Is Tulu Nad a good idea?

By Xerxes the Magian 22 Comments

Quiet days on BP as I don’t find much to be riled up about (and even when I do I delete the interesting posts shortly thereafter).

I follow a few members of the Hindu Right on Twitter and their constant mixture of modern alarmism + historical greatness is mildly amusing. One would imagine Hinduism is going extinct any day now judging from their tweets.

I was reading up on Tulu Nad and it seems it would centre on Mangalore. In general I prefer territorial organisation but it seems that Tulu Nad has as much validity as Telegana if not more.

I see an analogous situation to the Britain or France and their relationship to their sub-national identities. In general as a good libertarian I distrust centralised states but I don’t know enough about India’s domestic politics to comment.

However in a way much as the US senate disproportionately favours rural whites in the same manner more states will benefit the “Hindu-Brahmin” character of India.

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22 Replies to “Is Tulu Nad a good idea?”

  1. Karnataka has a number of culturally distinct regions and is susceptible to these sort of divisions if it becomes a trend. I would agree in principle that small is beautiful and large centralized states should be distrusted somewhat. That said, many in Karnataka are culturally invested in a special bond between the regions, and by dividing us our relationship would be mediated through Delhi to a great degree. That’s as good as a foreign interloper and would be hard to stomach.

      1. Yes, but the region has a multiplicity of languages within it like tulu,konkani, kannada, and beary. Tulu mother tongue households may be a plurality but not majority and furthermore, many castes straddle the linguistic divide. The tulu and “kannadiga” identities are so intertwined at this point that many prominent kannada activist groups are led by tulunad men.
        That said, there are a number of issues that coastal Karnataka people ought to be rightfully indignant about, such as planned river diversion and dam projects that effect them adversely.

        1. The above can be a criticism for virtually any emergent political entity in the subcontinent.

          ‘Group feeling’ here is much, much more about caste than language. This has its drawbacks, but has spared us the kind of calamitous conflicts seen between language based European nation states.

          That being said, status as an official language of a modern nation state is an important part of the growth of any language, and so I would lean towards making this as possible as one can without creating multiple armed forces in India.

  2. I am an outsider ultimately to the cultural sphere of Karnataka (my father has a tiny part of Karnataka in him as he studied there, in fact in Tulu Nadu, but that’s about it; His mother was also born in Karnataka (somewhere in the Ballari district) but her family soon returned to coastal Andhra apparently.) but I have also read elsewhere something like what girmit wrote above. This particular amateur (I think) historian on Quora called Rajiv Satyanarayana is a highly respectable Kannada person and seems to be quite equanimous and not biased. In an answer to a question, he highlights the close and sufficiently warm relationship historically between the Tulu language and the Kannada language. Apparently the Tulu people quite voluntarily plugged themselves into the Kannada sphere very early and as we can see, they of course did not lose their native language in the process and later. (This is another example of the unwritten rule that almost seems like a political policy of old Indian polities: don’t disturb the state of whatever languages your subjects were speaking. Motives I don’t know but seems it turned out to be quite good in the end overall. (Btw, this wonderful idea also I stole from the above-mentioned Mr Rajiv Satyanarayana as I am too extremely stupid to conceive such things myself.) This seems true in the case of Kannada-Telugu interactions as well, as large parts of Telangana and Rayalaseema were under the rule of Kannada-speaking dynasties for significant periods of time and the influence of Kannada sphere is huge on the coastal history as well as the Telugu language obviously (for example, the current Telugu numeral for ‘five’ is a borrowing from Kannada and replaced the native Telugu-origin word at some point in history after the inscriptional period.) but none of this made the Telugu people of the regions of Telangana and Rayalaseema, who were very probably the majority in those regions from some point in prehistory when the earliest Dravidianisations of Telangana and Andhra occurred, shift their native language to Kannada. When time was ripe for the Kakatiyas and they rose, they simply replaced Kannada as the medium for inscriptions and chose Telugu for it quite easily. Indicates that they, as well as a lot of subjects in their rule were Telugu speakers and they might have felt that proficiency in Sanskrit and Telugu was quite enough and that especially for commoners, using Telugu as the language of inscriptions would be very useful.)

    But all the above does not have anything but a partial bearing on the matter. History only has and should have a limited influence on what we want to do now. But one thing that we have to be careful here about is that we listen majorly to the opinions and wishes of the Tulu-speaking people and not others. Stupid armchair activists like me or others who probably never experienced what it is to be like to be a typical bilingual or even multilingual Tulu person. (Btw, can knowledgeable people indicate to me what the current status of Tulu within the polity of Karnataka is? Wikipedia tells me that this is a “recognised minority language” in Karnataka and Kerala. What does this mean and how does this differ from being a typical state official language?)

    1. I just wanted to clarify that I meant knowing more about the emotional and spiritual concerns (if any exist which apparently don’t so much) of the people of Tulu-speaking districts (I’d also like to clarify that I used the term “Tulu Nadu” in the above comment just to refer to the specific Tulu-speaking regions within Karnataka and not any political unit) when I said “we must listen majorly to the opinions and wishes of the Tulu-speaking people…”. (From what I can see, no grave problems of the kind exist in Karnataka, or seem quite weak if they do.)

      The bifurcation or joining of existing states to form new states based on most probably more superior concerns like administrative ease, potential for rapid economic advancement, etc. (because giving high weightage to feelings over reason is quite dangerous once a certain minimum required emotional health of a unit is achieved) is a separate issue and must of course be considered by everyone interested in the problem and having noble intentions- be it Tulu people or Kannada people or anyone else.

  3. Basically it depends on how strong the political demand is; even then it will take 20 to 30 years. In 1956, states were reorganised on linguistic lines. 60 years after that Andhra was bifurcated on nonlinguistic lines. But Telengana demand had been around for 40 years

    Nadu or Nad is the Dravidian equivalent of Desh in IA languages.

  4. Out of all the 4/5 states in the South , the most relaxed sub nationalism is of the Kannadigas (even though its changing). One of the reason is that they do not possess the overpowering demographics unlike the other states vis a v the non kannadigas. But that would also take away from the real genuine people they are, which sometimes is the difference b/w rabid sub nationalism (we know of whom we are taking about here) and more confident form of sub nationalism which kannadigas have.

    Its also the most South’s “North Indian Hindu” state, which precedes the N-Indian migration to Bangalore. Considering its Northern part is Marathi heavy and coastal to be Hindu heavy, coupled with being the home of the last genuine”Hindu” empire, its a fascinating example of how at ease it has been compared to other states to massive migration from N-India. Any other state you would probably seen riots already.

    Almost all new states in India are politically decided not administrative/linguistic etc decided. I would say Tulu Nad etc would be a good chess play by the anti-BJP forces considering the BJP/RSS is quite strong in that region and it would also inject a sub nationalism which the right will find difficult to fight at first. But i would say that it would hamper the anti-BJP forces in the long term, considering how nimbly the right has almost appropriated all the weapons of the left in India.

    1. Marathi has strong presence only in few taluks bordering MH. There are Kannadigas living at the other side of the border, but doesn’t create any nuisance for petty reasons. Saying whole North KA is heavily Marathi is half-baked-knowledge and rubbish. Just see how Kannada Rajoytsava is celebrated in Belagavi(city bordering MH, claimed by MH), you will understand.
      About Kannada Nationalism; see, Kannadigas largely believe in coexistence. But if our identity/existence or our sovereignty(in KA) is threatened we are bound to respond. That is what happening in Bengaluru.

      1. “Saying whole North KA is heavily Marathi is half-baked-knowledge and rubbish.”

        I did not say Marathi majority , just said marathi heavy. Its similar to how region around Bengal has Bihari population around the border. Its similar to Orissa-Andhra, Andhra-Tamil Nadu etc.

        “Just see how Kannada Rajoytsava is celebrated in Belagavi”

        Yes why do you use it as a contrast? Someone can be a Marathi and of course celebrate the statehood of Karnataka. Through out my life i have celebrated state hood of states where my dad was deputized even though i didnt share the same ethnicity.

        “About Kannada Nationalism; see, Kannadigas largely believe in coexistence”

        Bro i was giving you a compliment. This is what makes you different that frothing in the mouth, my language best type of sub nationalism which we see in other parts of India. Again having lived in Karnataka cant say enough of the gracious people Kannadigas are.

  5. It would make sense to reimagine Indian states as federations of sub-states and give some constitutional basis for this idea. I can see some folks worrying that this would weaken the central state. I think it will actually strengthen it.

  6. Good ideas are new states of Bhojpur (capital Prayag, official language Bhojpuri), Awadh (capital Lucknow, official language Awadhi) and Braj (Western UP + Delhi state excluding New Delhi, with Delhi as state capital and Hindi & Braj as official languages).

    The Indian capital territory should be restricted to New Delhi, and New Delhi should be renamed as Samvidhanpur or Ambednagar.

      1. I think this whole renaming thing is getting carried too far. I was having a discussion with some Indian friends here at SOAS and they were of the opinion that no one is ever going to use the new official name for Allahabad.

        In any case, what is the need to rename New Delhi? Delhi has been called Delhi for hundreds of years. It’s not like Islamabad which was created specifically to be the capital.

        1. Delhi is associated with empires, and I think time for a decisive push towards Constitutional morality has come in India.

          1. Renaming things is a way of destroying continuity and history. Also, it serves as a distraction from larger issues.

          2. There’s nothing wrong with renaming places except that it should be done by local residents and not happen top-down from Lucknow (PrayagRaj) or Chandigarh (Gurugram).

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