Post Independent Karnataka- Political Consolidation, Reports and Disputes

Post Independent Karnataka- Political Consolidation, Reports and Disputes



Political Integration


India gained independence in 1947. The new government soon began delaying concerning the Karnataka Ekikarana movement. Kannada speaking areas were now grouped under five administrative units of the Bombay and Madras provinces, Kodagu, and the princely states of Mysore and Hyderabad. The Akhila Karnataka Ekikarana Parishat met in Kasargod and reiterated the demand for a separate state for Kannadigas.


While Karnataka became independent with the rest of the country on 15 August 1947, this did not occur in some parts of the state that were under the rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Hyderabad consisted of large portions of what were later to be the north eastern districts of Bidar, Gulbarga and Raichur of Karnataka state. The Lingayat minority in these regions also largely believed that they had been neglected and resented the oppression of the Nizam and the Razakars. The Nizam refused to accede to India until his rule was overthrown by force. Following the ‘police action’ against the Nizam, Hyderabad province and its citizens became independent on 17 September 1948. This day is celebrated by the Karnataka government as the Hyderabad-Karnataka liberation day.







On November 1, 1956, the state of Mysore was formed following linguistic re-organization. It included four districts from the former Bombay state, three districts of Hyderabad state, a district and a taluk of the Old Madras state, the state of Coorg and the princely state of Mysore.

In the same year, the government appointed the Dhar commission to look into the demands of the Ekikarana movement as well as those of the other parallel movements in the other states. The Dhar commission in its report, opposed any reorganisation of the states. This was criticised by all quarters including the Jaipur Congress.

The government now formed the ‘JVP’ committee. This committee had Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhai Patel and Dr Pattabhi Sitaramayya on the board. This committee examined the demands again and created a report. The JVP report, however, favoured only the creation of the Andhra state while the Karnataka Ekikarana movement was deliberately ignored. The Ekikarana movement saw this as a betrayal of the Congress which had declared the creation of linguistic provinces as one of its goals in its 1951 manifesto.



It was only in 1973, under the chief ministership of Devaraj Urs that the state was renamed as Karnataka. The term Karnataka has its roots in terms that find mention in literary texts that are several hundred years ago. According to UR Ananthamurthy, the Kavirajamarga refers to the land from Cauvery to Godavari where Kannada is spoken as Kannada desha. “It is probably one of the earliest instances of defining a land in terms of a language spoken by a people,” Ananthamurthy says.

Although there was a demand for the unification of all Kannada-speaking areas, there was opposition too, mostly from the Mysore region.

The demand for unification in the 1950s and before came from the inequality that Kannada-speaking people faced in other administrative regions. They felt that their social economic development was ignored in these regions because of their lack of numerical strength.

However, it was felt by some in the Mysore region that merging the Kannada-speaking regions would place strain on Mysore’s resources. In his essay titled “Kannada and Mysore” author KN Subrahmanya notes that there was a demand to have two Kannada states, one with areas adjacent to Mysore and the other comprised of areas to the north of Mysore. There was also a fear among Vokkaligas – who are concentrated in the Mysore region – that they would be numerically outnumbered if all Kannada-speaking areas were united.

Nijalingappa had played an important role in the Unification of Karnataka. Hence after the Unification of Karnataka in 1956, Nijalingappa became the natural choice for the post of Chief Minister.


Karnataka has a parliamentary system of government with two democratically elected houses, the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. The Legislative Assembly consists of 224 members who are elected for five-year terms. The Legislative Council is a permanent body of 75 members with one-third (25 members) retiring every two years

Finally, The states were reorganised based on the linguistic and other criteria and thus the divided areas of Kannada speaking population came together to form the present day Karnataka under the name of Mysore. On 1973 November 1, the name Mysore was changed to Karnataka. The state choose the city of Bangalore as its capital and gave Kannada the status of administrative language. The Vidhana Soudha build by Kengal Hanumanthya became the state parliament house. The Attara Kachery was made the state high court.

Politics in Karnataka has been dominated by three political parties, the Indian National Congress, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Politicians from Karnataka have played prominent roles in federal government of India with some of them having held the high positions of Prime Minister and Vice-President. Border disputes involving Karnataka’s claim on the Kasaragod and Solapur districts and Maharashtra’s claim on Belgaum are ongoing since the states reorganisation. The official emblem of Karnataka has a Ganda Berunda in the centre. Surmounting this are four lions facing the four directions, taken from the Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath. The emblem also carries two Sharabhas with the head of an elephant and the body of a lion.






Backward classes and Devaraja Urs reforms


After Independence, a successful agitation was launched by the Mysore Congress to wrest political power from the royal family, thereby making the state a systematic part of the larger political system, that is, Indian Union. The Constitution of India with subscribing to a parliamentary democracy and universal adult franchise was introduced in 1950. These developments further strengthened the power and influence of numerically dominant non-Brahmin communities of Karnataka like Vokkaligas and Lingayaths and lessened the political significance of minority Brahmin community. Among them, it was the largest Vokkaliga caste-group, which exercised political dominance till the reorganisation of states and formation of Greater Karnataka in 1956.


Regarding the reservation policy, up to 1956, Miller Committee recommendations were implemented in Mysore state, without any increase in reservation quota given to the backward castes. The government too was not in a position to reduce backward class benefits since they already secured intellectual and social support for their movement by that time. When Kaka Kalelkar Report was published reaction to it was quick and pointed. He had suggested in his covering letter that all women as a class, all villagers as a class etc. should be treated as Backward Classes. On 22nd May 1956, a Conference of Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was held at Ranebennur to protest against the recommendations of Kalelkar.


The Mysore Government, in fact, reduced the Brahmin dominance indirectly by introducing a legislation for tenancy abolition that made the Brahmins lose their inam lands to the tenants. In 1956, under the State Reorganisation Plan, the State of Mysore was enlarged to include the Lingayat dominated districts of Hyderabad Karnataka and Bombay-Karnataka region along with Coorg, making Lingayat community the largest caste group in Karnataka. In 1961, the relative share of Lingayat community in the population of Karnataka rose to 15.57 percent reducing the dominant Vokkaliga community that had 12.98 percent population, to the third position, the second position being occupied by the Scheduled Castes.


The unification further increased the heterogeneity of the general social composition of Karnataka State, particularly that of backward class category, demanding a reformulation of reservation policy. The Government issued an order in July 1958 treating all non-Brahmins except Christians and Muslims as backward, specifying 57 per cent reservation. When this order was disapproved by the Court, the Government issued another order in 1959 . The 1959 order divided the population of the state into 14 groups and compartmental reservation to each group was introduced, providing 45 per cent reservation in educational institutions and 57 per cent in government jobs.


After the High Court struck down the orders, the State Government appointed a “Mysore Backward Classes Committee” under the chairmanship of a backward class political leader Nagana Gowda to identify socially and educationally backward people and to recommend the extent of reservation to them.


The Nagana Gowda Committee:


The Nagana Gowda committee submitted its ‘Interim Report’ in 1960 identifying backwardness on grounds of literacy in relation to caste or community and the representation of the latter in services. Accepting the interim recommendations, the Government issued an order treating very few castes and communities as Backward Classes and reserving only 25 per cent of seats in educational institutions for them. Surprisingly, this order was also challenged in the High Court in Partha case, but the court upheld the order.


The adoption of economic and occupational criteria for identifying Backward Classes created tremendous amount of frustration among the non-dominant backward classes throughout the state. It was also widely felt that the Government order of 1963 did not benefit the truly Backward Classes, or castes, which required to be helped, but mostly benefited certain dominant communities such as Brahmins, Lingayats and Vokkaligas.


All these developments aroused a feeling of hostility among the non-dominant backward classes against sections of people, who they felt were responsible for taking away the benefits intended to them with the help of successive political regimes headed by Lingayat chief ministers. Thus it became inevitable for the non-dominant backward caste groups to fight an organised political battle against dominant sections and create a space for themselves in the state politics. The split in the Congress into Congress (O) and Congress (R) provided a platform for the marginalised sections to fight for their cause. When the landed elite belonging to dominant communities supported Congress (O), the Backward Classes stood in favour of Congress (R) led by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.


Further, change in the political leadership reinforced this tendency. Devaraj Urs, who was till then a light weight in Karnataka politics, supported Mrs. Indira Gandhi and her Congress (R). When Devaraj Urs was elected to the office of chief ministership the state of Karnataka came to have, for the first time, a ministry headed by a person belonging to a non-dominant minority community. 1972-79 ; Emergence of Non-Dominant Classes: If the period from 1947 to 1956 saw Vokkaliga dominance, from 1956 to 1972, the state was ruled by a series of Lingayat Chief Ministers. Some scholars even hold the view that the Vokkaliga and Lingayat dominance should be strictly seen as dominance within a hegemonic alliance of upper caste Brahmins with dominant middle-caste groups supported by the Scheduled Castes and Muslims under the common umbrella of the Congress party. From this power-holding alliance, the heterogeneous groups of intermediate castes, also known as Backward Classes, were excluded. It was Devaraj Urs, who promptly set about attacking the power of Lingayats and Vokkaligas in the party and the state and opened up avenue for the previously excluded sections of society to come forward to take the leadership position in the state politics. As a part of the over all political strategy Devaraj Urs introduced a policy of retaining the Scheduled Caste and Muslim components of the old alliance and combine them with backward castes and communities like Kurubas, Yadavas, Bedas, Besthas, Idigas, Barbers, Smiths etc., while at the same time placating key Lingayat and Vokkaliga leaders.





He successfully made this alliance numerically significant and ideologically viable to break the political backbone of the dominant groups. In fact, Devaraj Urs made the Backward Class Movement politically viable.. Socio-Political Strategy Pursued by Urs: In a bid to realise the slogans of bringing about radical reforms and make his regime responsive to the newly recruited social groups to his grand alliance Urs pursued a two-pronged socio-political strategy Firstly, he sought to channelise the major share in the politics of the state and spoils that had once gone mainly to Lingayats and Vokkaligas to disadvantaged groups. Urs, being the president of the Pradesh Congress Committee managed to distribute more number of party tickets at the 1972 state elections to the aspirants from disadvantaged groups and a smaller number to Lingayats and Vokkaligas than ever before.


In the 1978 elections Urs had put up 117 candidates from backward and other communities and only 72 from dominant communities. Besides providing more representation in the legislative bodies, Urs nurtured and carefully built up political leaders hailing from the Backward Classes, Scheduled castes, Scheduled Tribes and Minority groups. Under his patronage several new leaders emerged from these sections of society, some of whom even made an impact at the national level.

Urs used every opportunity to stimulate caste sentiments in his efforts to develop his new political base. Urs was very active in his attempts to revive dormant caste associations among artisans and service castes. He channeled money and resources-both party funds and governmental patronageto these associations and public rallies.


Empowerment of Backward Classes through Socio – Economic Measures:


Urs himself realised the caste-class nexus in Indian context and the various socio-economic reforms introduced by him in 1970s could be viewed as an attempt to qualify caste by class and class by caste.


The major reforms introduced by Urs were


  1. Redefining the backward castes/communities to be eligible for special treatment by appointing a commission.
  2. Implementation of progressive Land Reforms Act.


  1. Legislative – administrative measures aiming at improving the lot of the rural poor.


First Backward Classes Commission (Havanur) :


One of the early acts on assuming office by Devaraj Urs was to constitute a backward classes commission88 under the chairmanship of L.G.Havanur, a Bangalore advocate belonging to the Beda Community. The Commission submitted a wellresearched and widely acclaimed report in 1975. The Commission first identified_the backward castes/communities by applying multiple tests such as economic, residential and occupational. Among the communities so identified, for educational purposes under Article 15(4), the Commission classified Backward Classes into three categories.


  1. Category 1 consisting of 15 backward communities
  2. Category 2 consisting of 128 backward castes.
  3. Category 3 consisting of 62 backward tribes.


As the Commission treated only one populous community, Vokkaligas, as backward, but not the Lingayats, Muslims and Christians, The controversial claim made by the commission is that the Lingayats, Muslims and Christian communities were not treated as backward. the Government while implementing the recommendations made some crucial changes. As a part of his political expediency, Urs included Muslims as a whole in category 1, and the Scheduled Caste converts to Christianity up to the second generation in category 2. To satisfy the Brahmins, Lingayats and other forward communities, the government contrived a ‘Backward Special Group’, without reference to their castes and was made eligible for 5 per cent reservation, which was later expanded to 15 percent.


One of the important parts of the Havanur Commission report was that although the Commission considered caste as a unit for inclusion or exclusion, it recognised even the sub-castes, or occupation based classes within large caste-groups.


Among the recommendations of the Commission, the important ones were constitution of an Advisory Board for Backward Classes, award of scholarships, provision for hostel facilities, creation of a separate Directorate for Backward Classes and setting up a Finance Corporation for Backward Classes. The Government of Karnataka accepted these recommendations and accordingly, it constituted Backward Classes Advisory Board96, Directorate of Backward Classes and Minorities and Karnataka State Backward Classes and Minorities Development Corporation.


Land Reforms:


Land reforms could be viewed as one of the very effective methods of organising or reorganising material conditions of production and relations of social groups involved in such a process. In India, such reforms would definitely enhance social cohesion and increase the legitimacy of the existing order. Although it was a part of the progressive policies pursued by the Central Government under Congress (R), after the 1969 split in the Congress Party, all chief ministers did not fall in line with the central concern on land reforms. But Congress (R) Government in Karnataka led by Devaraj Urs which was locked up in its political battle with Congress (O) dominated by upper castes and large landed interests in the rural areas, quickly responded to the central guidelines and passed the Land Reforms (amendment) Act 1974 as an attempt to win the rural masses to its side.


The important provision of the new Act were :


First, the Act abolished leasing of agricultural land by all types of persons except soldiers and seamen.


Secondly, the right of resumption was completely eliminated.


Thirdly, the Act showed its concern for the interests of landless labourers. Through a special provision that came into being in 1979, it provided agricultural labourers ownership rights over dwelling sites.


Fourthly, The land ceilings were also fixed as per the central guidelines. In order to ensure that land was swiftly transferred from non-cultivating owners to the tenants, the Amendment set up land tribunals at least one per Taluk.


Welfare Measures for the Weaker Sections:


Urs also initiated a number of measures intended to improve the conditions of unprivileged sections of the population. Making use of internal emergency then in operation and with a view to implement 20 point programme of Mrs.Gandhi, the Government passed Minimum Wages Act and made employers comply with it. Significant steps were taken to put an end to bonded labour in the state. A Debt Relief Act, People’s Housing Scheme, old age pension to the destitutes and disabled, bank finance to artisans, free legal aid, restructuring of the co-operative societies and a number of other such programmes were initiated for the benefit of underprivileged sections.


Though most of the above mentioned programmes were initiated and introduced in general terms, it was actually intended to reach the social groups providing electoral support to his regime. Urs succeeded in making the opposition to concentrate on the issues he had selected viz., poverty eradication and uplift of the Backward Classes. All that the opposition could do was to protest that the programmes were not being implemented effectively.


1980-83 : Political Reassertion bv the Dominant Castes:


A bloc of opposition Congressmen in the Assembly loyal to Indira Gandhi and led by R.Gundu Rao came to power with the resignation of Devaraj Urs. The regime of Gundu Rao departed both from Lingayat/Vokkaliga dominated governments of the pre-1972 era and the Urs’ governments’ preference for disadvantaged groups by channeling resources in a largely even-handed manner both to prosperous and to disadvantaged groups. Gundu Rao failed to construct a workable electoral coalition by carefully distributing political patronage among different socio-economic groups. The legislators who supported Gundu Rao government came from diverse socio-economic background.


Gundu Rao, being a Brahmin could not establish an image of a backward class leader as Urs did. He could not even prevent the alienation of a remarkably broad array of social groups by mishandling of things. In contrast to the innumerable schemes introduced by Devaraj Urs, it is hard to point to any decision taken by Gundu Rao regime in the direction of improving the lots of the socially deprived sections of the society.


The votes polled by the Congress(I) fell to 40 per cent in 1983 elections from over 52 per cent in 1978 elections.





Janata Era:


The Janata-Kranti-Ranga combine that won a total of 94 seats in 1983 election, was supported by Bharatiya Janata Party and Communist Parties.


Coming to the policies of the Government towards Backward Classes, as a pledge to assist the “oppressed classes”,the Janata Government had restored the bias that Urs gave to rural uplift, poverty eradication and welfare of the Backward Classes. It had undertook some new schemes along with the continuation of reformist measures launched by Devaraj Urs.


However, by 1985 the ‘pro-backward class-poor’ coating of the Janata Government began to fade away and its inclination towards dominant VokkaligaLingayat communities became apparent.


Second Backward Classes Commission (Venkataswamy):


The Janata Government under Ramakrishna Hegde constituted the Second Backward Classes Commission in April 1983, with 15 members including its chairman T. Venkataswamy, belonging to the backward Yadava (Golla) community. The Commission made one of the most comprehensive socio-economic and educational surveys ever undertaken, covering about 91 percent of the states, 3.6 crore population consisting of about 61 lakh households by door-to-door enumeration; issued wideranging questionnaires and elicited answers; interviewed large number of individuals and representatives of associations; and gathered statistical information from all available sources and formulated 17 socio-economic and employment indicators to determine backwardness.


The Commission submitted its report in March 1986. For reservation in educational institutions, the commission divided Backward Classes into Group ‘A’ with 15 castes or communities and group ‘B’ with 20 castes and communities. A reservation of 14 per cent was recommended by it for Group ‘A’ and 13 per cent for Group ‘B’.


The recommendations of the Commission were in sharp contrast to the expectations of the vested interests. Predictably, its severe restrictions and several exclusions, in particular of the dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities.

Owing to the pressure from vested interests the Janata government headed by Ramakrishna Hegde rejected the report. His excuses for rejecting the report were the Commission’s failure to proceed by the Supreme Court guidelines and its methodological inaccuracies.


The government decided to appoint a new commission but pending the report of the commission to be appointed they issued an order specifying the Backward Classes for the purpose of article 15(4) and 16(4).


Third Backward Classes Commission (Chinnappa Reddy) :


The Chinnappa Reddy Commission submitted its report to the government on 7 April 1990 in two volumes in which he expressed in unequivocal terms his abiding concern for the continuation of reservation policy and the constitutional mandate on it. Yet, in identifying backwardness he proposed caste as the primary criterion.


First, Justice Reddy examined the relative position of different castes and communities with reference to their political power, land ownership, economic prosperity, poverty, landlessness, literacy, education and employment and re-examined this position with regard to their traditional social status, gradation and hierarchy and prepared two lists of backwards and forwards.

Then he subjected his assessment of the caste/communities in these lists to the economic criterion. But by numerous illustrations Justice Reddy exposed the ‘hollowness’, the “impracticability” and the ‘undesirability’ of adopting income criterion as the sole basis for determining backwardness. After careful examination the Commission recommended 38 percent reservation for Backward Classes dividing them into three categories.


The most interesting and controversial part of the report was the exclusion of the two dominant communities Lingayats and Vokkaligas and some other smaller castes / communities like Devangas, Ganigas, Padmashalis and Catholic Christians.


Inspite of his repeated announcement that his government was committed to implement the report, Chief Minister Veerendra Patil did not take any action on the report and he extended the temporary order of 1986 for another year.





Extent of Coverage and Percentage of Reservations by Commissions


Committees/Commissions           %of population covered       % of extent of  reservation for                                                                                                                under reservation                                  OBCs/SCs/STs



Havanur Commission 1975                              63                                            50


Venkataswamy Commission 1986                           51                                    45


Chinappa Reddy Commission 1990                            95                                  68



However, the loosely knit bloc of backward castes, communities and disadvantaged sections that Urs wielded did not remain united and act as a single constituency against the machinations of the dominant castes. In the post Devaraj Urs era. the waxing and waning of the boundaries of the Backward Classes primarily abetted the reproduction of the interests of the dominant classes in the state.


Language Issues- Gokak movement


Gokak agitation was the first agitation for the language status of the Kannada language in Karnataka. It was named after the committee that was headed by V. K. Gokak. The three language formulae were adopted in the schools of Karnataka since linguistic organization of states in 1956. In the 1960s there was a strong opposition to usage of Hindi language.


Sanskrit was the dominant language in schools where students completed their education without having to study Kannada language. This created incompatibility between languages that were used for state administration and education. This led to a linguistic movement against maintaining Sanskrit as the first language in School. This movement was supported by political parties, groups of Kannada teachers, students, college and university professors, playwrights and creative writers.

V.K. Gokak was the former Vice-Chancellor of Karnataka University. He is one of the Jnanpith awardees who headed the committee appointed by the Government of Karnataka to analyse and study the linguistic issues. The report given by the committee recommended that the Government provide first language status to Kannada and also demanded the primary facilities that the language needed at the time.

Several public sectors opposed the Gokak Report which also included minorities from various non-Kannada speaking groups. Despite the report being submitted by the committee the Government had not passed any ruling. This resulted in minor protests from various groups. Public gave a moderate response and there were no signs from the Government that it intended to implement the recommendations.

Personalities of Kannada literature and cinema world that included G. Narayankumar and Rajkumar and soon the entire Kannada film industry stopped its film-making activity. The agitation gained a strong momentum and there was a drastic change in the response from the general public. The then chief minister was R. Gundu Rao announced that the recommendation of the Gokak committee was accepted and  ensured all the primary facilities that the language Kannada deserves as the mother tongue of the local people as well as the official language of the state of Karnataka.


Boundary dispute (Mahajan Committee Report)


The boundary dispute between Karnataka (then called Mysore) and Maharashtra arose over the demarcation of the boundary between the two States by the States Reorganisation Act, 1956. Located near the borders of Maharashtra and Goa, Belgaum became a part of the Bombay Presidency after Independence. In 1948, the Belgaum municipality requested that the district, having a predominant Marathi-speaking population, be incorporated into the proposed Maharashtra State. However, the State Reorganisation Act of 1956, which divided states on linguistic and administrative lines, made Belgaum a part of the Mysore State.


The unification of Karnataka was politically one of the most excruciating processes in the reorganisation of states along linguistic lines. Except for the old Mysore state, the rest of present day Karnataka has been carved out of four erstwhile regions – the Bombay-Karnataka, Hyderabad state of the Nizam, Madras province and Coorg Mahajan Commision: Maharashtra leader Senapati Bapat resorted on hunger strike demanding the government to form a commission which would address border dispute. At Maharashtra’s insistence, the Government of India constituted the Mahajan Commission on 25 October 1966. The commission was headed by the third Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, Meher Chand Mahajan. V.P. Naik, Maharashtra’s Chief Minister at that time, announced in public on 9 November 1967 that Maharashtra will adhere to Mahajan Commission’s report, regardless of the outcome. The commission, upon review of Maharashtra’s claims, recommended the exchange of several villages in Belgaum district between the two states, but rejected Maharashtra’s claim on Belgaum city The Mahajan commission received 2240 memoranda and interviewed 7572 people and submitted its report. Maharashtra had asked for 814 villages besides Belgaum. It was given 262 villages including Nippani, Khanapur and Nandgad. Mysore State had claimed 516 villages, of which Maharashtra admitted that 260 were Kannada-speaking ones. It was awarded 247 villages including claim to Solapur.


Maharashtra insisted on 1951 census, as the dispute had arisen due to States Reorganisation Act of 1956. According to 1951 census the percentages of Marathi-speakers (with Kannada-speakers in brackets) were as follows: Belgaum city: 60% (18.8%) Shahapur: 57.0% (33.2%) Belgaum cantonment: 33.6% (20.6%) Belgaum suburbs: 50.9% (21.8%) The Mahajan commission, however, used 1961 census. According to maps of 1961 census, Belgaum was surrounded by Kannada speaking areas on all sides. The Maharashtra Government rejected the Mahajan Commission’s report claiming that it was biased, illogical and against the wishes of the people.


Belgaum is the commercial hub today of north Karnataka. It is an important location for vegetable trading, fish, wood & mining resource trading in north Karnataka. Rich deposits of bauxite are found in Belgaum district, and have led to the creation of the (HINDALCO) Indian Aluminium Company for production of aluminum. Additionally, uranium deposits have recently been found in Deshnur, a small village near Belgaum . The strategic location of Belgaum, with access to Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa, offers tremendous business potential.


Water dispute


The dispute over the Cauvery river dates back to the British era, when Karnataka was a part of the Princely State of Mysore and Tamil Nadu, the Madras Presidency. Mysore wanted to start several irrigation projects in the state, which would require a lot of water from the Cauvery river. This started the strife between the two states through which a majority of the river flows. The British engineered an agreement in 1892 leading to a temporary resolution over the division of the river water.

After Independence when states where reorganized on the linguistic demography, Coorg (the birthplace of Cauvery), became a part of Mysore state. Huge part of erstwhile Hyderabad State and Bombay presidency joined with Mysore State. Parts of Malabar which earlier formed the part of Madras Presidency went to Kerala. Pondicherry became a Union Territory in 1954. All these changes brought Kerala and Pondicherry into the conflict because one of the major tributary of Cauvery, the Kabini, now lies in Kerala.

In February 2013, based on the directions of the Supreme Court, the GoI notified the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT). The year when the total water availability on the basin is more than 740 TMC and dependability of 50% was considered as the base year. The award allocated 419 TMC to Tamil Nadu, 270 TMC to Karnataka, 30 TMC to Kerala and 7 TMC to Pondicherry in the entire Cauvery Basin, including 14 TMC required for minimum environmental flows and unavoidable wastage to the sea. Karnataka can use all the excess water available in its sea after releasing 192 TMC applicable in a normal water year.

Water Use Limitation

The water used in the Cauvery delta in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry is nearly 280 TMC which is the tail end water use in the river basin. The estimated salinity or total dissolve salts (TDS) for the water available in Cauvery delta is 441 ppm which is close to maximum permissible 500 ppm. Adequate salt expo from basin a necessary condition in order to avoid deterioration of water quality in terms of salinity, pH, alkanity, etc. Because there is no limit is awarded in term of use of ground water. So, salt export criteria is the limitation

Regional imbalances (Nanjundappa committee)

Comparatively regional imbalances are high in developing countries like India than in developed countries. In the developing economy of Karnataka state also a similar situation seems to exist. Regional imbalances of Karnataka can be observed from the background of the British colonial rule. Pre-independent Karnataka was divided mainly into three parts, namely Mysore princely state, Bombay Karnataka and Hyderabad Karnataka. Among these, old Mysore was a developed region for a good number of social welfare programmes were implemented there by the rulers. Hyderabad Karnataka was ruled by the Nizams which was underdeveloped, similarly Bombay Karnataka was ruled by the Maratha’s which was also underdeveloped but was a comparatively better placed region than Hyderabad Karnataka.

The cry of regional imbalances has been there since November 1956 when the State was formed as part of the reorganisation of States on linguistic basis, and parts of the erstwhile Nizam State and that of the Bombay State were merged with the then State of Mysore.

After the completion of several decades of independence (65 years) and unification of the state (59 years), now too there is no considerable reduction in regional imbalances. Unsatisfied people (especially from north Karnataka) have protested and demanded a separate state during 1995-99. Considering this, Karnataka State Government set up a high power committee on redressal of regional imbalances under the chairmanship of Prof. D.M. Nanjundappa (popularly known as Dr. Nanjundappa Committee). This Committee using 35 indicators from 5 different sectors found 114 taluks as backward taluks among the total of 175 taluks. Further, it has categorised, backward taluks as three groups namely most backward taluks (39), more backward taluks (41) and backward taluks (35). This report shows that north Karnataka region is more backward in general and Hyderabad Karnataka is the most backward compared to south Karnataka. Interestingly, the Committee has found that some of the taluks in south Karnataka are also backward. Further, the Committee made a number of recommendations for the reduction of regional imbalances in the State.


Recommendations of the CommitteeSpecial Development Plan

The problems of regional disparities and backwardness may be addressed in different ways. The more important strategies are

1) Additional resource transfer

2) Special Development Programmes and employment generation programmes

3) Promotion of private investment through fiscal and financial measures and

4) Development of services and infrastructure facilities to the level in other regions.

The Nanjundappa Committee framed a mix of these strategies and has made several recommendations with regard to development of social and economic infrastructure and institutional set up to speed up the development process in backward pockets of Karnataka.

Some of the specific recommendations of the Committee have been implemented:

A Central University is started at Gulbarga, a High Court Bench is established at Hubli and Circuit Bench at Gulbarga, Women’s University is established at Bijapur, action plans are being prepared to establish IT parks in Gulbarga, Hubli and Bagalkot.

A Food Park and Textile park is in the process of being established at Gulbarga.

To implement the various recommendations across different sectors, the Nanjundappa Committee has recommended a Special Development Plan based on the resource requirement of the backward taluks. The plan is to be implemented over a period of eight years covering the major programmes in various sectors based on development requirement. The implementation of the programmes should involve the people, voluntary organizations and Self help Groups which are service oriented and are capable of mobilizing mass participation. Decentralized planning set up is thus very essential to find a long term solution to the problems of regional development.

Objectives of Special Development Plan

  • To accelerate the growth in the backward taluks through the stimulus of additional investment in various sectors and areas.
  • To build infrastructure to make good the identified sector backlog in backward taluks.
  • To establish the needed institutions/organizations to redress the imbalances in the concerned sectors in backward taluks.


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