From the pages of history

GROWTH OF KANNADA

From the pages of history

The 1920s marked the rise of Kannada journalism. ‘Bhakta Bandhu’, a monthly published from Koppal during 1919-21, is said to be the first Kannada newspaper of the H-K region.Srinivas Sirnoorkar traces the history of journalism in the region.

The Hyderabad Karnataka region is known for its vibrancy in the fields of politics, language, literature and culture in ancient and medieval periods. It is the cradle of Kannada language and literature; the first Kannada literary work ‘Kavirajamarga’ dating back to 850 AD was found here, proving Kannada’s antiquity.

The region has seen three mighty kingdoms, the Rashtrakutas of the seventh century at Malkhed, the Chalukyas of the tenth century at Kalyan (now Basavakalyan) and the Bahmani empire of the 14th century in Gulbarga.

The Vachana form of literature originated here. Jedara Dasimayya of Mudanur in Surapur taluk in the 11th century was the pioneer of Vachana literature.

His legacy grew under the stewardship of legendary social reformer Basaveshwara of the 12th century. Daasa Sahitya, another prominent form of literature, essentially of the bhakti cult, reached its zenith thanks to the contribution of daasa trio Vijayadasa, Gopaladasa and Jagannathadasa, all from Raichur district. It is impossible to imagine Kannada literature minus Vachana and daasa literature.

However, when it comes to Kannada journalism, it was Marathi and Urdu which scored over Kannada. It was not without reason. After the advent of the Moghuls in the 14th century, there was a powerful political and linguistic transformation. The establishment of the Bahamani kingdom in Gulbarga in 1347 AD and much later, the rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad till 1948, were some factors that shaped the growth of languages other than Kannada.

Early journalism

The first signs of journalism in the region can be traced to the period of Bahamani king Tazuddin Feroz Shah (1397-1422) who had an intense fascination for literature and culture. Feroz Shah, grandson of Hasan Bahaman Shah, founder of the Bahaman empire, was also a poet and calligrapher. He started producing a bi-weekly 16-page periodical of the texts of the holy Quran.

Mohammed Gawan (1463-82) was an eminent prime minister who initiated educational reforms, library movement and even started a university at Bidar. However, not many efforts were made to encourage Kannada.

Rise of modern journalism

Modern journalism made a late entry into the H-K region through ‘Gulbarga Samachar’, a Marathi newspaper started in 1893 by a certain Parashuram Bodse. The newspaper was modern in terms of content. Scanning through the edition dated July 25, 1901, can provide interesting insights. The paper was sold to poor subscribers at a lower price and to rich subscribers at a higher price.

It had its own ad tariff card. For every line of 16 letters, the rate was one ana (six paise). The edition also has a curious divorce notice. A woman issues a notice in the newspaper seeking a valid medical certificate supporting improvement in her husband’s health! If he fails to do so, she warns through the newspaper, the notice would be treated as divorce! Apart from this, the edition contains a serialised article on saintly figure Manikprabhu apart from an article on the Veerashaiva saint, Sharanabasaveshwar. A crime report comprising details of a dreaded criminal and a weather report form the rest of the newspaper.

‘Bidar Gazette’

Bidar has the distinction of opening its account in journalism by way of a Urdu paper called ‘Bidar Gazette’ which was launched on October 8, 1907.

It was Karnataka’s second Urdu paper after ‘Khasimul Akhbar’ (published from Bangalore from 1862). After these two experiments, a few Marathi and Urdu papers hit the stands but did not lost long.

It was in the early 1920s that Kannada journalism gained prominence. ‘Bhakta Bandhu’, a monthly published from Koppal during 1919-21 is said to be the first Kannada news paper of the H-K region. It was followed by ‘Dharma Sanjeevini’ in Raichur in 1922. Both were religious papers.

In Gulbarga district, Kannada journalism made a mark in 1925 through the monthly ‘Nizam Nyaya Teerpu’ . The paper was published from Rangampet in Surapur taluk. It was edited by Gurayya Sugurmath.

Interestingly, it was not a mainstream news paper but devoted to law and justice focusing mainly on the judgements delivered by courts in the Nizam’s state. It may provide insights in to the civil and criminal justice system prevailing in the Nizam’s dominion.

Today, Gulbarga has become a major publishing hub. After the formation of the linguistic state in 1956, Kannada journalism gathered momentum. 

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