Author: Rakshith S Ponnathpur’s Blog
I came across this meme yesterday and it gives a perfect description about typical urban Kannadigas. This is a definite side-effect of following Indian English media diligently and believing we have got Indian news and current affairs covered. We unknowingly become a part of their tiny bubble which doesn’t extend beyond two parties, a person who has thrived on the disproportionately high coverage they have given him, their own personal battles and many non–issues they regularly get obsessed with and blow out of proportion even though those issues have ZERO impact on ground. And we forget there exists an India beyond what they show!
We also discussed in depth about Brexit’s consequences, have been losing our heads over how screwed up USA can get if Trump manages to win, have opinions about Boris Johnsons, Nigel Farages, Le Pens and Sanders. Great! I’m not implying that following international affairs is bad. What I’m pointing out here is our ‘ಮನೆಗೆ ಮಾರಿ, ಊರಿಗೆ ಉಪಕಾರಿ’ (Useless at home, helpful everywhere else) attitude, of worrying about everything under the sun except those issues which affect us directly.
The disinterest we show the moment someone starts talking about an Ettina Hole or a Kalasa-Banduri, a Dinesh Gundurao or Krishna Byre Gowda, at the most coming up with a cynical “ಅಯ್ಯೋ, ಈ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿಗಳು ನಾಲಾಯಕ್ಕು. ಏನ್ ಹೇಳಿ ಏನು ಪ್ರಯೋಜನ? ಬಿಡು ಗುರು!” (Karnataka politicians are anyway useless, what’s the point in discussing about them? Chuck!) and quickly moving on to other important issues like the 28 year old azadi guy’s latest words of wisdom and passionately discussing it for hours together, is what has contributed to the sheer toothlessness, visionlessness and leaderlessness that Karnataka polity suffers from, today. It’s a vicious cycle, a problem for which we have been equally responsible.
The fundamental problem with us is we set unnecessarily high moral standards for ourselves and we make it our life’s aim to live by them irrespective of how practically harmful they may be for our interests. This explains our “We are hospitable, so if Chinese and Spanish guys come here tomorrow, learning Mandarin and Spanish is the way to go!” and “We believe nation is first. State’s politics is anyway crappy, let us not worry about it and instead concentrate on more important issues concerning India” attitudes. A half-state Chief Minister’s theatrics and some student leader’s craziness are important issues, alright!
Little do we realize that worrying 24/7 about people who don’t even affect us won’t help India in any way, but worrying about and influencing the polity and policies of our state, definitely will. If we stay apathetic, it’s an invitation for our politicians to stay apathetic because they know of Avogadro number of ways to get votes of other less educated sections who apparently participate extensively. Unless we contribute to public opinions and dictate political narratives, our politicians will neither feel the need to be accountable nor see any incentives/reasons to perform.
But if we keep track of our state’s affairs along with all the Kejriwals, Trumps and Brexits of India and the world, we will not only see the prevailing polity change for the better, but also the eventual emergence of new leaders, journalists, thinkers and policymakers from this very section, who can further influence and contribute to the betterment of state and national polity, directly and indirectly. In whichever way we look at it, abstaining from worrying about home politics is not going to help, not our state and definitely not India. India will do well only if her states do well and sooner we realize this, the better it will be for India.
Let us start today to keep track of Karnataka’s polity. Let us be opinionated and outspoken about issues that concern our state and keep our representatives in check! Let us start contributing to the public opinions and political narratives that reverberate in Vidhana Soudha. We should realize that our desire to be nationalists or global citizens needn’t and shouldn’t come at the cost of our home’s anguish. We can follow national and international affairs even while being active followers of state affairs. They aren’t mutually exclusive. And trust me, it’s not very difficult. So, shall we?