Mr. Shettar said that though the government had received 3,000 requests for the State award, only 57 persons were chosen — for their contribution to the cause of Kannada and its culture — to mark the 57th anniversary of unification of Karnataka.

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Thursday said the government was committed to protecting the land, language and culture of the State.

Conferring the Karnataka Rajyotsava awards on 57 persons and seven organisations at a colourful function organised at the Ravindra Kalakshetra here, he reiterated the government’s decision not to close down Kannada schools.

Mr. Shettar said that though the government had received 3,000 requests for the State award, only 57 persons were chosen — for their contribution to the cause of Kannada and its culture — to mark the 57th anniversary of unification of Karnataka.

Tough selection

Selection for the awards was really a difficult task, as many of those who had sought the award really deserved it, he said. “It is the responsibility of the government to respect and honour those who serve Kannada and its culture, he said.

Noting that he had the privilege of felicitating 56 litterateurs on Thursday morning at a function organised by a publication house, Mr. Shettar said that it was an honour for him to confer awards for those who served in various fields.

Presiding over the function, Minister for Kannada and Culture Govind M. Karjol regretted that though there were many achievers, the government had to restrict the number to 57 “inevitably”. Speaking about the contribution of the Bharatiya Janata Party government in promoting Kannada and Culture, Mr. Karjol said that it had been decided to release a grant of Rs.5 lakh for 22 professional theatre groups that were struggling to survive with the greatest difficulty.

Expressing gratitude to the government on behalf of the award winners, veteran journalist S.K. Sheshachandrika said Karnataka had the great tradition of identifying and promoting talent, and successive governments were continuing that tradition. “The government has identified all kinds of talents, from 24-year old Girish who excelled at the London Paralympics to 92-year-old Palandira Devaiah, who contributed significantly to the field of folklore,” he said.

Educationist Bhashyam Swamy said that accepting the award given by the “motherland” had more value than any other award.