K.N. Venkatasubba Rao

It is a joint effort by Kannada Book Authority and Kannada Geleyara Balaga

BANGALORE: The Kannada Book Authority and the Kannada Geleyara Balaga are set to bring out documents in Kannada and English in support of the demand for classical language status for Kannada.

The concise Kannada version of documents is slated for release on Tuesday, while the 304-page original version will be released later. The original documents were compiled by a committee under the guidance of M. Chidananda Murthy and L.S. Sheshagiri Rao, writers.

The objective of the publication is to draw public attention towards the antiquity of Kannada and its merits in claiming the long due classical status on par with Tamil. The former Chairman of the Kannada Book Authority S.G. Siddaramaiah, and convenor of Geleyara Balaga Ra. Nam. Chandrashekhar are said to be instrumental in the publication endeavour.

Following the Union Government’s decision to accord classical language status to Tamil, the State Government was forced to make a similar claim in favour of Kannada. Subsequently, it constituted a committee of experts comprising Prof. Rao, Prof. Murthy, B. Rajapurohit and N.S. Taranath. The committee has submitted a comprehensive report supporting the cause of Kannada.

Meanwhile, the Director of the Mysore-based Central Institute of Indian Language, Udayanarayan Singh, who is a member of the committee of experts constituted for the purpose by the Centre, has stated in his report that Kannada fulfils the requisite criteria. The four criteria are: antiquity of early texts, recorded history of over 1,000 years (the period was subsequently increased to 1,500 years); a body of ancient literature, texts that are considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers; a literary tradition that is original and not borrowed from any other speech community; and the classical language and literature could be distinct from its current form or could be a discontinuous one with its own forms or its off shoots.

In the light of amendments to the eligibility criteria, the committee of experts asked the State Government to refurbish its report with evidence. Accordingly, the committee has submitted a “report that has traced the antiquity of Kannada for over 2,300 years against the Centre’s 1,500-2,000 years.”

Secretary of the Central Sahitya Academy Agrahara Krishnamurthy convened a meeting of the committee of experts at the behest of academy president, who is the official convenor of the committee, in August.

Later, though the committee decided to recommend to the Centre to accord classical language status to Kannada and Telugu, a Chennai-based advocate has obtained a stay order on the committee’s decision on technical grounds.