Corridors of Power

Lost in translation

Updated - January 01, 2023 08:07 pm IST

Published - January 01, 2023 08:06 pm IST

Come elections, and political leaders from the Centre deploy party functionaries as translators when addressing the public who don’t understand their language. And so it was at a rally in Mandya addressed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, last week.

Mr. Shah, in his bid to break ice with the mainly Kannada-speaking rural audience, greeted them with “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” but the response was feeble. Mr. Shah asked whatever had happened to the voice of the people of Mandya as they were not audible.

But the enthusiasm of the translator got the better of him and he went on to exhort the crowd to “shout Bharat Mata Ki Jai loudly.” An irked Mr. Shah admonished the translator and asked him to stick to what was said. Not that he knew Kannada, but the advice to raise the slogan was a give away.

When Mr. Shah asked the crowd whether they were fully vaccinated for COVID-19, it was translated as, ‘’We have to question both the Congress and the JD(S)”, which evoked a loud boo from the audience who spotted the error, though Mr. Shah missed it.

That translation is an art and not everyone’s cup of tea is something which will hit the leaders time and again in the election season.

Age is but a number

Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah’s age came in for some mirthful discussion in the Legislative Assembly last week in Belagavi. Congratulating senior member R.V. Deshpande for being awarded the Best Legislator, Mr. Siddaramaiah said that though there was not much difference in the age between him and Mr. Deshpande, latter looked older.

Immediately, Krishna Byre Gowda, Congress member, stood up and said he had doubts about Mr. Siddaramaiah age (75 years) and his birth certificate did not appear to be genuine. Mr Gowda continued and said MP Rahul Gandhi too had expressed doubts about Mr Siddaramaiah’s age at a recent meeting in Hubballi, and said, “It is very difficult to believe that you are 75.”

Speaker Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri suggested formation of a House committee to probe the correct age of the former Chief Minister. Mr. Siddaramaiah told the Speaker to set up the panel headed by Mr. Gowda to probe his correct age.

Finally, Mr. Siddaramaiah agreed that there could be a 5-6 months difference between the real and official age. “But my school teacher had written down the date of birth as August 3, 1947.” 

CRZ and sand mining

By choosing not to appeal against a High Court of Karnataka order that set aside cancellation of sand extraction permits from rivers in the Coastal Regulation Zone, the Dakshina Kannada district administration has opened floodgates for unbridled sand extraction from Phalguni and Netravathi rivers by issuing permits to a whopping 202 so-called traditional sand extractors.

NGT’s Southern Bench on May 18 last year ruled that selling sand extracted from rivers in the CRZ amounts to mining, which was a commercial activity. The CRZ notification of the Union government specifically prohibits any kind of commercial activities inside CRZ and hence extracted sand could not be sold, the Tribunal had said.

While environmentalists had heaved a sigh of relief that the river beds subjected to constant sand extraction could be preserved, the extractors approached the High Court challenging the order. The court on September 3 and October 10, quashed the May 21 order saying NGT order passed with respect to Udupi district could not be applied to DK district.

Without challenging this order that could dent the fragile ecology in the coast before the Supreme Court, the administration not only restored permits of 148 persons, but also issued 54 fresh permits.

R. Krishna Kumar

Nagesh Prabhu

Anil Kumar Sastry

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