Karnataka's pride

The richness of Kannada language and its literature has once again been honoured at the national level with the conferring of Jnanpith Award on the versatile genius of Chandrashekhara Kambar, who stands on a pedestal of his own for his contribution to unearthing the jewels from the folklore, chiselling them to a modern idiom and showcasing their incandescent lustre through his literary works.

Kambar, 74, joins an illustrious band of seven other Jnanpith awardees from Karnataka and he is eminently qualified to join the pantheon of litterateurs like Kuvempu, D R Bendre, Shivarama Karanth, Masti Venkatesha Iyengar, V K Gokak, U R Ananthamurthy and Girish Karnad, who too were honoured with what is recognised as the nation’s highest literary award. Starting out as a poet with earthly and romantic sentiments, Kambar blossomed into a playwright who brought out a whole range of human drama to the fore and also, a novelist with unique sensibilities.
  
Other modern greats like Gopalakrishna Adiga, K S Narasimhaswamy and P Lankesh may have, regrettably, missed out on Jnanpith Award, but Kambar drew inspiration from each one of them. Born in a remote village in Belgaum district, he drew liberally from the traditional folk culture of north Karnataka and its Kannada dialect and seamlessly enmeshed his experience with post-modern poetry and theatre for his literary output. Kambar stamped his class with poetry collections like ‘Helathena Kela,’

‘Thakararinavaru,’ ‘Savirada Neralu’ ‘Belli Meenu’ and plays like ‘Jokumaraswamy,’ ‘Sangya Balya, ‘Rushya Shrunga, ‘Siri Sampige’ and ‘Harakeya Kuri.’ He has also penned highly acclaimed novels like ‘Singarewwa Mattu Aramane’ and ‘Shikara Soorya’ among others.

Kambar also dabbled in cinema and some of his films have won national awards. He taught Kannada literature at Bangalore University for over two decades and he was the first vice chancellor of Kannada University at Hampi.

Kambar, of late, has been articulating the decline of Kannada as a language directly as a result of the government’s policy of neglect of Kannada medium schools and encouragement to the English medium. His worries may be justified when one looks at the steep fall in the interest among students and parents for learning  Kannada, and the absence of job opportunities for those who study in the Kannada medium.

The government should consult writers like Kambar and Rashtrakavi G S Shivarudrappa to lay a roadmap for the urgent revival of the language which has produced so many proud sons and daughters.

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