By P.T. Bopanna
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy should be congratulated for extending support for granting autonomous status for Kodagu, within the state of Karnataka.
Addressing the 27th Codava National Day, organised by the Codava National Council at Madikeri recently, Swamy, a Rajya Sabha MP, said the demand for autonomy for Kodagu was perfectly justified to protect their race, community, traditions and customs.
Swamy also promised to extend his support for inclusion of the Kodava language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
“The support that I had extended for Telangana will be extended to the Kodavas too,” he added.
EDITORIAL: While the stand taken by Swamy is laudable, the CNC should not insist on its demand for ‘Codava Land’ which is not a practicable idea. The non-Kodavas, who are numerically in a majority in Kodagu, will not support Codava Land.
The autonomous council should be an inclusive body, not confined to any one community. It should represent the aspirations of all the people living in Kodagu.
The problems faced by the people of Kodagu are mainly connected with the development of infrastructure in the district. This can be better addressed by an autonomous council, elected by the people of Kodagu.
There is no one sweeping measure that can stem the rot in Coorg. Many measures have to be taken.
The problem is not just of infrastructure, we are fighting an organised campaign with many fronts to completely exploit the land, drive out the original inhabitants who are putting up a fight to save the ecology and some day erase their very memory and connection to the land.
A union territory status with the balancing influence of a governor can help.
So can tribal status protection.
The SC/ST and minority tag is being misused in Kodagu by others to suppress the rights of the original inhabitants or moola nivasis. There is even a conspiracy to reposition them in the public mind as people from outside, so that recent migrants and Keralites will have more power to exploit the land.
Autonomy should give us control over the so-called development being pushed down our throats.
We should be able to stop the exploitative infrastructure projects in Coorg which are being brought by the Kerala lobby.
The encroach-regularise-join to vote bank cycle must be broken.
The deliberate attempt to silence us through changing the demography of the district, must be challenged and stopped.
Our ancestors did not shed blood for generations against various invaders, so that anyone with enough money could come here and exploit the land. The local tribal cultures have first right over the land.
Our retired army men are not getting land here, but those from outside are.
The forest cover is rapidly disappearing and not just the Cauvery but all water sources are drying up.
We have town expansion plans being drawn up in a rain and river catchment area like Kodagu. Isn’t that proof enough of the intentions of the Govt? Demographic change killed Tibetan aspirations for freedom, it is now busy changing Europe in such a way that it will not be recognizable in 30 to 40 years.
Demographics is everything, and as a tribal people who have contributed so much to India we have every right to continue to survive and live with our own identity.