Who or what is a "courage" or "risk", Mr. PM?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh claims that "strong and inclusive growth" of India's economy is possible, but requires "courage and some risks" - referring, of course, to FDI in retail. It should not be a surprise if the words of the Prime Minister in this context appear to echo those of the chief executive officer (CEO) of a commercial venture. But then, it is not altogether wrong if one considers the Prime Minister of India that. After all, the Prime Minister is the de-facto head of the executive, and the Indian nation, like all nations, is a commercial venture.

Now, the difference between other nations and the Indian nation is that the souls in the latter are very diverse in their ability to venture commercially. In fact, entire linguistic peoples in India possess none of it. The Kannadigas, who are a nation by themselves going by the universally accepted definition of the word, have not had much to contribute to this whole venturing thing, commercial or otherwise, from a few centuries, if only because there is more to life than it. There are no great Kannadiga commercial ventures to write home about; nor have the Kannadigas had much opportunity to write anything home in the first place. Home is where the Kannadigas have always lived; the English word 'travel' has no native Kannada equivalent. So much about the great Kannadiga venturer and his ability to display "courage and some risks" in the new battlefield into which the Prime Minister wishes to draw the Kannadigas.

Even history tells us, if we care to listen, that the very concept of a vaishya - the businessman varna - is missing from Karnataka in particular and South India in general. This varna has, however, been very much present and very much active in North India. When India was not a nation, i.e., when it had not yet incorporated itself as a commercial venture, this difference mattered little, for the vaishyas of the North largely stayed put there. But consequent to the disaster, these vaishyas have had an entire nation to wander into and graze, including Karnataka, without caring so much as two hoots for the language or culture of this state which are, among other things, vaishya-less. The British came close to creating a Tamil version of the vaishya by establishing the so-called Madras Presidency. But this is, however, not vaishya enough from northern standards because of its sheer infancy and inexperience, if not because of its racial composition.

But pity the Kannadigas that even the British did not think it opportune to set up a Bangalore Presidency so that they could have basked in its splendor! While it is too late to blame Fate for this historical injustice, it is imprudent to forget the lack of venturing ability of the Kannadigas. This shortcoming, of course, is opportunity for the northerners. A vaishya-less Karnataka is an unguarded field for the true vaishya, true in all senses of the term. They have already come grazing, and there is not a little that they have already taken from Karnataka. There are not a few hurdles, either, that they have created for the Kannadigas as a people to cross before they can claim any reasonable claim to possessing a vaishya varna.

Now, with the coming of FDI in retail, northern grazers will come to possess the added force that comes with foreign investment. The foreign investors are not going to wait until a Kannadiga version of the vaishya emerges - something that hasn't in the last few millennia. No, they want profits in the next quarter. Therefore, it is a given that they are going to place their bet on the vaishyas that are already there, alive, and kicking, and migrating, complete with a word for 'travel' in their language, and whose race has been known for migrating southwards from the known beginning of Indian history. That is, they are going to shake hands with the northern vaishyas most, and at most the Tamil vaishyas of the lesser Cosmic Being. The Kannadigas, as usual, will be left to do their usual shudra jobs of keeping everything spic and span, nice and tidy.

So much for strong and inclusive growth, Mr. Prime Minister. We'd like to opt out, sir, because the growth may be strong, but it can never be inclusive - we Kannadigas need some time to get included. I only hope you have not already excluded Kannadigas from this whole existence thing.


Khalil Sawant said...

If Karnataka is Vaishya-less, then what are the Shettys for ??

Kiran Batni said...

The Shettys are Kshatriyas, basically belonging to the Bunt caste. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shetty

ತಿಳಿಗಣ್ಣ said...

Balijiga/Balija/Baniya are Vaishyas. They are Kannada people.

Balija or Baniya(in Hindi) are same. They are the main merchant class of Kannada land.

Shetty is a surname of Kannada/Telugu Balija/Baniya community.

Kiran Batni said...


Thanks for the information. Please present the percentage of Kannadigas who are vaishyas. That is more useful. There could exist a few castes here and there, but my statement about Vaishyas is a general one.

It is also interesting to note that both Balijas and Telugu Shettys have strong North-Indian connections. The latter are properly known as Arya Vaishyas.

Unknown said...

In Chamarajanagara, Shetty means uppal shetty or Uppaliga Shetty is a community who are traditionally involved in 'salt making' from in Chamarajanagar District.

uppaliga man who belongs to a division of the salt-maker caste, the members of which are also fishermen;


I think Balijiga are telugu migrants though they have accepted Kannada as their mother tongue from time immemorial. The reason is that I haven't seen any Balijiga in Mysore and Mandya district villages. They are mostly concentrated in Bengaluru Urban/Rural or Mysore Urban

Sandy said...

yAthre / pravAsa - Don't these translate to travel in Kannada?

Kiran Batni said...

@Sandy, those are not native Kannada words, but words borrowed from Sanskrit.

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