Na. D’Souza is the designated president of Sahitya Sammelan

Na. D’Souza, who has been named the president of 80th Kannada Sahitya Sammelan to be held in Madikeri from January 7 to 9, has called upon fellow writers to discharge their “moral obligation” by raising their voice against problems of hunger, poverty and inequality.

In an interaction with The Hindu on Wednesday, hours after the Kannada Sahitya Parishat announced the 76-year-old’s name, Mr. D’Souza stressed on the social responsibility of the writers. “The writers should not hesitate to raise their voice against injustice. Legendary Kannada writers like Aa.Na. Krishna Rao and Shivaram Karanth had strongly criticised the anti-people policies of the government,” he said.

Criticising the development model pursued by the successive governments in India, he said: “The Western model of development has actually widened the socio-economic disparities.” Insisting that writers should not remain mute spectators to the fallout of the flawed policies of ruling dispensations, he said: “It forms the social and moral obligation of creative writers to respond to the problems like hunger, poverty and inequality.”

Mr. D’Souza, who has authored 35 novels and seven short story collections, said that the chairmanship of the Sammelan had come as a surprise to him. “It was a pleasant surprise for me. I never expected that I would get the opportunity to chair the grand event. I am glad that my service to Kannada literature from past 50 years has been recognised,” he said.

Mr. D’Souza, a native of Sagar, has won a number of awards including Bala Sahitya Puraskar of Sahitya Akademi in 2011 for his novella ‘Mulugade Urige Bandavaru.’

His works Kadina Benki, Dweepa, Baluvali, Bettadapurada Ditta Makkalu and Aantarya have been converted into movies. Dweepa, directed by Girish Kasaravalli, won Swarna Kamala in best film category in 2001-02. Mr. D’Souza discussed a wide range of issues, including the future of the Kannada language, significance of holding sammelans and the need to safeguard the fragile ecology of the Malnad region.

Status of Kannada

The present condition of Kannada language is not at all satisfactory. Kannada language has maintained its vigour and vitality only in villages. The children of middle class and lower middle class families in urban areas have minimised the use of Kannada language in their home. I don’t blame English language as the reason for present plight of Kannada. The problem can be addressed by developing pride among the Kannadigas towards their language and culture.

Government’s role

The government should behave in a responsible manner over the issues related to Kannada language and culture. It is unfortunate that, government speaks of closing down Kannada medium schools that have poor enrolment. The hasty decision in this regard will send a wrong message. Instead of closing down the Kannada medium schools, the government should take initiatives to improve the amenities and the teaching standards in them.

About sammelan

I don’t see any serious shortcomings in the way in which the event is being organised. The turnout for the event is increasing every year. Kannada Sahitya Sammelan is not about organising seminars on serious topics. The event has acquired the character of people’s festival in recent times with which the average Kannadigas are also relating themselves. The event has also played significant role in popularising Kannada culture. At a place where 4 to 5 lakh people gather, confusions on issues related to food are common.

Malnad region

The pristine forests, rivers and streams of Malnad are a great source of inspiration for me. After Independence, many development projects were implemented in Malnad without properly assessing their impact on the fragile ecology of the region. I have documented the ecological impact of these projects and the socio-cultural transformation they triggered in my works. The tribal people who were displaced by these projects were not rehabilitated properly.

  • ‘I don’t blame English for the present plight of Kannada’

  • Urges government to improve amenities in Kannada medium schools