loss of (caste) power but equally to provide an alternative matrix (that of development) within the expanded state. What were the roots of that alternative to the (linguistic) state that was being imagined, and have the recent political developments been a realisation of that imagined “composite state” or its demise? This article attempts to frame these questions through a return to the legislative assembly debates of the early 1950s.

The author was compelled to return to, and rethink, a previous and much shorter, version of this article which is to appear in a collection of her essays entitled “Mysore Modern: Rethinking the Region under Princely Rule” (2011, University of Minnesota Press). She is grateful to A R Vasavi and M S S Pandian for their comments.

Janaki Nair ( teaches at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

ontemporary events that are unfolding in Karnataka are baffling even the most astute of commentators and political analysts.1 The implications of the new contract that is being forged by Karnataka politicians with “god as witness” and mediated by the powerful leaders of assorted religious institutions, bypassing existing judicial and constitutional authorities and institutions demand urgent analyses rather than condemnation alone. While journalists rail against the unparalleled selfinterest that drives and “empowers” only the political/bureaucratic class,2 the much cherished “Modern Mysore” heritage has been recently refashioned into a “Karnataka Model of Development” premised on the twin pillars of “technology led growth” and “improved governance”.3 The “Mysore First” argument which the “model” state made its emblem before 1947 has been burnished anew for the post-independence period, during which time, as some argue, democracy has been both “broadened” by Devaraj Urs, and “deepened” by Ramakrishna Hegde.4 An academic interest in highlighting the pioneering role played by the State well before Independence, and its continuance in the post-independence period,5 is nevertheless simultaneously placed under the strain of explaining the “democratisation” and “deepening” of corruption, the steady dismantling of state schemes and interventions, coupled with the dizzying rise of market forces, and the complex interplay of inherited and newly invented hierarchies.6 For instance, was the appeal of former Chief Minister Yeddyurappa and his political opponent H D Kumaraswamy, another former chief minister, to the “power” of the deity at Dharmasthala an expression of faith in the only enduring institutions within Karnataka, and a disavowal of the more brittle institutions of the nation state?7

Such questions will require much deeper historical research and analysis of not only the Mysore bureaucracy and its modernising agenda but the powerful role played by non-state institutions in providing legitimacy and defining political power. I will attempt a far more modest framing of such questions by returning to the moment of expanded state formation to ask: does the case of Karnataka decisively demonstrate the limits, perhaps even the growing irrelevance, of linguistic nationalism? Was another political possibility articulated in the early 1950s by both opponents and supporters of the enlarged state? And finally, is the new face of Karnataka politics a fulfilment or a betrayal of this vision? The new directions taken by electoral politics in Karnataka, and the multiple claims on the district of Bellary and its mineral wealth, as well as the scant respect for linguistic borders or indeed affective sentiments shown by the robber

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barons of the mining belt,8 appear to make very relevant, though perhaps not in its intended senses, the discourse on economic development, with a stress on a “composite” Kannada nation which was initiated by Kengal Hanumanthaiah, among others, during the debates of the early 1950s in Mysore.

In 1956, Mysore’s independent existence as a former princely state ended, as it became part of an expanded linguistic state (later renamed as Karnataka). This expansion was far from eagerly sought by Mysore: the reluctance was marked from the time when seven taluks of Bellary were severed from Madras Presidency and added to Mysore in 1953, right up until the eventual unification in 1956. It would therefore be easy to trace the political rumblings 50 years later – separatist movements in Kodagu,9 similar expressions of discontent in Uttara Karnataka, and the state’s own acknowledgement of its failures in that region10 – to the unfulfilled goals or viability of linguistic states. Indeed, these rumblings appear to confirm the early misgivings of many Mysoreans about the embrace of their fellow language speakers to the north.11 Added to this is the widespread dissatisfaction with the role of the state in nurturing and developing the community of Kannada speakers12: indeed, the “love of language” expressed by a range of Kannada protagonists in the recent past has dismayed the early campaigners for unification. As Patil Puttappa described the predicament, Mysoreans had achieved political integration, without an accompanying emotional unification.13 Kannada nationalism, in its broader and more inclusive sense, therefore followed, rather than preceded, the establishment of the state of Mysore/Karnataka, with unexpected consequences. Of what then did unification consist?

Territorialising Caste or Language?

Nationalist accounts of karnataka ekikarana (Karnataka unification) adopt the familiar mode of all nationalist histories: the “idea of Karnataka” has existed from the time of the earliest dynasties in the southern and northern Karnataka regions, but its historical “unity” was broken in the 13th century with the sack of Dwarasamudra by Malik Kafur. A striving for linguistic unity is traced back to the time of the Vijayanagar kings: the rule of the Bahmani sultans marks a break in the cultural continuity of the region.14 The classical/folk heritage of Islam was thus kept away from the cultural history of Karnataka or more properly, Kannada.15 Yet, although Kannada suffered blows from at least the 14th century, the actual territorial disintegration and the dismemberment of the Kannada people occurred with the defeat of Tipu Sultan and the start of British rule in 1799.

The demand for a unified linguistic state gathered political force only in the third decade of the 20th century, following the Congress’ acceptance of the principle of linguistic state formation. The creation of Pradesh Congress Committees for states which did not yet exist, such as Karnataka, was an acknowledgement of the yearnings of substantial proportions of Kannada speakers who lived in the British ruled provinces of Bombay, Madras, Coorg (Kodagu) and in the princely state of Hyderabad. In 1956, the formation of the new Mysore healed the cartographic wounds inflicted by British rule for strategic or administrative convenience.16

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The corrective to this nationalist version of unification takes as its starting point the well known opposition of some political leaders and intellectuals in Mysore to the idea of submerging the princely state within a larger political and administrative unity.17 A unified Karnataka would, by including large numbers of Lingayats from the northern Karnataka regions, forever alter the demographic composition that gave Vokkaligas the edge in Mysore state politics. This interpretation was amply aided by the States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) report itself, which singled out Mysore as the state haunted by bitter acrimony between the two castes. According to the SRC, state reorganisation would produce an administrative unity in which “no community may be dominant”.18

This raises the question about what was re-terrritorialised when the larger Mysore came into being – language or caste? The self-evident rivalries of dominant castes dog all analyses of Karnataka politics up to the present day19 despite the fact that there is much that they fail to explain. A return to this “founding” moment of Karnataka may therefore be imperative to generate new approaches to an understanding of its contemporary history.

The Shifting Grounds of Unification

In 1944, D V Gundappa (DVG) addressed the Karnataka Sangha Rajothsava at Bangalore’s Central College with a programme for building up the language, which included consolidation of the Kannada-speaking areas within two or more states.20 By the time of the SRC in 1955, DVG had become a staunch opponent of a singular Karnataka.21 Others opposed to the idea of linguistic unification while supporting the idea of two states, Karnataka and Mysore, were ex-dewans such as M Visvesvaraya and M Mirza Ismail, scholars such as M P L Sastry, Congressmen such as A G Ramachandra Rao and T Channaiah (who had also earlier supported unification), and members of caste associations such as Vokkaligara and Kuruba Sanghas. This assortment of cultural “royalists”, non-dominant castes, and technocrat-administrators who had built Mysore’s formidable reputation as a “model” state clouds the clarity provided by a singular focus on communal difference in historical accounts of unification.

Equally heterogeneous were the votaries of unification within and outside the Mysore legislature: socialists such as Gopala Gowda and well-known writer-poets of Mysore such as Kuvempu (both Vokkaligas), literary figures such as Aa Na Kru (A N Krishna Rao), critics of unification turned supporters such as the writer Shivarama Karanth, and representatives of parties such as the Praja Socialist Party (notably J Mohamed Imam), also disturb the strictly “communal” categories within which Karnataka unification has been understood.22 Gopala Gowda said that between 1953 and 1955, he was viewed widely as betraying, on the one hand, both Mysore and his caste, and on the other, the unification movement itself.23

Neither the nationalist nor the “communal” modes of conceptualising the moment seem adequate in explaining developments in Mysore in the early 1950s. The obsessive focus on caste and secular power has thrust the form taken by the debate on a possible Karnataka into the shadows. The rethinking on unification that occurred between 1949 and 1955 may provide important clues on the conceptions of democracy and development that were being fashioned. The crystallisation of the linguistic nation after the state occurred when the stage was already prepared by another political logic, the logic of state-led “development”. Which of the two languages – of linguistic unity, or of economic development – possessed the greater prospect of being the bearer of democracy? Did developmental discourse play a crucial role in marking the passage from the limited literary love of language and country as it was expressed in the demand for karnataka ekikarana, and an expanded political mobilisation? In other words, what were the stakes on both sides of the debate as they shaped the practice of democracy in Karnataka?

I would like to return to the contentious official debates on the wisdom of karnataka ekikarana for the crucial insights they provide on the imagined economy of Karnataka state.24 This economy had long been in the making, as I have shown elsewhere. In its 1950s version, it was reflected in official debates on the Andhra State Bill in December 1953/January 1954; the (Seshadri) Fact Finding Committee Report in March/April 1955; and the SRC’s report in November/December 1955. This series of debates focused above all on the question of “development”. The term was used primarily in two senses, to refer to the historical achievements of the model Mysore state, on the one hand, and to discuss the potentialities for expansion (i e, capitalist development) offered by the acquisition of new territories. Development was thus used both in arguments by the protagonists of, and opponents to, the idea of an expanded Mysore state.

Was development merely the smokescreen for real anxieties about the likely political dominance of Lingayats? The many unabashed discussions of caste and its links to political power in both the assembly and the council reveal that there was no hesitation at all in naming “enlightened self-interest” for what it was.25 However, once the Congress and other politicians were reconciled to the inevitability of linguistic states, the development discourse became the principal means of reorganising the political order and developing a notion of hegemony outside the framework of representative politics. The attempt to turn a potential political threat into an opportunity via the discourse of development focused strongly on the economy, particularly a process of accumulation that risked no radical social change.26 Mysore Chief Minister Kengal Hanumanthaiah’s support for the recommendations of the SRC in 1955 and his insistence on Mysore’s legacy as a “composite state” which countered the settled orthodoxies of linguistic nationalism, was thus an effort to imagine a new economy and forge new political goals through development and planning, namely “a modality of political power constituted outside the immediate political process itself”.27

My purpose here will be to discuss the discernible shift within law-making bodies away from history and its affective sentiments about love of the Karnataka country, to geography and the economic value of the landscape as “natural resource”.28 No doubt, the reliance on development and its enabling material conditions did succeed in displacing the question of caste, at least in this territorialised form. Indeed, debates about the addition of Bellary (district and taluk) revealed the problems of a strict adherence to linguistic norms in state formation. The near total absence of a popular nationalism in the Mysore region meant that when “the people” did conceptualise the nation, they laid claim to language as a precious cultural object, a form of selfdefinition against outsiders within the state and not as a vehicle of democracy.

Linguistic Imaginings

Kannada language speakers were recognised by the SRC of 1955 as the most fragmented during the period of British rule.29 Geographical distance from the capitals of those provinces only heightened the perception of being marginalised. Since Kannadaspeaking minorities were present in parts of Bombay, Madras, and Coorg, with a substantial minority in Hyderabad, they were to be converted into a majority of their own.30

Karnataka’s demand for a separate state, however, was primarily driven by Congress workers from north Karnataka, and especially from Bombay-Karnataka. Satish Deshpande has defined this as a cusp-region, “an overlap zone, or a hybrid (or mixed) cultural space, where the transition from one ‘pure’ cultural identity to another can take place”. Since it “straddles the cultural domain between ‘north’ and ‘south’ India, the Bombay-Karnataka region marks both the southern boundary of northern culture as well as the northern boundary of the southern culture.”31 There were, in other words, marked cultural differences between this region and Old Mysore.

After the formal acceptance by the Congress in 1920 of the linguistic state principle, the demand for karnataka ekikarana quickened. The Karnataka Handbook, brought out on the occasion of the 1924 Congress Session, recognised that the physical boundaries of this new entity were not quite firm, though it had already taken shape as a province in the Congress lexicon.32 By 1937, the establishment of a Mysore Pradesh Congress Committee, as distinct from the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) set up in 1924, raised the possibility of two states using the same language. The meetings of the Kannada Sahitya Parishat routinely mentioned the prospect of unification, but a meeting devoted to ekikarana first took place only in 1946 at Davangere, and was attended by elected representatives from the British presidencies of Madras and Bombay.

In that year, a determined move was made to yoke the KPCC’s demand for a linguistic state with Mysore’s yearning for a “responsible government”. The pragmatic arrangements that could follow Indian independence alarmed many young Mysore leaders, such as Kengal Hanumanthaiah and H C Dasappa at the 10th karnataka ekikarana conference held in Bombay in 1946. The writer Sriranga recalled that when some important [n Karnataka] leaders said, “with Mysore if possible, without Mysore if necessary”, leaders from Mysore pleaded for the inclusion of their province.33

Yet questions of unification remained muted in Mysore, and were somewhat confined even in the Bombay-Karnataka region thereafter though many calculations were made between 1947 and 1953 about the potential strengths of brahmins, Lingayats and Vokkaligas in a unified Mysore.34 The possibility of two states strengthened as clear preferences were being made among provinces such as Kodagu, parts of Salem and the Niligiris to join Mysore, while Bombay-Karnataka leaders not only distanced

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themselves from “princely” Mysore, but wanted to relocate the state capital to Dharwad.35

The ‘Gift’ of Bellary

The sudden “gift” of seven of Bellary taluks from Madras Presidency to Mysore by the first Partition Committee of 1949 made it clear that Mysore’s preferences regarding reorganisation would be overlooked when stronger claims were made, as by Andhra Pradesh. The Partition Committee, which consisted of Andhra and Tamil leaders (but no Mysoreans) granted Bellary with neither a demand nor a struggle from the Mysore side (though Karnataka politicians such as Nijalingappa and Tekur Subrahmanyam had been active in demanding its inclusion in Kannada-speaking state all along).36 Mysore legislators were sceptical of the Partition Committee’s generosity towards these backward districts, even though they consisted of a majority of Kannada speakers. There was a persistent feeling that the backward region of Bellary was thrust on Mysore since neither Tamil Nadu nor Andhra was interested in keeping it. Mulka Govinda Reddy, while discussing the possible return of Bellary taluk alone to Andhra, said that “The chief minister of Mysore did not agitate for those seven taluks from Madras. It was done at the instance of the Government of India. …it is their bounden duty to subsidise to the extent that the Mysore Government is going to suffer on account of the transferred seven taluks”.37

However, Kengal Hanumanthaiah used a filial metaphor to describe the addition of Bellary to Mysore: “the return of the Bellary District to Mysore is like the calf returning to its mother.”38 He then began to outline a different vision of territory, one that was associated neither with language nor cultural history (though he was not averse to invoking the latter), but of development, of land as natural resource. Bellary, he anticipated, would not be the Rs 30 lakh “drain on the budget” expected by many critics, but a potential new Mandya, the area which flourished after the building of the Krishnarajasagar dam. This promise of agricultural growth was held out by the upcoming Tungabhadra project.

Bellary’s addition to Mysore was protracted and complex: as a border district with substantial populations of Telugu speakers, it pushed Kannada speakers below the 70% mark. In 1921, the Congress District Arbitration Committee (headed by N C Kelkar) said that “The Telugu province, as now reorganised, is already too strong and extensive to lose much by losing the Bellary district”, and suggested awarding the whole to Karnataka. Eventually, however, he gave three taluks of Bellary (Alur, Adoni and Rayadurg) to Andhra on the basis of the census, and the rest to Karnataka. It was recognised that Bellary was not merely bilingual; it was of a “mixed character”, including Hindusthani speakers who were mostly Muslims, and whose political affiliations were not firmly rooted in language.

The 1948 Dar Commission recognised the problems of “bilingual districts in border areas which had developed an economic and organic life of their own”, which “should not be broken up and should be disposed of on consideration of their own special needs”. However, the Partition Committee of 1949, faced with an intransigent Andhra that wanted a “purely Telugu-speaking state” and a sullen Madras Presidency, which did not want to

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retain seven Bellary taluks which were “not contiguous with its territory”, awarded those taluks to Mysore.

At the time of the formation of Andhra province in 1953, justice Wanchoo noted that the headworks of Tungabhadra dam were in a predominantly Kannada-speaking taluk, and that the new state was (now) demanding the whole district, which was opposed by Karnataka. Wanchoo wanted the district to be administered by Andhra until Mysore/Karnataka could be created, and did not envisage discrimination against the Kannada-speaking areas of Bellary district.39 In its 1953 declaration, the Government of India however stuck to the linguistic principle in giving three taluks to Andhra and six to Mysore, with Bellary taluk’s fate to be decided later, and the Tungabhadra scheme to be jointly administered by the two states.

The next committee headed by justice L S Mishra concluded that Bellary taluk as a whole should be transferred to Mysore. However, following the SRC suggestion in 1955 to return Bellary taluk to Andhra, fierce resistance broke out in the district, with Mysore objecting strenuously since “the areas joint to Mysore are comparatively poorer than the areas going to Andhra” which Bellary’s addition to Mysore would mitigate.40 While Mysore clung simultaneously to the historical, linguistic and economic factors, Andhra demanded Bellary for its capital, claiming that “language alone should not be deciding factor” (emphasis added).

The Government of India noted with some asperity that “It is a little surprising that the [States Reorganisation] Commission which in effect conceded the linguistic principle in redrawing the map of India, should have chosen to ignore it in the case of a predominantly Kannada-speaking area like Bellary which has had historical economic and cultural kinship with Kannadaspeaking territories all through the history of the area in modern times”. However, it weighed in favour of Bellary going to Andhra on economic and administrative grounds since the Tungabhadra headworks were located there and the project was crucial to famine stricken Rayalseema.41 Yet, flooded with representations from a wide range of organisations in Karnataka, and faced with seething revolt,42 the taluk was retained in Mysore.43

In this debate, Hanumanthaiah said that the L S Mishra award which had conferred seven of Bellary’s 10 taluks to Mysore, must not be questioned or reopened.44 He was supported by others who invoked administrative and cultural advantages. Bellary had been a part of Karnataka state for a long time, said P R Ramaiah, but for some reasons, “it was briefly separated from Mysore”. Its cultural heritage alone warranted a return to its parent.45 J Mohammad Imam stressed the long cultural ties between Mysore state and Bellary, arguing against those who saw Bellary as an economic drain by saying “I must point out that this is not a mercenary business…we are reclaiming our brethren who lived with us for centuries, together, but who parted from us for a short time…they may be poor they may be helpless but that need not frighten us…”.46

Bellary was thus variously “welcomed” on the basis of cultural affinity, administrative convenience, and on other affective grounds, but it was Bellary as natural resource that held out the most promise. That this was not immediately a rosy future became clear when the Rajpramukh of Mysore himself declared in 1954, while welcoming four new members of the legislative assembly from that area, that the 3,821 sq km territory and 7¾ lakh population was a temporary economic burden to be borne until the Tungabhadra project made the area self-sufficient.47 Central aid under the First Five-Year Plan was indeed enhanced to bear the extra burden.48 It is striking however that the region was primarily seen as a potentially rich agricultural district rather than a source of mineral wealth.

The Bellary “landfall” quickened the debate on the possibility of a unified Karnataka. K S Gurusiddappa wrote to the prime minister that Karnataka had to be formed soon after the constitution of Andhra Pradesh.49 Rajashekara Murthy noted that the people of Karnataka were being punished for remaining silent, and for not agitating for a new province as Andhra had done.50

The Promises of a Linguistic State

It is true that Andhra had precipitated the demand for state reorganisation, and there were significant differences in both the concerns and the paths chosen by each language region. The Andhra Sahitya Parishat set up in 1911 was quickly followed by the demand for an Andhra Province in 1912. Once this goal was achieved in 1953, it was linked to the movement in the Telangana region of Hyderabad by the demand for Vishal Andhra.

Such warmth between the literary and political realms was less a feature of the Karnataka movement,51 where the demand for unified statehood was slow to develop. Kerala was a late developer on the question of an Aikya Keralam with firm steps taken in that direction only in the 1940s.52 Tamil remained safely corralled within the erstwhile Madras Presidency, and the demand for a separate province was articulated only in 1938: according to K V Narayana Rao, the first official demand for Tamil Nadu was made as late as 1948.53 Dilip Menon suggests however that the Dravidian movement conceived of southern India, at least after 1944, in racial terms, as Dravidanadu, its motto being “Divide on the basis of language; unite on the basis of race.”54

Only in Karnataka was caste territorialised in a distinctive way. While the struggle between the Kammas and Reddys for the control of regions (coastal Andhra and Rayalseema respectively) subtended some of the discussions on unification and resistance to it, it never assumed the charge that questions of caste and territoriality attained in Mysore/Karnataka. Nor did such equations become possible in Tamil Nadu or Kerala.55

Nevertheless, it also became clear that the centre could make decisions that state governments could do little to oppose. The Dar Commission of 1948 firmly ruled out the necessity of linguistic states when a precarious stability had just been achieved in the subcontinent in the aftermath of partition, but a year later, the Congress Party’s Jawaharlal-Vallabhbhai-Pattabhi Sitaramayya (JVP) Committee conceded the possibility of Andhra Pradesh. The appointment of the Fazl Ali Commission in 1954 after the formation of Andhra Pradesh was a breathtaking display of how centralised power could refashion the nation-space according to its priorities of unity and administrative rationalisation.

Mysore’s response to the appointment of the commission was a hard-nosed assessment of the territories to be added, taking the experience of the difficulties already posed by Bellary. Hanumanthaiah’s “discovery of Karnataka” in 1949 had persuaded him of the need to remain open to the addition of territory.56 In 1954, as chief minister, Hanumanthaiah, who had virtually gagged dissenting Congressmen by preventing them from appearing before the SRC in Mysore, appointed a committee headed by M Seshadri, a professor of philosophy from Mysore University.57 Appropriately named the Fact Finding Committee, it focused on gathering data relating to “the area and population of the Kannada-speaking people in the states of Madras, Bombay, Hyderabad and Coorg”, while assessing “the level of development in those areas particularly in the fields of Education, Medical and Public Health, Rural Development, Industries, Irrigation, and Power” and the “the availability of natural resources”.58

The committee minced no words in declaring that these areas were decades behind Mysore on practically all counts, and would require massive doses of central aid. The discussion of this report was the dress rehearsal for the discussion of the SRC report, generating bitter debate about the appropriate grounds on which the proposed unity should be assessed, though arguments for economic well-being overshadowed the more sentimental grounds for unity.

The committee avoided any reference to caste, and steered clear of the quicksands of popular sentiment. As B K Puttaramaiah, a vociferous opponent of Mysore unification, said, the committee was appointed “to see whether the political costs of saying no to Karnataka were as high as saying yes to Karnataka”, concluding “that saying no is not a problem”.59 T Mariappa, however, pointed out that the “Seshadri Committee furnished a first class argument for the formation of [unified] Karnataka: we ourselves furnished…a handle to say [an independent] Karnataka is not financially viable”.60 By focusing on the compelling economic reasons against including these underdeveloped regions in the new state, the ground was also laid for invoking development goals, rather than memories of a greater historical Karnataka, in making a case for a linguistically unified state.

Nevertheless, the actual decision to reorganise the state of Mysore to include areas from Bombay and Madras Presidencies, Coorg, Hyderabad and several other small regions in the SRC report of 1955 officially brought together questions of caste and territory in Mysore’s representative politics.

It has been estimated that Lingayats or Veerashaivas constitute about 30% to 40% of the population in the Kannada areas outside Mysore at present. The other important section of the Kannadigas namely the Vakkaligas (sic) similarly constitute a little less than 29% of the population of Mysore. In the united Karnataka, it has been estimated that a little more than 20% of the population may be Lingayats between 13% and 14% Vakkaligas and about 17% to 18% Harijans. It is clear therefore that no one community will therefore be dominant and any one section can be reduced to the status of a minority if other groups combine against it…61

Legislative Council member M P L Sastry was among those who pointed out that “The Commission has done a great injustice to the people and classes of Mysore by bringing in the question of caste…”62 But by this time, the question of caste had become the indisputable common sense of administrative unification.

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The Limits of History in Imagining Karnataka

In his memoirs, Alura Venkatarao recalled that he first raised hopes of a unified Karnataka in the journal Vagbhushana in 1903. The more influential term “karnatakatwa” was historicised in Karnataka Gatha Vaibhava, first published in 1917. Signifying the love of country, “karnatakatwa” was “that single word which was coined in my mint to describe the politics, dharma, history and art [of Karnataka]”.63 Widely circulated as the most important statement of Kannada, and unmistakably Hindu, pride,64 Karnataka Gatha Vaibhava strongly focused on history as a resource for remembering the achievements and the loss suffered by the Kannada people and their nation.

As a political entity, Karnataka first found expression in 1923, a few years after the Congress’ acceptance of Nagpur resolution on linguistic states. The shuttling between history, especially of the medieval period, and the discussion of injustices suffered by Kannadigas living under different administrations was not accidental. Throughout the debates on the Andhra State Bill (1953) the Seshadri Fact Finding Committee Report (1954), and the States Reorganisation Commission Report (1955) in the Mysore legislature, the past was used to build, not the love of country, but a hard case for justice under the new Indian dispensation. Hanumanthaiah, however, steered attention away from history during the debate on the Andhra State Bill in 1953 when he declared:

It is history that has cemented our feelings into one administrative unit. It would be unwise to break up that administrative unity… Mysore State is going to remain the administrative unit which it is today. The question next arises as to what we should do if some people of the neighbouring area express a wish to come to the Mysore State. To them we have decided to extend a hearty welcome…[but] we are not thinking in terms of Visala Mysore…65

By the end of 1955, his idea of the “composite structure” of Mysore66 became useful in advocating a complete change of political authority based neither on language nor its history but on the pragmatics of power, of accommodating multiple languages and ethnicities for administrative, and especially developmental convenience. Drawing on H G Wells’ “theory of history” he said

Just as human beings have a life expectancy of 100-120 years, political regimes also have a life. …The Mysore kingdom developed as an independent kingdom from the time of Chamaraja Wodeyar in 1566. In the intervening 389 years, Mysore has waxed and waned. Even in this 389 year period, it did not remain stable. In the end, when Hyder and Tipu were the commanders…all of south India was joined to Mysore.67

By emphasising the unstable contours of Mysore territory and the ever-present possibility of changing regimes, he signalled that there was nothing worth preserving about the rump state of Mysore (a mere 29,000 square miles carved out of 80,000 in 1799) even if the territory had remained stable for nearly 160 years. Yet it was precisely this latter day stability, and “improvement” under the auspices of a modernising bureaucracy, that the “no-changers” wished to preserve. M P L Sastry emphasised the precious heritage of the “model state” of Mysore that stood endangered by the inclusion of much less civilised regions.68

History served to compensate for the disincentives of adding underdeveloped regions: the symbolic gains of the Vijayanagar

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capital at Hampi were emphasised to counter the suspicion that the Bellary addition was a result of Madras’ refusal to retain this deficit region. A consensus on the addition of Bellary was achieved within the houses, but although Hanumanthaiah wished for a similar consensus on the SRC Report barely two years later, there was little hope of history playing this cementing role. If anything, his own minister for Law and Education, A G Ramachandra Rao, a vehement opponent of unification, declared that there had been no moment in history when Karnataka had been united. It had always been divided either between the east and west or north and south “The North Karnataka looked to the North and North east. The south Karnataka looked to the South and South east and there was no Karnataka kingdom comprising the entire area.” “Neladaha” (a thirst for territory) only recalled the time of the paleyagaras, so he proposed support for two separate but robust states which were not haunted by the “ghost of linguism”.69

From love of language and country to the evocation of “the ghost of linguism”: as Gopala Gowda had pointed out even during the discussion on the Andhra State Bill in 1953, there was a gulf between those (such as the littérateurs and poets) who understood the history of the language and its beauty and those who spoke in more practical but “squint-eyed” political terms. “If we take our claims from history and entertain hopes of a new state there will be lots of obstacles”, he said, adding “we must make history ourselves: we must take the opportunity of the Andhra State Bill and argue for our own state from the centre”.70

Hanumanthaiah himself returned to the pragmatic use of historical symbols in a moment of transition by urging the retention of the name “Mysore”, which he claimed would give “psycho logical satisfaction” to the people who speak languages other than Kannada.71 By this time, historical geography has lost its primacy as the basis for imagining the new nation, its place increasingly taken by a calculated interest in resources of the region.

Towards a Geography of National Resources

Although 42 pages of the Report of the Fact Finding Committee headed by Seshadri covered Karnataka’s history from 550 AD to 1799 AD,72 K Shivarudrappa pointed out that “As soon as you read the facts and figures, you will conclude that Mysore will be destroyed by the addition of regions beyond where Kannada speaking people reside.”73 These aspects of Mysore/Karnataka’s future were not just proportionately larger than appeals based on history, but shifted the ground away from linguistic states to developmental strategies and their outcomes. There was, in other words, a distinct shift away from the cultural basis for imagining the nation to the realm of the economy. Modern, rather than medieval or ancient Karnataka history, was therefore pertinent to discussions of the potentialities for development in different regions of Mysore:

This Mysore state from its earlier times was a unique and careful administration and is growing from strength to strength. This region is richer than the surrounding areas, and in education and urbanity it has reached a high level. …If other types of adjoining areas are joined to this developing state the economic status will decline….74

Several others were also for the preservation of the advantages of a smaller constituent unit, the ideal size being a population of one crore (as opposed to the proposed Karnataka population of two crores). When the merger of seven taluks of the Bellary district was welcomed, despite the Rs 30,00,000 annual deficit that it involved, hopes were pinned on the Tungabhadra River Valley project and its promise of bringing self-sufficiency to the area.75 By 1954, it was clear that “Bellary had been an expensive addition”.76

As Devaraj Urs noted, “Without us saying we want these areas, without satyagrahas, without agitations, by themselves they [Bellary] have joined our Mysore Province”.77 This landfall, which should have been welcomed as the first step towards the achievement of the linguistic state, stoked the fears of the Mysore leaders. Even more ignominious was the recommendation of the SRC in 1955 to return some areas of Bellary to Andhra Pradesh on administrative grounds (as we have seen above).78

Yet even this shared indignation did not unite the Mysore political leadership. “I have never heard in history”, said R Chennigaramaiah “of a country that wants to expand being offered more territory and refusing to take it”.79 Even those supporting the idea of a united Karnataka were thus forced to make their arguments on new grounds that held out the promise of development. Aa Na Kru struck a pragmatic note, in contrast to his cultural arguments for unification, when he said,

The gains and losses of a state are to be seen not only from the point of view of the present….But the raw materials of North Karnataka and North Canara , the convenience of ports at Bhatkal, Kumta and Malpe, and the commercial co-operation of north Karnataka are vital for Mysore. If all these advantages of Mysore and other parts of Karnataka are combined, there will be no state as rich as Mysore.80

Unlike the supporters of Aikya Keralam, who saw little prospect of progress in the smaller units of the state, Mysore’s vibrant self-sufficiency could be enhanced by unification. Mysore may be troubled but in the long run things will be fine.81

Partha Chatterjee has pointed out that “as early as the 1940s, planning had emerged as a crucial institutional modality by which the state would determine the material allocation of productive resources within the nation: a modality of political power constituted outside the immediate political process itself”.82 It is to this domain of political power that I believe the “prochangers” were pointing, effecting another change of heart from their earlier opposition to the idea of a linguistically unified state to a more pragmatic embrace of a multilingual developmentalist state. Thus Hanumanthaiah enhanced the attractions of going beyond the pragmatics of administration: in 1953 he emphasised that the Tungabhadra project was three times larger than the Kannambadi (Krishnarajasagar in Mysore) dam.83 In 1955, he dwelt on what the new territory would add to Mysore: a 200-mile coastline to landlocked Mysore, three valuable harbours of Bhatkal, Malpe and Karwar; new cities; crops; rivers and waterfalls of north Karnataka as potential hydroelectric dam sites. Nature thus became a productive resource, subordinated to the demands of development and quite different from the Karnataka evoked in the poetry of Kuvempu.

Mysore state had long prided itself on its policy of state aid to industries (particularly at the time when private capital was shy).84 However, in the post-independence years, such regional patriotism reached its limits, since, as Bjorn Hettne has shown, many of Mysore’s state-run enterprises had become loss-making units, followed by a distinct “ruralisation” of the Mysore economy.85 Hanumanthaiah was therefore not merely echoing the etatisme of the old Mysore State, but signalling an important shift that sought an extended role for the power and resources of the centre. Three public sector giants (ITI, HMT and BEL) had been established in Bangalore by this time, to provide a way out of the state’s impasse.86 However, those who extolled the rich natural resources of the Bombay-Karnataka, Coorg and S Canara regions also provided their opponents with ready arguments for pro posing a separate and equal Kannada-speaking state. As Mudalagiri Gowda asked, “Is the development of [Bombay and Hyderabad] regions contingent on them belonging to one linguistic province?”87

An argument based on the developmental prospects of the resource-rich region served to repress the more difficult question of expanded populations, and addressed even less the question of the people-nation in whose name the unification, or resistance to it, was being undertaken. It was, however, in the very lacks of the people of Mysore that some legislators found a compelling reason for unification, and for building up the resources for sustained development. Mohamed Imam drew attention to the Mysoreans’ reputation for laziness and lack of entrepreneurship, which left most of the industrial jobs within the state to Tamilians in KGF, Bhadravathi and Bangalore.88 Gopala Gowda went further in comparing Mysoreans with the people of Dakshina Kannada, who were “very hardworking” and filled the demand for work in the plantations and areca plantations of Malnadu and for agriculture.89 They would infuse areas such as Malnadu with the breath of enterprise.90

At the end of the discussion on the SRC Report, hard-nosed calculations of economic benefit won the day over concerns that were expressed about the communal designs of the Lingayats, or even the dark fears about conversion that were thrown up by some representatives such as Shivananjegowda.91

From State to Nation: Making Room for the Manina Maga (Son of the Soil)

It was a sentimental A G Ramachandra Rao, minister for law, labour and education, who wrote a letter to the prime minister and president in October 1955:

Linguism as admitted by the Commission is a devitalising force, in that it promotes conflicts in the body politic. …In the interests of Indian unity, linguism must be liquidated before it is too late. …Mysore should be enabled to decide about the continuance of their state and its head. Democratic policies and practices should not be denied to Mysore – the nursery of democracy in India. For these minor adjustments, Mysore, like minorities, prays for protection from your august hands to enable her to continue to pursue her progressive life.92

The minister’s anguish was in vain, and the end of Mysore as it had been for nearly 160 years was quickly turned into cause for official celebration, despite his desperate attempt to appeal for central “protection”. An emphatically new state of 73,560 square miles, containing 1.94 crore people had been formed out of disparate and reluctant entities: this was indeed an unprecedented moment, both in Karnataka’s history and in the brief history of the independent Indian nation state.93

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In discussions on territory and its relationship to language and caste, the question of democracy was left unspecified. Furthermore, even the much touted economic benefits of unification were questioned by Devaraj Urs:

…Linguistic province is not an issue that concerns most people and therefore there is not much interest in it. Only intelligent merchant class is enthusiastic about this [sic]…for the people of the country and the workers, if the linguistic province is not formed, their lives will not become worse. From this economic point of view, it is difficult to say that their lives will improve….94

He declared himself opposed to the idea of forming a linguistic state, though reorganisation on other principles could be acceptable.

Devaraj Urs’ remark sparked no debate but took the discussion of language and caste in a direction that anticipated developments for decades to come. By introducing the question of class, and speaking of a figure that had largely been kept out of the discussion on unification, namely the worker-citizen, Urs questioned the ways in which the “citizen” of Karnataka had been normed. In less than 10 years time, the figure around whom the Kannada nation would crystallise was indeed the worker-citizen and his entitlements to livelihood within the finite boundaries of the Mysore/Karnataka state, and here the gendering of the subject/citizen as male was not accidental.95 In the wake of the massive expansion of the state sector, increasing focus was placed on the knowledge of Kannada as the qualification for jobs. If the debates before and on the SRC report engaged primarily with the dominance of Andhra Pradesh and its many claims on Mysore territory (Bangalore included!) post unification discourse defined the Kannadiga in ways that excluded minorities such as Tamils and Muslims.

Throughout the discussions of 1953-55, some legislators, led by Hanumanthaiah, recalled the multilingual traditions of Mysore. Yet, despite Hanumanthaiah’s acknowledgement of the many “cusp cultures” of the state, Urdu was consistently ignored. H R Gaffar Khan pointed out this shocking silence by saying “Even as the chief minister of Mysore, he [Hanumanthaiah] forgot that there are eight lakhs of people in the state of Mysore who speak Hindusthani and for whom thousands of Hindusthani schools are being managed by the government”.96 In some ways, the identification of Kannada with Mysore/ Karnataka and simultaneously with Hindu97 was to have serious consequences in the decades to come.

Devaraj Urs and Lakshmi Devi Ramanna were among the earliest to point to another significant gap in the discourse on unification, namely the castes that were “sandwiched” between the “big two” Vokkaliga and Lingayat castes.98 The SRC report itself hinted that the logic of representative democracy could render them subordinate in the dominant caste equations. What promises did the prospect of unification hold to the large numbers of minority castes who could not be so easily territorialised? Demographically they constituted a good 50 lakh of the 73 lakh population of Mysore and represented 45 castes.99 There was, as G Dugappa pointed out, no room for territorialising the Harijan who was not confined to any one region of India.100

None of these critiques of the way in which the citizen-subject was being normed paid attention to the large and significant

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population that had remained invisible in all these decades of struggle and would remain thus until well into the 1980s. Only as a sign of the language itself, circulating as a feminised and captive icon of Kannada Bhuvaneswari or Kannada Thayi, did women enter into the discourse of language politics, whose supplicants and devotees were more or less entirely male.101 The hyper-masculinism that surrounded the language protection movements of the region flared into public view only when the son-of-the-soil movement got under way, though the silencing of women had been a persistent feature from the unification movement’s origins.

On the whole, Hanumanthaiah’s effort at reorienting the discussion in the legislature deliberately focused on the potentials of the new areas for economic development and succeeded in tamping down the potential fire of resistance. Yet rather than planning and development under the aegis of the state being the driving force, the exploitation of the regions’ resources now occurs without and against the state which is no longer seen as enabling but a stifling institutional space.


By insisting that name of the new state should remain Mysore, the Mysore Legislature retained a symbolic continuity with the older monarchical state, and softened the blow to those who perceived the expanded state as a loss of identity.102 Hanumanthaiah declared that what was coming into being was not a linguistic state but a composite one, derived from Mysore’s unique history.

The task of nation-building remained. Through the crucial years of the early 1950s, there were attempts to construct a Karnataka aesthetic and perhaps even define its unique elements within the well-known boundaries of the new Karnataka state. Litterateurs and writers such as R R Diwakar and Kuvempu had knocked on the studio-doors of Mysore’s premier modern artist, K Venkatappa, for help in defining a uniquely Karnataka aesthetic.103 Shivarama Karanth similarly undertook something of a pilgrimage around Karnataka to document and classify Karnataka’s artistic tradition104 and more importantly deployed folklore as a unifying cultural element.

These were, however, no match to the mass mobilising aspects of cinema. As Madhava Prasad has argued in his analysis of the cinepolitics of southern India, in the aftermath of linguistic reorganisation of states, cinematic icons in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh began to supplement the political life of the people in a parallel state form. Indeed, “the national address that the cinema adopts as a marketing device gives body to the linguistic nation more concretely than any other cultural form”.105 The influence exerted by the literary/cultural imagination of the Kannada language and people on the field of politics grew slighter with the expansion of the cinematic field. By the 1970s, though the Kannada nation was mobilised through the parallel state form of cinepolitics, one of the principal anchors of this mobilisation was the question of jobs and the economy, for which demography became an invaluable resource.106 The uses of history as a useful discourse for wresting, or more correctly protecting, privilege, had been dismissed by Abdul Gaffar during the debate on the SRC report: “I think in the present set-up… historic factors need not be given any consideration whatsoever. It is the unified Karnataka was doomed to a short life and would lead facts that exist today that have got to be considered”.107 In 1973, to a struggle for two Karnatakas have thus far proved wrong, Mysore was renamed Karnataka, thereby obliterating even the after briefly flaring into view in 1969,110 though his demand that one small link with its long past. “people’s wishes” be given greater importance has been realised

By this time, it was the beleagured minorities of Karnataka that in unanticipated ways.111 took recourse to history as an explanation for their predicament. One might ask by way of conclusion whether a new stage has been The movement away from topography of Mysore products and reached in contemporary Karnataka politics which goes beyond resources, from the Mysorean as a “patriotic producer” to a focus the moment when cinepolitics supplemented formal political on the “social origins” of the producer soon occurred. Vociferous power, while remaining tied to linguistic nationalism. The path of demands were made to restrict recruitment to the sons- of-the-“economic development”, of which the likes of Hanumanthaiah soil, following, and followed by direct attacks on linguistic mi-and Urs dreamed, has been trodden, after the withdrawal of norities ignoring the historical processes that had drawn them to the state as the principal mobiliser of economic resources in ways Mysore. Despite several warnings against the dangers of narrowly that were unanticipated. In the current moment, the capture of defining Karnataka as a state for Kannadigas, the concept of the political capital by those who have already secured the exploita“son-of-the-soil” became useful. Shivananjegowda’s statement in tion of mineral resources in the quickest way using the shortest the Assembly, which painted the image of a deprived son-of-the-route possible has rendered the law an irrelevant feature of soil, became the war cry of Kannada nationalism in the years this new stage of capitalism. The intergenerational responsibility after unification.108 It is precisely against such “war cries” that to which linguistic nationalism was tied, and which even its Hanumanthaiah had warned when he preached the virtues of critics tried to anchor in an alternative vision of the “composite compromise: state” of Mysore/Karnataka in the 1950s has been forced out by

the large and growing demand for quick exploitation of land

War cries have potency and force during times of war. We cannot use these cries and slogans in times of peace. They are unnecessary. In the and minerals, to which the law is a block rather than an aid. same way, the war cries of Karnataka Matha ki Jai, etc, must now be laid Does the simultaneous recourse of elected representatives to to rest, and they must come to this state with that approach of a happy

extra-constitutional, and extra-judicial institutions and practices


in Karnataka, as in the large and growing absorption with a

Although the reference here was to the plight of the Vokkaligas, “return to the temple/matha” signal the drawing of a new in its post-ekikarana version, this feeling of inadequacy was political contract in post-Independence India, an ascendance of useful in getting the state to protect the son-of-the-soil from the moral in the place of legal authority? This is the question that claims of other language speakers, rather than his dominant demands an urgent answer from observers and analysts of caste counterparts. H K Veeranna Gowdh’s dire predictions that a Mysore/Karnataka.

Notes by James Manor, and others such as Balaji Princely Rule” in Mysore Modern (forthcoming,
1 2 3 4 A good instance of the academic confusion about how to make sense of recent economic and political developments, (most of which are characterised as anti-democratic, intolerant and exploitative) and the variety of inherited practices and cultural traditions (most of which are characterised as instances of syncretism, tolerance and understanding) is in the recent issue that focuses on Karnataka: Vignettes of Karnataka, Seminar, 612, (August 2010). These are commendable efforts to accurately describe, without an explanatory framework, the contradictory tendencies that are exhibited in contemporary Karnataka. No clear effort is made to disentangle its specificities from the broader developments in the Indian economy and society. So while Siddalingaiah may describe the virtues of local religious practices, another author reports the continued moral authority of religious institutions in north Karnataka, alongside the lament about economic exploitation of that area, implying, rather than demonstrating, a structural link. See for instance Sugata Srinivasaraju, “A Golden Laden Ship: All Hands on the Deck” in Outlook, 25 October 2010. Gopal Kadekodi, Ravi Kanbur and Vijayendra Rao, “Assessing the “Karnataka Model of Development” in Kadekodi, Kanbur and Rao (ed.), Development in Karnataka: Challenges of Governance, Equity and Empowerment (New Delhi: Academic Foundation 2008), pp 17-34. E Raghavan and James Manor, Broadening and Deepening Democracy: Political Innovation in Karnataka, Routledge, 2009. 6 Parthasarathy, “Envisioning the Future in Bangalore”, Seminar, 612, August 2010, pp 39-43. A variety of strategies is adopted to address this contradictory demand, as in a recent book on Karnataka’s development. See Gopal Kadekodi, Ravi Kanbur and Vijayendra Rao, “Assessing the “Karnataka Model of Development” in Kadekodi, Kanbur and Rao (ed.), Development in Karnataka: Challenges of Governance, Equity and Empowerment (New Delhi: Academic Foundation 2008). For instance, one author places Karnataka on a comparative plane with other states which are more criminalised, more corrupt with a less autonomous bureaucracy (pp 44-45), another emphasises the continued role of notions of “honour” and “respect” in contemporary politics (pp 87-104) while persistent hierarchies and state failures are also attributed to older historical reasons, such as the political regions from which districts of (northern) Karnataka were drawn (p 19; note however, that this attribution does not reflect the argument in the actual article summarised: see Gita Sen, Aditi Iyer, and Asha George, “Systematic Hierarchies and Systemic Failures”, pp 351-76). Finally, persisting anomalies are covered by such banal observations as “good ideas do not always translate into good politics” (p 32) and “Deepening democracy is a very slow process with lots of ups and downs…” in which even “social movements” are an impediment. For a more pessimistic reading of the role of the Mysore bureaucracy in fulfilling a role since nationalist politicians were “absent” see Vinod Vyasulu, “Celebrating Karnataka”, Seminar, 612, August 2010, pp 59-63, esp 62. I have outlined a fuller argument from a similar 7 8 9 University of Minnesota Press 2011). A more recent pessimistic reading of contemporary Karnataka as a state in “Decline” is in A R Vasavi “Beyond Corruption in Mining: A Derailed Democracy”, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol XLVI, No 33, 13 August 2011, pp 14-17. Within this general portrait of “Decline” Vasavi points to the new concentration of secular/moral-spiritual power at what has curiously been identified as a “Math-temple-Resort” complex, which would need further research and elaboration. Those who just a few years ago touted the uniqueness of the Karnataka model may be hard pressed to explain the new and unprecedented role that politics is being made to play in enabling routes to capitalist accumulation of a primitive kind, and its entailing lack of intergenerational responsibility or respect for legal norms. There is some recognition of these problems, and much intellectual anguish, expressed in the issue Vignettes of Karnataka, Seminar (August 2010), 612. We may justly ask, for instance, how the self-denigrating protests staged within and outside the Karnataka Assembly in mid-2010 can be fit with claims of enduring heritage of “Mana” “Maryada” and palegar conceptions of honour/respect. See Pamela Price, “Ideological Elements in Political Stability in Karnataka” in Kadekodi, Kanbur and Rao (ed.), Development in Karnataka, pp 87-106. Vijaya Poonacha Thambanda, Conflicting Identities in Karnataka: Separate State and Anti-Separate State Movements in Coorg (Hampi: Prasaranga, Kannada University, 2004); Adhunika Kodagu (Hampi: Prasaranga, Kannada University 2000).
5 This is not to discount the specificities of Karnataka standpoint for the colonial period in Mysore, in 10 A High Power Committee headed by D M Nanjun
policies, as have been pointed out more generally “Reconceptualising the Modern, the Region, and dappa for Redressal of Regional Imbalances (2002),
60 novemBER 19, 2011 vol xlvi no 47 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

recommended investments of up to Rs 31,000 crore and a series of other measures such as choosing at least 50% of the cabinet of ministers from the region.

11 For instance, DVG to C Rajagopalachari, 29 March 1958, DVG Private Papers, Karnataka State Archives (KSA) Bangalore; also B K Puttaramaiah Mysore Legislative Council Debates (hereafter MLCD), Vol VII (1955), 771; M P L Sastry MLCD, Vol VII, (1955), 595.

12 The literature is huge and growing: among some of the recent statements are V Narayana Rao, Kannadathana Mattu Bhaaratheeyathe (Belgavi: Kannada Jagruti Pustaka Male 2000); Bargur Ramachandrappa, Kannadaabhimana (Bangalore: Ankita Pustaka, 2002); Chidananda Murthy, “Kannadada Samasyegalu” in Ra Nam Chandrasekhar (ed.), Kannada-Kannadiga-Karnataka Kannada Shakti (Bangalore: Kannada Shakthi Kendra, 1996). K V Narayana offers a different optic on the predicament of Kannada today, which draws attention to the homogenisation of Kannada that has already been violently achieved. Narayana “What Should We Address? Kannada Cause or the Kannada Hegemony?”, Journal of Karnataka Studies, Vol 2.1 (2 May and 5 April 2006), pp 257-64.

13 H S Gopala Rao, Karnataka Ekikarana Itihasa,

315. 14 See fn 18 and Alura Venkata Rao, Karnataka Gatha Vaibhava (Dharwad 1917). A newer version of the attempt to instil “Pride” though without making an overt plea for territorial claims is Chidanandamurthy, Bhasika Bruhat Karnataka (Bangalore: Sapna Book House 2005). 15 Nair, ‘“Memories of Underdevelopment’: The Identities of Language in Contemporary Karnataka” Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 21, No 42 (12 October 1996); see, however, Rahmat Tarikere, Karnatakada Sufigalu (Hampi: Prasaranga, Kannada University 1998). 16 Halappa, History of the Freedom Movement in Karnataka, pp 419-26. 17 S Chandrasekhar, “Mysuru Mattu Ekikruta Karnatakada Rachane 1937-56”, Adhunika Karnatakada Aandolanagalu (Belegere, Tiptur 2002), pp 93-104. Robert King, Nehru and the Language Politics of India (Delhi: Oxford University Press 1997); Manor, Political Change, 84-85; “Karnataka: Caste, Class, Dominance and Politics in a Cohesive Society” in Sudipta Kaviraj (ed.), Politics in India: Oxford India Readings in Sociology and Social Anthropology (Delhi: OUP 1997); S Nijalingappa, My Life and Politics: An Autobiography (Delhi: Vision Books 2000), p 62 provides a brief and telling account of the late development of karnataka ekikarana: “This frive to unify Kannadigas had begun in 1915, when the first conference of Kannadigas was organised by the Karnataka Sahitya Parishad in Bangalore. Subsequently it held its meetings in different parts of the Kannadaspeaking areas from year to year. While this kept people thinking of a unified Karnataka State it had no political clout. It was only after Congress took up this unification work from 1945 that it began to influence the all-India Congress and its working committee.” 18 States Reorganisation Commission Report (Government of India 1955), 91. 19 Among the earliest to suggest that all the linguistic movements were in fact masks for other agendas was Selig Harrison, India: The Most Dangerous Decades (Princeton: Princeton University Press 1960). 20 President’s speech by D V Gundappa at the Karnataka Sangha Rajathotsava, Bangalore Central College, 16 January 1944.

21 K V Subbanna, “The Kannada Cosmos Formed by Kavirajamarga” in N Manu Chakravarthy (ed.), Community and Culture: Selected Writings by K V Subbanna (Heggodu: Akshara Prakashana 2009), pp 220-21. Subbanna refers briefly to DVG’s demand for even five Karnatakas.

22 Here it must be remembered that the term “Communal” in administrative terminology referred to the two dominant caste groups of Mysore, Lingayats and Vokkaligas.

23 S Gopala Gowda, Mysore Legislative Assembly Debates, (hereafter ) Vol XIII, No 15 (1955), 873.

24 Deshpande, Contemporary India, 48-73.

25 For instance, A Thimmappa Gowda, MLAD, Vol XIII, No 20 (1955), 1295.

26 Partha Chatterjee, “Development Planning and the Indian State” in Chatterjee (ed.), State and Politics in India (Delhi: Oxford University Press 1997), pp 271-98.

27 Ibid, p 276.

28 Here I draw inspiration from J Devika’s discussion of the Aikya Keralam Movement in “The Idea of Being Malayali: The Aikyakeralam Movement of the Mid-20th Century” (mimeo).

29 States Reorganisation Commission Report (Government of India 1955), 93 (hereafter SRC Report).

30 Rao, Karnataka Ekikarana Itihasa, lists the 19 administrations under which Kannada speakers beyond Mysore were found.

31 Deshpande, Contemporary India, 158.

32 “The boundary of Karnataka”, it said with respect to the map that was included, “Marked by thin straight lines, may only be taken as approximately marking the limits of the Kannada-speaking people. It does not follow the Congress division. Suggestions for rendering it accurate will be thankfully received”, The Karnataka Handbook (Bangalore 1924?), note on the map, Preface.

33 Rao, Karnataka ekikarana itihasa, 67. Before the Congress session of 1946 at Birur, Mysore’s Congressmen, such as T Channaiah, T Siddalingaiya, A G Bandi Gowda, K G Wodeyar, T Subrahmanyam and others raised the question of forming Karnataka with the Maharaja as the constitutional head. J Mohamed Imam, MLAD, Vol XII, No 11, March 1955, 646.

34 Rao, Karnataka Ekikarana Itihasa, 146. “Proposed Union of Karnatak: Move to include Mysore”, The Times of India, 26 April 1948; “The Karnataka Unification Movement, as it was originally conceived, never took Mysore into account until two years ago when India attained Independence, and the first steps were taken to integrate the state with union territory”. “A Separate Province?: Some Undecided Issues”, The Times of India, 11 November 1949.

35 Rao, Karnataka Ekikarana Itihasa, 155. The All Karnataka Unification Sangha in its response to the Linguistic Provinces Commission of 1948 said that every attempt would be made to unite the Union Karnataka and Mysore, but “if this is not possible, the formation of Karnataka Province of Union Karnataka area ought not to be postponed under any circumstances”, Replies by AKUS p 22.

36 “Inclusion of Kannada Areas in Andhra Criticised”, The Times of India, 28 December 1949.

37 Mulka Govinda Reddy, MLAD, Vol IX, No 37 (1953), p 2662-63.

38 Hanumanthaiah, MLAD, Vol IX, No 37 (1953), pp 2499.

39 Note by O S D/SR: Ministry of Home Affairs: Appendix to Notes, File No 58/2/55-SR, 1955, Ministry of Home Affairs, GOI, SR Section, NAI.

40 Ibid. 41 Ibid.

42 “Visions of Greater Mysore Conjured Up: Cautions Approach to Bellary Merger”, Times of India, 11 June 1953.

43 File No 16/1/55-SR, 1955. Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, S R Section

44 Discussion of the Andhra State Bill, MLAD, Vol IX, No 37, 1953, pp 2499-500.

45 Discussion of the Andhra State Bill, MLAD, Vol IX, No 37, 1953, pp 2509-10.

46 Discussion of the Andhra State Bill, MLAD, Vol IX, No 37, 1953, p 2549. A similar note was struck by Boranna Gowda and Rajashekhara Murthy, Discussion of the Andhra State Bill, MLAD, Vol IX, No 37, 1953, pp 2563, 2645.

47 Address of His Highness, the Rajpramukh, on Monday 11 January 1954, MLAD, Vol X, Part I, 1954.

48 G Thimmaiah, “Political Leadership and Economic Development in Karnataka” in Kadekodi et al (ed.), Development in Karnataka, p 71.

49 K S Gurusuddappa to Prime Minister, 5/9/1953, File No F 2(8) – PA/53, 1953, Ministry of States, Political A Section, Sl No 1-2, NAI.

50 M Rajashekara Murthy, MLAD, Vol IX, No 38, (1953), 2658.

51 Rao, Karnataka Ekikarana Itihasa.

52 J Devika, “The Idea of Being Malayali”. See also, Dilip Menon, “Being Brahman the Marxist Way: E M S Namboodiripad and the Pasts of Kerala” in Daud Ali (ed.), Invoking the Past: The Uses of History in South Asia (Delhi: Oxford University Press 1996).

53 K V Narayana Rao, The Emergence of Andhra Pradesh (Bombay: Popular Prakashan), 1973.

54 Menon, “Being Brahman the Marxist Way”, 82.

55 One might say that the territorialisation of caste in Tamil Nadu occurred well after the moment of independence, with alliances between sets of castes in northern and southern Tamil Nadu.

56 Hanumanthaiah was accompanied by J Mohamed Imam on the tour of the regions of north Karnataka, when according to Imam, he was moved by the predicament of people in those regions.

57 Others included T Singaravelu, a High Court Judge, V L D’Souza, V C of Mysore University, H R Guruve Reddy and lawyer O Veerabasappa.

58 Report of the Fact Finding Committee (States Reorganisation), (Bangalore 1954), 1.

59 B K Puttaramaiah, MLCD, Vol VII, No 18, (1955),

772. 60 T Mariappa, MLAD, Vol XIII, No 20 (1955), 1269. 61 SRC Report, 91 (emphasis added). The idea of the

linguistic state being a panacea to the irritants of caste were echoed within the Assembly as well by R Ramaiah among others. See also, Karnataka Handbook, 130.

62 M P L Sastry, MLCD, Vol VII (1955), 595.

63 Rao, Karnataka Ekikarana Itihasa, 72.

64 Alura proposed that festivals similar to Maharashtra’s Ganeshotsava be organised to honour Karnataka’s heroes: Kannada poets like Pampa and Kumara Vyasa, Vidyaranya, the intellectual guide of Vijayanagar kings; Basaveswara the 12th century reformer.

65 Hanumanthaiah, MLAD, Vol IX, No 38 (1953), 2716.

66 “People who speak Kannada, people who speak Telugu and people who speak Tamil…these three form what is called the constituents of the state of Mysore…the composite character of this portion of India has been there probably for several thousands of years…. it [Mysore] was not only one set of people talking one language who constituted the unit.” Hanumanthaiah, MLCD, 1955, 583; MLAD, Vol XIII, No 13, (1955) 791.

67 Ibid.

68 Sastry, MLCD, Vol VII (1955), 594.

69 A G Ramachandra Rao, MLAD, Vol 13, No 14 (1955), 880.

70 Gopala Gowda, MLAD, Vol IX, No 37 (1953), 2556.

71 K Hanumanthaiah, MLCD, Vol VII, No (1955), 585.

72 Shivananjegowda, MLAD, Vol XII, No 1 (1955),


73 H K Shivarudrappa, MLAD, 7 (1955), p 570.

74 G A Thimmappa Gowda, MLAD, Vol IX, No 39

(1953), 2782. 75 Address of His Highness the Rajapramukh, MLAD, 10, Part 1 (1954), 2-3.

novemBER 19, 2011 vol xlvi no 47

76 Srinivasa Gowda, MLAD, Vol XII, No 1 (1955), 607. 77 Devaraj Urs, MLAD, Vol IX, No 37 (1953), 2708. 78 File No 56/2/55-SR, 1955, Ministry of Home

Affairs, GOI, SR Section, NAI. 79 Chennigramaiah, MLAD, Vol XII, No 1 (1954), 668. 80 Aa Na Kru, Karnataka Ekikarana Kaipidi, Vol I,

Dharwad, 1947, as cited in H S Rao Karnataka Ekikarana Itihasa (Bangalore: Navakarnataka, 2004 [1996]), 15.

81 B Madhavachar (Bhadravathi), MLAD, Vol XII, No 6 (1955), 577. 82 Chatterjee, State and Politics, 276. 83 Hanumanthaiah, MLAD (1953), 2499.

84 There has been a continuing interest in tracing the roots of Mysore’s absorption with capitalist modernity and its “development agenda”: most recently Chandan Gowda “Advance Mysore”: The Cultural Logic of a Developmental State”, EPW, Vol XLV, No 29 (17 July 2010).

85 Hettne, The Political Economy of Indirect Rule,

345. 86 Ibid: 346, Hanumanthaiah, MLAD, Vol XIII, No 13 (1955), 797. 87 T M Mudalagiri Gowda, MLAD, Vol XII, No 2

(1955), 88 Imam, MLAD, Vol XIII, No 14 (1955), 870. 89 Gopala Gowda, MLAD, Vol XIII, No 12 (1955), 622. 90 Ibid: p 23. Gowda complained that the people of

Malnad had been referred to as “blanket wearing bears” but their development on new lines was possible with the available energies of unification. “Simply saying ‘Mysore is ours’ will not fill our stomachs”, 624.

91 Shivananjegowda, MLAD, Vol XII, No 1 (1955), 606-07.

92 A G Ramachandra Rao Minister for Law Labour and Education, to President and Prime Minister, 25 October 1955, Box 22, Palace Papers, KSA.

93 I am not taking up here the very serious questions about the modalities of representative democracy that were thrown up during these debates. Hanumanthaiah firmly denied the need for a plebiscite, or a two-thirds majority vote, or a referendum, or even a postponement of the decision of unification until the next elections.

94 Devaraj Urs, MLAD, Vol IX, No 37 (1953), 2708.

95 On the norming of the citizen as male, see Susie Tharu and Tejaswini Niranjana (1996), “Problems for a Contemporary Theory of Gender” in Shahid Amin and Dipesh Chakrabarty (ed.), Subaltern Studies IX: Writings on South Asian History and Society (Delhi: Oxford University Press), 1996.

96 The speech by Velluri in Urdu was not even translated! H R Abdul Gaffar (teachers’ Constituency), MLCD, Vol VII, 839.

97 For a recent espousal of “Kannadathana” as a quality that has endured the rise and fall of dynasties, fluctuating economic fortunes, war and peace, see Narayana, Kannadathana mattu Bharatiyate, 15. Narayana says that the splintering of people into regions that spoke other languages occurred with the destruction of Vijayanagar, unity restored by ekikarana movement and

lost once more thereafter. 43

98 Devaraj Urs, MLAD, Vol IX, No 37 (1953), 2708.

99 Lakshmi Devi Ramanna (Anekal-Hoskote), MLAD,

Vol XIII (1955), 1259.

100 G Duggappa (Holalkere, Scheduled Caste), MLAD, Vol XIII (1955), 1049.

101 For Tamil, see Ramaswamy, Passions of the Tongue, esp 79-134. See also Tejaswini Niranajana, “Reworking Masculinities: Rajkumar and the Kannada Public Sphere”, Economic & Political Weekly, 35: (47) (2000).

102 K Hanumanthaiah to G V Pant, Minister for Home Affairs, 5 December 1955, Sl No 1, D O letter mo K K 1558 dated 5/18 December 1955 from the Chief Minister, Mysore State, Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, S R Section, NAI.

103 See Janaki Nair “K Venkatappa and the fashioning of a ‘Mysore Modern’ in Art’ in” Mysore Modern: Rethinking the Princely State (University of Minnesota Press 2011, forthcoming).

104 Karanth, Karnataka Painting.

105 Madhava Prasad, “Cinema as a Site of Nationalist Identity” in Journal of Karnataka Studies, 1, 1 November 2003-April 2004, pp 60-85, esp 80.

106 T M Joseph “Politics of Recruitment in Public Sector Undertakings: A Study of the Nativist Movement

in Bangalore” (PhD Thesis, ISEC, Bangalore, 1994).

107 H R Abdul Gaffar, MLCD, Vol VII (1955), 838.

108 Shivananjegowda, MLAD, Vol XIII (1955), 981.

109 Extempore Speech delivered by Sri K Hanumanthaiah on the 30 November 1955, on the floor of the Legislative Council while moving an amendment to the Official resolution of 17 November 1955. File No 16/2/55-SR 1955 Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, S R Section, NAI.

110 “Statehood for Old Mysore Area: Stir Threatened” TOI, 14 April 1969.

111 B K Veeranna Gowdh, MLAD, Vol XIII, 1109.


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