On the occasion of Kannada Rajyotsava, Bangalore International Centre had arranged a Panel Discussion on “Who is a Bangalorean?” at its auditorium on 4th November, 2010 at 6:30 pm. A panel of erudite Bangaloreans- Dr. Vinod Vyasulu, Consulting Economist; Dr. K.M. Srinivas Gowda, Consultant Pathologist; Mr. V. Ravichandar, CMD, Feedback Consulting; explored the various facets of this apparently simplistic issue. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Arundhati Nag, noted theatre person.
There was a mellow undertone of admiration in the opening remarks of Arundhati Nag as she narrated how Bangalore had opened its arms to her during her days of struggle to come to grips with Kannada theatre from a totally alien background. She felt that her effort to learn Kannada was a key factor in her getting accepted in Bangalore as the daughter-in-law of Karnataka. At the same time she recognized that the very cosmopolitan nature of the population of Bangalore has made it what it is today - vibrating and pulsating with life.
V Ravichandar touched upon the perceptional issues on the subject “Who is a Bangalorean?” in his comments. Is it being born in Bangalore? Or, is it an issue of domicile (e.g., 15 years of stay in Bangalore)? Or a question of being able to talk, write and read Kannada? There are people who may not be born or domiciled in Bangalore and may not know the language; yet they may feel deep concern about Bangalore and try to play a pro-active role in the development of the city. Could they be called true “Bangaloreans?”
According to Ravichandar, there was, or could not be a rigid definition of a Bangalorean. As he put it, a Bangalorean is one who is nostalgic about things in the past (“Double-decker bus no.7 from Jayanagar to Bangalore, Shivajinagar Committee Mithai - Plum cake, Brunches at Victoria Hotel” et al), one who says “Gothilla” when asked for direction, one who is always in favour of “Swalpa Adjust Maadi”, one who gets a bit tipsy at Guzzlers Inn, Pub World…and eats at MTR, Brahmin’s Coffee Bar, Koshys, and at the same time whose heart beats deeply for Bangalore.
Dr. K.M. Srinivasa Gowda agreed that birth or domicile could not be the sole criterion to be a Bangalorean and noted that people from several parts of the county have made Bangalore their home by totally identifying with hopes, aspirations and despairs of the city.
For Dr. Vinod Vyasulu, it was necessary to be an Indian first and Bangalorean next. He traced the evolution of Bangalore as a civil and military station in 1800 AD after the defeat of Tipu Sultan and noted that the British had brought in a large number of Indians from other places to keep the local forces in check. The small local settlement, known as Bangaluru was set up by Kempe Gowda much earlier, but modern cosmopolitan Bangalore grew around the cantonment. As it has grown, Bangalore is a multi-lingual city where, apart from Kannada, people also speak Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Urdu and a host of other Indian languages. As he put it, many Kannada speakers are Bangaloreans, but all are not. Similarly, many Bangaloreans are kannadigas, but all are not. It is this unique mix that makes a Bangalorean.
The open and interactive discussion with the audience concluded with the three Panelists and the moderator fully agreeing to the statement that Bangalore is a very loose- amorphous city. It is a multicultural and multilingual city. The city created the environment that allowed people to break barriers and forge ties. This was an evening when one felt warm of being a Bangalorean.