U.R. Ananthamurthy, the acclaimed writer who passed away on Friday, was an active participant in many socio-cultural and political movements in his home district Shimoga.
In his student days, Dr. Ananthamurthty was directly involved in the activities of Samyukta Socialist Party and Praja Socialist Party. B.R. Jayanth, prominent socialist and former member of the Karnataka State Planning Board, recalls how Dr. Ananthamurthy used to get pamphlets and other publicity materials of the party printed free of cost at the printing press owned by his father in Shimoga city. He had extended moral and financial support for the elections contested by socialist stalwart Shantaveri Gopala Gowda. He was also a resource person in the workshops organised by the socialist party on issues related to land reforms and abolition of caste system.
K.L. Ashok, secretary of Tunga Bhadra Ulisi Horata Okkoota, said that Dr. Ananthamurthy played a crucial role in mobilising people against mining in Kudremukh, the area known for its rich biodiversity. It was on the suggestion of Dr. Ananthamurthy, that the okkoota had called for a bandh of Shimoga city on July 24, 2001. The bandh evoked a good response. He held a detailed discussion with S.M. Krishna who was the Chief Minister of Karnataka then on the need to stop mining in Kudremukh.
U.R.Ananthamurthy during an interview in Madras in 1980. File Photo
Dr. Ananthamurthy was a regular resource person in Samskruti Shibira, the annual workshop on culture organised by Ninasam theatre troupe in Heggodu. For him, Ninasam was a cultural counterpart of Gandhian vision of de-centralisation and Grama Swaraj.
M.S. Nagaraja Rao, a professor at DVS Arts and Commerce College here, said Dr. Ananthamurthy believed in breaking and de-constructing any textbook, often making cross references between Kannada and English literary works. It was his early grooming and rootedness in Shimoga and his later travels in the world that made him at ease in both these spheres.
U.R.Anil Kumar, doctor and younger brother of Ananthamurthy, said his brother’s death was a great personal loss. “As I lost my father when I was young, he was both elder brother and father to me. When he opted to study medicine, his brother told him that a medical course was not just a means to earn money but to serve society. Ten days ago when I called him, he told me that he was planning to write a book.”