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Will Kodava find a place in Eighth Schedule?

By Jeevan Chinnappa

MADIKERI Aug. 28. The issue raised by the Karnataka Kodava Sahitya Academy here some time ago demanding inclusion of Kodava in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution appears to have lost vigour and direction. The academy, which is expected to promote Kodava language and literature, seems to be in slumber.

At a seminar organised during the tenure of late Mekerira K.Cariappa, former Chairman of the academy, which was attended by reputable Kodava writers and the former Chief Minister, M. Veerappa Moily, a couple of years ago, it was decided to present the case to the Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, to forward it to the Centre. The ministers from Kodagu were also keen on it then. The initial enthusiasm has fizzled out.

According to the academy, over two lakh people of 18 groups speak Kodava in and outside the district. Some of these groups are Kodava, Heggade, Iri, Amma Kodava, Koyava, Banna, Madivala, Hajama, Kembatti, and Meda. Though researchers, including those from abroad, have concluded that Kodava is an independent language and the Kodava-speaking people settled down in this part of the world over 2,600 years ago, most theories appear to be the products of guesswork. Kodava does not have a script of its own. The most credible argument put forward for the inclusion of Kodava in the Eighth Schedule is that it is known to be one of the 19 Dravidian languages. It stands 35th among the languages spoken by over one lakh people each. Some are of the opinion that Kodava is over 5,000 years old. However, the growth of the language remained stultified as the Kodava-speaking people were more keen on pursuing a martial culture, including hunting, and agriculture in the past, preferring them to literary excellence, according to a study. Efforts to evolve a script failed, as the work in this direction by those including Coravanda Appaiah (1902) and Ichettira Muthanna (latter part of the last century) did not yield fruits.

Kodagu was under the Madras Presidency during the British rule. From 1952 to 1957, it was a Part "C'' State. After that, it was merged with the then Mysore State.

That its culture and language is not found in any other part of the country is an argument proffered for the inclusion of Kodava in the Eighth Schedule, which will help its development and give it recognition.

The Central Sahitya Academy and other national literary bodies will consider Kodava works for awards.

Sadly, the language or its grammar has not developed to the desired level. It is said that the lack of patronage from the rulers of Kodagu in the past was one of the main reasons for Kodava not making the required progress. During the British period, many preferred to learn English at the cost of Kodava.

However, Kodava folklore is rich and diverse, which still remains the essence of Kodava culture. Experts have noted that Kodagu has over 56 types of folk arts. Folk songs such as the "Cauvery Purana", "Desakattupat", "Thalipat", "Balopat", "Dudipat', "Manepat", "Polchipat" and others reflect the folk influence on the community. It is said that over 60 folk stories and over 800 adages are there in the language.

The use of Kannada script for writing Kodava has done a world of good. Haradasa Appachakavi wrote four Kodava plays in Kannada script from 1906.

Nadikeriyanda Chinnappa wrote Pattole Palame, said to be the Bible of Kodavas, in 1924.

Late Ichettira Muthanna's literary pieces are also excellent. Non-Kodavas, including P.S. Ramakrishna, too have written in Kodava. Mr. Ramakrishna is credited with creating Kodava versions of "Bhamini Shatpadi" and "Vardhaka Shatpadi".

The Kodava weeklies have also come to stay in Kodagu. Five Kodava films have been produced so far.

All India Radio broadcasts "Kodava Siri" programmes twice a week. These efforts have indeed created an awareness to foster and enrich the language.

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