Rajyasabha elections in Karnataka are over and the industrialist has won over the writer.
Yes, Rajeev Chandrashekhar managed to ‘buy’ the most number of votes in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly and has been elected to the Rajyasabha. What he will do in the next six years remains to be seen, but if we go by our own past experience with other politicians and industrialists who are sent to Delhi to represent the people of Karnataka, we have no reason to expect much. There is no question in my mind that Prof. Ananthamurthy would have been an ideal representative.
As Ananthamurthy himself said many times even before the elections, he had already achieved his purpose just by contesting. People have begun to talk about who should represent them in the Parliament and what should we expect from them. Participating in the electoral process isn’t always about winning and Prof. Ananthamurthy is absolutely right: just getting a conversation started is a good thing.
I must say I was deeply disappointed at the quality of this conversation. Except for two decent OPED pieces by conservative commentators Ravi Belagere and Vishesvar Bhat (both are in Kannada), comments by politicians and especially, Kannada writers were deplorable. I don’t know what ails Kannada writers but the pettiness and personal animosity that comes out on such occasions is tragic to watch. What is gained by characterizing Ananthamurthy as a plagiarist or questioning his character, except displaying their ignorance and narrow mind? Let our obejctions not be merely trivial and procedural, as was the case with some politicians, who wanted Ananthamurthy to have approached them well in advance.Let our criticisms be substantial and broadbased. This was an occasion to discuss substantively both the role of our elected representatives as well as our own concpetions of Kannada subjectivity. Instead, this conversation turned into a series of third rate comments on Ananthamurthy’s writing and activism and a narrow conception of what it means to a Kannadiga. So we had the worst of both worlds - bad literary criticism and scary identity politics. Perhaps, to expect anything else is too much to ask for.
1. Read this nice essay by Gideon Haigh on the Age of Batting, a new discussion series on Cricinfo. It’s pretty good and Haigh raises some very valid issues. I will write a short entry later in the week, after other contributors have written their entries.
2. Among events of the strange variety, a Botany lecturer from Mangalore A Ramesh lectured on the ‘molecular logic of life’ for 98 hours and 33 minutes to set a new record for the longest ever lecture. Apparently, there are rules and verification procedures at events such as this. What’s up with Indians and the Guinness book of world records? When I was growing up, Guinness show was one of the most popular shows on Doordarshan. Read Vinay Lal’s very nice essay in his book Of Cricket, Guinness and Gandhi on the obsession of Indians with Guinness records.