Unification of Karnataka

Unification of Karnataka

The struggle for the unification of all Kannada speaking areas began in the late 19th century. Historians point out that the origin of the movement for linguistic provinces can be traced to same time e.g., the demand of the Oriya speaking people and the demand for Sylhet district to be transferred from Bengal to Assam. “Even before independence, the consciousness of linguistic unification among the Indians was stimulating. They opposed British policies of devide and rule.Asbritishers tried to deviated people by dividing them linguistically. An intensive awakening was rose in places of North Karnataka, which was under the Bombay province. Due to the efforts made by the great personalities, like Chennabasappa, Sir Walter Eliot, Russell and many others the Kannada language was safeguarded and the new Kannada schools were opened.” Karnataka has a glorious past from the ancient times.

The colonial rule was responsible for many changes in indin life from the later part of 19th century. During the period Britishers and Christian missionaries spread English and western education in India. This was the period during which industrial revolution developing in England and it’s impact was seen in India too. Transportation and communication facilities expanded and urbanization set in on large scale. This led to emergence of the middle class which was responsible for the modernization and renaissance. Printing also had been introduced in Kannada during the same period. The first Kannada printing was done at Calcutta in 1817. There were around 86 printing press by the end of 19th century.  The first Kannada news papercalledMangalooruSamachara from Mangalore in Karnataka began in 1843 when Hermann Mögling, a minister from Basel Mission distributed as the primary Kannada daily paper. The first Kannada magazine, MysuruVrittantaBodhini was begun by BhashyamBhashyacharya in Mysore. Not long after Indian Independence in 1948, K N Guruswamy began the organization, The Printers (Mysore Private Limited) and began distributing two daily papers Deccan Herald (in English) and Prajavani (in Kannada).  Many printing presses such as mission press at Bellary, Ambavilas press at mysore palace, govt gazette press, Basel mission press in Mangalore, govt press at Bangalore were the most famous which spread the idea of renaissance in kannada literature and arouse the feeling of unification of Karnataka. These all popularize the national heros, historical figures and empire builders, artists and poets .renaissance helped them to develop a feeling that glorious and great past of Karnatak could be restored.


“Kannadigas not only did not have a state of their own as they were distributedinto 20 different administrations like those of Bombay, Madras, Mysore, Hyderabad, Coorg {Kodagu} and Kolhapur. That also led to the decline of Kannada as a language in many of these areas.

The movement for Unification of Karnataka had originated in Dharwad region. AlurVenkataRao was the man who put forward the idea and cherished it. In 1928, a Committee headed by Motilal Nehru was set up by the Congress to draft a constitution for India. With the help of Sevadal, Dr.Hardikargathered 30,000 signatures supporting unification and submitted a memorandum in support of Unification. “A Case for United Karnataka” written by Diwakarfor submission to the Committee.Though Siman commission also accepted the approach of linguistic provinces. The Nehru Committee opined that Karnataka can be a feasible province but the Karnataka Congress did not submit any memorandum to the Commission, because the Congress had announced the boycott against Commission. It also pressurized non-congress groups, not to submit any memorandum to commission. This resulted in the delay of Unification process, which could have been approved by the commission itself. The Sixth Karnataka Unification Conference, under the presidentship of DattopantBelvi, was held at Dharwad in 1936.The need to unite all Kannada speaking areas was becoming an urgent one. The Karnataka VidyaVardhakaSangha formed at Dharwad in 1890 was the first public organization to take up this very cause.  Famous leaders like AlurVenkataRao, Justice Setlur and BenagalRama Raostarted to demand the unification of all these areas. AlurVenkataRaowrote the celebrated work „Karnataka GathaVaibhava‟. The holding of the Kannada Writers Conference (1909), the establishment of the Kannada SahityaParishat (1915) and the Karnataka Sabha (1916) prompted the reinforcing of this movement. After the Fourth and last Anglo-Mysore War, Mysore State was reduced to a small principality and vast Kannada speaking areas were merged with Bombay presidency, Madras and Hyderabad and other small princely states. Kannadigas were subjected to twenty different administrations. Thus the Kannada language was on the verge of decline. They had to adopt the respective languages like Marathi, Tamil and Telugu and forced to cultivate the culture of these regions. Thus the Kannadigas did not have any renowned cultural, linguistic and political homogeneity. They were not well treated in those states. Discriminatory activities was meted out to them and they were even suppressed. For example, in the princely states of Mudhol and Jamakhandi, Kannadigas had no place in public life including schools and offices. The pathetic conditions of the Kannadigaslived in these various administrative units were unaccountable. This prompted the Kannadigas to struggle for unification.


After the formation of separate provinces like Assam, Bihar, Orissa on linguistic basis created a thirst for independence and also Unification of the Kannada-speaking regions. Publication of books on Karnataka’s history, the freedom movement and the inspiring writings of AlurVenkataRao, HuilgolaNarayanaRao, Kuvempu, Bendre and others encouraged this movement.


AlurVenkatRao, who was called “Kannada Kula Purohita”, for arousing the awareness of Kannadigas, rendered yeoman service for the cause of Unification. In 1916 AlurVenkataRao formed the EkikaranaSabha at Dharwad, with unification of Karnataka as its goal. As early as in 1903, Benagal Rama Rao delivered a lecture at Dharwad, stressing the need for the unification of Kannada speaking regions into a single Presidency. A separate Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee was constituted for the Kannada speaking regions in 1920. At the all-India Congress session held at Belgaum in 1924, the Kannada anthem, “UdayavagalinammacheluvaKannadanadu”, calling for the creation of beautiful Kannada state, composed by HuilgolNarayanaRao was sung. The first Karnataka Unification Conference was also held at Belgaum and presided over by Sir SiddappaKambli. The Karnataka EkikaranaSangha was established at the conference and it held its meetings on numerous occasions. In 1926, the Hindustani Seva Dal, founded by Dr.Hardikar conducted a signature campaign in favour of Unification and collected 36,000 signatures. But it was not a simple task to bring people who were under 20 different administrative regions in a single province and it was felt that with the country attaining the freedom, unification could also occure.

After Independence, the President of the Constituent Assembly formed a linguistic provinces committee on 17th June 1948 with S.K. Dhar as Chairman. The Dhar Commission was asked to report how many new provinces were to be created and also state ‘the administrative, financial and other consequences’ of the creation of new provinces. The Commission in its report submitted on 10th December 1948 expressed itself against any reorganization of provinces being undertaken in the then prevailing circumstances. To consider the question of linguistic states and review the position in the light of the findings of the Dhar commission, the Congress appointed another committee known as the J.V.P.Committee consisting of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and PattabhiSeetharamaiah at the Jaipur session of the Indian National Congress in December 1948. After thorough deliberation, the committee came to the conclusion that formation of linguistic provinces should be postponed by a few years. Claims and counter claims over various regions, such as Bombay city being proclaimed by both the Maharashtrians and the Gujaratis or Madras by the Tamils and the Telugus, being considered as main problem. But it conceded the demand for the formation of Andhra province.

On the eve of the first general election in 1951-52, the Congress in its election manifesto claimed that the formation of linguistic provinces was in its agenda. But after coming to power it did not take any step in this direction. The ‘Akhanda Karnataka RajyaNirmanaParishad’ was set up in Karnataka with K.R. Karanth as President. It was formed with a view to pressurize the Central government to concede the demand for the formation of linguistic provinces. In Madras, PottiSriramulu undertook his epic fast on 19th October 1952 to press for the formation of Andhra province and on 15th December 1952 he died. The widespread violence in Andhra region followed after the death of PottiSrirmulu. This led Nehru to announce the formation of the Andhra state. This resulted in the district of Bellary being transferred to Mysore. At a K.P.P.C. meeting held at Hubli during the period an unprecedented scene of violence followed when a crowd trying to demonstrate in favour of Unification turned turbulent. ShankargoudaPatil of Adaragunchi, a Congress worker near Hubli was holding ‘fast unto death’ at the time of the meeting. Finally on December 29, 1953, the Government of India appointed the States Reorganisation Commission with Fazl Ali as Chairman, HridaynathKunzru and K.M.Pannikar as members to investigate the whole question of the reorganization of the states of the Indian union. So that the welfare of the people of each constituent unit as well as of the nation as a whole can be promoted. The Commission submitted its report on 30th September 1955.


The recommendations of the Commission among other things are the merger of the following regions for the formation of a United Karnataka. They involved Mysore state, including Bellary district, the districts of Dharwad, Bijapur, North Kanara and Belgaum (except Chandgadtaluk), South Kanara district (except Kasargodtaluk), Coorg (Kodagu), Gulbarga district (expect Kodangal and Tandurtaluks), Raichur district (except Alampur and Gadvaltaluks) and Bidar district consisting of Bidar, Bhalki, Aurad and Humnabadtaluks. Kollegaltaluk from Coimbatore district of Madras Province was merged with Mysore district. The Commission also recommended the abolition of the post of ‘Rajapramukh’. The new state had 19 districts.

On November 1st 1956 President Rajendra Prasad inaugurated the new Mysore state at Bangalore. Hhereby the big map of the new state of Mysore was brightly lit. After invocation, famous vocalist P.KalingaRao sang the popular Kannada anthem “Udayavagalinammacheluva Kannada nadu”. Huilgol Narayan Rao had composed the song as early as in 1924 and P.KalingaRao who made it to suitable tune and popularised it. Then JayachamarajendraWodeyar, being sworn in as the new Governor of the state and S.Nijalingappa as the new Chief Minister. Thus the long cherished dream of the Kannadigasof a state  was realized. To console the hurt sentiments of the anti-mergers in Mysore, the state was called New Mysore after unification and only in November 1973 it could be renamed as Karnataka.


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