I find a disturbing trend of the so called groups/associations taking the self imposed mantle of protecting its rights and interests and project it as representative of the community. I am saying this because a small marginal group with dubious intentions and political agenda are usurping at the cost of silent majority.
And sadly the intelligentsia and people who matter most belongs to the latter. To put this thought in perspective it will be important to note that people who have richly contributed to the progress and development of Kannada language has been people who spoke other languages and vice versa.
Four out of the seven Kannada Jnanpith laureates have other languages as their mother tongue. D R Bendre spoke Marathi, Masti Venkatesh Iyengar spoke Tamil, Shivaram Karanth came from the Tulu heartland while Girish Karnad spoke Konkani. Many other important writers in Kannada – D V Gundappa (Telugu), T P Kailasam (Tamil), P T Narsimhachar (Tamil), G P Rajarathnam (Tamil), Tarasu (Telugu), Samsa (Tamil), Na Kasturi (Malyalam), Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar (Tamil) among others did not have Kannada as their mother tongue.
The first person to prepare a comprehensive compendium of Kannada – English dictionary with 70,000 words was a German, Rev F.Kittel in the 19th Century. My relative K Madhav Pai (Konkani) has distilled the complex meta philosophical Kannada couplets of D V Gundappa (DVG) in 2 lucid books in Kannada called Kaggokti Sampada, Part 1&2.
Even when it came to representing the political interests of the community, Veerappa Moily (Tulu) and Dharam Singh (Rajput - Hindi) have been elected as state chief ministers and had long chequered political careers. Similarly Kannidagas like Guru Sri Raghavendra & E V Periyar have vastly influenced other regions in the Religious & Political space. The former is a revered saint with large following in 3 southern Indian states of AP, Karnataka & Tamil Nadu while the latter was a prominent figure in the Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu.
Bilingualism is something that flourishes in our state, and many people including me speak two languages (Kannada & Konkani). Karnataka is probably the only state which is microcosm of many distinct ethnic and linguistic communities , and I am not talking of Bangalore alone, the Tuluvas,Kodavas, Konkani’s, Kshatriya Marathas, Jainas are all very distinct ethnic communities with sizeable populations and history and all have symbiotically blended into the state cultural and social milieu. The Karnataka tourism tagline is very apt “One state many worlds” and would make any anthropologist's delight.
The Kannada language itself has various forms, when one talks of Kannada, it is not a singular tongue, but one with many dialects. For instance, Mysore Kannada, Hyderabad Kannada, Mangalore Kannada, Dharwad Kannada, Coimbathur Kannada and so on.
However on the eve of its 52 Anniversary, it is a fact that Kannada language & culture is facing relentless pressures of modern times and the various facets of this anxiety is well captured by Sugata srinivasaraju in his seminal book “Keeping faith with the mother tongue” , a must read for anybody interested in this topic .