A few months ago a video of a farmer singing a Justin Bieber song surfaced on the internet and went viral. The farmer is an Indian and from the state of Karnataka. How do I know? The person shooting the video and the farmer speak in Kannada with each other before the latter starts to sing. Even people who couldn’t understand that the language spoken is Kannada could get a hint from the title of the video.
Being a Kannadati (Kannada speaking female) myself, I could not contain myself hearing a Kannadiga (Kannada speaking male) singing in English with so much swag and accent, and commented on the post “He is from Karnataka. Proud of him.” Lo and behold, I was entertained for a week by people who almost called me anti-national. Why? According to them, I was supposed to comment “He is from India. Proud of him.” But I mentioned my state’s name and that was my mistake according to some netizens who don’t even know how to pronounce Kannada and Karnataka. For them, the ‘a’ at the end of both Kannada and Karnataka turn into Mr. India and therefore they can neither read it nor include it in general conversation.
Indians know of Karnataka as one of the states, but Kannada is not as famous language as Tamil and Malayalam among Indians. This is despite Kannada being on our currency notes, even on the new ones. It is just the sheer joy of listening to my mother tongue. Most of the people who asked me to first be proud of India think it is wrong to be proud of my native language and native land which is inside India. Some people are so ignorant about Kannada and Karnataka they think Karnatak (the a at the end again went for a toss) is a caste in itself and not a state! Their replies were meant to be enraging, but all I could do was pity them. A whole lot of Indians need to understand India is made individual states and their cultures. You respect them all and they respect you in return. It is just a case of give-and-take. The matter of Kannada and Karnataka is one such case.
Let me introduce Karnataka to you. The State of Mysore, the same Mysore, now Mysuru, which you throng to witness the grandeur of Dasara (oops, was I supposed to spell it as Dussehra? eff off) was formed on 1 Nov 1956. But the State of Mysore came to be known as Karnataka in 1973. That’s a very formal introduction, isn’t it? And you are still not able to relate to it, are you? Let me introduce it this way. We have Bangalore, now Bengaluru, remember? Yeah! Now, you are with me. Yes, Bengaluru, the same city where other Indian workers of IT industry want to live. Did I say worker? Oh, software engineer, so sorry! That’s what your parents wanted you to be, right? They make almost 1/4th of Indians. I guess that is all what people know about Karnataka, if at all they know that Bengaluru is part of Karnataka. It is the same city that has been tolerating your “Kannad gotthila” and “No Kannad” for years. I don’t think even if I talk about our lush green forests, literary geniuses, dance forms, freedom fighters, tourism, richness of affiliated languages, martyrs, etc, it matters to anyone because according to them, I should first be proud of me being an Indian irrespective of whether my accusers know what India is made up of.
After a week of random internet trolls and bullies trying to teach me nationalism, I finally said “I don’t give a damn of what you think of me. I am proud of my nativity.” I haven’t received any further replies since then.
I am proud of Kannada and Karnataka and it should not be a problem to any Indian as I haven’t commented “I am an Indian and I am not proud of India.” Even if I do, the only right you have is to ask me “Why?”