AKKA Short Story Competition - Write and Win Prizes!

Mr. Satya from the literary committee of the 6th World AKKA Conference writes:

6th AKKA World Kannada Conference 2010 - Short Story Competition

Invitation to Young Writers

This is to call attention to a Short Story Competition in Kannada that is organized in connection with the 6th World AKKA Conference to be held in New Jersey, USA on September 3, 4 and 5, 2010.  The object of the competition is to encourage creative talent among young Kannada writers of age between 20 and 30. The stories will be judged by a panel of distinguished judges and the best three stories as adjudged by the panel will be awarded handsome prizes. The top 15 stories, including the above three, will be printed in an attractive book that will be given to all the registrants attending the AKKA conference. We sincerely hope that the young Kannada writers will respond positively to our invitation and participate in this competition in large numbers. We welcome the young writers on whose shoulders rests the responsibility of making the glorious heritage of Kannada literature even more resplendent and of exploring new paths and directions. Information and guidelines for prospective authors are given below.

Information and Guidelines for Authors

The competition is open to all young Kannada writers, of age between 20 and 30, living in India or outside.

The story you submit must be in Kannada. 

It should be your original creation and should not have been published before.

Translations from other languages will not be accepted.

Only one entry per contestant will be accepted.

The stories should be no more than 3000 words long. (In font size 14 this will come to about 10 pages of 8 ½ x 11 inches size.) Stories exceeding the specified length will not be  accepted.

All entries should be sent by electronic means only. Hand-written or typed manuscripts will not be accepted. You may use Nudi or Baraha software.

Last date for submission is April 15, 2010. Late entries will not be entertained. 

Submissions should be sent (electronically) to wkc2010.literary@gmail.com

Along with your story, please submit proof of age. This may be a scanned copy of your Birth Certificate (if it bears your name), Secondary School Leaving Certificate or any equivalent document.

While the copyright to the stories will belong to the authors, AKKA reserves the right to future publication of the stories selected for publication in the present volume.

The decision of the judges shall be final.

If you have any further questions, please contact:
  1. Satya 1-732 763 2363 ( US )
  2. J.A.Sitaram  +91-944-803-8181 (India)

Here's mine, here's yours, and here's ours. The rest is mine.

The United States which is often referred to as the inventor of the concept of federalism, enacted the following Tenth Amendment to its Constitution, which got ratified on 15 December 1791 (yes, that's 219 years ago):
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. 
The text is fairly straightforward, but here's an explanation by way of example:
For example, nowhere in the federal Constitution is Congress given authority to regulate local matters concerning the health, safety, and morality of state residents. Known as police powers, such authority is reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment. Conversely, no state may enter into a treaty with a foreign government because such agreements are prohibited by the plain language of Article I to the Constitution.
That is how it should be, because in a true democracy, the centres of power are supposed to be the people themselves, not a layer of government machinery twice removed from them.

On the contrary, and in clear rejection of the concept of federalism, the Constitution of India has the following for Article 248:
248. Residuary powers of legislation.—(1) Parliament has exclusive power to make any law with respect to any matter not enumerated in the Concurrent List or State List. (2) Such power shall include the power of making any law imposing a tax not mentioned in either of those Lists.
In India, there's something called as the Union List which enumerates powers which belong to the Union and there's something called as the State List which enumerates powers which belong to the States. And then there's something called as the Concurrent List which enumerates powers which belong to both the Union and the States. And then there's Article 248 which basically says "if there's anything we forgot to include in any of the lists, that power belongs to the Union".

What this means is that all powers not granted to the states or the states-and-the-union actually default to the Union located at New Delhi which is too far away from the Indian People as a whole. Is this the best form of democracy known to man?

This is nothing but an artifact of the fact that the topmost priority for those who inherited British India was to ensure the unity of India which was in the hands of hundreds of kings and princes. That priority was established under the assumption that a handful Europeans could rule over hundreds of million Indians basically because the latter lacked unity (I'd say they lacked statesmanship and superiority in warfare and military strength; otherwise any one of those kings could have exterminated the Europeans in India).

But isn't it time we realized that "Here's mine, here's yours, and here's ours. The rest is mine." is actually the line of a colonial power? Isn't it time we understood what can truly strengthen India? Isn't it time we realized that it is best for India to reform itself into a true Federation of States? Isn't it time we understood the true meaning of Democracy?

Announcement: Symposium on Kannada Linguistics and Education on Feb 7th

At Banavasi Balaga, we believe that education is crucial for development and that mother-tongue is the best medium of instruction. Hence, a correct study of Kannada as a language (the mother-tongue of Kannadigas), as well as the application of the learnings from that study to the Kannada-medium education system are the need of the hour.

Against this backdrop, Banavasi Balaga is organizing a Symposium on Kannada Linguistics and Education on 7/2/2010 in Bengaluru. Please note: This programme is for invitees only.

Background and objectives

In the last couple of decades, Kannada linguistics has undergone important changes. Many deep-rooted beliefs about the nature of Kannada have been subjected to scientific enquiry and a few proven as incorrect. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Kannada linguistics is now proceeding in a new direction – on a path bathed in the bright sunlight of science.

Importantly, grammarians have realized that it is unscientific to tweak the grammar of Sanskrit to try and fit it to Kannada. Instead, grammarians are now seeking to build a true grammar of Kannada. This true grammar of Kannada is not only an accurate-by-far description of Kannada, but also very easy to learn.

Similarly, linguists have now realized the unscientific nature of the now deep-rooted belief that new words can be added to Kannada only by coining them in Sanskrit. Instead, they are now understood the power of Ellarakannada (Everyone’s Kannada) as a source of new words. These words are not only easy to pronounce (for Kannadigas), but also easy to coin.

Also, research is being conducted on ways of improving the Kannada script in order to rid the language of spelling problems. Many linguists believe that a reformed Kannada script would help make teaching it to children easier.

While these scientific changes are happening in the field of Kannada linguistics, the Kannada-medium education system has almost entirely remained aloof from them. Hence, teachers and text-book writers are facing a lot of difficulty in teaching the nature of Kannada, in coining new terms of Science and Technology, as well as in teaching to write Kannada. Many linguists and educationists are of the opinion that these impediments are inhibiting the growth of the coverage and quality of education in the Kannada medium.

We believe that the need of the hour is for people from these two fields – linguistics and education – to come together and discuss ways of improving the status quo. Thus, the first and foremost objective of this Symposium is to arrange for some of the most important people in these two fields to get together under the same roof. Discussions need to happen about the output of research in linguistics and its application to education. Also, discussions need to happen about the changes which need to be made to the Kannada medium education system and the role of linguists therein. These discussions can help set priorities for future work in both fields. To make these discussions happen is the second objective of this Symposium. We have arranged four lectures from senior workers in this field.

Speakers and commentators

  • Nadoja Dr. D. N. Shankar Bhat, Retd. Professor of linguistics, Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, Karnataka.
  • Dr. N. S. Raghunath, Retd. Head of the Department of English, Regional College of Education, Mysore, Karnataka.
  • Dr. K. V. Narayana, Retd. Professor of Kannada, Hampi Kannada University, Hampi, Karnataka.
  • Dr. S. N. Sridhar, Professor of linguistics, Linguistics Department. Stony Brook University, New York, USA.
  • Dr. B. P. Hemananda, Senior Research Fellow, Dept. of Dravidian and Computational Linguistics, Dravidian University, Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh
  • Dr. Niranjan Uppoor, Research Fellow in Linguistics, IIT Kanpur, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
  • Dr. V. B. Tarakeshwar, Professor and Head, Translations Department, English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
  • Dr. Panduranga Babu, Professor of Linguistics, Department of Kannada Language Studies, Hampi Kannada University, Hampi, Karnataka.
  • Smt. P. Bharati Devi, Kannada lecturer, Govt. Women’s Degree College, Mandya, Karnataka
  • Dr. Shivaram Padikkal, Professor, CALTS, Hyderabad University, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
  • Dr. C. S. Ramachandra, Professor of Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, Kuvempu Institute of Kannada Studies, and Director of Prasaranga, Mysore University, Mysore, Karnataka
  • Dr. P. Mahadevaiah, Reader in Linguistics, Hampi Kannada University, Hampi, Karnataka
  • Dr. Vikram Visaji, Kannada lecturer, Pre-University Center, Gulbarga University, Raichur, Karnataka
  • Sri. C. P. Nagaraj, Retd. Head of the department of Kannada, K M Doddi, Mandya, Karnataka
  • Dr. Mahabaleshwar Rao, Principal, TMA Pai College of Education, Kunjebettu, Udupi, Karnataka
  • Dr. D. Jagannatha Rao, Retd Director, DSERT, Bengaluru, Karnataka
  • Sri V. P. Niranjana Aradhya, Reader, National Law College, Bengaluru, Karnataka
  • Sri S. Sampangi, Retd. Director of Public Instruction, Bengaluru, Karnataka
  • Sri T. M. Kumar, Retd Director of Public Instruction, Bengaluru, Karnataka
We are happy to announce that the Dravidian University, Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh, as well as Bandara Prakashana, Maski, Karnataka are helping us organize this Symposium.

For further details, visit http://banavasibalaga.org/index_en.html

Please note: This programme is for invitees only

Okay, we got here. Now what?

What Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar wrote in his article Don't Teach English to Your Children in Class 1 is something we have been advocating for here at the Banavasi Balaga from a very long time. It's just unscientific, nay criminal to throw away one's mother-tongue thinking English can replace it.

Although Mr. Aiyar doesn't talk about it, the first thing that must strike even the most superficial reader of his article is that the entire English-medium private-school system in India discards the science of education by teaching English and teaching in English from (why Class 1) even the Kindergarten stage! What's worse, many even refuse to teach the mother-tongue already in Kindergarten!

I have grown up hearing about and being in English-medium private-schools which punish children who utter a word in Kannada, and now my son continues to be tortured by such an English-medium Kindergarten (from which he will be rescued shortly and put into a private Kannada-medium school). Of course, I don't mean that the English-medium schools do it knowingly; in their heart of hearts, they think they're doing the right thing by neglecting Kannada and promoting English. That's the problem.

It takes a lot of energy and money to build up a human settlement in Antarctica, and a lot more to sustain it. It takes throwing away basic commonsense which asks you not to go there. Only a handful who can spend that much energy and money ultimately end up being able to do that. What about the rest?

It takes a lot of energy and money to educate children in English-medium land, and a lot more to sustain it. It takes throwing away basic commonsense which asks you not to go there. Only a handful who can spend that much energy and money ultimately end up being able to do that. What about the rest?

It's not even fun out there in the cold with nobody around, and everything all white and bland and colourless and lifeless. But let's admit it - we all got there thinking of it as a great human feat. Okay we've accomplished that feat. Now what?

What about all our brothers and sisters back home, that far away place where people still continue to languish in ignorance and poverty, they who together with us were born on this earth speaking that beautiful, melodious, honey-like tongue called Kannada?

Welcome to Banavasi Balaga.

Swaminathan Aiyar on Mother-Tongue Education

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar writes in the Economic Times:

A recent news report highlighted the fact that only 48.3% of Indian children in Class 1 could read the English alphabet, even in big capital letters.

The annual education audit by the NGO Pratham showed that Gujarat had the worst record: only 25.3% of Gujarati children could read capital letters in English, and only 8% could read English sentences. To rectify this, and join the globalisation bandwagon, the Gujarat government proposes to teach English in Class 1. Other states are making similar moves.

Yet this is an error. Global research shows that children should learn reading and writing in their mother tongue first. Only after they can read fluently at a minimum of 45-60 words per minute can they absorb what they are reading. Such fluency is most easily achieved in the mother tongue. Once that is established, learning a second language becomes much easier.

Premature teaching of a second language - like English - can prevent a child from learning to read fast enough in its mother tongue. Early reading and writing is vital: children that cannot do so fluently by Class 2 will likely never catch up with classmates in higher classes.

These insights flow from research on the neurological foundations of learning. In “Efficient Learning for the Poor: Insights From the Frontier of Cognitive Neurosceience”, educationalist Helen Abadzi shows that human short-term memory works well for up to 12 seconds. So, within 12 seconds, a person should be able to read a sentence (or complete grammatical unit), process its meaning, and classify and file it within his or her mental library (what experts call “cognitive networks”).

In a separate work, Abadzi writes “people must be able to read one word per second, or per 1.5 seconds at the outside, to be functional readers. If they read more slowly than that, they find that they have forgotten the beginning of their sentence by the time they reach the end.” Children struggle to decode letters of a new language. If they cannot read fast enough, then all their mental attention is taken up in decoding the letters, and no attention is left for grasping the meaning of the text.

If a child cannot read quickly, it cannot follow what textbooks or teachers are conveying. All schooling can bypass such children. They can spend eight years in school and remain functionally illiterate. This, alas, is common in India.

This is not an argument against learning two or three languages. Indeed, children under 8 earn new languages most easily. But research shows that proficiency in one language makes it easier to master a second. Learning the first language expands the cognitive networks of a child’s mind, making it easier to grasp the same concepts in a second language.

Rich children with pre-school education enter school with a vocabulary of 3,000 words, but poor children may have a vocabulary of just 500 words. So, poor children already struggle to keep up in Class 1. Their struggles can become intolerable if they have to learn a second language.

Abadzi recounts an experiment from Zambia. Initially, children were taught both English and the local language from class1. In an experiment, some schools taught only oral reading in Class 1 and English writing from class 2. The results were astounding. Earlier, reading scores of children were on average two grades less than the standard benchmark in English, and three grades lower in the local language. But once English was introduced at a later stage, reading and writing scores shot up 575% above the benchmark in class 1, 2,417% higher in Class 2, and 3,300 % higher in class 3. Scores in the local language showed similar upward leaps. The system was then extended to all schools in Zambia.

This holds a lesson for India. English skills are undoubtedly important, and give us a big edge over China. Poor parents are keenly aware that English language skills improve earning ability, and so many have switched their children from government schools to private schools claiming to teach in the English medium.

Gujarati parents say, “My child already speaks Gujarati: why teach that again in school? Why not English?” That logic sounds impeccable, but is mistaken. Once a child has become good in Gujarati, it will more easily become proficient in English. The issue is not one of Gujarati versus English. Rather, good Gujarati is a sound foundation for good English.

Faced with half-empty classrooms in government schools, some state governments plan to introduce English from class 1 to win back students. That would be a serious error.

English is important. But even more important is reading and writing in your mother tongue.
I'm still hoping for a day on which educationists and policy makers realize this and hold it close to their hearts...