Independence, that often used word

Independence Day is coming up and it’s a good time to reflect on the word itself. Let’s take a look at how the word plays out in public life in our own city and state.

Karnataka’s Lokayukta position opened up over a year ago and the state government has still not filled the position. Such is the fear of an independent Lokayukta, after Justice Santosh Hegde indicted official after official.

Bengaluru Metropolitan Task Force’s head IPS officer Rajvir Sharma, responding to citizen complaints on illegal buildings, threatened prosecution against over a 100 BBMP engineers. BMTF’s legal mandate allows it this independence. Not only is there a massive backlash against Sharma, the state government is now reportedly considering clipping BMTF’s powers!

There are scores of examples like this, where authorities that are supposed to function independently, are not allowed to do so, in our independent nation. The problem is not a local one. It is national and is also partly the reason behind the anti-corruption movement.

Let’s move from government to society. Bangalore today harbours profound resentment on not enough Kannada being spoken here. Even worse is that entire generations of children of affluent and middle income families have grown up in the city’s English medium schools frowning on the very idea of speaking Kannada! Every once in a while, there is a backlash. However, neither the occasional incident, nor the more reserved frustration of linguists, scholars, poets and artists appears to have done to Kannada what a netizen community has started doing.

They are making Kannada sakkath cool. Around one lakh Kannadigas on Facebook, largely in their 30s, have been quietly raising the coolness quotient of the language itself. They’ve pushed for a number of things ranging from getting the language into bank challans, ATM machines and British Airways in-flight instructions. Read our report on page 13 for more.

This group has shown they can think independently from others who feel the same angst about the language. They do not resort to jingoism, violence and foul play to express angst. They are also not content with incisive and indicting prose on the dilemma.

This is only the most recent local example that Indians are thinking and speaking independently. That’s the silver lining in a situation where our governments actually prefer to shut down independence.