By P.T. Bopanna
Veteran journalist C.M. Ramachandra (94) (in picture), former head of The Hindu newspaper in Karnataka, passed away on Friday. He wrote the foreword for my bestselling book ‘Rise and Falls of the Coorg State’. As a tribute, I reproduce below the foreword. His writings showed the love he had for Kodagu (Coorg) and its people. This write-up is a ‘must read’ for everyone who is interested in the welfare of Kodagu. P.T. Bopanna, Editor, www.coorgnews.in
Ramachandra’s foreword: When my esteemed friend, Mr P.T. Bopanna, professional colleague and author of this book, invited me to write a foreword for this well documented publication, I was both thrilled and elated because of the opportunity I got to recall with nostalgia the glorious four years I spent in Madikeri savoring the lavish beauty of the land and lasting friendships with a cross-section of the people, one of the finest among the Indian demographic mosaic, which had given meaning to the fresh democratic life it enjoyed as a Part ‘C’ State. My stay in Coorg, now Kodagu, was almost co-terminus with the career of the Lilliputian State, enriched my personal and professional equipment.
As the first Correspondent of ‘The Hindu’, it was a great privilege reporting Coorg life in all its aspects, particularly its parliamentary career, to the outside world. In the process, I came to be emotionally attached to the land, the land of Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, and General K.S. Thimmayya, the land of coffee and honey, and the land of gracious living of its people enjoying, perhaps, the highest degree of literacy in the country with all the attributes that go with literacy and a refined outlook to life in all its perspectives.
Mr Bopanna needs to be congratulated on his excellent narration of the story of Coorg from the days of ancient history and until the day it vanished, unsung and unwept, from the political map of India as it came to be merged with the neighbouring erstwhile Princely State of Mysore as part of the fervour for linguistic states, a rational idea, but not happily worked or handled. Mr Bopanna is outspoken, justifiably so, when he begins his story with the remark that November 1, 1956, will go down in history as a black day in the career of his tiny homeland, the choicest of God’s creations, perched in the heights of the mighty Western Ghats. To me, it is an understatement. It was human tragedy when this land lost its identity and became the jilted backyard of the new Kannada State. Then began a sordid chapter of the rape of the land, loot of its forest wealth by the notorious gangs of timber brigands enjoying brazen official patronage, posing a grave threat to the environment, compounded by the large influx of people from the adjoining states, by design in degrees, to destroy the identity of the sons of the soil, the Coorgs.
Informed and enlightened minority of the Coorg leadership have been waging a losing battle in catching the attention of the governments, both at the State and the Central levels, for remedial measures. The erstwhile Coorg Assembly had also passed a resolution urging the Government of India to keep Coorg as a separate geographical and political entity at the time of the States Reorganisation in 1956. All the plaint was brushed aside and then, it is well-known, all assurances of a fair deal after the merger were brushed aside. The original Coorg element is turning out to be an endangered species.
All that has happened and is happening to Kodagu is nothing short of a brazen vandalism, abetted by dehumanized administrations which glibly lay claims to inclusive culture, but do quite the opposite. This is what makes me sad beyond words. This is what betrayal means in its eloquent form.
All this and more have been dealt with by the author in a feeling and poignant manner as a token of an obligation and responsibility to his ravaged homeland. In fact, the book could, and should, serve as an eloquent case for re-conferment of an autonomous status for Coorg, thought the author, perhaps, in his modesty, has not sought. The sooner the Government of India realized that small states are the answer to the myriad ills and failures of governance that the nation is plagued with thanks to bankruptcy of thought. A bouquet to the author and his initiative.
Now that Mr L.K. Advani, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, himself savoured of the lush treasure of Kodagu during his last June visit, he should be able to throw his weight behind the very legitimate claim of Coorg for restoration of its statehood.
Year of publication: 2009
Please find link to the Kindle edition of the ‘Rise and Fall of the Coorg State’ below: