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Channabasappa: keep away from merchants of communalism

Rishikesh Bahadur Desai
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‘State should constitute a welfare board for H-K region’

Veteran writer and president of the 79th Kannada Sahitya Sammelan being brought to the sammelan venue in a procession in Bijapur on Saturday.
Veteran writer and president of the 79th Kannada Sahitya Sammelan being brought to the sammelan venue in a procession in Bijapur on Saturday.

Is art for art’s sake? The question that occupied the minds of thinkers, artists and writers for centuries was raised again at the 79th All India Kannada Sahitya Sammelan by Ko. Channabasappa in Bijapur on Saturday.

“A writer is not doing his job if he does not address the problems surrounding him. If he does not speak against communalism, casteism, corruption and linguistic fanaticism that are plaguing the society, he is no writer,” Dr. Channabasappa said in his presidential address.

The aim of literature was not just to give us a few moments of entertainment or relaxation. It should instil values in us and make us better human beings. If reading a book was bound to make us evil, why read it, he asked.

The creative process should serve multiple purposes. It should help the writer achieve success, get money, impart professional competence and ensure intellectual independence. It should be soothing like advice from a wife to her husband and end all evil in society, he said.

“Literature should help us understand the unity of mankind”. Poet Pampa said, “ Manushya jati tanode valam .” [“The human race is one. Is it not?”]. All writing that deviated from this basic premise was no literature at all. Writers, who tended to divide the society, introduce concepts of purity of race, or superiority or inferiority into the mainstream psyche, were dangerous. Poetry should lead us to virtue and knowledge, and not prejudice, he said.

Mr. Pampa felt communalism and casteism were more dangerous than corruption. While a snake bite might kill just one person, the venom of exclusion can decimate a whole society. People should keep away from the merchants of communalism, he said. He said those spreading communal and caste feelings among the people and trying to disrupt our secular democratic republic should be tried under strong Acts like sedition.

Dr. Chennabasappa quoted from Ashoka’s edicts to highlight the need for religious tolerance. Narrow-minded belief and appreciation of one’s own faith would lead to pitfalls. Assault on Buddhism had left an everlasting scar on India’s cultural history. The killings of Godhra had brought us global notoriety. We should ensure that such acts did not recur. Dr. Chennabasappa spoke about his upbringing and his evolution as a writer. He dismissed the view that “creativity is a flash of inspiration from heaven” and said it was the result of long years of hard work.

The writer quoted from personalities who influenced him such as Pampa, Harihara, Raghavanka, Basavanna, Sri Aurobindo, Bendre, Kuvempu, Purandara Dasa, Nijaguna Shovayogi, and Dr. Ambedkar.

He spoke of his association with progressive writers of India and how it inspired him to write about the “last, least and lost” communities. All our progressive writers had been accused of being Communist party members. But writers like Kuvempu had not only defended their writing, but also inspired generations of writers to take up pro-people literature, he said.

Just because Parliament has passed amendment to Article 371 of the Constitution, we should not think our job was over. The government should now focus on implementing the provisions of the amended Article. It should also follow the recommendations of Dr. D.M. Nanjundappa committee. The State government should immediately constitute a development board for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, and introduce regional reservation in education and employment to residents of the area, he said.

He supported increased use of Kannada on the internet. He opposed the government sponsoring Kannada meets in the US and other countries.

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