Triveni Journal

1927 | 11,233,916 words

Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....

United Karnataka

By The Hon'le V. Ramadas Pantulu


"Feuds have left us grief and woe,
Trial and torture marked our life;
Now is the hour for men to know,
Victory smiles if we unite."


The notion that peoples with divergent cultures, traditions and linguistic and other sub-national characteristics, can be welded together into a homogeneous nationality under the sledge-hammer blows of a foreign administration, and that nations composed of sub-divisions marked by special features of their own cannot attain the full stature of a self-governing people, has long been exploded. Examples of self-governing countries composed of heterogeneous groups held together by ties of love for a common motherland and common political and economic interests, are not wanting in modern constitutions. India is in fact better circumstanced than many such countries in its characteristics of nationhood. Take the two dominant communities, the Hindus and the Mussalmans. The Hindus, no doubt, fall into well-marked groups like the Bengalees, the Beharees, the Punjabis, the Mahrattas, the Gujaratees, the Tamils, the Karnatakas, the Andhras, the Utkals, and so on. But they have among them many features which go to make them real component parts of a nation. They read the same religious scriptures, they worship the same gods, they draw their inspiration from the same epics, they observe the same festivals, they follow the same rituals and ceremonies at auspicious and inauspicious domestic occurrences, they claim the same national heroes, and above all, they pride themselves on their being the sons of the same mother, ‘Bharatamata.’ The Mohammedans, be they Sunnis, Shiyas, Ahamadiyas, Boras, or of any other sub-divisions, all possess the. same Islamic culture and owe allegiance to the same God and to the same Prophet-Allah and Muhammad. They have ceased to think of India as a foreign land and rightly look upon it as much their heritage as it is of the Hindus. The propagandist statements often heard from sources which can lay no claim either to impartiality or disinterestedness, to the effect that India cannot be a self-governing nation on account of its multitude of castes, creeds and languages, should be rejected unhesitatingly. There are many vested interests which stand to lose by India developing a spirit of nationality and attaining political and economic freedom. They are therefore never tired of proclaiming to the world India's unfitness to be welded together into a free nationality. This mischievous doctrine should be strenuously combated. Long before constructive efforts were put forth to draw up a constitution for India as a whole, the general position that India can be and should be a nation of strong sub-national groups federated into a common political entity, was declared on many occasions and from many quarters. The agitation against the partition of Bengal brought this question of reconstruction of India, on a more rational basis of provincial grouping, into the field of practical politics. Later the Andhras, the Karnatakas, and the Utkals took up this question in earnest and the most notable contribution which these people made to the solution of our national reconstruction is the clear formulation and fearless propagation of the ideal of a federated self-governing India with its component sub-national groups developed along lines most congenial to their peculiar traditions and characteristics.

The annulment of the Bengal partition and the statesmanlike declaration made by Hardinge in 1911 in that connection, wherein he painted a remarkable picture of federal India composed of homogeneous sub-nationalities, not only vindicated the soundness of the views of the advocates of linguistic provinces, but actually encouraged them to further effort. This linguistic movement was at first much misunderstood and roundly condemned in many influential quarters as a disruptive factor which interfered with the higher ideals of national consolidation. But persistent, vociferous, informed and intelligent propaganda not only bore down the opposition, but actually converted the opponents to the new cult. The Indian National Congress gave the lead by re-organising the provinces for Congress work on a linguistic basis–a process which was commenced in 1917 and completed in 1921. The memorandum presented by the Andhras to the Joint Parliamentary Committee in 1920, the memorials sent by the Karnatakas to the late Mr. Montagu when he toured India, and the case prepared by the Utkals for the Philip-Duff Enquiry, are masterpieces of constructive proposals regarding the constitution of provinces on a linguistic basis. The Joint Parliamentary Committee's acceptance of the principle may be said to amount to a constitutional recognition of the linguistic provinces movement. Indeed the Committee's recommendation has subsequently secured legislative sanction and embodied in the present section 52 (a) of the Government of India Act. The Joint Parliamentary Select Committee gave very clear instructions regarding the conditions to be satisfied for the working of the clause relating to the constitution of new provinces. They say: "The Committee have two observations to make on the working of this clause. On the one hand, they do not think that any change in the boundaries of a province should be made without due consideration of the views of the Legislative Council of the province. On the other hand, they are of opinion that any clear request made by a majority of the members of a Legislative Council representing a racial or linguistic territorial unit for its constitution under this clause as a sub-province or a separate province, should be taken as a prima facie case on the strength of which a Commission of Enquiry may be appointed by the Secretary of State, and that it should not be a bar to the appointment of such a Commission of Enquiry that the majority of the Legislative Council of the province in question is opposed to the request of the minority representing such a distinctive territorial unit." This is no doubt a well-meant instruction which is intended to safeguard minorities in the provincial legislatures who are peculiarly interested in having separate provinces for themselves. But in practice, it is of very little avail. The Karnatakas, for instance, who are cut up under two British administrative provinces, not to speak of Indian States, are not numerically strong enough to return any appreciable number of their men to any single legislature in order to get a hearing from that body. Similarly, the Oriyas who are distributed over four provinces are not strong enough numerically to return even a single member to a provincial legislature with the solitary exception of the Madras Council. I understand that a resolution by that solitary member in the Madras Council and similar resolutions by Karnataka members in the Bombay and Madras Councils, were not even admitted for discussion on the plausible ground that no single council had jurisdiction to discuss a matter which was not within its exclusive power to decide. When, however, my Hon'ble friend, Dr. U. Rama Rau and myself tried to overcome this difficulty of provincial legislatures declining jurisdiction and brought up the matter before the Central Legislature, the spokesmen of the Government of India curiously enough declined to commit the Government of India to any view and contended that the matter was one for the provincial councils to deal with. The advocates of linguistic provinces are thus driven from post to pillar and have not yet succeeded in finding an official asylum for the due consideration of their case, which on its merits seems to me to be absolutely irresistible. The Andhra members of the Madras Legislative Council recently managed to give expression to their self-determination by carrying a resolution favoring a separate Andhra Province. But I understand that the Local Government of Madras declined to accept the recommendation contained in the resolution. On the popular side, however, the scheme of linguistic provinces has emerged successfully from the sphere of controversy and become a universally accepted part of India's constitution. Constitutions drawn up publicists like Messrs. Srinivasa Iyengar, Rangaswami Iyengar and Hosakappa Krishna Rau have all made it an integral part of their schemes. The final and the most valuable vindication is however accomplished with the concurrence of all political parties in India and is now embodied in that epoch-making document, the Nehru Report.

The case for Karnataka was specially dealt with by the Nehru Committee and deserves the attention of all those who are earnest about the reorganisation of provinces on a linguistic basis. Have the Karnatakas a real grievance and have they a good case? These are the two questions which were admirably and dispassionately discussed and answered in that informing little volume entitled United Karnataka which is edited by the Secretaries of the Karnataka Unification Sabha and of the Sub-Committee of the Karnataka Provincial Congress Committee. To those who are familiar with the bearings of the question, hardly any figures or facts will be necessary. One of the factors of the British administrative system that obstructs our national self-expression is the irrational manner in which provinces are constituted for purposes of administrative units. It is true that the present provinces are mostly the results of historical accidents and not of a plan or purpose. Nevertheless, an arrangement whereby four or five different peoples speaking different languages and possessing distinct traditions and characteristics–cultural and temperamental–are huddled together under a single administration, or one wherein a single people with common language, history and culture, are cut up into four or five slices and placed under as many different administrations, is indefensible as constitutional machinery or administrative device. It has contributed in no small measure to the present weak, disunited, and disorganised condition in which people like Andhras, Karnatakas and Utkals find themselves today. It cannot be otherwise when the seats of governmental power and patronage centres of university learning, higher study and research, institutions where young men and women are trained for the learned professions of law, medicine, engineering, teaching and the like, official and non-official bodies of provincial and metropolitan magnitude which absorb talent and provide careers, commercial and banking houses which offer financial accommodations and credit facilities for trade and business, communications which make access to the metropolis easy, and in fact everything that tends to stimulate talent to action and promote initiative to business, are all situated outside the Karnataka, Andhra and Utkal countries, and are not within the easy reach of their children who do not suffer in comparison with others, provided equal opportunities are vouchsafed. It is little wonder that under such conditions as these there has not been, and there is not, an adequate scope for the play and much less for the display of their finer qualities and truer enterprise. Did not he Beharees under the same circumstances suffer a similar eclipse of their individuality and eminence when they were once submerged in the Bengalee race? Have they not been able to give a better account of themselves when the handicap was removed? The truth of the matter is, there can be no freedom of movement for people who find themselves unequally yoked with peoples who differ in language, culture and temperament, and asked to work out their destiny. It is not easy to come out successful in an obstacle race.

Having said so much about the general disabilities from which people like the Karnatakas and those similarly circumstanced suffer, it is scarcely necessary to enumerate the special grievances of the Karnatakas. If it is necessary to do so, the following short passage from United Karnataka ought to suffice:

"This province which was homogeneous for more than a thousand years has been now split up. Its people are in the hopeless minority of 19 and 6 per cent respectively in the Bombay and Madras Presidencies, and the Kanarese districts form tail-ends in both the administrations. They are furthest from the capital towns. Communications and Education have been grievously neglected. For a High Court and for a University, Karnatakas have to run to Bombay and Madras where their language has but scant respect. There is hardly one man to represent Kannada in the Senate of the Bombay University . . . Karnataka contributes about 48 lakhs of rupees in excess of what is spent on her, and yet irrigation and agricultural improvements are at a discount here. The majority languages are encroaching on Kannada, and during the last census-decade, she has lost about 2 lakhs."

The Karnatakas have satisfactorily answered every possible objection that can be urged against a separate province for them. They have shown that it will be a financially self-supporting province. They have refuted the geographical arguments and put forward a practical proposition in these words: "We demand to-day the unification of the 8 districts of Belgaum, Dharwar, Bijapur, Karwar, Mangalore. Bellary, Coorg, and Nilgiri and the five outlying taluks of Kollegal, Hosur, Krishnagiri, Madakasira and Sholapur. Their total area is 35,408 sq. miles and population is 63,57,762. Except the district of Nilgiri and the four talukas, Kollegal, Hosur, Krishnagiri and Madakasira, the whole territory is contiguous; and even that district and those talukas can be approached through Kannada territory, namely, Mysore". For the present, the Karnatakas wisely postpone the unification of the territory situated in the Indian States, leaving that question to be tackled in connection with the scheme of self-government in which Indian States have also to be included.

The advocates of linguistic provinces, however find themselves in a situation which presents considerable difficulty in pressing forward the programme. A demand for the reorganisation of provinces under British administration necessarily involves a recognition of that administration and invoking the assistance of the constituted authorities who are the British Parliament and the Governments in England and India. The Andhras who were till 1920 inconveniently clamorous about the Telugu districts being constituted into a separate province, had to virtually abandon their agitation for two reasons. The Non-co-operation programme adumbrated in that year at the special session of the Calcutta Congress effectively barred all further atempt in creating a new legislature for the province, because the boycott of legislative councils was a live item on the Congress agenda. That settled the matter against the province so far as orthodox Non-co-operators were concerned. There were, however, more moderate Congressmen who did not accept the triple boycott, but who were pledged not to work dyarchy, as they considered the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms to be "unsatisfactory, inadequate and disappointing." To them also, a demand for a province with a dyarchical form of government was unthinkable. So the political programmes of the no-changers as well as the pro-changers alike stifled the linguistic provinces movement. They exhausted the advanced political section of the people. When I had to bring up the question before the Council of State, I had necessarily to so frame my resolution as to steer clear of the dilemma. So I urged for the formation of a separate Andhra province with full responsible government. Full responsible government at that time was a proposition which could be advanced within the four corners of a British constitution for India. But to-day the matter is further complicated by later developments. The Congress stands committed to the goal of complete Independence, outside the British connection. It is true that Congressmen have eleven months and 8 days more at their disposal within which time they can without offending Congress discipline put forward a claim for a separate province and ask British legislatures to constitute it if Dominion Status for India is conceded in its entirety in the form in which it is embodied in the Nehru report. If Dominion Status on those conditions is not conceded, it is not open to Congressmen to agree to the constitution of new provinces, much less to ask for them on the basis of the present Government of India Act.

Practical difficulties apart, the very desire of the Karnatakas for independence and a self-governing province, is bound to help them to raise themselves and the Indian Nation in the estimation of the world. The old adage ‘deserve and desire’ is in my opinion a perversion of an ideal. No one can be said to deserve anything until at least he begins to desire it. It will be more correct to preach ‘desire and deserve’. The advocates of linguistic provinces never put their case merely on the basis of good government for themselves. I shall assume that British administration ensures good government. Campbell Bannerman is given credit for the statement that good government is not a substitute for self-government. One can legitimately go further and say that good government is an enemy of self-government. People are lulled into placid, pathetic contentment by good government and forget to agitate for freedom of true self-government. So the Karnatakas seek self-government and an autonomous Karnataka province as a limb of a self-governing federal India; not to secure good government but to attain the ideal of a free, organised and United Karnataka.

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