Rise above pettiness

There are certain things that are best ignored. The jarring voices of a small section of Kannada writers and artists against inviting N R Narayana Murthy to inaugurate the Vishwa Kannada Sammelana (World Kannada Conference) eminently belong to this category. If this section had fancied success for its campaign launched some ten days ago, it is certainly hopelessly misplaced optimism. The organisers have rightly chosen to ignore the discordant voices. As the Infosys chief mentor prepared to open the meet in Belgaum on Friday, it is heartening to note that the campaign had hardly any takers and there hasn’t been even an iota of support among the public.

The meet is not just about Kannada literature. It is really about celebrating the state’s distinct identity; it is a celebration of its successes. Kannadigas from all walks of life and wherever they might be are part of this celebration. It did not require Murthy to announce to the world what his company has done over the years for Bangalore and Karnataka over the last two decades. What he shared with Deccan Herald Thursday — that his company has provided gainful employment to over 50,000 Kannadigas — is just one aspect of the Infosys story. But more than providing employment to locals it has helped establish Bangalore as India’s new economy capital and firmly placed the city on the world IT map.

Until the 1990s, it is doubtful if American presidents had bothered to know much about India. Today, Bangalore’s new class of entrepreneurs — of which Murthy is certainly the leader — has ensured that the White House incumbent cannot afford to be ignorant about this city. Perhaps, nobody has ever been as good an advertisement for Bangalore as Murthy in recent years, whether in the country or abroad. And, in Karnataka, Infosys has virtually been a passport to rapid economic empowerment for thousands of rural households. The success of Infosys and other IT and ITES companies globally has spurred economic growth and development in Bangalore and, indeed, across the state. Murthy was certainly not invited to inaugurate the Belgaum conclave for any contribution to Kannada literature. Neither is the meet only about Kannada literature. As it is about celebrating the successes of the state’s identity, can there be better ambassadors to showcase the achievements than, among others, the Murthys, the Premjis, the Anil Kumbles and the Rahul Dravids of the cricket world and the Aishwarya Rais and the Shilpa Shettys of Bollywood? Let’s grow up.

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