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Membership of Facebook Group Coorg/Kodagu books crosses 5,000
 
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Membership of Facebook Group Coorg/Kodagu books crosses 5,000

On 04/12/14


In a record of sorts, the membership of the Facebook group Coorg/Kodagu books, a virtual encyclopaedia on Coorg, has crossed 5,000.

Started in May, 2012, by journalist P.T. Bopanna, the group page has one of the most exhaustive knowledge bases on Coorg.

Some of the topics covered include, the origin of Coorgs, DNA test to find origin of Coorgs, list of books on books on Coorg, book reviews, Kodava script, Coorg audio video, and rare photographs.

Bopanna, the administrator of the group, said initially the group was started as a forum for discussion on Coorg-related books. However, in the course of time, the number of members increased. To cater to the thirst for information on Coorg, the scope of the Group was enlarged to include all matters pertaining to Coorg, instead of just books.

Commenting on the phenomenal increase in the membership of the Group, Bopanna said: “Though I used to get a lot of requests for membership in the Group, I had to filter the requests. I enrolled only those who were from Coorg, or those genuinely interested in Coorg.”

Elaborating, Bopanna said that ideally the name of the Group should be ‘Coorg Encyclopaedia’ because it is one of the biggest storehouses of information on Coorg. “I understand that Facebook does not permit the change in the name of the Group, once the membership reaches a certain level,” Bopanna added.





New Kodagu news website launched

On 28/11/14


A new Coorg website www.coorgnews.in to cover news exclusively on Kodagu (Coorg) has been launched by journalist P.T. Bopanna.

In 2005, Bopanna launched his first website www.coorgtourisminfo.com, Kodagu’s first news and tourism portal, featuring information on all aspects of Kodagu.

Commenting on his new website, Bopanna, who has more than three decades of journalistic experience, said: “While coorgtourisminfo.com had limited scope for coverage of news and issues involving Kodagu, the new website will provide extensive coverage. Besides the new site will be interactive and will have provision for comments from the readers.”

The site also provides links to coffee and pepper prices and Coorg weather.

Bopanna hosts three more websites – www.coorgrecipes.com, www.coorghomestays.co.in and www.coorgjewellery.in.

Author of five books, Bopanna has also produced two videos on Coorg, including the popular Discover Coorg video. Both the videos are on YouTube.

The news website has been developed by Credesk, a Bangalore-based technology company.













Bitter Kannada Rajyotsava for Kodagu. 50,000 trees face the axe

On 31/10/14


By P.T. Bopanna

This year’s Kannada Rajyotsava will be a bitter pill for Kodagu which merged with Karnataka on November 1, 1956. It was exactly 58 years ago that the independent Coorg State merged with Karnataka following the linguistic reorganisation of States.

The Karnataka government’s decision to go ahead with the 400 KV power line across Kodagu by felling over 50,000 trees in the ecologically fragile region could spell a disaster for Kodagu.

With the Karnataka government giving its green signal, the Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCI) is all set to draw the power line to evacuate power from Kaiga nuclear plant near Karwar to supply power to Kerala.

According to environmentalists, though there are alternate routes available to draw the power line, politicians in league with the Kerala timber lobby, have chosen the Kodagu route mainly to loot the forests.

The fact that Kodagu is also part of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s Mysore Lok Sabha constituency has not helped matters.

What is intriguing is the fact that the elected representatives in Kodagu – BJP MLAs Appachu Ranjan and K.G. Bopaiah, and the BJP Lok Sabha member Prathap Simha – have maintained a discreet silence over the project, despite the growing protests from the people.

What is worrying is that even a state government appointed committee consisting of among others Prof. Raman Sukumar of the Indian Institute of Science, has given the go ahead for the project. Prof Sukumar who has done extensive research on the man-animal conflict, is aware of the elephant menace in Kodagu because of the encroachment of the elephant corridor. At least Prof Sukumar was expected to give his dissent, but he too toed the line favouring the government.

The state government appointed three-member committee to look into the feasibility of possible alternative routes as proposed by the environmentalists has ruled that these routes are not only detrimental to wildlife conservation, but require huge capital and are technically not feasible.

The committee has opined the other routes would require more forests to be cleared than what the present proposal will necessitate. Environmentalists had suggested use of the D-line (District line dividing the two districts of Mysore and Wayanad in Kerala) passing via Nagarahole or the existing 220 KV line on the Kadakola-Kaniyampetta corridor for linking Karnataka with Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the South, besides upgrading the 110 KV corridor between Kasargod and Mangalore.

Sources said it was not just the power from Kaiga, but the government was planning to evacuate power on the proposed line from the Kudankulam atomic power plant in Tamil Nadu which has been built at an outlay of Rs 17,000 crore with Russian assistance.

Karnataka’s power minister D.K. Shivakumar has claimed there was tremendous pressure from the Union government to complete the project.

Environmentalist Suresh Heblikar warned: “Although we can generate power, we cannot produce water. As such, saving the Western Ghats will be the key to conserving our environment.”


At a recent meeting held in Kodagu to protest the project, Major General S.G.Vombatkere (Retd), recalled that the Karnataka officials had deposed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), stating that the objections of Gram Sabhas were “belated” and an “after-thought”. Gen Vombatkere felt these statements were uncalled for, and show the dismissive attitude of officials towards simple people.

Retired IFS officer Dr. Kodira Kushalappa has said the proposed power line passing through Kodagu will destroy the rich natural wealth and the eco-system.

The meeting held at Ponnampet in Kodagu passed a five-point resolution, including the rejection of the recommendations of the government appointed three-member committee, strong condemnation of the administration and Power Grid officials for attempt to snatch away the rights of the people by misusing the Indian Telegraph Act framed by the Britishers, and also to launch an agitation if the government went ahead with the project.

In view of the developments, people of Kodagu feel that had Kodagu remained a separate state instead of merging with Karnataka, they could have rejected the power line. The assurances given at the time of merger to safeguard the interests of Kodagu has not been kept by the Karnataka rulers. This amounts to betrayal of the people of Kodagu for whom the Kannada Rajyotsava will remain a black day.




Coffee Board chairman Javed Akhtar's flop show

On 25/10/14


The role of the Coffee Board chairman Javed Akhtar, IAS (in picture) has come under the scanner following the recent scathing attack on the Coffee Board launched by Union Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Mr Akhtar’s tenure as head of the Board in the past few years has been ‘listless’, marked by a lack of direction, compared to the tenure of Lakshmi Venkatachalam, who was known for her pro-active role, sources in the coffee industry said.

Addressing an interactive meeting with the Board members as well the stakeholders of the coffee industry, the Union Commerce minister had noted: “If growers and exporters are doing their bit, the Board cannot be sitting doing nothing. I am thoroughly unhappy that the Board remains where they are. I would have expected as much robustness in the Board as the sector. Sorry for being so blunt.”

These are strong words from a minister who is known to be no-nonsense in her approach. “It is not that I am absolving myself of my responsibility but I am here to say the Board, please sit up,” she added.

Sources in the coffee industry noted that the present chairman’s tenure has been lacklustre.

The white stem-borer menace is threatening to drive the Arabica variety to extinction and the Board had failed in finding solution. The research and development wing of the Board had not done anything worthwhile in the past few years, the sources noted.

Another area of concern was the failure of the Board to promote transfer of technology to the coffee industry which was in the grip of a crisis due to chronic labour shortage. There is need for subsidising the machinery. The Board chairman has to move the Commerce ministry on a priority basis to provide subsidies.

One of the important problems being faced by coffee planters, especially the medium level planters, is the high interest rates being charged by banks towards credit towards development activities.

It was pointed out by an expert that the domestic consumption of coffee had gone up not on account of the efforts of the Board, but due to promotional activities undertaken by the private sector.
The time has come for the Coffee Board to wake up from its slumber and become pro-active.







Gang wars in Virajpet: Congress leader is the latest victim

On 19/09/14


Virajpet, the second most important town in Kodagu, has become the gangland of Kodagu, where shootouts involving high-profile targets have become a regular feature over the years.

It all started with Kunjanda Ravi Chengappa, a charismatic figure facing criminal charges, being bumped off in 2005, by a sharp-shooter. It was a single shot fired from a moving van. The bullet pierced through Ravi’s head even as his driver stood next to him looking dazed in the heart of the town.

Early this year, Suja Kushalappa, brother of MLA Appachu Ranjan, was shot by a gang near the sub-registrar’s office. Luckily, Suja, who is now the president of the Kodagu BJP, survived the attack, though he suffered bullet injuries.

The latest victim of the shoot-out is Congress leader and former Kodagu ZP vice-president Iqbal Hassan , aged 46, (in picture), who was shot dead in broad daylight by unidentified assailants at a restaurant near the Clock Tower on September 17. Iqbal was killed by car-borne miscreants who shot him in the chest and the Congress leader died instantly.

A bullet hit Chandrasekhar, who was having food at the restaurant and not connected with Iqbal, suffered bullet injuries.

It is believed that Iqbal was reportedly involved in a dispute over a property with one of his neighbours and this was suspected to be the cause for the killing.

Iqbal was elected to Kodagu ZP from Kadanur constituency in Virajpet taluk and served as ZP vice-president for two years from July, 2000. He was also ZP in-charge president for a short period.

What is worrisome about all the three shootouts was the fact that they were high-profile targets. This shows that contract killers were used to settle scores.

The brazen shoot-outs in broad daylight show the Virajpet police in poor light. There is apparently a failure of intelligence. Since Virajpet is bordering Kerala, there is need for stepping up police patrol and intelligence gathering.

Further, Virajpet has been communally sensitive and there is need for intensive policing to check anti-social elements.







KODAGU AINMANES BOOK HITS THE STANDS

On 14/08/14



By P.T. Bopanna

The much-awaited book on ‘Ainmanes of Kodagu’, authored by Boverianda Chinnappa and Nanjamma Chinnappa, researcher couple, has hit the stands.

The authors wrote the book after extensive fieldwork in the Kodagu district (Coorg) of Karnataka, to record for posterity the way of life that the ainmanes symbolise.

In a chat, the couple told www.coorgtourisminfo.com, the first news portal of Kodagu, that the book was unique, because it traces the origins and antiquity of the ancestral homes of all the native communities in Kodagu. “It also describes the social and cultural significance of these ancestral homes, which are important elements of the rich heritage of the native communities of this area.”

The focus of the book is on the traditional ainmanes of Kodagu that are functional. A ‘traditional’ ainmane has a verandah in front with carved square wooden pillars tapering upwards and wooden seats between the pillars, ornately carved windows and door frames, and specific areas within the ainmane for the performance of rituals. A ‘functional’ ainmane is where all the members of the okka gather to celebrate important ceremonies.

The book describes the ainmanes (ancestral homes) of the native communities in Kodagu (Coorg) and their socio-cultural significance. Ainmanes are architectural symbols and expressions of the heritage and culture of the people living in this distinctive district of Karnataka in South India. They bear testimony to the strength and vitality of the okkas (patrilineal clans) of Kodagu and their culture. These ainmanes and the traditions associated with them continue to play a significant role in the lives of the people of Kodagu to this day.

According to the authors, the traditional ainmanes that are still standing today account for only about 40% of the ainmanes that were built in Kodagu. Many of them are currently in a state of disrepair or are in a dilapidated condition; many have been altered and modernized as simple houses. The Chinnappas expressed their apprehension that if this trend continues, these heritage buildings and the unique traditions, customs, festivals and rituals that are associated with them will probably vanish in the not too distant future. “If they vanish, so will the heritage of a people, their way of life and their collective memories,” they added.

The authors said their aim was to raise awareness of the cultural significance of the ainmanes of Kodagu and of their current condition, and hopefully encourage efforts to maintain and preserve these heritage buildings for generations to come.

The cover illustration for the book was painted by well-known cartoonist, Nadikerianda (N.S.) Ponnappa. The book has been published by Niyogi Books, Delhi.

As far as individual ainmanes are concerned, information collected and photographs of each ainmane visited by the couple are on the website www.ainmanes.com that complements the book. The work on the website is in progress.

***********




New video reflecting various facets of Kodagu on Youtube

On 29/07/14


A video reflecting the various facets of Kodagu has been put up on Youtube. The video titled ‘Discover Coorg – Land of the Brave and the Beautiful’, has been produced by freelance journalist and author P.T. Bopanna.

Bopanna’s efforts so far were confined to his books and websites. Now, for the first time Bopanna has used the medium of video to capture the various facets of Kodagu.

The Discover Coorg video features tourist spots, homestays, Coorg jewellery, the Kodava family hockey festival, and the golfing culture in Kodagu. It also captures the traditional tribal folk dances and even a colourful Kodava wedding.

The video has been scripted and made under the creative supervision of Pattamada Sundar Muthanna, an advertising copywriter, who is passionate about Kodagu.

The content for the video has been sourced mainly from Bopanna’s four websites: www.coorgtourisminfo.com, which was started in 2005, www.coorgrecipes.com, www.coorgjewellery.in, and www.coorghomestays.co.in.

A section of the video on ‘How to wear a Coorg sari’ was produced earlier by Bopanna for his website www.coorgjewellery.in. The video was directed by fashion guru Prasad Bidapa.

One can view the latest video by visiting the website www.coorgtourisminfo.com, or through the Youtube link –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXN3aer12HY










PM urged to scrap Mysore-Kushalanagar railway line project

On 10/07/14


OPEN LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI TO SCRAP THE MYSORE-KUSHALANAGAR RAILWAY LINE PROJECT, THE RAILWAY MINISTER’S ‘GIFT’ TO WIFE DATTY

While it is laudable that the Prime Minister wants the railways to help accelerate the country’s growth, it is regrettable that the railway minister Sadananda Gowda is trying to revive a railway project in his wife’s hometown in Coorg which has already been found to be ‘economically unviable’ by the railways.

In the budget, Gowda announced the survey for Mysore-Kushalanagar-Madikeri line. Gowda’s wife Datty hails from a village near Kushalanagar town in Coorg district.

In fact, the survey for this line was completed in 2011, but the project was shelved by the railways because it was found to be not viable. In the circumstances, the Prime Minister should scrap the project as public funds should not be misused for pandering to the private fancies of the minister.

It is a matter of concern that the project is being planned in the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats without making a study of the environmental impact assessment and the carrying capacity for taking up such a massive project.

The project would lead to an environmental disaster, especially the planned railway line between Kushalanagar and Madikeri, the district headquarters of Coorg.

In the recent years, Coorg has emerged as a major tourist destination. Resorts and ‘homestays’ have mushroomed all over Coorg. This has triggered landslides, drinking water scarcity, waste management problems and importantly the destruction of forests.

The commercialisation and urbanisation has led to large-scale migration into Coorg. The ‘outsiders’ have un-authorisedly occupied river banks and other public spaces like sacred forests, considered sacred by the indigenous people.

Coorg which borders Kerala has been witnessing an exodus of ‘outsiders’, leading to an Assam-like situation where outsiders outnumber the ‘locals’. This has been encouraged by the politicians to garner votes.

In the circumstances, the local people feel that the decision to put Coorg on the railway map is a conspiracy by the ‘Kerala lobby’, keen on extending the railway link to Kerala towns. Moreover, it is also being alleged that the railway link will help the Kerala timber lobby as the project would involve large-scale cutting down of trees.

By stopping the railway project, the Prime Minister will help in preserving the local identity of Coorg and also conserving the Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity in the world.

P.T. Bopanna
Editor
www.coorgtourisminfo.com






Is new Kodagu MP Pratap Simha doing more harm than good to Kodagu?

On 18/06/14


Is the newly elected Mysore-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha doing more harm than good to Kodagu?

Ever since his victory in the Lok Sabha elections, this journalist-turned politician has been on a celebration mode. Nothing wrong in that because he is the youngest to be elected to the Lok Sabha from Karnataka this time. However, what is worrying is some of the controversial statements this BJP MP has been making which could have serious repercussions on Kodagu.

Before going into the details, it is worthwhile making a comparison with his Congress predecessor H. Viswanath. Though Vishwanath was lazy and ineffective, he did not do any harm to the interests of Kodagu.

But Simha has been going around making reckless statements which could pose danger to the interests of Kodagu in particular and Karnataka in general. Foremost among them was his statement to stall the implementation of the Kasturirangan report on saving the Western Ghats.

Ever since the Prof Madhav Gadgil report was published on safeguarding the Western Ghats, which was subsequently diluted by the Kasturirangan report, politicians in Kodagu have been indulging in a disinformation campaign to malign the report. It is apparent that the political class in Kodagu has been playing to the tune of the Kerala timber lobby which fears that the restrictions posed by the Kasturirangan report could come in their way of looting the forest and mineral wealth of Kodagu.

Even when the UNESCO wanted to confer the World Heritage tag to Western Ghats, both the BJP and the Congress leaders opposed this tooth and nail. Perhaps for the first time, a Kodagu bandh call given by the BJP on this issue was supported by the Congress!

While Pratap Simha has already gone and met the Union environment minister and submitted memorandum against implementation of the Kasturirangan report, he has not tried to discuss the pros and cons of the report with the people going to be affected.

The major recommendation of Kasturirangan report involves notifying 37 per cent of the Western Ghats as Ecologically Sensitive Area. This includes 55 villages in Kodagu.

Pratap Simha has not bothered to meet the people in these 55 villages and ascertain their views on the report. The Kodagu MP who is active on the social media, has mostly pictures and reports of his victory celebrations, rather than his interaction with people at the grassroots.

The Karnataka government too has not bothered to bring out a white paper on the impact of the report and how it would affect the livelihood of people in these 55 villages. According to experts, agriculture operations are not going to be affected in the 55 villages, but mostly there would be restrictions on sand mining, quarrying and construction of major tourist resorts.

It is learnt that most of those indulging in sand mining, quarrying and smuggling the loot to Kerala, are the supporters of leading politicians in Kodagu. This is said to be the main reason why the politicians have unleashed fear psychosis among the small planters, without trying to explain how the Kasturirangan report would affect their lives.

Pratap Simha’s move to actively oppose the Kasturirangan report, without trying to explain to the people in the 55 villages on the actual dangers of the report based on verifiable facts, exposes the motives of the Kodagu MP.

While opposing the Kasturirangan report, Simha has not shown much interest in the construction of the 400 KV high tension power line passing through Kodagu which is going to affect many small coffee planters. Not only Simha, but all leading politicians in Kodagu have not raised their voice against the power line. Is it because the 50,000 trees which are going to be cut for the project, going to benefit Kerala timber lobby? Being a journalist, is Simha not aware of the ecological disaster this could have on Kodagu? Why he has not submitted a memorandum to the power ministry?

Again, Simha has been vociferous in calling for extending railway line to Kushalanagar from Mysore. He has already met the railway minister and submitted a memorandum, even though the project has been found to be unviable. It is no secret that once the railway line is connected to Kushalanagar, there will be demand for extending it to Tellicherry and other Kerala towns.

Simha should engage in introspection and take the local people into confidence before pursuing the projects which could lead to serious environmental problems in the Western Ghats. With a below normal rainfall predicted this year, there will be serious drinking water problem in cities like Bangalore and Mysore.

Do Simha and his ilk want a situation where Karnataka suffers while the Kerala mafia prospers?
***



Picnic turns tragic for brothers Kodimaniyanda Dr Akhil and Ashwath

On 18/04/14


In a tragic accident, two brothers – Dr Akhil Kuttappa, and Ashwath Aiyappa (in picture), sons of Kodimaniyanda Raghu Madappa and Anita, of Madikeri, drowned at Chiklihole near Kushalanagar on Thursday evening.

It is learnt that the brothers had left for Kodagu to cast their vote and to attend a couple of family functions. After casting the vote, the brothers headed to their uncle Iychettira Ashok’s place at Chettahalli for the latter’s birthday party.

After the lunch, the brothers and their cousins, went for a picnic at Chiklihole . Reports said one of them drowned in the river and when the second brother tried to save him, both perished in the water with the cousins watching the entire tragic episode helplessly.

The bodies could not be retrieved immediately and professional divers had to be summoned who managed to fish out the bodies late in the night. The post-mortem was held at Kushalanagar and the bodies were taken to their residence at Madikeri. It is learnt that the last rites would be held at the family’s estate.

Dr Akhil, aged around 30 years, was dentist who also taught dentistry and Ashwath, 28, worked for Myndsets Technologies. Ashwath was also a cricketer who played for a leading club. Ashwath had strong political leanings and had told his friends in Bangalore that he wanted to vote for his party.

Raghu Madappa, the father of the victims was a graduate of Madras Christian College, and worked as manager of Vijaya Mallya’s estate. Raghu married Anita, sister of Iychettira Anil, editor of Coffeeland newspaper, and a well-known golfer.

The brothers were scheduled to attend the Iychettira therae along with other family members on Friday.



Jamma amendment: Karnataka High Court admits petition

On 24/02/14


The Karnataka High Court has admitted a writ petition seeking the quashing of the recent Amendment to allow the partitioning of Jamma lands in Kodagu district of Karnataka.

Bangalore-based journalist and author P.T. Bopanna is one of the signatories to the petition.

The petitioners had sought a direction to restrain the Karnataka government from compelling members of the joint families of the Kodava race to seek partition of their ancestral properties, including Jamma Bane lands, whether alienated or un-alienated, privileged or unprivileged.

The writ petition seeks quashing the Karnataka Land Revenue (Third) Amendment Act passed by the previous BJP government. The petition has called for upholding the customary laws which stand abolished by the Amendment.

INTERIM PRAYER: The writ has sought a stay on the operation of the Act until the disposal of the petition, and also restrain the revenue department from mutating any Jamma land falling under Regulation 164 of the Coorg Land Revenue Regulation, 1899, in the name of the purchaser.

The petitioners have urged the court to declare the Karnataka Land Revenue (Third Amendment) Act, 2011 ANNEXURE-A, as unconstitutional and void and direct the respondents and its officers not to enforce or give effect to the provisions of the Amendment.

The deputy commissioner of Kodagu district has also been made a respondent to the case, and also the Secretary, department of Parliamentary Affairs and Legislation.

It may be recalled that a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed last May to quash the Amendments. The PIL was subsequently ‘disposed as withdrawn” in June in the court of the Chief Justice.

The name Jamma is derived from the Sanskrit word “Janma”, meaning “hereditary by birth”. Jamma was granted under sannads largely by the Coorg Rajas (1600 AD to 1834 AD) and to a smaller extent by the British till 1895 to the local inhabitants – Kodavas, Amma-Kodavas, Heggades, Airis, Koyavas, Moplas and Gaudas. The Jamma-holders were liable to be called out to repel external aggression or quell internal disturbances, and to be deployed as treasury guards.

The Jamma lands consisted of the wetland for growing paddy and the adjoining highland called Bane land, initially used for cattle grazing and held free of assessment, which have now been converted into coffee estates.

***



Sapthagiri medical college: A fraud on Kodava-speaking people?

On 18/02/14


A medical college in Bangalore set up under the category of Kodava minority institution has blatantly violated rules by admitting only one student from the Kodava-speaking community, though it is supposed to fill 66 per cent of all its seats with Kodava-speaking students for its MBBS course.

According to reports, the Sapthagiri Institute of Medical Sciences while claiming Kodava minority status, has admitted only one Kodava-speaking student during 2012-2013.

The blatant violation came to light during an inspection by a monitoring committee headed by former vice-chancellor of Kuvempu University P. Venkataramaiah.

Following the reported violation, the Karnataka government has decided to issue a show cause notice to the college and also threatened to withdraw the Kodava minority status.

It is said that a linguistic minority college has to earmark a fixed number of seats to students who hail from the community. The student should also have completed Class 10 or 12 in a school in Karnataka. If the college is unable to fill the seats with students who meet the criteria, it must surrender the remaining seats to the government, which will then be distributed through Common Entrance Test (CET).
It may be recalled the issue of the alleged violation by the Sapthagiri medical college had figured in the Karnataka Legislative Council.

The medical education minister Dr Sharanprakash Patil had said that it had come to his notice that certain linguistic minority colleges were not fulfilling the conditions laid down by the State in enrolling students, thereby violating their minority recognition status.

M C Nanaiah (JD-S) had stated that the Sapthagiri medical college, which had got recognition as a Kodava language minority college, had only one Kodava-speaking student and the rest were students speaking other languages.

Minister Patil replied that three members of the five-member management committee of the college had got certificates from the concerned tahsildar as belonging to the ‘Kodava-Gowda’ community.

Questioning the certificate issued by the tahsildar, Nanaiah noted that he had never heard of such a community, though he hailed from Kodagu. He appealed to the minister to initiate action against the tahsildar.

According to the official website of the Sapthagiri medical college located on Hesarghatta Road, the Sapthagiri group of institutions is the creation of Sri Srinivasa Educational & Charitable Trust, Bangalore. Besides, the trust also runs Sapthagiri College of Engineering and a four star hotel.

G. Dayanand is the founder chairman of Sapthagiri Institute of Medical Sciences. The other administrators of the Institute are Dr. C.M Ramesh, Dr.V.Jayanthi, Dr.B.R.Prakash, Dr Mohan N. Reddy, and Shivrame Gowda.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The action of the founders of the Sapthagiri Institute of Medical Sciences in setting up a minority institution in the name of the Kodava-speaking people, is a fraud on the Kodava community.

The Bangalore Kodava Samaja and the community leaders should take up the issue with the Medical Council of India and immediately lodge a police complaint against the college management for fraudulently claiming Kodava minority status and pocketing crores of rupees.

Action also needs to be taken against the concerned tashildar for giving false caste certificates to the founders of the medical college. The role of the politicians behind this racket must be exposed.




Suja shoot-out: Five hired hitmen nabbed for revenge attack

On 23/01/14


Hired hit-men were behind the attempt to murder Kodagu unit BJP president Suja Kushalappa, in a revenge attack for the death of a Congress leader under mysterious circumstances last year, according to Kodagu police who have arrested five persons in this connection.

The assailants had shot at Mandepanda Suja Kushalappa, brother of Madikeri MLA Appachu Ranjan in Virajpet town on January 9. Suja who suffered bullet injuries on his neck was treated at a Mysore hospital from where he was discharged a few days ago.

Addressing a news conference at Madikeri on Wednesday, Kodagu superintendent of police M.N. Anucheth, identified the arrested persons as M.B. Harris (23) from Virajpet, M.A. Rashiq (28) from Bettageri near Madikeri, H.U. Asheeq (31) in Sunticoppa, V. Faizal (31) from Calicut in Kerala and V.M. Suleiman (48) from Ernakulam in Kerala. They were nabbed from different places in Mysore and Periyapatna.

The assailants told the police that they wanted to kill Suja because they suspected his hand in the death of Abdul Latif, a Kodagu zilla panchayat member from the Congress, who was killed by unknown persons last year when he had gone to hunt in the forest. Harris, one of the accused, is the brother of Latif.

The SP said the deal to eliminate Suja was fixed for a sum of Rs. 15 lakh, of which Rs. 5 lakh was paid as advance. The car-borne assailants pumped bullets from a pistol, but sped away in panic after Suja’s associates returned the fire. They later abandoned the car.
All five were remanded in judicial custody but the police have sought the custody of Harris for a day for further interrogation.

Suja, his son Shashank Bheemaiah, advocate C.N. Machaiah and a member of the Virajpet town panchayat, Jeevan, were coming out of the sub-registrar’s office in Virajpet after signing a land registration around 4 p.m. on January 9, when Suja was fired at. A police team led by Satish Kumar nabbed the accused.

The police have also recovered a country-made pistol, two bullets, four empty bullets, three machetes, a mobile phone and a map, apart from the car used for the crime. He announced a cash reward for the team which solved the case.

The BJP had called a bandh on January 10 to protest against the attack on Suja, who is also a leading liquour businessman. The bandh which was marred by violence, had caused a lot of hardship to people who had converged on Madikeri to attend a Kannada convention.



Mysore-Khozikode 400 KV power line through Kodagu: Col Muthanna suggests underground cabling to save 50,000 trees

On 17/01/14


Col C.P. Muthanna (Retd), president of the Coorg Wildlife Society (CWS), has appealed to the Power Grid Corporation of India, against going ahead with its plans to put up high tension power line across coffee plantations in Kodagu, as this would destroy 50,000 trees leading to a major ecological disaster in the Western Ghats.

Addressing a news conference in Bangalore, Col Muthanna said the matter was coming up before the National Green Tribunal on January 23 and the CWS would argue for routing the 400 KV Mysore-Khozikode power line through the D-line, which is a wide gap in the Nagarahole National Park between Kodagu and Mysore districts.

He added: “If the power line must go through Kodagu, it can be taken underground without felling any tree. In Navi Mumbai, the same Power Grid Corporation has floated tenders for 400 KV underground cable to replace the overhead power lines.”

According to him, the Corporation has already felled nearly 2,000 trees in the reserve forests bordering Kodagu. However, the Karnataka forest department was yet to give permission for tree felling within Kodagu.

He said the Kodagu district in-charge minister Dr H.C. Mahadevappa has written to the chief minister to suspend work on the power line and find alternate routes to prevent the felling of a large number of trees.

Col Muthanna claimed that Kerala politicians have drawn up several plans which could have disastrous effect on Kodagu.

He noted there was a plan to connect the Mattanur airport to Mysore and Bangalore through Kodagu by constructing a four-lane highway which would involve massive tree felling.

The Colonel also claimed there was a plan to link the proposed railway line to Kushalanagar and extend it to Kerala. “It is highly unfortunate that thousands of crores of rupees will be spent in destroying Kodagu for providing comfort and convenience to Kerala,” he added.

Dr B.C. Nanjappa, an environmental activists, deplored that tourist resorts were proliferating in Kodagu without proper clearances and endangering the pristine landscapes. “There should be a moratorium on further licences for resorts in Kodagu till a proper evaluation on the carrying capacity for tourism was carried out,” he added.

Dr Nanjappa expressed concern over rapid urbanisation in Kodagu following the conversion of coffee estates and agriculture lands for commercial purposes. He also sought cancellation of the various MOUs signed during the Global Investors’ Meet in Kodagu as this was essentially meant for setting up resorts and housing layouts.

Environmentalist Suresh Heblikar who was also present at the news conference said Kodagu was a major ‘lung space’ in southern Karnataka and the ecology should be preserved. He wanted the government to promote paddy cultivation in Kodagu as this would ensure perennial water flow in the Cauvery river.





Shoot-out at Virajpet: Kodagu bandh called by BJP total

On 10/01/14


The bandh called by the BJP in Kodagu on Friday to protest against the attack on Kodagu BJP unit president Suja Kushalappa has received total response. Kushalappa, brother of Madikeri MLA Appachu Ranjan was shot at by armed gunmen on Thursday at Virajpet.

According to reports, shops and business establishments remained closed throughout the district. All government offices were closed. Only essential services remained operational. Buses were off the roads. Schools and colleges were closed.

Mandepanda Suja Kushalappa, who was also involved in liquor business, was shot at by car-borne gunmen while he was coming out of the office of the sub-registrar, accompanied by his son Shashank, and a few others. It is learnt that the aides of Kushalappa returned the fire, but the occupants of the car numbering four persons sped away.

Reports said the bullets grazed past the hand and neck of Kushalappa. He was initially operated on at a hospital in Virajpet and a bullet was removed. He was later shifted to Mysore, where he underwent another surgery by a team of doctors led by Dr Anil Sangli at Columbia Asia Hospital. Kushalappa’s condition is said to be stable.



Repair of Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road: Siddaramaiah govt no better than previous BJP regime

On 05/01/14


By P.T. Bopanna

The Congress government in Karnataka led by chief minister Siddaramaiah has ‘abandoned’ work on the repair of the Hunsur-Kodagu road. The Siddaramaiah government too has hoodwinked the people of Kodagu in the same way the previous BJP government had played trick on the people by taking up work on the road on the eve of the last Assembly elections.

The work on the Hunsur-Anechowkur stretch of the road has been stopped for the last one month. This reporter who travelled on the road a few days ago, found construction equipment ‘abandoned’ by the side of the road. Work has come to a standstill throughout the stretch.

The only work completed so far is the 10 km stretch from Kalbetta on the outskirts of Hunsur towards Panchavalli. There was some work in progress from Anechowkur towards Gonikoppal.

Though broadening of the road has been done on the Hunsur-Gonikoppal road, tarring the surface of the road has not been taken up. Consequently, though the road is motorable, it will be a bumpy ride as the road is uneven. Craters abound throughout and this makes difficult for cars to negotiate. The road has become very dusty and this makes driving difficult.

It may be recalled the previous BJP government had gone back on the assurance to start work on the Hunsur-Gonikoppal road, which had been nick-named the ‘road to hell’ because of the neglect of the road for decades by successive governments. The road work started only after Governor Hans Raj Bhardwaj intervened. But this was short-lived as the work came to a halt after the Assembly polls.

Work on the road got a new lease of life last August after Mr P. Manivannan, IAS, chief project officer at Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project, took notice of the situation following a sustained online campaign on the Facebook page ‘Repair Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road’.

Mr Manivannan convinced Dr H.C. Mahadevappa, the PWD minister, on the urgent need for starting the work. Dr Mahadeveppa, who is also the district in-charge minister for Kodagu and a close confidante of chief minister Siddaramaiah, took interest in re-starting work on the road and promised to complete the work before the onset of the next monsoon.


It looks like that even Dr Mahadevappa is not in a mood to deliver on his promise, even though he is the PWD minister.

The Mysore-Kodagu Lok Sabha member Adagur H. Vishwanath of the Congress has totally neglected his constituency. His only pre-occupation has been back room caste politics. The Congress is reportedly planning to dump him in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, because he has become a political liability in the constituency.

The two BJP MLAs from Kodagu, K.G. Bopaiah and Appachu Ranjan have given the impression that they are helpless because the Congress is in power in the state.

The only way work on the road could re-start is to prevail upon Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on the urgent need for completing work on Hunsur-Gonikoppal-Virajpet road when he visits Madikeri to inaugurate the Kannada conference on January 7. This will definitely yield political results for Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.




Birdman Dr S.V. Narasimhan is Coorg Person of the Year, 2013

On 01/01/14


Dr S.V. Narasimhan, a bird-watcher from Kodagu (Coorg) in Karnataka, who has been featured under two categories in the 2013 edition of the Limca Book of Records is ‘Coorg Person of the Year, 2013’.

Dr Narasimhan, the author of the book “Feathered Jewels of Coorg”, practices medicine at Virajpet town. He pioneered the concept of spreading wildlife conservation messages in the last three decades through his unique hand-painted cards. He was featured under the paintings category in the book of records, for the ‘most cards made and sent’.

He was selected ‘Coorg Person of the Year’ in a poll conducted by www.coorgtourisminfo.com, Kodagu’s first news portal, promoted by senior journalist P.T. Bopanna.

Dr Narasimhan, aged 58, has been drawing and colouring message cards since 1983 for the cause of wildlife conservation. Starting with just 120 the first year, he has sent out 55,320 cards as of June 30, 2012.

He has also been included in the Limca Record under the literature category for the ‘only book on birds authored and illustrated by same’.

Dr Narasimhan has done 310 coloured illustrations in his book – Feathered Jewels of Coorg - first published in 2004 by the Coorg Wildlife Society, Madikeri, co-sponsored by The Coorg Foundation. A revised and enlarged edition was published in 2008. His book is a treasure trove of information on bird species found in Kodagu with their zoological names as well as their names in English, Kannada and Kodava languages.

He paints the cards made of recycled paper. He draws the outline of the picture using a computer and then manually fills in the colours, using pencil, sketch pen and water-colours. The accompanying messages are invariably fitting quotes, appealing to preserve the fragile eco-system and the vanishing flora and fauna. The cards are mailed in the first week of October to coincide with the Wildlife Week. Most of the recipients of the cards are school children, with a view to promote environmental awareness among young people. Policy makers also find a place on the mailing list.

Among the others who were nominated for this year’s ‘Coorg Person of the Year’, include President of the Coorg Wildlife Society, Col. C.P. Muthanna, who has been waging a relentless battle against the erection of 400 KV high-tension transmission line across private plantations in Kodagu to supply power to Kerala from Koodanakulam nuclear power plant.

The past winners of the ‘Coorg Person of the Year’ are Dr Kavery Nambisan, novelist, 2005; Dr Boverianda Nanjamma Chinnappa, researcher, 2006; Robin Uthappa, cricketer, 2007; Dr Moodera Jagadeesh Subbaiah , scientist, 2008; Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa, Retd., environmentalist, 2009; Tennis player Rohan Bopanna, 2010;retired Tamil Nadu IAS officer P.M. Belliappa, 2011; and Vineet Devaiah, technology innovator, 2012.




Preeth Ganapathy resigns from IPS and opts for IRS

On 23/12/13


Preeth Ganapathy (seen breaking the pot in the picture), the first woman IPS officer from Kodagu, who successfully completed her training at the National Police Academy in Hyderabad, has resigned from the IPS and opted to join the Indian Revenue Service (IRS).

According to family sources, Preeth decided to opt for the IRS as this would enable her to work in Karnataka and stay close to her family. Preeth had to work in northern India, if she had continued in the IPS because she was allotted the Uttar Pradesh cadre.

Following her decision to join the IRS, Preeth will have to undergo one more year of training at Nagpur.

Preeth had secured the first rank in computer science and engineering examination conducted by the Vishveshvaraya Technological University (VTU) in Karnataka. Preeth completed her Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science at R.V College of Engineering in the year 2008.

Preeth is the daughter of Mookonda K Ganapathy and Gowri Ganapathy who hail from Bilugunda Village of Ammathy in Kodagu.
M.K. Ganapathy had retired as a superintendent of police in Bangalore.



Gun exemption certificate: Kodagu district administration on confrontation path

On 29/11/13


The Kodagu district administration has taken the path of confrontation with the local people by putting hurdles in issuing exemption certificates for holding firearms.

It is unfortunate that a young team of IAS and IPS officers who have recently taken over the reins of Kodagu district administration should start their tenure by engaging in a confrontation course with the local people.

Probably the young team at the helm in Kodagu are not aware of the law. The Indian Arms Act allows the people of Kodava race and Jamma tenure holders to possess firearms without licence.

Hitherto, the exemption certificates were issued as per the provision of the Act. According to reports, at present the district administration is asking the people to produce land records pertaining to 1918. This is unreasonable and impractical. It is reported that 2,500 applications for grant of exemption certificates were pending in Kodagu after the new rule was imposed.

The reports said while ‘outsiders’ from the districts were issued with regular gun licences “without a murmur”, the local inhabitants were denied the exemption certificates.

The young team of offers heading the Kodagu administration should read the report submitted by T.P. Issar, while he was working as the deputy commissioner of Kodagu, on the gun privileges conferred on the local people who consider guns as sacred.

This is not to suggest that safeguards should not be built into the system as there is scope for misuse of the privilege. But in the name of safeguards, the common man should not be made to go from pillar to post to obtain the exemption certificate.



Nod for 400 KV high tension transmission line in Kodagu: Col Muthanna to approach High Court

On 28/10/13


Col C. P. Muthanna (Retd), President of the Coorg Wildlife Society (CWS), has decided to approach the Karnataka High Court, demanding the stopping of work on the erection of 400 KV high-tension transmission line across Kodagu through private plantations to supply power to Kerala from Koodanakulam nuclear power plant.

Speaking to this reporter, Col Muthanna (in picture) recalled that the recent High Court judgement had directed the Karnataka government to review the work being carried out in elephant corridors by carrying out an impact assessment.

The President of the CWS pointed out that even before the impact report was prepared, the Power Grid Corporation of India authorities had started cutting down trees to erect the transmission towers. The high-tension line would pass through Maldare, Thithimathi, Kanoor, Nalkeri, and Kutta. The work on cutting the trees has been going on since Saturday amid heavy police protection.

Col C. P. Muthanna noted that the present route of the transmission line would have serious negative effect on Kodagu. The proposed route of the transmission line is part of an elephant corridor. Any interference in these corridors would hamper the natural movement of elephant herds and would result in increased man-elephant conflict.

He pointed out that the solution was to route the transmission line through the Nagarhole National Park and could follow the alignment of existing fire-lanes or vehicle lanes, so as to minimize loss of tree cover. "It may also be constructed along the existing 11 KV power-line that enters Nagarahole Nation Park at Honmare Katte in HD Kote, runs up to DB Kuppe and enters Kerala near Bavli Road", Col Muthanna noted.

The shortest distance from Mysore to Khozikode would be through the Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagarahole).

The Power Grid Corporation of India has completed the laying of wires from Mysore to Lingapur (Mysore-Kodagu border) on the one side, and from Kozhikode to Manandavadi (Kerala-Kodagu border) on another side. As the work faced severe opposition from environmentalists in Kodagu, the work was halted for some time.






Callous Karnataka govt gives nod for 400 KV high tension transmission line in Kodagu

On 26/10/13


The permission given by the Congress government in Karnataka to go ahead with the erection of 400 KV high-tension transmission line across Kodagu (Coorg) through private coffee plantations to supply power to Kerala from Koodankulam nuclear power plant, will lead to a major environmental disaster in the Western Ghats.

According to reports, in a letter written to the the Kodagu Deputy Commissioner, Karnataka Forest, Environment and Ecology Principal Secretary S Sivashailam has stated: “If the electricity wire, that passes through 55 km area in Kodagu is laid above 15 metres above the ground, it would not harm the elephants. Therefore, the electricity wire laying work can be re-started.” Normally electricity wires are laid 9 metres above the ground.

Further, the letter had clarified that the High Court in its judgment on October 8, 2013, had imposed a condition that the electricity wire should be in such a height that elephants should not be able to reach it. Hence, laying wire at 15 metres height would abide by the court directive.


The proposed high-tension wires would pass through Lingapur, Maldare, Thithimathi, Kanur, Nalkeri, Kutta and surrounding areas, which are habitats of elephants. Several trees will have to be cut for laying the high-tension wire, which will adversely affect the animal habitat, according to environmentalists.

Col C. P. Muthanna (Retd), President of the Coorg Wildlife Society, has opposed the project to draw the transmission line through Kodagu. "We are deeply concerned because this alignment would have serious negative effects on Kodagu. The proposed route of the transmission line is part of an elephant corridor. Any interference in these corridors would hamper the natural movement of elephant herds and would result in increased man-elephant conflict," Col. Muthanna warned.

He argued that the solution was to route the transmission line through the Nagarhole National Park and could follow the alignment of existing fire-lanes or vehicle lanes, so as to minimize loss of tree cover. "It may also be constructed along the existing 11 KV power-line that enters Nagarahole Nation Park at Honmare Katte in HD Kote, runs up to DB Kuppe and enters Kerala near Bavli Road", Col Muthanna pointed out.

The shortest distance from Mysore to Khozikode would be through the Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagarahole).

The Power Grid Corporation of India has completed the laying of wires from Mysore to Lingapur (Mysore-Kodagu border) on the one side, and from Kozhikode to Manandavadi (Kerala-Kodagu border) on another side. As the work faced severe opposition from environmentalists in Kodagu, the work was halted for some time.

If the project is implemented, it would provide 520 MW power to Karnataka and 260 MW to Kerala from Koodankulam nuclear power plant.

www.coorgtourisminfo.com editor P.T. Bopanna writes: It is not too late for the authorities to reconsider the project in view of the environmental impact it could have on the fragile Western Ghats, one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world.

Moreover, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, there is a growing debate on the future of nuclear power.

The project could create problems for small coffee planters in Kodagu, as the transmission lines would pass through their estates. Moreover, environmentalists have suggested alternate routes for the transmission line and this could be acted upon.

As it is there is widespread straying of elephants to coffee plantations. With the new transmission lines passing through the elephant corridor, the situation could turn worse.

On the political front, the Congress party would be further alienated from the people of Kodagu who are already supporting the BJP, despite the fact that the saffron brigade had neglected the district during their regime.









Bangalore Mirror newspaper makes derogatory comments against Coorg communities

On 26/09/13


The ‘Bangalore Mirror’ newspaper, published by the Times of India group, has made derogatory comments against the Coorgs (Kodavas) and the Yerava tribals living in Coorg (Kodagu).

In an article on Coorg food, published on September 8, 2013, the cross-heading stated: “Coorgi women give men a run for their money when it comes to the consumption of alcohol”.

The article written by Khushali P. Madhwani, quoting one Kajal Appaiah, said: “In the tribes, men would complain that women are drunk and beat them. Women drink more than the men.”

When this reporter took up the issue with the resident editor of Bangalore Mirror, B. Mahesh, over the telephone and protested against the derogatory references to the Coorgs, he defended the article by saying: “Nowadays, everybody seems to feel hurt. We cannot help it.”

Further, in a ‘clarification’ issued by the Bangalore Mirror dated September 12, 2013, quoting Kajal Appaiah, it was stated: “The tribal women (the Yeravas living in Coorg) drink a lot but not the Coorg women.”

EDITOR’S VIEW: It is the height of irresponsibility on the part of Bangalore Mirror to have allowed Ms. Appaiah to make such derogatory comments against the Yerava women. Since the Yeravas come under the category of the Scheduled Tribe, the comments attract the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The Act lists 22 offences relating to various patterns of behaviours inflicting criminal offences for shattering the self-respect and esteem of SCs and STs.

The least that the Bangalore Mirror could do is to apologise to the Yerava community for allowing their columns to be used for making defamatory statements against one of the poorest tribal communities in India.




www.coorgtourisminfo.com campaign impact: Work resumes on Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road

On 11/09/13


Work on the repair of Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road in Karnataka which had come to a halt following the monsoon and change of government, has resumed now due to the vigorous campaign launched on Facebook, the social networking site, by the editor of this portal.

It may be recalled that the editor, P.T. Bopanna, had created a Facebook page ‘Repair Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road’ following the failure of the previous BJP government in Karnataka to take up work on the pot-hole ridden road, notoriously known as the ‘road to hell’. The editor had met Governor Hans Raj Bharadwaj and prevailed upon him to direct the state government to start work.

Though work was taken up on the eve of the Assembly elections in April this year, it came to a halt after the new Congress government assumed office.

A fresh campaign was launched on Facebook a few weeks ago, which caught the attention of P. Manivannan, IAS, chief project officer at Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project. He had responded by saying: “I really appreciate this wonderful initiative to highlight the problem and also bring pressure on the decision makers. In a democracy voice matters! United and sustained voice works wonders!”

For those not familiar with Mr Manivannan, he is one of the most pro-active and people-friendly IAS officers in Karnataka. He was previously the MD of BESCOM and was conferred the ‘Namma Bengaluru Award’ for 2012 in recognition of his “extraordinary contribution” to Bangalore.

Mr Manivannan’s response was in sharp contrast to the behaviour of the elected representatives from Kodagu – former Speaker K.G. Bopaiah and former minister Ranjan Appachu. Both of them failed to take any action on improving the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road during the four years of their tenure as MLAs, but started work on the eve of the Assembly elections. And won by hoodwinking the people of Kodagu!

Of the 45 km of the road, work was taken up only in a short stretch of the road near Hunsur last April. With the onset of the monsoon, work had come to a standstill.

Fortunately, Dr H.C. Mahadevappa, who is the Kodagu district in-charge minister, is now the PWD minister. This should make things easier for taking up the road work. Moreover, Dr Mahadevappa is a close confidante of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

This reporter who travelled on the road a few days ago, found that work was going on at a few places.

Earth-moving equipment had been deployed near Panchavalli to broaden the road. Work on a bridge (in picture above) near Allur was nearing completion.

However, work is yet to start from Anechowkoor side towards Hunsur. The pace of work should pick up. It is rather slow.









Writer Tejaswi Uthappa reviews C.P. Belliappa's book Tongue of the Slip

On 28/08/13


Here comes a ‘chill pill’ for those with the verve to laugh at life. If that’s not you, pick up a copy along with your choice of beverage and learn to. And if in the midst of a tale you find yourself chuckling or, worse, are left with that strangely suspicious sense of déjà vu, take another sip and read on.

Effortlessly, CP Belliappa takes you to people, places and situations in his life that you will find at once familiar, curious and downright entertaining. From satirical accounts of Presidential banquets and royal bloopers to hostel howlers, dreamtime escapades to legacy languishes and cultural faux-pas to fantastique French fetishes, your tête-à-tête with this tireless humourist and light-hearted observer of life-at-large, comes across as warm and witty at the very least.

Influences of world culture and experiences come rife in these subtle narratives and Belliappa informs with an ease that is typical of his writing. Peppered with noted cartoonist NS Ponnappa’s delightful strokes, there is something for everyone in this nifty collection of memoirs from a life of many planes. If Tale of a Tiger’s Tale & Other Yarns from Coorg, gave a taste of his knack for turning even the mundane on its head, Tongue of the Slip, is the double-take that confirms it.

Life can be challenging but sometimes it is best to laugh it off. Begin here, because as Belliappa quotes from a Rotarian’s instructions to his wife in the title story, “Nothing to worry dear, all you need to do is simply shut your eyes and read it”. Good advice, that.

The book has been published by Rupa Publications.

Belliappa’s other books are: Tale of a Tiger’s Tail & Other Yarns from Coorg,Nuggets from Coorg History and Victoria Gowramma: The Lost Princess of Coorg.


The book has been reviewed by Tejaswi Uthappa who is a freelance writer & editor



Kodagu birdman Dr Narasimhan figures in Limca Book of Records

On 30/07/13


Dr S.V. Narasimhan, a medical practitioner and bird-watcher from Kodagu (Coorg) in Karnataka, features in the 2013 edition of the Limca Book of Records under two categories.
The author of “Feathered Jewels of Coorg” who practices medicine at Virajpet town in Kodagu has been featured under the paintings category for the ‘most cards made and sent’.
Dr Narasimhan has been drawing and colouring greeting/ message cards since 1983 for the cause of wildlife conservation. Staring with just 120 the first year, he has sent out 55,320 cards as of June 30, 2012.
He has also been included in the Limca Record under the literature category for the ‘only book on birds authored and illustrated by same’.

Dr Narasimhan has done 310 coloured illustrations in his book – Feathered Jewels of Coorg - first published in 2004 by the Coorg Wildlife Society, Madikeri and co-sponsored by The Coorg Foundation. A revised and enlarged edition was published in 2008.
Links:

http://limcabookofrecords.in/recorddetails.aspx?recid=732
http://limcabookofrecords.in/recorddetails.aspx?recid=887
http://www.coorgtourisminfo.com/bird-watching.php



Dress Code: The General and the Turban

On 11/07/13


One fine day last year, a gentleman from Holland mailed me over a dozen black and white photographs he had taken nearly forty years ago. One of the photographs was that of our Cariappa Ajja (in picture above). That is how people in Kodagu affectionately call the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, Field Marshal K. M. Cariappa.

These excellent photographs were taken by John van der Woude from Holland, during his visit to Madikeri (Mercara) in 1973. It was his first trip outside Europe at the age of 23. John had apparently witnessed the Madikeri ‘Puttari Kol’ which was attended by General (he became Field Marshal later) Cariappa on December 16, 1973

It was a rare photograph indeed because General Cariappa was dressed in the traditional Kodava (Coorg) attire of kupya (short-sleeved wrap-around coat), chele (a red gold-embroidered silk sash) and mande tuni (cream and gold turban) with the ornamental peeche kathi (Kodava dagger) tucked into the sash.

In the later years of his life, General Cariappa used to wear a red gold-embroidered turban, instead of the traditional Kodava turban. Many felt that he should not have switched over to the ‘North Indian’ turban by discarding the time-honoured Kodava turban which looks regal and majestic.

In the recent years, some Kodava men have started wearing fancy turbans, giving them a comical look.

Writing in his Gazetteer of Coorg, the well-known chronicler Rev. G. Richter wrote on the Kodava men’s dress in 1870 as follows: “Their mode of life and pride of race impart to their whole bearing an air of manly independence and dignified self-assertion, well sustained by their peculiar and picturesque costume.”

In the circumstances, it is not prudent to discard the traditional formal dress of the Kodavas which is a hallmark of the clan.

By P.T. Bopanna





PIL filed in Karnataka High Court against amendment to Jamma land law

On 05/06/13


A public interest litigation has been filed in the Karnataka High Court to quash the recent amendments to the law involving the Jamma lands in Kodagu district of Karnataka.

The petition has been signed by seven persons, including Bangalore-based journalist and author P.T. Bopanna.

The writ petition seeks quashing the Karnataka Land Revenue (Third) Amendment Act passed by the previous BJP government. The petition has called for upholding the customary laws which have been abolished by the recent amendment. The petition has claimed that the amendment will lead to the negation of the customary laws of the Kodava joint families, their custom, culture and tradition. The customary laws prohibit the partition and alienation of Jamma and bane lands, whether alienated or un-alienated.

Some of the highlights of the petition are as follows:

“It appears that the amendment is prompted by vested interests
who are having an eye on precious tree growth on these Bane lands and the soaring land prices in view of the new found attraction for tourism in Coorg, like the powerful timber lobby and the realtors.”

“The new amendment has the effect not only of taking away the customary privileges, but also of disintegrating the Jamma land tenures, breaking up joint families and thus causing the disappearance of the Kodava customs and traditions by the unbridled sale and disposal of family lands. The new amendment is an infringement by the Government of the Kodava community’s right to preserve their culture and traditions which is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution.”

“The legislation will not only take its toll on the customary laws, tradition and culture of the Kodava race but will also change the face of the Western Ghats as this legislation will legitimize large scale denudation of trees and the formation of human settlements on Bane lands as there is heavy influx of population from the neighbouring states all of whom require housing. The presence of increasing human habitation will have its impact on the adjoining forest land, its flora and fauna. Already there is immense pressure on the forests of the Western Ghats”

“The land sharks have become active already and people are being threatened and also being lured by money to sell their Bane lands as there is no restriction in law. The Kodava race will be removed from their traditional Jamma holdings which form the basis of Kodava custom and tradition. The joint family traditions, the civil, cultural and religious usages of this minority race will also disappear.”

“The partitioning and fragmentation of the joint family properties of the Kodava families as a result of the Act, will compel large-scale dissentions in the family and the crumbling of the Aiyne Mane or family houses to which these Jamma holdings are attached as per custom.”

The petitioners have urged the court to declare the the Karnataka Land Revenue (Third Amendment) Act, 2011 ANNEXURE-A, as unconstitutional and void and direct the respondents and its officers not to enforce or give effect to the provisions of the Amendment.

Karnataka government’s revenue secretary and secretary, department of parliamentary affairs and legislation, have been made respondents in the case. The case is slated to come up before the court shortly. Ms. K. Sarojini Muthanna is the advocate for the petitioners.







Pemanda Monappa scholarship in Cambridge goes to Natasha Bopaiah

On 28/05/13


In a first for someone from Kodagu, Natasha Bopaiah has been awarded the ‘Pemanda Monappa Scholarship’ in Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

Natasha, daughter of Biddanda Ram and Divia Bopaiah has had the distinction of winning the Chancellor’s Gold Medal for coming first in Symbiosis Law School.

P.M. Belliappa, retired IAS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre, who has instituted the Pemanda Monappa scholarship, handed over the certificate to Natasha at a function held at Madikeri on Monday.

Mr Belliappa instituted the scholarship in memory of his father the late Pemanda Monappa, who was a distinguished and highly decorated officer of the Indian Police establishment and headed the police forces of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The scholarship has been instituted in perpetuity, since 2010.

This is the first time that the scholarship has been won by someone from Kodagu. In the selection, candidates belonging to the Kodava community will be given preference, provided other criteria and conditions are met.

At present, Natasha works for Bharucha & Partners, a law firm.

Mr Belliappa, recalled how his father Pemanda Monappa rose to great heights from humble origins in Kodagu.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Belliappa said change and competition were the twin aspects of the present-day society and education was the driver of change. He called for change in the education system which was getting too commercialised. Further, he noted the competition was coming from the rural and under-privileged sections. He urged the people of Kodagu to engage in philanthropy, rather than amass wealth for their progeny.

Among the others who spoke on the occasion include, Pemanda Ganapathy, who is closely associated with Mr Belliappa’s charitable activities, author C.P. Belliappa and president of Madikeri Kodava Samaja, Mathanda Suresh Chengappa.



'Coorg State: Udaya-Pathana' book released

On 26/05/13


Thambanda Vijay Poonacha (in picture, left), Registrar, Kannada University, Hampi, released journalist P.T. Bopanna’s book ‘Coorg State: Udaya-Pathana’ on Sunday at the Bangalore Press Club.

‘Coorg State: Udaya-Pathana’ is the Kannada translation of Bopanna’s most successful book ‘Rise and Fall of the Coorg State’ which mainly deals with the circumstances leading to the unpopular merger of the erstwhile Coorg State (now known as Kodagu) with Karnataka in 1956.

The English version of the book was published in 2009. Journalist B.K. Ganesh, who also hails from Kodagu, translated the book into Kannada.

“I was keen to bring out the Kannada edition of the book to reach out to the Kannada readers as I felt that people in the rest of Karnataka should understand the feelings of the people in Kodagu. Even though Kannadigas were overjoyed by the integration of Kodagu with Karnataka following the linguistic reorganization of the state in 1956, a large section of the local people in Kodagu still feel that they would have been better off had they remained an independent State. The policy makers in Bangalore should try to remove this feeling of alienation by striving for the all-round development of Kodagu, considered by many as a jewel in the crown of Karnataka”, says Bopanna, author of the book.

The book has been translated into the Kodava language by Nagesh Kaloor, a Madikeri-based writer.






Assembly polls: Lotus blooms in Kodagu

On 09/05/13


The BJP has retained both the Virajpet and Madikeri seats in the elections to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly from Kodagu. While the outgoing minister Appachu Ranjan won from Madikeri constituency,

Speaker K.G. Bopaiah romped home from Virajpet constituency.
Both the BJP MLAs from Kodagu had neglected their constituencies in the initial years, but started serious work only in the last six months of their five-year term. By starting work in the eleventh hour, the two MLAs managed to hoodwink the voters into believing they had nursed their constituencies.

In all fairness to the two MLAs, it should be said they did take up several developmental activities in their constituencies, compared to their predecessors – H.D. Basavaraj (BJP) and Suma Vasanth (Congress). Basavaraj and Suma Vasanth had totally neglected Kodagu.
The people of Kodagu have reposed their confidence in the sitting MLAs this time by giving them a long rope. The opportunity should not be squandered away by the two MLAs who should work tirelessly for their constituencies in right earnest, instead of doing ‘shoddy patch work’ when the elections are round the corner.

www.coorgtourisminfo.com editor’s view: There is a feeling that Appachu Ranjan has been indulging in ‘vote bank’ politics by resorting to illegal means to woo the migrant population by encroaching on forest lands, especially the sacred groves, to put up housing colonies.

There have been instances involving Bopaiah surreptitiously working against the Kodava community and its leaders in the BJP. Bopaiah has been elected mainly due to the support of the Kodava community. He should not try to betray their trust by indulging in ‘anti-Kodava’ activities.

PRIORITIES: Both the MLAs should work towards solving two critical issues concerning Kodagu – repair of Hunsur-Gonikoppal-Virajpet Road and tackling the drinking water problem in Madikeri.





Preeth Ganapathy, IPS, improves her ranking in UPSC exam

On 05/05/13


Preeth Ganapathy, the first woman IPS officer from Kodagu, who is undergoing training at the National Police Academy in Hyderabad, has secured the 161st rank in the recent civil services examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission.

Preeth had secured the 217th rank last time and she was selected for the Indian Police Service and allotted the Uttar Pradesh cadre.

According to her family sources, Preeth will be eligible for the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) this time and due to her seniority in the ranking, she could get a posting in South India. “We will take a decision shortly on whether to continue with the IPS, or take up IRS as the latter would enable her to stay close to the family,” these sources said.

It may be recalled that Preeth had secured the first rank in computer science and engineering examination conducted by the Vishveshvaraya Technological University (VTU) in Karnataka.

Preeth completed her Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science at R.V College of Engineering in the year 2008.

She completed her secondary education at the Sindhi High School, Bangalore with 92.6% and PUC at MES College of Arts, Commerce and Science, Bangalore with 95.6%.

Preeth is the daughter of Mookonda K Ganapathy and Gowri Ganapathy who hail from Bilugunda Village of Ammathy in Kodagu.
M.K. Ganapathy, who retired as a superintendent of police in Bangalore, had earned a reputation for his honesty and efficiency.





Kodava Hockey Festival: Colourful start to Madanda Cup 2013

On 15/04/13


The 17th edition of the annual Kodava hockey festival hosted this year by the Madanda clan , began at the Kodava Sports and Cultural Centre at Balugodu near Virajpet on Sunday.

The festival got off to a colourful start after Pandanda Kuttappa (Kuttani), who conceived the festival, hit a silver ball with a silver hockey stick, to symbolically start the tournament.

As many as 225 Kodava clans will be vying for the title this year which has been won by the Palanganda clan in the past three years. This is the first time the hockey festival is being held at the Balugodu grounds where a huge complex is coming up to promote Kodava culture.

An exhibition match was held on the occasion between the Punjab eleven and Kodagu eleven. The match ended in a one-all draw.
The attraction at the inaugural programme was a variety entertainment by Ponnampet Neenada institute and artistes from the Cauvery Kodava Koota and Cauvery College, Virajpet.

President of the Federation of Kodava Samajas, Mallengada N. Belliappa, who spoke on the occasion, appealed to the members of the Kodava community to extend contributions towards the Kodava Sports and Cultural Centre which is estimated to cost Rs. 12 crore. Works to the tune of Rs. 3.5 crore had already been taken up at the Centre.

EDITOR’S VIEW: There is a view that the annual hockey festival should be held at one central location. The argument in favour of holding the festival at a single location is that it would save on costs like building temporary spectators’ gallery, etc.

However, the editor of this portal www.coorgtourisminfo.com is of the view that the venue should be rotated every year. The very idea of the festival is to build bonding in the Kodava community. This is better served by rotating the festival at various locations. Moreover, this will result in the development of infrastructure around the venue. For instance, Ponnampet Junior College Grounds, which has been the venue for several tournaments, has led to the improvement in the infrastructure, not only of the playground, but other facilities as well in the college premises.

The location of the venue at one central place will lead to bureaucratisation and politicisation of the festival and this could further lead to corrupt practices as was witnessed during the centenary celebrations of the Bangalore Kodava Samaja last year.



www.coorgtourisminfo.com campaign impact: Work starts on Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road

On 12/04/13


Work on the Hunsur-Gonikoppal road has commenced. During the past couple of weeks, work on the road has been going on from Kalbetta, near Hunsur, the point where the road bifurcates – one going towards Kushalanagar and another to Thithimathi.

It is not just patch work and filling up of the potholes. They are relaying the road. Besides, work is on to broaden the road. It is learnt that work is not progressing at the desired speed, due to limited earth-moving equipment available with the contractor. The on-going work will come to an end once the monsoon sets in June. Unless the contractor hires more equipment, the work on the 45-km stretch road will not be completed by the year end.

Work was in progress on Wednesday night when this reporter was passing by on a bus. However, the workers had taken a break on Thursday for Ugadi festival.

Motorists, especially those using cars, are advised not to take this road as the road has been dug up in many stretches. It is risky to take the road in the night as the contractor has not bothered to install reflectors or barricades to warn motorists about work being in progress.

It may be recalled that though Speaker Bopaiah and Kodagu in-charge minister Appachu Ranjan were initially buying time on the commencement of work on the road, they finally got the work started due to the incessant campaign against the delay launched by this portal and also due to the direction issued by Karnataka Governor Hans Raj Bhardhaj, following a memorandum submitted on behalf of this portal.







Tribute to Kodagu-born artist: P.M. Belliappa donates Rani Pooviah's painting

On 31/03/13


Rani Pooviah, a Kodagu-born painter who made a mark as an artist nearly 50 years ago in Chennai, was remembered recently by her peers, thanks to retired Tamil Nadu IAS officer P.M. Belliappa.

At a function organized by The Pemanda Monappa Trust and The Coorg Association Madras, Mr Belliappa donated to Cholamandal Museum of Madras Movement, a painting of the late Rani Pooviah.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Belliappa said: "Coorg has very few artists of repute and I felt it was a glaring omission that Rani's work was not in the museum, which traces the ‘Madras Movement’, of which she was a part."

The function was attended by well-known artist S.G. Vasudev who recalled his close association with Rani.

Born Puttichanda Rani Pooviah, she studied art in Chennai at Stella Maris College and the College of Arts and Crafts, Chennai. She was one of principal K C S Paniker's favourite students and taught at the college later. "She was vivacious and well-read with a wonderful sense of humour and brilliant organisational skills," recalled Mr Vasudev.

Her student, sculptor S Nandagopal, remembers her as a vivacious person with a striking personality who made art classes enjoyable.

Mr Nandagopal, who now runs the museum, recalled, “When I joined the college as a student, Rani was teaching History of Art. I remember, the first thing she said in class was that we were not going to talk about Greek or French art history, but about what some of our own great artists such as Janakiraman had done. That was a wonderful thing.”

After her marriage to Nadikerianda Rana Nanjappa, Rani moved to the US in the 1970s . In March 1982, she went into a coma following a serious car accident, from which she never recovered.

Bangalore architect H.C. Thimmaiah, also a painter and a member of the Madras Art Club in late 1960s, said Rani was held in high esteem in the art circles.

Rani’s work is described as being balanced and contemplative, yet full of energy and colour. She drew inspiration from large kolams and colourful rangoli patterns. Writing for Illinois Art Council in Chicago, she had said, "The complex geometric patterns of kolam in white, pure and strong and the colour contrast in the rangoli helped me discover geometric forms in Indian dance and music. For example, in Bharatanatyam, besides the graceful rhythm, there are strong angular movements, giving ideas of geometrical patterns traced in the air. These are my inspiration."



Assembly polls: Kodagu BJP's gameplan to woo Kodava voters

On 24/03/13


It cannot get bizarre than this. Some of the top BJP leaders in Kodagu have decided to perform a maha pooja to undo the so-called ‘curse’ on the Kodavas (Coorgs) uttered by Agastya Rishi as made out in the Hindu Puranas.

A new outfit has been floated called ‘Kaveri Hitharakshana Samithi’ to undo the curse on the Kodava race! The leaders of this are A.K. Manu Muthappa, a district BJP leader who is also the chairman of the Talakaveri-Bhagamandala temple management committee, and M.B. Devaiah, a senior BJP leader.

On March 8, these leaders performed “Swarna Prashne-Ganapathi homa” at the Akhila Kodava Samaja premises at Virajpet, in preparation for a maha pooja to be performed next April as suggested by leading Tanthris (astrologers) from outside the district who have assured that it was possible to ‘undo’ the curse of Agastya Rishi.

The timing of the entire exercise is suspect because it is apparent that the organisers want to mobilise the Kodava voters by playing on an emotional card in the run-up to the Legislative Assembly elections in May. The organisers claim that due to the curse of Agastya Rishi, there was no ‘unity’ among the Kodavas.

According to the BJP leaders, Agastya Rishi cursed the Kodavas after his wife Lopamudra, daughter of Kavera Muni, spilled out in the form of a river, enraged by the betrayal by her husband, who had promised not to leave her alone.

The BJP leaders are apparently misleading the people of Kodagu by misquoting the Puranas. According to ‘Pattole Palame’, the most authentic book on Kodava culture and traditions, written by the late Nadikerianda Chinnappa, it was the Brahmins who were cursed by Agastya Rishi. At page 23 of ‘Pattole Palame’, it says:
Agastya, the great sage, filled with anger, looked at the Brahmins and cursed them “O Brahmins of Matsya Desa”, may the people of this land be unfriendly to you!”

Moreover, Puranas are nothing but mythology and there are no records to prove whether there was any curse uttered by the sage.

It is a fact that the Kodavas are ancestor and nature worshippers and were outside the purview of mainstream Hinduism. The Puranas, apparently written by the Brahminical class, tried to absorb legends and weaved myths around historical characters. Besides, it is of interest to note that Brahmins have no role to play in the life cycle rituals of birth, marriages and deaths of Kodavas.

That being the case, the BJP is obviously trying to mislead the Kodavas, mainly with a view to woo their votes.

Akhila Kodava Samaja President Mathanda C. Monnappa told this reporter that he had nothing to do with the ongoing rituals to undo the curse of Agastya Rishi, even though the Samaja premises was allowed to be used for performing the various poojas.

The Kodagu Ekikarana Ranga leader Thammu Poovaiah has claimed that the entire exercise of trying to undo the so-called curse of Agastya Rishi was aimed to woo the Kodava voters during the elections.





Devarakadu encroachment: Minister Appachu Ranjan's vote bank politics and BJP's defeat

On 16/03/13


Did vote bank politics by Kodagu in-charge minister Appachu Ranjan result in the defeat of the BJP in the recent elections to the urban local bodies in Kushalanagar and Somwarpet? More specifically, did Appachu’s move to provide house sites to migrants from a neighbouring state in the Basavanna Devara Kadu (sacred grove) in Valnur village led to alienation among the locals in his Madikeri Assembly constituency?

Appachu, the three-time MLA from Kodagu, has been losing his popularity in the recent years because of his vote bank politics, including for his role in forming a road through the Pushpagiri forest between Madikeri and Subramanya.

In the recent months, Appachu’s role in trying to provide sites to migrants at Basavanna Devara Kadu has made him unpopular among the original inhabitants of Kodagu after a concrete road was laid in the 320-acre sacred forest.

Angered by the development, the local villagers formed an outfit called Basavanna Devara Bana Samrakshana Trust and filed a public interest litigation petition which was admitted by the Karnataka High Court.

Dr Balladichanda C. Nanjappa, secretary of the Trust has blamed Appachu Ranjan for indulging in “vote bank politics” for trying to accommodate ‘outsiders’ to settle in the sacred forest.

After tasting success at Basavanna Devara Kadu, the Trust now wants to protect and preserve all the Devara Kadus in Kodagu, spread over 35,000 acres. The Trust has sought assistance from the public for safeguarding the sacred groves in Kodagu which were created by the forefathers to preserve virgin forests.

Appachu Ranjan has come up in politics from the grass-roots and he should not antagonise the local population by trying to woo the migrant population by indulging in blatant vote bank politics.










Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road: Are politicians in Kodagu taking voters for a ride?

On 01/03/13


Are the ruling BJP politicians in Kodagu taking the voters for a ride by starting work on the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road just when the elections to the Karnataka Assembly are around the corner?

When Speaker K.G. Bopaiah and Kodagu in-charge minister Appachu Ranjan recently inaugurated the road work at Anechoukoor with much fanfare, it became evident that the politicians were more interested in the photo opportunity provided by the occasion, rather than in repairing the 45-km road which has already won the sobriquet of being the “road to hell”.

Speaking on the occasion, Bopaiah said the work on the road should have commenced a year ago, but was delayed due to ‘technical’ reasons.
Those who have a basic knowledge of the games played by politicians would know that works are taken up only when elections are around, to hoodwink the people into believing that they are working for the development of the constituency.

This kind of political gimmicks will have its impact on the quality of the road work because the contractor is bound to do a slip-shod job as he has to complete the work before the election deadline.

According to Bopaiah, the Rs 100.50 crore Hunsur road project will be completed in 11 months. Assuming that the work is started immediately on a war-footing, there will be just two months left for the monsoon to set in when the work will come to a standstill.

It may be recalled when www.coorgtourisminfo.com, Kodagu’s first news portal, started an online campaign in August, 2012, focussing attention on the poor condition of the road, Bopaiah and Appachu Ranjan had responded by stating that work on the road would be taken up in November.

However, when the work failed to start in November as promised by the duo, this reporter met Karnataka’s Governor Hans Raj Bhardwaj and submitted a memorandum, for taking up the road work.

Responding to the memorandum, the Governor’s office directed the Principal Secretary, Public works, to take action on the pathetic condition of the road. In a letter to the Principal Secretary to the Public Works Department, the Governor’s Secretary stated: “I am directed to forward herewith the representation dated November 13, 2012, of Sri P.T. Bopanna, Bangalore, for taking the work early. Report on action taken on this matter may kindly be intimated to this Secretariat.”

It is not just with the Hunsur Road, but with almost all the roads in Kodagu, work on repairing the roads started only in the last couple of month, though the Speaker has been at the helm for the last five years.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The voters should not be misled by the gimmicks being played out by the politicians by starting work on various projects only around the time of the elections. It is nauseating to see advertisements in the local media from the power brokers eulogising the leaders for taking up work involving “crores of rupees”.

Sometime ago, minister Appachu Ranjan had claimed that the BJP government had spent Rs 1,557 crore in Kodagu in the past five years. But voters are clever enough to know the veracity of such claims and beneficiaries of the huge funds.





Role Model: Dr K.K. Seethamma is Bangalore University Registrar

On 23/02/13


In a first of sorts, Kodagu-born Dr K.K. Seethamma has been appointed Registrar (ad hoc) of Bangalore University.

Dr Seethamma who was earlier head of the economics department of the Bangalore University, is the first woman to be appointed Registrar of Bangalore University from the teaching faculty.

Kokkalera Kalaiah Seethamma did her schooling at Madikeri Convent and graduated from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. She is married to Bolkaranda Subbaiah, a retired bank official. Dr Seethamma’s sister Rekha Kalaiah was principal of government junior college, Madikeri.

Dr Seethamma was not only good at her studies, but also excelled in sports and won the title ‘Best Sportswoman’ at Mount Carmel College. She was also the captain of the Bangalore University athletics team.

She did her M.Phil and Ph.D under the supervision of Prof K. Venkatagiri Gowda, economist and politician.

Dr Seethamma had headed the women’s harassment cell of Bangalore University. She is currently head of the School of Business Studies of Bangalore University.

The job of Registrar is a challenging one because Bangalore University is one of the biggest universities in the country with over 650 affiliated colleges.





Lack of role-models: Leadership crisis in Kodava community

On 16/02/13


The following article was contributed by journalist P.T. Bopanna for the latest issue of ‘Pomboli’ magazine brought out by the Kodava Students’ & Youth Association of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts:

The major challenge facing the Kodava community today is a crisis in leadership. There are not many role-models for the Kodava youth.

The lack of good leadership is a matter of worry because Kodagu has been a land of the Generals. The first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, and the hero of many battles, General K.S. Thimayya, were from Kodagu.

It is a well-known fact that the Kodavas are a martial race and fought long wars with the Mysore rulers – Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. The British who annexed Coorg in 1834, recognised the superiority and fighting spirit of the Kodava race and exempted them from the arms Act and allowed them to possess firearms without licence.

Our forefathers were men of vision who saw the value of education. The British started a school at Mercara (now Madikeri) after a delegation of Kodava elders met the British rulers after annexation and requested for imparting modern education. This gave a head-start to the Kodavas who pursued higher education and took up employment in the government service.

The Kodavas who benefited from modern education, excelled in their careers because of certain inborn traits they possessed, including hard work, honesty and straight-forwardness. The members of the community did exceedingly well in their chosen professions. It was not merely in the armed forces, but the Kodavas did well in the civil services also. I must make a special mention of Miss Chonira B. Muthamma, who was born and schooled in Kodagu, was the first woman to appear for civil services examination conducted by the UPSC and passed meritoriously and joined as the first woman career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service.

At present, though Kodava men and women are an educated lot, we hardly hear of any member of the community topping the civil service examination or such competitive examinations in other fields.

It is time for the community to introspect on what has gone wrong and how to reverse the situation. An English poet had once said that “where wealth accumulates, men decay.” Probably this is true of the Kodava community. Their comparative affluence following the steep rise in the price of coffee, has led to an easy lifestyle and blunted their fighting spirit which was the hallmark of the community in the past.

The modern Kodava generation has lost its roots. They have no pride in their language and culture. They blindly ape the Western culture. The Kodava Samajas in major towns and cities have by and large failed to promote Kodava culture and custom. The Samajas have become commercial outfits. Their main agenda seems to be how to make more money by letting out their premises for weddings. In short, the Samajas have become glorified wedding halls. What is worse is the corruption that is rampant during election of office-bearers. Some of them in Bangalore have gone to the extent of throwing liquor parties to win over votes. If this is the state of affairs, then there is no future for the community.

All is not lost. The community has many bright people. They should be nurtured and encouraged.

This writer, who runs a news portal, has been identifying an outstanding person from Kodagu every year by conferring the title ‘Coorg Person of the Year’. This year, the title has been won by the 26-year-old Theetira Vineet Devaiah, who has developed an Android application which focusses on creating virtual tours using 360 degree panoramas.

The future of the Kodava community is in the hands of younger generation. There is bright future ahead if the youngsters imbibe the quality of hard work, honesty and straight-forwardness which in the past had brought fame and glory to the community.






Is Madikeri going the Bellary way? Col Muthanna fights land mafia

On 04/01/13


The corruption-tainted BJP government in Karnataka has initiated moves at the instance of the real estate mafia to grab thousands of acres of forest and agriculture lands around Madikeri town in Kodagu district of Karnataka.

The beleaguered chief minister Jagadish Shettar who has almost lost majority in the Assembly following defection of the BJP MLAs, recently chaired an investors’ meet at Madikeri where it was claimed that investment in excess of Rs 3,500 crore was cleared.

In line with the corrupt bosses in Bangalore, the Madikeri Urban Development Authority (MUDA) has prepared a Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) to bring about huge changes in land use pattern, in and around Madikeri. They have proposed large chunks of forest and agricultural lands to be converted to commercial lands.

The President of the Coorg Wildlife Society, Col. C.P. Muthanna (in picture), a leading environmentalist, who has filed objections to the MUDA proposals, has contended that MUDA had included all proposals for conversion of those lands previously objected/refused to by the government.

Mr Muthanna has claimed that certain maps in CDP have misrepresented topographical maps, in order to avoid showing small rivulets/streams, fearing their plans may not be cleared by the Pollution Control Board as also Secretary, Environment & Forest, Bangalore.

He said if these efforts to urbanize and industrialize Kodagu are not reviewed and restricted, it would be the “final nail in the coffin for Kodagu” and would seriously jeopardize water flow into the Cauvery river. The Kodagu landscape is the principal catchment area and a vital watershed for Cauvery. Kodagu contributes about fifty per cent of the inflow into Cauvery. It is in the national interest to protect and preserve the Kodagu landscape.

Cauvery Sene and other like-minded organizations such as Coorg Wild Life Society, Field Marshal Cariappa General Thimayya Forum, Kodava Samaja Madikeri, Basavana Devarkadu Samrikshene Samithi, Kodagu Retd Defence Officers Association, have come together and urged the Karnataka government against going ahead with the diabolical plans of the real estate mafia in the national interest. Besides, farmers from Mandya district, headed by G. Made Gowda, and the ‘Cauvery family’ comprising stake-holders in Cauvery river water, have opposed the move to open up Kodagu for investment by unscrupulous business persons.

Raising objections to the government’s proposal, the Coorg Wildlife Society has stated that the MUDA proposal will cater for the projected increase in population in Madikeri for the year 2021. “The proposal is basically catering for further influx of population and not for the natural growth of population due to the birth/death rate. The implication of this issue is that if additional residential and commercial areas in Madikeri are not opened up, it will lead to a large extent curtail the influx of outsiders into Madikeri. We wish to emphasize that we firmly object to the idea of creating infrastructure in Madikeri (both residential and commercial) that will attract influx of population from outside,” the Coorg Wildlife Society has contended.

The Society has argued that the existing ethnic groups are very small in number. There is an urgent need to protect the interests of these ethnic groups. All efforts must be made to retain their culture and traditions. It is to be ensured that drastic changes in the demographic composition do not lead to their marginalization and ultimate extinction.

It has been pointed out by the Society that the Western Ghats Ecology Experts Panel (WGEEP) constituted under orders of the Government of India has recommended that all three taluks of Kodagu to be identified under the category of Eco Sensitive Area 1 (ESA1). In order to further review the report of the WGEEP, the Government of India has constituted a High Level Working Group under Dr K Kasturirangan, Member, Planning Commission. Once the High Level Working Group submits its report, the Government will be taking final policy decisions with specific regard to protection of the Western Ghats. It is for consideration that while this process is under way, the entire proposal of the MUDA should be kept under abeyance.

The Society has noted that the proposal by MUDA can be discussed only after environmental impact assessment (EIA) by the concerned Government agency. The proposal must be put before the Forest, Ecology and Environment Department, Government of Karnataka. This department would then initiate action for EIA. It is only after the EIA is completed, that MUDA would be in a position to call for objections from the public.

There are a number of regulations that govern construction activities in hill stations. The MUDA proposal does not seem to have taken this aspect and various other issues into consideration.

Madikeri City obtains over 100 inches of rainfall annually and yet the residents have to depend on tankers for supply of water during summer months. This indicates a fragile hill ecology that is prone to water stress due to increased population. When this is the case, how will CMC ensure water security for an increased population of 50,000? It has been stated in the MUDA proposal that the water supply will be augmented by digging additional bore wells. Such rampant exploitation of ground water in hill areas will have serious repercussions on the water table for Madikeri and the surrounding areas, the Society has pointed out.

Tourism in Western Ghat districts like Kodagu, Chikmaglur and Shimoga is an important component of Karnataka Tourism. In order to preserve the serene atmosphere of these locales, it is important not to encourage construction of large hotels. Madikeri is already facing problems due to pressures of tourism. This is manifested by traffic congestion, water scarcity, accumulation of garbage, etc.

Madikeri is located within ten km radius of the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary. MUDA must therefore take into full consideration the Guidelines for declaration of Eco Sensitive Zones around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries as given in Ministry of Environment.

Meanwhile, the Convenor of the Cauvery Sene, K.A. Ravi Chengappa, in a memorandum to urban development minister Suresh Kumar, has called for cancellation of the Comprehensive Development Plan proposed by MUDA and also review the memorandums of understanding signed during the recent investors meet in Kodagu.




Technology innovator Vineet Devaiah is 'Coorg Person of the Year,2012'

On 29/12/12


Vineet Devaiah, founder of a technology company which is set to offer tough competition to the controversial ‘Google Street View’ project is ‘Coorg Person of the Year, 2012’.

In fact Google had offered to buy out his company TeliportMe, but the Cornell educated CEO of the Palo Alto California-based start-up refused the offer, though Vineet had many a sleepless nights before turning down the once in a lifetime chance because “once you have said no, you cannot go back and ask them again.”

According to well-known technology website techcrunch.com, the Google buyout offer was in the range of $15-20 million, though Vineet is not prepared to comment on the amount.

He was selected ‘Coorg Person of the Year’ in a poll conducted by www.coorgtourisminfo.com, Kodagu’s first news portal, promoted by senior journalist P.T. Bopanna.

Vineet (26), son of Theetira Subramani and Latha, hailing from Kutta in Kodagu district of Karnataka State, has developed an Android application which focusses on creating virtual tours using 360 degree panoramas. Users can not only capture high-resolution 360 views, but can also share their images on Facebook and Twitter.

His tryst with computers started when he was 10 year old at his father’s office in Goa. When he was 15 years old, Vineet built his first application – a weather forecasting application for farmers.
Infosys bought the software for Rs 65 lakhs. It was the time when Infosys was not so well-known a company and Vineet was surprised when he came to know that Infosys wanted to buy the software. Around the time, he lost his father to cancer.

Vineet did his B.Tech in chemical engineering from the National Institute of Technology-Karnataka, Surathkal, before proceeding to the United States for his Masters in biomedical engineering from Cornell University.

Thereafter he moved to Silicon Valley and enrolled at UC Berkeley to study marketing and took a course at San Jose State University to study entrepreneurship in finance.

He quit his job as head, US and international business development, Terracycle Inc, and moved back to India to join his friend Abhinav Asthana, and co-founded TeliportMe.

The duo created Bits360, a small service-based company. Focused on driving revenues for clients by bringing innovative marketing and branding strategies, its signature product is the panoramic virtual tour, where 2D pictures are converted into a virtual experience for customers.

Vineet likens his new application TeliportMe to Google Street View. "It is what TeliportMe will be in the next 5 to 6 years. The only difference between the two companies is that Google is paying billions of dollars to create it and we are getting it done for free... It's kind of Wikipedia or crowd source imagery by people,” he noted.

Asked about his memories of Coorg, he told www.coorgtourisminfo.com: “I came to Coorg for the first time when I was in 3rd standard. This was the time I actually remembered Coorg and its amazing weather. We have a house in Kutta that I regularly visit once a year at least. It is great to disconnect from the otherwise connected world I live in.”

Among the others who were nominated for this year’s ‘Coorg Person of the Year 2010’, include Commonwealth Games badminton gold medalist Machimanda Ashwini Ponnappa and noted environmentalist Col. C.P. Muthanna, who has been waging a relentless battle to save the Western Ghats from the forest mafia in Kodagu.

The past winners of the ‘Coorg Person of the Year’ are Dr Kavery Nambisan, novelist, 2005; Dr Boverianda Nanjamma Chinnappa, researcher, 2006; Robin Uthappa, cricketer, 2007; Dr Moodera Jagadeesh Subbaiah , scientist, 2008; Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa, Retd., environmentalist, 2009; Tennis player Rohan Bopanna, 2010; and retired Tamil Nadu IAS officer P.M. Belliappa, 2011.







Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road:Indifference of Kodagu MP Vishwanath

On 20/12/12


It is a matter of concern that Mysore Lok Sabha (which includes Kodagu also) member Adagur H. Vishwanath of the Congress Party, has remained silent on the poor condition of the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road.

Being a Lok Sabha member from Kodagu, Viswanath’s attitude to the district, is nothing short of being callous because the entire stretch of the road from Hunsur to Gonikoppal is part of his Lok Sabha constituency.

While the BJP MLAs from Kodagu – M.P. Appachu Ranjan, Kodagu in-charge minister representing Madikeri constituency and Speaker K.G. Bopaiah, of the Virajpet constituency, have justifiably come under fire for the neglect of the roads and infrastructure in Kodagu, the MP from Kodagu, Vishwanath has managed to stay clear from the public ire.

It is time that Vishwanath explained to the people of Kodagu on his contributions to the development of the district. He should also inform the people as to how much funds he has spent on Kodagu from his MP Area Development Fund.

Vishwanath may try to wriggle out of the issue by claiming that Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road is part of a state highway and comes under the jurisdiction of the state government.

According to former MLC Arun Machaiah, the Centre had given technical sanction for the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road involving Rs 31.75 crore under the Inter-State Road Development Fund in September. Vishwanath should explain what action he had taken for implementing the Central scheme as it was his duty to follow-up on the issue being member of the Lok Sabha.

Machaiah had stated that the Centre had sanctioned the amount due to pressure from the Kerala government following restriction on the movement of vehicles through Bandipur forest. It shows that Vishwanath had no role in the sanction of the amount from the Centre where his Congress party is in power.
Vishwanath should also explain the steps he has taken to upgrade the status of state highways passing through Kodagu to the status of national highways.

Reports suggest that Vishwanath is busy in trying to launch his son in politics and has been neglecting his work as an MP.

It is a tragedy that Kodagu lost the exclusive Lok Sabha seat it had when it was part of a ‘C’ State. Since then, Kodagu was mostly under the Mangalore Lok Sabha constituency and recently it has become part of the Mysore constituency. Kodagu had the misfortune of being represented in the Lok Sabha by such comic characters like Janardhana Poojari.

In recent years, the MP representing Kodagu has never been from the Kodagu area, but thrust upon from outside. This has led to a lot of disenchantment. At least, the major political parties should pick up a candidate for Lok Sabha from the Kodagu region on a rotation basis.
It is the lack of sensitivity on the part of the political parties and the repeated neglect of the region that has led the people of Kodagu to think that they have become political orphans in their own land.



Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road: Is Minister Appachu Ranjan playing political one-upmanship?

On 11/12/12


Is Kodagu in-charge minister M.P. Appachu Ranjan indulging in political one-upmanship to cover up his failure to start work on the repair of Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road?

In an interview given to Kodagu’s Shakthi Kannada daily newspaper, Appachu Ranjan who is also Karnataka’s Sports minister has made sarcastic comments against the editor of the news portal www.coorgtourisminfo.com who has launched a campaign against the authorities and politicians for failing to improve the condition of the Kodagu roads.

It may be recalled that the editor of the news portal P.T. Bopanna had submitted a memorandum to Governor Hans Raj Bhardwaj on behalf of the people of Kodagu, urging him to direct the government to repair the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road. Following this, the Governor’s office had not only forwarded the memorandum to the Principal Secretary, PWD, but also asked the latter to keep him informed on the action taken to repair the road.

In the interview to the daily, Appachu Ranjan stated: “Funds were released by the government not because of the memorandum to the Governor, but it was released much before the memorandum was submitted. If Bopanna is influential, then he can approach the Governor to get assent to the Jamma land Bill which has been rejected by the Governor.”

Meanwhile, road repair work has started in several parts of the district. According to reports, sub-standard work was being done on the Ponnampet Road. The work was stopped after members of the public protested against the shoddy work.

Work has also commenced on the Anechoukur-Thithimathi Road. Protests have broken out in several parts of Kodagu against bad roads.

Former MLC Arun Machaiah has alleged that though the Centre had sanctioned Rs 31.75 crore under the Inter-State Road Development Fund last September,the state government had failed to execute the work.

The former MLC stated that the amount was sanctioned following pressure from the Kerala government as the route to Kerala via H.D. Kote Road passing through Bandipur, was being closed between 6 p.m and 6 a.m., causing hardship to motorists.

EDITOR’S VIEW: Kodagu district in-charge minister should stop playing the game of political one-upmanship. People of Kodagu are fed up with the excuses given by the government. In spite of such widespread protests, work is yet to commence on Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road.

Even the opposition parties too have failed to perform their duties. The entire district administration in Kodagu is in a state of slumber.

The time has come for the people of Kodagu to become pro-active. It will not be a bad idea for the people to boycott the coming election to the Karnataka Assembly if the government fails to improve the road condition.



Governor directs government to repair Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road

On 30/11/12



In a major development, Governor Hans Raj Bhardwaj has directed the Karnataka government to immediately take up work on the repair of the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road, linking Mysore and Kodagu districts.

Responding to a memorandum submitted to the Governor by the editor of www.coorgtourisminfo.com on behalf of the people of Kodagu, the Governor’s office has sought a report on the action taken to repair the road which is in a pathetic condition.

In a letter to the Principal Secretary to the Public Works Department, the Governor’s Secretary stated: “I am directed to forward herewith the representation dated November 13, 2012, of Sri P.T. Bopanna, Bangalore, for taking the work early. Report on action taken on this matter may kindly be intimated to this Secretariat.”

During a news conference at Madikeri on November 12, Bopanna had drawn the attention of the Governor to the condition of the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road in particular, and the Kodagu roads in general. The Governor had sought a memorandum on the issue and assured to direct the government. The Governor had pointed out that Kodagu had become an important tourist destination and it was the duty of the government to ensure proper road connectivity.

www.coortourisminfo.com, Kodagu’s first news portal, has been active in highlighting the bad condition of the road. A memorandum on the condition of the road was sent in August, 2012, to the Speaker of the Assembly, K.G. Bopaiah, who represents the Virajpet constituency in the Assembly, and to Appachu Ranjan, district-in-charge minister for Kodagu and also the Madikeri MLA.

Responding to the issue in the media, Bopaiah and Appachu had assured that work on the repair of the road will commence in November, 2012. However, there is no sign of any work being taken up on the road.

Further, through the website www.coorgtourisminfo.com, an online signature campaign was started in August, 2012, on the issue of the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road. The campaign was registered with Petitions India, an online portal, where members of the public could register their online support. The petition was signed by 132 members.

Recently, opposition Congress and JD (S) parties had taken out marches to protest against the condition of the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road.

People of Kodagu who are fed up with the road conditions are desperately hoping that the Governor’s diktat to the state government could finally see some action on the road front.







Tennis star Rohan Bopanna weds Supriya at Madikeri

On 26/11/12


India’s tennis star Machanda Rohan Bopanna tied the nuptial knot with Chodumada Supriya at a well-attended wedding on Sunday at Madikeri in Kodagu district of Karnataka.

Besides his tennis partner Mahesh Bhupathi and wife Lara Dutta, Bopanna’s close friend and partner from Pakistan Aisam Ul-Haq Quershi also attended the glittering wedding held at Capitol Village on the outskirts of Madikeri town.

Bopanna, 32, nicknamed ‘Bofors Bopanna’ for his big serves on the court, married Supriya, an MA psychology student. The parents of Bopanna – Machanda Prabha Bopanna and Mallika, of Madapur, and the bride’s parents Chodumada Col. Annaiah and Saroo, blessed the couple.

The Oorukuduva (wedding eve) function for close family and friends was a grand affair with Lara and Mahesh Bhupathi arriving in a helicopter. Kodava traditional food was served for the over 1,000 guests.

The Kodava style wedding was attended by a galaxy of celebrities, including Karti Chidambaram, vice-president of All India Tennis Association and son of Union Minister P.Chidambaram. Indian tennis player Somdev Devvarman was dressed in the traditional Kodava attire of kupya, chele and peeche kathi.



Governor to take action on repair of Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road

On 14/11/12


Karnataka Governor Hans Raj Bhardwaj (in picture above) has assured that he would direct the Karnataka government to immediately take up the repair of the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road.

Responding to a question from this reporter on the pathetic condition of the road at a news conference in Madikeri on November 12, the Governor said the matter had not come to his notice. He added that he would take up the matter with the government if a memorandum on the issue was submitted to him.

This news portal which has been in the forefront in campaigning for the repair of the road, has submitted the following memorandum to the Governor:

November 13, 2012

To: Shri Hans Raj Bhardwaj
Governor of Karnataka
Raj Bhavan
Bangalore

Dear Sir,

We, the people of Kodagu, appeal to your Excellency to prevail upon the Karnataka government to improve the condition of the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road which is now in a pathetic condition.

A memorandum on the condition of the road was sent in August, 2012, to the Speaker of the Assembly, K.G. Bopaiah, who represents the Virajpet constituency in the Assembly, and to Shri Appachu Ranjan, district-in-charge minister for Kodagu and also the Madikeri MLA.

Responding to the issue in the media, Shri Bopaiah and Shri Appachu had assured that work on the repair of the road will commence in November, 2012. However, there is no sign of any work being taken up on the road.

The Hunsur-Gonikoppal road is dotted with craters and several stretches of the highway are not in a motorable condition.

On behalf of the people of Kodagu, through my website www.coorgtourisminfo.com, Kodagu’s first news portal, I started an online campaign in August, 2012, on the issue of the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road. The campaign was registered with Petitions India, an online portal, where members of the public could register their online support.

The petition was signed by 132 members. The campaign generated 164 ‘likes’ on Facebook. The petition was sent to the Speaker and Shri Appachu Ranjan.

Since no action has been taken so far to repair the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road as assured by Shri Bopaiah and Shri Appachu, kindly direct the Karnataka government to start the work on the road on a war-footing.

Yours Sincerely,

P.T. Bopanna
Editor
www.coorgtourisminfo.com















Kodava poet Mandira Jaya Appanna passes away

On 07/11/12


Mandira Jaya Appanna, writer and poet, who passed away in Bangalore on the morning of November 7, 2012, will be remembered for her monumental work ‘Kodava Jaya Bharatha’, a book in Kodava language on the epic Mahabharatha.

Jaya Appanna, aged 70 years, was the foremost poet in the Kodava language and was popular for anchoring Kodava language programmes on Doordarshan. Besides, she used to regularly contribute articles to Kodava language papers.

It took her nearly a decade to complete her magnum opus Kodava Jaya Bharatha. What is praiseworthy about the book is the fact that she had woven Kodava traditions and culture and Kodagu landscape into the epic.

Jaya Appanna was conferred the Rajyothsava award last year by the Karnataka government.











Armed Maoists raid houses near Madikeri

On 31/10/12


The red terror has spread to Kodagu with the police confirming that Maoists were involved in the raid on a few houses near Madikeri on Monday. The gun-toting Maoists entered the houses at Kalur village and forcibly took away food items. Karnataka Speaker K.G. Bopaiah belongs to Kalur village.

Reports said Kodagu Police superintendent Manjunath Annigeri had confirmed that Maoists were involved in the attack and two of the four extremists have been identified as Vikram Gowda and Sundari alias Geetha who carry Rs 5 lakh reward on their head. Both of them hail from the neighbouring Dakshina Kannada district.

The two Maoists who had identified themselves as janapara horatagararu (pro-people fighers), first went to the house of Kannikanda Poovamma, then to Kannikanda Palangappa’s house and last to the house of Ganesh.
Combing operations have been started around the jungles in Kalur village and the Pushpagiri forest area. Another team was combing the forests from the Dakshina Kannada side of the border.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The latest Maoist incident in Kodagu is a matter of grave concern because the extremists have targeted Speaker Bopaiah’s village. The forests of Dakshina Kannada and Kudremukha have been a haven for Maoists in the past. Now they have extended their territory to Kodagu.

It is a matter of worry that thousands of Bangladeshis have migrated to Kodagu in the recent years and taken up employment in the coffee estates. Their antecedents are not known. It is quite possible that these migrants could eventually come under the influence of Maoists and pose danger to the local planters.

The authorities should nip the menace in the bud, failing which Kodagu could become the bastion of the red brigade.



Kodava cultural pageant held at Balugodu

On 25/10/12


Is Kodava culture still alive? This reporter wanted to find an answer to this question when he set out to visit Balugodu near Virajpet to witness the recent Kodava festival at the newly started Kodava Cultural Centre (in picture above).

Ever since the Kodavas (Coorgs) started migrating to cities on a large scale in the past decade, there has been a concern on the crisis facing the Kodava community and its culture. More so because of the large-scale sale of lands by Kodavas to ‘outsiders’ and the increasing dominance by outsiders in the affairs of Kodagu.

In the olden days, Kodava culture centred round the Ainemanes (ancestral homes) and the Nad (village). Puthari (harvest festival) was the time when the Kodava folk dance (aat, paat/dance and song) was in full flow at the village greens (mand).

With people migrating to cities, most of the Ainemanes in Kodagu have been deserted and have begun crumbling for want of repair. In the recent years, the festivities have become individual affairs as none live in the Ainemanes.

It looks like the over two dozen ‘Kodava Samajas’ spread across Kodagu and Karnataka have taken up the challenge to revive and preserve the rich folk dance forms of Kodagu.

It is a fact that most of the Samajas are divided houses. This is obvious because the Kodava have always been a divided community which resulted in the community being ruled by ‘outside’ Kings. There have been whispers that office-bearers of a couple of prosperous Samajas have mishandled the finances. This is inevitable when “crores of rupees” have been spent on wooing (wine and dine) voters during the election of office-bearers.

Despite the whiff of scandals, most of the Kodava Samajas have been active in promoting the Kodava culture.

This was reflected at the ‘Kodava Namme’ (festival) at Balugodu. The festival was organised by the Federation of Kodava Samajas. Inter-Samaja folk dance competitions were held which had wide participation from individual Samajas who had taken the trouble to train the participants. It was not just men, but women too competed in large numbers in the Ummath Aat category. There was also a game of inter-Samaja hockey, true to the Kodava tradition.

Those who witnessed the pageantry got the impression that Kodava culture was not only alive, but kicking!

Though the cultural part of the festival was well-organised, there were hick-ups in serving food and regulating traffic. These glitches could have been avoided if the organisers had paid more attention even though such huge turnout of guests was unexpected.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The Kodava Samajas and the Federation of Kodava Samaja are doing a commendable job in preserving Kodava culture. The efforts of the Samajas, especially towards promoting culture, should be supported by its members.

The Kodava community members should consider their Samajas as their new Ainemanes as their old clan homes are not in use anymore.

It is time that those seeking election to Samaja as office-bearers, should desist from holding dinners to win over the voters. This is a new phenomenon which started in Bangalore during the last election. Whatever good work being conducted by the Samajas get vitiated if there is any whiff of corrupt practices.






Kodagu roads: A study in contrast

On 23/09/12


RICH VERSUS THE POOR IN KODAGU: This reporter was recently in Kodagu. He was both shocked and surprised by the condition of the roads in the district. It was a study in contrast. While the road used by a bunch of wealthy planters was freshly tarred, the road used by a large number of ordinary folks, had not seen tar for ages.

First,the good news. The road going towards the ‘Polaycad Estate Bungalow’ near the town of Ammathi, was freshly tarred. The road is reportedly used only by a few planters and the guests going to a reputed high-end homestay in the area.

Possibly the worst stretch of road in the district is the one near Kadnur Bridge, on Madikeri-Virajpet Road on the state highway. The road has almost disappeared. There is only a slush track. The stretch is a nightmare for motorists. Though the Madikeri-Virajpet Road is the most important road in the district, the authorities have failed to carry out temporary repairs, till regular repairs could be taken up after the monsoon.

It is learnt that the authorities are concentrating more on rural roads, like the Polaycad Road, in the villages because there is “more money” to be made by the politicians by resorting to sub-standard work. Moreover, such roads could help in mobilising votes from the villagers.

However, the ‘mother of all bad roads’ is the one between Hunsur and Gonikoppal. This portal had launched an online signature campaign, urging the Kodagu MLAs – Speaker K.G. Bopaiah and sports minister Appachu Ranjan, to take up repair and upgradation of the road. They have assured that the work on this road will start in November, 2012.

EDITOR’S VIEW: If one goes by the condition of the Kodagu roads, it becomes apparent that the MLAs from the district have failed in discharging their duties. They seem to be wasting their time in inconsequential felicitations and other trivial functions, if one went by the coverage in the local media. The MLAs should treat the roads as priority No. 1.

The MLAs also behaved irresponsibly by calling a ‘Kodagu bandh’ against the ‘World Heritage’ tag given to parts of the Western Ghats by the UNESCO. They misled the people that the World Heritage tag will affect the local planters. This is in sharp contrast to the opinion expressed by M.C. Nanaiah, MLC, who has maintained that the report submitted by Madhav Gadgil has categorically stated that the heritage tag will not affect the local people.

While rejecting the World Heritage tag, the Speaker Bopaiah was quoted as saying in the media that he was in favour of a separate Kodagu state. The Speaker should explain how he will manage a separate Kodagu state when he cannot even look after the upkeep of the roads in the district.



Ashwini Ponnappa youngest from Kodagu to win Arjuna award

On 02/09/12


Machimanda Ashwini Ponnappa is perhaps the youngest sportsperson from Kodagu to win the prestigious Arjuna award.

Ashwini, along with Jwala Gutta, India’s women’s badminton doubles pair, who narrowly missed out on a quarterfinal berth in the London Olympics, was recently conferred the Arjuna award by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee at a glittering ceremony at the Rastrapati Bhavan.

It is learnt that Ashwini was considered for the Arjuna award a little early in her career, taking into consideration the fact that she had won a gold during the Commonwealth Games and bronze at the World Championship.

Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa missed out on a quarterfinal berth at the London Olympics despite winning their last Group B badminton match against the Singapore team. Taipei, Japan and India won two matches and lost one but when the differences were calculated taking into account games won and lost and points won and lost, India were pushed to the third spot.

Commenting on the failure to make it to the quarterfinals, Ashwini was quoted as saying: “A few countries did not play fair and we had to bear the consequences. The Chinese and Indonesians have always ruled the roost in badminton. Post our ouster, we lodged a formal protest, but it fell on deaf ears. Of course, the complaint was lodged a little late in the day. However, the decision was completely unfair. We have to work so hard to book a berth for ourselves at the Olympics.”

The Government of India has taken the right decision in conferring the Arjuna award on Ashwini so early in her career, as this would boost her performance in the future.

Among those who have won the Arjuna award from Kodagu in the past, include M.P. Ganesh, B.P. Govinda, M.M. Somayya, A.B. Subbiah, (all hockey), Ashwini Nachappa and Reeth Abraham (both alheletics), and C.C. Machaiah (boxing).




New book: Rise and Fall of Coorg State in Kodava language

On 14/08/12


Journalist P.T. Bopanna’s highly successful book ‘Rise and Fall of the Coorg State’ has now been translated into Kodava language.

Eminent Kodava language writer Nagesh Kaloor has translated the book. The title of the book is ‘Coorg State: Udchad – Thandad’.

The original English version of the book was first published in 2009 and was translated into Kannada by journalist B.K. Ganesh in 2011 under the title ‘Coorg State: Udaya-Pathana’.

The book mainly deals with the circumstances leading to the unpopular merger of the erstwhile Coorg State (now known as Kodagu district) with Karnataka in 1956.

Referring to the decision to translate the book into the Kodava language, author, P.T. Bopanna, who has written five books so far, said: “Among all my books, ‘Rise and Fall of the Coorg State’ is close to my heart. The book also created a record of sorts by going into reprint within two months of its release. Even more than 55 years after the merger with Karnataka, many people in Kodagu, especially the Kodavas, feel betrayed by the loss of Statehood and the step-motherly treatment being meted out by successive governments in Karnataka. In the circumstances, I was keen to bring out ‘Rise and Fall of the Coorg State’ in Kodava Thak, the language spoken by the indigenous people of Kodagu.”

Moreover, Bopanna is of the view that the creation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), a semi-autonomous administrative body for the Darjeeling Hills in West Bengal in 2011, has brought a glimmer of hope to people in Kodagu. The GTA will have administrative, executive and financial powers, but no legislative powers.

The Karnataka government could create a similar semi-autonomous body in Kodagu to take care of the development needs of the neglected tiny hill district. This will go a long way in removing the feeling of neglect among the indigenous people of Kodagu.

The book is priced at Rs 70 per copy and published by Rolling Stone Publications, Bangalore.








Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road: Online campaign picks up momentum

On 10/08/12


An online petition seeking urgent action to repair the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road bordering Mysore and Kodagu districts has been submitted to the Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly K.G. Bopaiah.

The petition signed by 132 members has been mailed to the Speaker and also the Kodagu district in-charge minister Appachu Ranjan who have been elected as MLAs from Kodagu.

Following widespread anger expressed by motorists travelling the 45-km Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road, Kodagu’s first news portal www.coorgtourisminfo.com, which has been highlighting Kodagu-centric issues in the past seven years, decided to launch the online signature campaign, according to the promoter of the portal P.T. Bopanna, senior journalist.

The campaign was registered with Petitions India, an online portal, where members of the public could register their online support. The campaign generated 164 ‘likes’ on Facebook.

The Hunsur-Gonikoppal road is dotted with craters and several stretches of the highway are not in a motorable condition.

The condition of the Anechaukur-Piriyapatna Road is no better. For the time-being, this stretch can be improved as motorists from Gonikoppal could take this road to Piriyapatna from where the road to Hunsur is in a better condition.

Since the road from Hunsur to Kodagu comes in the jurisdiction of the Hunsur and Piriyapatna MLAs, they do not seem to be bothered about the road which they seem to assume is being used by people going to Kodagu and Kerala.

Meanwhile, the Star of Mysore newspaper stated in its report dated August 9, 2012:

“It may be mentioned here that some coffee-growers of south Kodagu, exasperated with the bad condition of the road, had pooled in money and filled up some of the crater-like potholes with several truckloads of jelly stones about two years ago.

Among the donors were former President of the Federation of Kodava Samajas M.N. Belliappa, Umamaheshwari Petrol Bunk owner Kollira Umesh and Star of Mysore Editor-in-Chief K.B. Ganapathy.

However, had the government responded positively then, the contribution would have been significant. But due to the divine neglect on part of authorities concerned, the condition of the road went from bad to worse.

The PWD engineers, when contacted in this regard, say that the road will soon be converted into an inter-State highway and under this pretext, they avoid initiating any action for the road’s repair.

The fact is that the motorists who frequently use this road are the victims of dirty politics. While the Lok Sabha member for Kodagu-Mysore constituency represents Congress, the MLA for Virajpet constituency is from BJP — Speaker Bopaiah. This road also comes under the purview of Hunsur and Periyapatna MLAs — Chikkanna and Venkatesh respectively — both from Congress.

Meanwhile, both K.G. Bopaiah and Youth Services and Sports Minister M.P. Appachu Ranjan — who are keen to fulfill the demands of Kodagu people and get the road repaired — have assured that the road work will commence from November.

It may be recalled, when some Kodagu citizens launched a protest against the un-motorable condition of this road, police arrested them, booked cases and got them entangled in legal web. As a result no one is ready to participate in rasta roko as often happens on Mysore-Bangalore road. So our rulers are happy.

The government, instead of performing its duty of providing basic infrastructure, is harassing citizens by fixing cases through the police, in an attempt to bring down their morale. Is this democracy?”



Rain pounds Kodagu: Holiday for schools

On 07/08/12


As rains continued to pound Kodagu since Sunday, the district administration has declared holiday for schools and colleges on August 7 and 8. Normal life has been paralysed in the district as heavy showers lashed all over the district, including Madikeri, Virajpet, Gonikoppal, Napoklu, Bhagamandala, Ammathi and Somwarpet.

The rains brought relief to Kodagu as a long dry spell and the failure of the South-West monsoon in the past couple of months had led to anxiety among the people.

Cauvery and Lakshmanateertha rivers are in spate, threatening to flood the low-lying areas. All the four crest gates of the Harangi reservoir were opened on Sunday as the water reached full reservoir level of 2,859 feet.

Cauvery is flowing above the road at Bhagamandala on Madikeri-Bhagamandala Road and Bhagamandala-Aiyyangeri Road. More rains in the next few days could cut off road links. Mechanised boats have been kept ready at Bhagamandala which was likely to be cut off in the event of incessant rainfall.

Further, rain has completely thrown life out of gear in the southern part, particularly the Srimangala hobli area. A few houses have collapsed. Water from the Lakshmanateertha and Kakkattu rivers entered neighbouring villages in Srimangala and T. Shettigeri areas and vast areas of paddy fields and coffee plantations had been inundated. Some people who were stranded at a few houses were rescued by the river rafting team members in Srimangala on Monday. Inflow has increased into the Irpu river and water is gushing down the Irpu Falls.

The Balyamandur-Harihara Road and Nalkeri-Srimangala Road were flooded and vehicular movement cut off. Landslips had occurred at Kottakere in the Birunani-Parakatageri areas cutting off road traffic.

Kodagu has received an average rainfall of 1088.82 mm this year (till August 6) against last year’s 1833 mm in the same period.

The district administration is keeping a close watch on the rain situation in the district as landslips could occur on the Madikeri-Chettalli Road and Madikeri-Murnad Road. The water level in the Cauvery has risen considerably at Balamuri, Betri, Dubare, Karadigodu, and Guhya areas posing flood threats. Expert swimmers and divers were in standby mode to meet any eventuality.



From Kodagu with love to London Olympics

On 25/07/12


It is a matter of pride and joy that five players from Kodagu (Coorg), the tiny hill district in Karnataka, famous for its outstanding sportspersons, will be participating in 2012 London Olympics.

Appanervanda Appanna Ganapathy (Pavin), a former sports journalist who hails from Kodagu, has profiled the ‘fab five’ from Kodagu, in this exclusive article for www.coorgtourisminfo.com, the first news portal of Kodagu.

The three hockey players representing the Indian team are Sannuvanda Kushalappa Uthappa, Sunil Somwarpet Vittalacharya, and V.R. Raghunath. Machimanda Ashwini Ponnappa will be part of the Indian shuttle team and Machanda Rohan Bopanna will be a part of the Indian tennis team in the Olympics.

Here is a low down on each of the sportsperson bound for London:

Young Gonikoppal forward, S K Uthappa, left an indelible mark at every stage right from being adjudged the best player in the 2011 Senior National championship in Bhopal where Karnataka finished runners-up.

Uthappa made his international debut against South Africa in 2012 duringthe first match of the Karbonn Cup Hockey five-match Test series. Based on his performances against South Africa, Uthappa was selected to play in the 2012 Olympic Qualification Tournament. He went on to play in all 6 matches in the tournament scoring one goal in the first match against Singapore.

His body feint is admirable and sense of passing good and has matured
superbly as a player. All eyes will be on this young Kodava lad who has the potential to scale greater heights.

S.V. Sunil Acharya starred in India's brilliant performance against Pakistan in Azlan Shah Hockey Cup. He played his first senior international at Chennai in the 2007 Asia Cup, which India won that year. He was part of the team that won Silver at the 2008 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia.

Sunil's hockey career came to a halt due to injury in the run up to the 2010 World Cup. However, with patience, he continued in the rehabilitation program, and made a mark in the selection trials held recently. Sunil has now evolved into an ace forward with his deft mesmerizing sliding tackles and speedy run along the ball will prove a real threat to the opponents.

Deep defender V. R. Raghunath knows the challenges of being a part of the side that faced flak for not qualifying for the Olympics for the first time in 80 years in 2008. He has worked on his defending skills to add to his powerful drag flicks and now wants to go all out and win laurels for his team and himself.

Raghunath, after living under the shadow of his more illustrious teammate Sandeep Singh, is slowly stamping his own space in the team. Undoubtedly,the two penalty corner experts make a heady combo.

The ‘Wembley Arena’, venue for the badminton event in 2012 Olympic would witness the 24-year-old, charming Kodavathi, Machimanda Ashwini Ponnappa pairing up with the senior pro Jwala Gutta.

Ashwini has come a long way in the last four years from being an unknown junior face to representing India at the Olympics. Ashwini believes she and her partner Jwala Gutta have a bright chance of winning a medal at London Games since this charming pair with looks also displays a perfect mix of youth and experience.

Ashwini started playing with Jwala only in 2009 but the pair soon achieved success and actually brought the women’s double badminton in reckoning in the country after their gold medal winning feat at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Their experience of playing at the Wembley Arena in 2011 where they won the World Championship bronze would add on to their confidence since the venue would be same for all the badminton events to be held during the London Olympics.

Ashwini completed her schooling in Bangalore before moving to St Mary's College Hyderabad for her Bachelor's Degree. In 2001, Ashwini Ponnappa won the Indian junior championships. She won the gold medal at the South AsianGames held in 2006.

Thirty-two-year-old strapping Kodava Indian professional tennis player Machanda Rohan Bopanna has been selected to participate in the 2012 London Olympics in the men's doubles category with Mahesh Bhupathi amidst controversy that Indian tennis has been witnessing regarding the selection of the team for London Olympics.

The selection for the Olympics became a national debate and it was
embarrassing the way players fought to play with their favourite partners,ignoring the decision made by the All India Tennis Association (AITA).

Bopanna and Bhupathi have a point to prove. They have been training
together from the past 7-8 months, but their chances do not look good. They have had victories against some good pairs but their performance in Grand Slams has not been impressive as they have not gone beyond the third round in the three Grand Slams they played together.

Bopanna is known for setting an example of Indo-Pak camaraderie on tennis circuit by pairing up with Pakistan's Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi. The duo, nicknamed the Indo-Pak Express, won several titles after partnering together for the first time in 2007. However, it was only in the 2010 season that the pair broke into the top 10 doubles teams. That year, they reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, finished runners-up in the US Open and in five ATP Tour events, and won the Johannesburg Open.

His singles career high ranking was 213th in 2007. Recently, most of his appearances in professional tournaments have been in doubles matches. He has been a member of the Indian Davis Cup team since 2002. Bopanna also played a decisive role in India's 2010 Davis Cup triumph over Brazil, taking India back to the World Group for the first time since 1998.In 2008, Bopanna won the men's doubles title at the 2008 Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles with partner Eric Butorac.

Bopanna was nominated in 2010 as a Champion for Peace by Monaco-based organization, Peace and Sport for his efforts in bridging political barriers through sports.

Bopanna is currently ranked 13th in the world in the doubles rankings. He reached his career high doubles rankings on 13 June 2011 when he was ranked world no. 9 in the ATP Rankings.

Bopanna donates part of the profits generated by sales of ‘Stop War Start Tennis’ merchandise to GoSports Foundation – a not for profit organisation that works towards empowering sporting excellence in India.

In his hometown Coorg, he works towards generating funds for an Opportunity School that caters to the educational needs of physically handicapped children. Rohan also supports the Coorg Institute of Dental Sciences that endeavors to provide low cost dental treatment and holds several free health and awareness camps.

With so much controversy surrounding the tennis players, hope Bopanna and Mahesh do not allow the fracas to affect them and continue with good performance in the Olympics. The pair in a recent interview to a magazine,felt they were hopeful of winning on account of their preparedness.

KODAGU AND SPORTS:

What makes this tiny district produce players ready to take on Olympic competition? Maybe, the innate rugged frontier spirit among Coorgs that craves adventure in any form. Sport is one of the many mediums and has,from time immemorial, long played an important social and cultural role in Coorg, providing a form of social cement during festivals where one could exhibit his skill and rugged frontier spirit. Sport in Coorg just might be more deeply and meaningfully cultural than in any other district in India.

Kodagu has till date provided 50-odd players who have participated in
International hockey tournaments. The hockey festival held in Kodagu has already found a place in the Limca Book of Records.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The content for this article was written by Appanervanda Appanna Ganapathy (Pavin), who started his career as an English lecturer. But the love of writing and sports drew him to Indian Express as a sports correspondent. He later joined The Asian Age. The web boom saw him joining Indiainfo.com as Quality Manager.
He also worked with Star TV as Assistant Producer, where he prepared News and Sports Specification for Interactive Television. Presently, Appanna works with IBM as a lead researcher.



Coorg homestays website gets a new look

On 19/07/12


Do you want to know the top 10 luxury homestays in Coorg? Log on to the newly re-designed website www.coorghomestays.co.in.

The top 10 homestays have been selected on the basis of tariff, guest feedback and ratings on the Net, the category listing by the Karnataka tourism department, etc.

According to senior journalist P.T. Bopanna, the promoter of the website, the top 10 concept will remove the clutter and help those looking for high-end homestays to choose the right place to stay without much hassle.

Another newly added feature is the user-friendly Google map for easy navigation in the hilly terrain of the district. The Google map has been enabled to generate routes and calculate distances between the various picturesque towns of Coorg.

Besides having the most exhaustive listing of homestays, the newly redesigned site also has segment-wise homestays listing – Madikeri, Kushalanagar and Virajpet segments.

The website has other related information and articles on the legendary hospitality of the Coorgs (Kodavas). The other features include links to local weather forecast, fact file, KSRTC bus-timings, information on tourist spots, etc.

The homestays website has been promoted by the group which started www.coorgtourisminfo.com, the first news and tourism portal of Coorg (Kodagu) in 2005. The group also runs Coorg jewellery and Coorg recipes sites.

The homestays site has been redesigned by Bangalore-based Tiramisu New Media Solutions.



Appachu Ranjan sworn-in as minister

On 13/07/12


It was a pleasant spectacle to watch Appachu Ranjan, the third time MLA from Kodagu, being sworn-in as a minister on Thursday in his traditional Kodava costume – kupya, chele, peechekathi and mandethuni.

Mandepanda Poovaiah Appachu Ranjan (in picture above, courtesy Star of Mysore), the MLA from Madikeri, was sworn-in as minister in the newly constituted Jagadish Shettar BJP ministry in Karnataka.

Ranjan, who has come up the hard way from being a grass-roots level BJP worker, had been lobbying hard for the last several years to become a minister. His was a deserving case because he was re-elected thrice as an MLA from Kodagu.

Finally, his proximity to the outgoing chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda helped him to fulfil his dream of becoming a minister.

Starting his active public life as the member of the Kumbur School Development Management Committee, president of the Madapur VSSSN, correspondent of the Chennamma Junior College in Madapur, director of the Kodagu District Coffee Growers Society in Madikeri, member of the Kushalnagar APMC, he made his foray into politics in 1980 when he was elected president of the BJP youth wing in Madapur.

He won the Assembly elections for the first time from Somwarpet constituency in 1994 and was re-elected in 1999. He lost to B.A. Jivijaya of the Congress (now with JD(S)) in the next election. Mr. Ranjan won from the Madikeri constituency in 2008.

He served as the chairman of the Karnatake State Sports Authority in 2008 as also Karnataka Land Army Corporation Limited.

Born on September 11, 1957, Ranjan is a BA graduate and is known as a progressive agriculturist and coffee grower. He originally hails from Chembebellur village near Virajpet town and is married to Ponnamma. His first son Poovaiah is an engineer in the U.S. and second son Cariappa, a doctor. Daughter Kshira is a dentist.

Ranjan’s brothers too are in politics and his immediate younger brother Shuja Kushalappa is the president of the Virajpet taluk Akrama-Sakrama Samiti while his youngest brother, M.P. Sunil Subramani is a member of the State BJP executive committee.

www.coorgtourisminfo.com SETS THE AGENDA FOR APPACHU RANJAN: Now that his dream of becoming a minister has finally materialised, Ranjan should work hard to improve the deteriorating infrastructure in Kodagu. His priority should be to tackle the chronic drinking water problem in Madikeri and to improve the condition of the Gonikoppal-Hunsur road. He should work along with Speaker K.G. Bopaiah, who represents the Virajpet constituency, for the overall development of Kodagu.



BJP calls Kodagu bandh on July 12. Move to please timber lobby?

On 07/07/12


Apparently under pressure from the timber lobby, the Kodagu unit of the BJP has called for a Kodagu bandh on July 12 to protest against the inclusion of five sites in Kodagu among the World Heritage Site lists.

The World Heritage Committee at its meeting held on July 1 at St. Petersberg (Russia) decided to include 39 sites of the Western Ghats on the World Heritage List. Out of the 39 sites, there are 19 sites from Kerala, 10 from Karnataka, six from Tamil Nadu and four from Maharashtra, spread across nearly 80,000 sq km.

Addressing a news conference, Madikeri MLA M P Appacchu Ranjan said the BJP opposed the move to include Western Ghats among the World Heritage sites because this would impede developmental activities. “The people of the district have been conserving forest for generations. In the name of world heritage site, we will not allow outsiders to come and misuse the local heritage,” the MLA added.

The MLA said the bandh will be observed from 6 am to 6 pm. He warned:
“If the name of Kodagu is not dropped out of the list, then we will hold series of protest and will gherao Central government offices.”

District BJP unit President B D Manjunath sought the resignation of Western Ghats Task Force Chairman Ananth Hegde Ashisara for welcoming the inclusion of the Western Ghats in the list.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The bandh call given by the BJP is against the interests of Kodagu. The decision for the bandh has been taken by the saffron politicians, without consulting the people.

There is no doubt that most of the elected representatives from Kodagu represent the interests of the powerful timber lobby. Besides, the BJP politicians are misleading the people by stating that they would lose all their timber rights on their lands. This is far from the truth.

The people of Kodagu have already started feeling the effects of climate changes that are taking place on account of the deforestation in the district.

It is time the politicians stopped playing with the lives of the people. The BJP has been known to use muscle power to impose the bandh. They may be successful in their effort, but the saffron brigade will definitely lose public sympathy if they continue to take up anti-people causes. The BJP leaders should first try to improve the condition of roads in Kodagu, instead of taking up non-issues.






The story of Neena Belliappa's missing jewellery

On 22/06/12


When Neena Belliappa, a resident of Jayalakshmipuram in Mysore, recently complained to the police that her jewellery valued at Rs 10 lakh was missing from her bank locker, it raised many eyebrows because Neena is the mother of India’s highest paid corporate executive.

Neena’s daughter Kaveri (in picture above) is married to Kalanithi Maran of Sun TV Network Ltd.

Sun TV Network Ltd paid promoters Kalanithi Maran and his wife, Kaveri Kalanithi, Rs. 128.8 crore (Rs. 64.4 crore each) remuneration in the year ended March, nearly double what they got the previous year. The Marans were already considered the highest-paid executives in corporate India when they earned about Rs. 74 crore (Rs. 37 crore each) in 2009-10.

Kalanithi Maran, chairman and managing director (CMD), and Kaveri Kalanithi, joint managing director (JMD), own a 77% stake in the company. The couple also own Spicejet airline.

Even as the police hit a dead-end in the investigation following the complaint made on June 5, in an unexpected development, Neena informed the police on June 18 that the ‘missing’ jewellery was found at her apartment.

Neena was quoted telling the police: "The lapse has occurred due to my memory loss, for which I regret. All my jewellery worth Rs. 10 lakh was found at my residence itself.”

Apparently, Neena had kept the jewellery under her bed and forgot about it. The Mysore police are planning to close the case.

Neena’s late husband Jammada A. Belliappa (Bolli), hailing from Kaikery near Gonikoppal in Kodagu, was an insurance executive based at Chennai, where Kaveri met Kalanithi at a friend’s place and got married in 1991. The Marans have a daughter Kaviya.








Online petition to repair Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road

On 01/06/12


OPEN LETTER TO KODAGU MLAs TO IMPROVE THE CONDITION OF HUNSUR-GONIKOPPAL ROAD LEADING TO KODAGU

To:

1. Mr K.G. Bopaiah
Virajpet MLA and Speaker, Karnataka Legislative Assembly

2. Mr Appachu Ranjan
Madikeri MLA

We the people of Kodagu appeal to our elected representatives in the Karnataka Assembly to prevail upon the Karnataka government to improve the condition of the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road which is now in a pathetic condition.

Mr Bopaiah being the Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly is in a better position to use his good offices to persuade the government to repair and upgrade the road.

Moreover, Mr Bopaiah represents the Virajpet constituency and is responsible to his constituents to ensure proper condition of the road leading to his constituency.

The Hunsur-Gonikoppal road is dotted with craters and several stretches of the highway are not in a motorable condition.

The condition of the Anechaukur-Piriyapatna Road is no better. For the time-being, this stretch can be improved as motorists from Gonikoppal could take this road to Piriyapatna from where the road to Hunsur is in a better condition.

Since the road from Hunsur to Kodagu comes in the jurisdiction of the Hunsur and Piriyapatna MLAs, they do not seem to be bothered about the road which they seem to assume is being used by people going to Kodagu and Kerala.

Though on paper, the government has sanctioned funds for improving the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road, no visible sign of any work being taken up on this road.

The government always takes the excuse that they cannot undertake any road work during the monsoon. This kind of excuse cannot fool the people all the time.

If you both (MLAs) succeed in improving the condition of the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road, you can be assured of one more term in the Assembly. Hope you will not betray the people of Kodagu at least this time!

Meanwhile, the Mysore (Kodagu) Lok Sabha member A.H. Vishwanath could take up with the Union Government to declare the roads from Mysore to Kodagu as National Highway and commence work immediately on their up-gradation.

FROM KODAGU WELL-WISHERS

EDITOR’S VIEW: www.coorgtourisminfo.com, the first news portal of Kodagu, has throughout championed the cause of Kodagu by highlighting the major issues involving the district.

The Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road has been in a bad condition for several years now. Motorists are facing serious problem in negotiating the roads. The elected representatives of Kodagu have failed to address the problem. They seem to be concentrating on rural roads with a view to woo the local voters.

This portal decided to take up a novel method involving an online petition to urge the Kodagu MLAs to take up the repair of the Hunsur-Gonikoppal Road.

You too can help by signing the online petition by accessing the link given below:

http://www.petitions.in/petition/improve-the-condition-of-hunsur-gonikoppal-road/10191



















Media Academy Post: M.A. Ponnappa left in the lurch

On 28/05/12


Who sabotaged the appointment of M.A. Ponnappa as the chairman of the Karnataka Madhyama (Media) Academy?

Sources said the infighting in the Karnataka BJP leadership had led to the exit of Ponnappa.

Within just four days after he assumed office, the Karnataka government issued an order, keeping his appointment in abeyance.

Ponnappa, who retired from Prajavani newspaper’s sports section, assumed office as chairman of the Academy on December 12, 2011. However, the government issued an order on December 16 to keep the appointment order in abeyance.

In the past five month, Ponnappa has been trying desperately to influence the government to reinstate him, but without much success so far.

In the first place, the appointment of the Academy was flawed. Though the by-law of the Academy provides for the appointment of 23 members, the government had appointed 24 members to the Academy.

Besides, sources said former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s son B.Y. Raghavendra, Lok Sabha member, had recommended one of the candidates for membership. When BJP state president K.S. Eshwarppa learnt about the appointment of Raghavendra’s candidate, the former took exception to it on the ground that Raghavendra’s candidate had “links with the Maoists”.

Consequently, Eshwarappa is learnt to have directed that the order appointing the media academy be kept in abeyance.

In the given circumstances, the government has several options. The government can rectify the defects in the constitution of the Academy and continue Ponnappa as chairman, or appoint some other person as chairman.

The tenure of the chairman is for three years. Since the government has just a little over one year to complete its term, the government may not constitute a new committee till the formation of the next government.

Moreover, in view of the instability of the government because of the infighting between former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, the government may not want to take any decision till there is stability in the government.

Meanwhile, a couple of journalists have tried to lobby with the chief minister to make them as chairman of the media Academy.




Is MLA Appachu Ranjan indulging in vote bank politics?

On 19/05/12


Is Madikeri MLA Appachu Ranjan indulging in vote bank politics by blaming the environmentalists in Kodagu for coming in the way of the development of the district?

Ranjan was part of a march held in Madikeri on Friday to protest against certain environmentalists for blocking the construction of Madikeri-Kadamakal-Subramanya Road.

There is a possibility that Ranjan could get into serious trouble as the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has already urged the Court to take action against Ranjan, Speaker K.G.Bopaiah and former MLC S.G. Medappa for flouting rules in the construction of road in the Kadamakal forest.

The elected representatives who are apparently indulging in vote bank politics to gain the votes of the local villagers who would be benefited by the road across the reserve forests, have blamed the environmentalists for coming in the way of development and also accused them of receiving foreign funding for their NGOs.

The CEC had also sought action against officials, including Baladevakrishna, former deputy commissioner of Kodagu district and G. A. Sudarshan, former conservator of forests, Kodagu circle.

Col C.P. Muthanna, a leading environmentalist of Kodagu has stated: “The environmentalists are campaigning for conserving the environment in Kodagu. However, elected representatives are levelling false allegations and carrying out false propaganda against the environmentalists. Assembly Speaker Bopaiah is involved in levelling false allegations against us.”

“On the issue related to Kadamakal road, we were projected as anti-development. The road will be useful only for the rubber planters and not the villagers.”

Col Muthanna claimed that Bopaiah and MLA Appacchu Ranjan pressurised the police to file false case against Kaveri Sene convenor Ravi Chengappa when he decided to clean Bhagamandala-Talacauvery. “Illegal sand mining, illegal quarry and smuggling of timber are being carried out unabated in the district. However, there is no one to question it,” he alleged.

Meanwhile, the president of the Kodagu Zilla Panchayat, Ravi Kushalappa has called upon A.H. Vishwnath, Mysore-Kodagu MP, and M.C. Nanaiah, MLC, to come out with their views on the issue.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The elected representatives from Kodagu should behave responsibly and not instigate people to take law into their hands. When the issue of the Kadamakal-Subramanya Road is before the Supreme Court, there is no need for the elected representatives to organise rallies against the environmentalists.

Instead, Speaker Bopaiah should use his good offices to set right the Hunsur-Gonikoppal highway which is in a bad shape.

It is no secret that most of the elected representatives of Kodagu are puppets in the hand of various lobbies, especially the timber lobby.





Hat-trick heroes: Palanganda win Iychettira Kodava family hockey Cup

On 14/05/12


Palanganda clan created history in the Kodava Hockey Festival by emerging champions three years in a row when they defeated this time the Kaliyanda team by 2-1 in the Iychettira Cup finals held at Ammathi on Sunday.

It was a sweet victory for the Palanganda boys who won the match without their star player Amar Aiyamma, who had anchored the success of the team in the last two years. The Palangandas had won the Machamada Cup last year and the Maneyapanda Cup in 2010.

Palanganda Prajwal scored both the goals, the first of a Shyam Kalappa pass in the 34th minute and sounded the boards again of a Muthanna pass in the 40th. For Kaliyanda, Kiran converted a penalty corner in the 49th minute to reduce the margin.

For the Kaliyanda, it was the second successive defeat at the hands of Palanganda in the finals. Palanganda had beaten Kaliyanda by a solitary goal in the Machamada Cup last year.

Though the Kaliyanda boys played a superb hockey, they failed to convert 10 penalty corners. However, their team-mate Kiran managed to convert a lone penalty corner.

Dame luck has favoured the Palanganda boys in the last three years, though their opponents played much better hockey each time. This is the impression of this reporter who has witnessed all the finals in the last three years.

The winning Palanganda team won a cash prize of Rs 1.5 lakh along with the trophy. Palanganda Prajwal emerged as the best player of the match. Kaliyanda Kiran won the best ‘man of the series’ for scoring highest number of goals. Mandepanda Sajan Achaiah was declared as the best upcoming player.

The Palanganda clan which won the Kallichanda Cup in 2006, has so far won four times. The Koothanda clan has also won the Kodava hockey festival four times so far.

An interesting feature of the Palanganda team is that it is packed with youngsters. This way, they could be a formidable team in the years to come. However, there is always scope for a dark horse to emerge. A little bit of coaching and hard work, could turn any one of the clans a potential winner next year.

The next edition of the Kodava hockey festival will be hosted by the Madanda family in 2013 at Balgodu near Virajpet.





Sorry state of affairs of private buses in Kodagu

On 05/05/12


Is it time to nationalise the private bus routes in Kodagu? If the condition of the private buses in Kodagu is any indication, it is high time that the government (KSRTC) took over the bus operation.

This reporter had the nightmarish experience of travelling in a private bus recently. The reporter boarded the Jayalakshmi express bus at Virajpet to go to Madikeri. In the first place, the bus was fit to be junked. The conductor of the bus pushed the passengers like cattle and ensured that they were packed like sardines.

The local RTO has to answer how permission is given to ply such a condemned vehicle and why no action is taken against over-crowding. Apparently the RTO officials in Kodagu are a corrupt lot.

With so much of load, it was obvious that the bus would not reach its destination. The fears came true as the bus stopped abruptly at Mekeri, five km before Madikeri. There was no one reason for the breakdown. It must have been a ‘multi-organ failure’. The driver desperately tried to revive the bus and in the process the passengers had to inhale thick fumes.

Finally, the driver pleaded his helplessness. There was no spare bus to be summoned. He promised to accommodate the passengers in other buses. Not far away, another bus too had broken down. With none of the buses stopping, the passengers, mostly women and children, were stranded. This reporter managed to find an auto-rickshaw after walking for about one km in the hot sun.

Most of the buses parked at the Virajpet private bus-stand, have outlived their ‘use by date’. And there was hardly any space for the buses to manoeuver inside the Virajpet bus-stand.

The private bus owners should be blamed for the sorry state of affairs. They want to milk the money from the obsolete buses. They are not worried about the comfort of the passengers. It is a fact that the roads are bad. This is all the more the reason that attention should be paid towards the maintenance of the buses.

It is time to recall how private bus services were started decades ago by enterprising local Kodavas. These men never thought of short-cuts. Service to the passengers came first. Among these men, some of the Kodava entrepreneurs who made a name for themselves were Muruvanda Bojappa, Ammanakuttanda Ganapathy, Bolandanda Kalappa, Nellamakkada Uthappa, and Natvalanda Achappa.

The Anuradha bus service started by a bunch of Kodavas was a model for others to emulate for service, cleanliness, etc. About 50 years ago, this reporter remembers that Gajanana bus service had installed a music system on the bus.

Service to the passengers came first to these owners. If a driver did not turn up, the owner himself drove the bus. This reporter was witness to Maneyapanda Muddappa running his Champion Bus wearing a full suit! How many bus owners have such commitment now?

It was not just the owners. Even crew members were courteous. Sattar, the driver of the Subramanya bus was one of the most popular drivers of those times. Perhaps, he would not have taken any leave in his long career.

Nationalisation is not the solution. This reporter is of the firm belief that “the business of government should be government and not business.” It is time the private bus operators engaged in some introspection and did something to improve passenger comfort.



Kodava hockey fest: Iychettira Cup starts on April 21

On 20/04/12


The 16th edition of the mega Kodava family hockey festival being hosted by the Iychettira clan this year will begin on April 21 at Ammathi in Kodagu (Coorg) district of Karnataka.

The hockey fever will grip Kodagu for the next 25 days till May 13 when 217 teams will fight it out at Ammathi, a town near Virajpet, known for its love of hockey.

Soon after the inauguration of the festival on Saturday, an exhibition match will be held between the Indian hockey team selected for the forthcoming London Olympics and the Coorg XI team. The coach of the Indian hockey team Michael Nobbs will be present on the occasion.

A huge gallery with a seating capacity of 25,000 has been built at the Ammathi school grounds. LCD screens have been installed near the ground for comfortable viewing of the match.

The state government has granted Rs 30 lakh for the hockey Utsav and Union External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna has released Rs 12 lakh from his MP fund for construction of toilets and other infrastructure near the ground.

The total prize money will be Rs 5 lakh, out of which Rs 1.5 lakh will be given to the winning team.








Coorg recipes website gets a new look

On 28/03/12


Coorg’s first recipes website www.coorgrecipes.com started in 2007, has been redesigned to focus exclusively on Coorg cuisine. While retaining most of the earlier features, a few new features have been added.

Commenting on the redesign, the promoter of the website, journalist P.T. Bopanna said: “Earlier, the recipe website had a section for ‘Coorg jewellery’. However, I wanted to focus totally on food. With the creation of the new jewellery website www.coorgjewellery.in, it became necessary to redesign the recipes site.”

Chef Naren Thimmaiah, the iconic face of the Karavalli restaurant of the Taj Gateway Hotel in Bangalore has contributed recipes for the ‘Recipe of the Month’ section.

Among the new additions, include a link to the blog of Canada-based Kodava food blogger Shalini Nanda Nagappa on her culinary adventures in ‘A Cookery Year in Coorg’.

Another new section called ‘Coffee with Priya Ganapathy’ deals with the making of the perfect cup of coffee and varieties of coffee liqueur.

Renowned cartoonist N.S. Ponnappa’s cartoons on the obsession of the Kodavas (Coorgs) with good food and hard liquor have been retained.

The recipe website has been designed by Tiramisu, a Bangalore-based new media solutions company.










Dutch diary: General Cariappa and 'Puttari Kol'

On 19/03/12


Passages from the diary of John van der Woude (in picture above), from Holland, during his visit to Madikeri (Mercara) in 1973. It was his first trip outside Europe at the age of 23. John had apparently witnessed the Madikeri ‘Puttari Kol’ which was attended by Gen. K. M. Cariappa. The photographs taken by John during his visit was earliesr published in the facebook group ‘coorgtourisminfo.com’.

MERCARA, SUNDAY THE 16TH OF DECEMBER, 1973. FROM MY TRAVEL DIARY:
Yesterday afternoon, I was invited by a shopkeeper to attend the Coorg feast this Sunday afternoon, from 2.30 p.m.

All Coorgs of Mercara were flocking to a big lawn at the edge of Mercara. Women and girls with beautiful saris, and men often in rather western costumes. But other men were in the traditional Coorg costume: black, long, with an embroidered belt (with a fine machete) and a flat turban of the same material as the belt.

During the first part of the feast, the costumized men danced around the big tree in the middle of the lawn. At the end of the dance queue young men and boys also danced. All of them had two wooden sticks in their hands, which they hammered to each other during the slow, jagged dance figures. The dance was dictated by one drummer who produced a complicated rhythm. Thus, some 100 to 150 sticks filled the air with their clanging sound. According to the General that I later met, this is the purpose of these wooden sticks indeed, to produce that sound. So the sticks should not be viewed as a replacement of swords. Formerly the sticks had a split top and then produced an even better sound, he said.

After this, the young women had their own dance, in a smaller circle. There were about twenty-five of them, in splendid saris, and I think they were in their early twenties, like me. They danced on the song of two girls in the middle, with varying rhythms.

Then there was a short speech by one of the men in the traditional black costume, followed by a short repeat of some of the male dances around the big tree. This gradually changed into a general dance with the male audience, with the same jagged dance figures, all in a jolly dense crowd.

And now the General. His name is General K.M. Cariappa. At the start of the dance festivities, I was introduced to him by my shopkeeper (the one that had invited me to this feast). At the end of the festivities we met the General again, and he introduced me to several dignitaries, like a diamond trader who gave me some valuable advice for Kulu valley in the Himalayas later on my India trek.

Most people were leaving the terrain now, and the General invited us to drive in his car to his estate, for a glass of whisky. During the ride I gradually understood what an exceptional man general Cariappa is, with his Oxford English, his style, his 18 years old car, and the fact that he let his shoes kiss by admirers (children and women) when we stopped along the road! Also, he stopped a few times to have young boys bring, standing in line, a sort of salutation yell to India, or so I thought. He rewarded this by throwing them some coins.

His house was almost a sort of museum, full of antique Indian and Nepalese art and weaponry. He showed me around and we drank a whisky indeed. I signed his guest book and he wished me a good trip across India.

So far my travel diary for the 16th of December 1973. I have put over 200 photos of this India trek in 1973/1974 on my website. Have a look at http://www.jvanderw.nl/indiatrek/intro.html (or Google at india trek woude). The Mercara section of that photo report has twelve photos of the Coorg feast. In the last section I have added a price list of food and other items of that time. Thanks to Mr. Bopanna for brining my photos to your attention on the Facebook group coorgtourisminfo.com.

John’s E-mail: jvanderw@ tiscali.nl



New Kodagu jewellery website launched

On 09/03/12


A new website has been launched featuring Femina Miss India (Miss Photogenic) 2011 Dayana Erappa to showcase the unique jewellery and costume of Coorg. www.coorgjewellery.in is the first exclusive website devoted to Coorg jewellery and costume.

An interesting part of the website is a video featuring Dayana Erappa, an international model who is also from Coorg, on how to drape a Coorg style sari. The video has been directed by fashion guru Prasad Bidapa.

Coorg or Kodava jewellery is very distinctive. Coorg style bracelets (kadagas) have become popular with non–Coorg women in cities like Mysore and Bangalore. Though in the past traditional Kodava jewellery was made only in Kodagu, nowadays many jewelers in Bangalore also make them.

An interesting aspect of some of the Coorg jewellery is that they are hollow and lac is filled inside to give them a sturdy appearance. The repousse work commonly used in Coorg jewellery, uses a small quantity of metal, beaten to paper thinness, to convey an impression of weight and solidity, and a three-dimensional effect.

Besides jewellery, the website has sections for Coorg sari, men’s costume and accessories.

There is a section devoted to Coorg wedding which is a colourful affair and an occasion that allows women an opportunity to show off their saris and jewellery.

The website has been promoted by the group which started Coorg’s first news portal www.coorgtourisminfo.com in 2005. The jewellery website has been designed by Tiramisu, a Bangalore-based new media solutions company.








Road through Kodagu reserved forests: Speaker Bopaiah in trouble

On 29/02/12


In what could spell trouble for legislators from Kodagu, including Speaker K.G. Bopaiah, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has recommended “stern intervention” by the Supreme Court for “willfully violating” provisions of the forest and wildlife Acts by constructing roads through Pushpagiri, Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuaries and Kadamakal reserved forest in Kodagu district.

The CEC team led by P.V. Jayakrishnan had visited the Kodagu forests at the instance of the Supreme Court on a complaint filed by Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa (retired) in December, 2008, against the road formation in the ecologically sensitive part of the Western Ghats.

Besides the Speaker, the CEC has recommended action against S.G. Medappa, MLC and Madikeri MLA Appachu Ranjan, and the then Deputy Commissioner Baladevakrishna, and former conservator of forests, Kodagu circle, G.A. Sudarshan.

The CEC held these persons responsible for constructing road despite objections from several forest officials by taking a group of people to the spot with heavy machinery for construction of road in prohibited areas and felling trees.

Three roads were constructed in the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Pattighat Reserved Forest connecting Dabadaka to Bhagamandala-Karike road (length 10 km) and a 23 km road to connect Somwarpet to Subramanya in violation of all forest laws.

The Apex Court bench comprising justices K S Radhakrishna and C K Prasad issued notice to Conservator Sudarshan, seeking his response on the charges made against him.

The CEC has recommended that the Karnataka government be directed to investigate forest officials R K Srivatsav and S D Pathak and any others found to have misused the provision of Karnataka Preservation of Tree Act, 1976. It suggested withdrawal of all decisions, orders, circulars and instructions that allow felling of naturally grown trees.

The CEC has suggested that the state government should constitute an expert committee to identify and consider the feasibility of acquiring the private enclosures having dense natural forests adjoining the reserve forests or wildlife sanctuaries in Kodagu district and other districts within Western Ghats region to prevent further fragmentation and destruction.

Meanwhile, the state Congress unit has demanded the resignation of Speaker Bopaiah on his being indicted by the CEC of the Supreme Court.

EDITOR’S VIEW: It is apparent that the elected representatives from Kodagu, headed by Speaker Bopaiah, had encouraged the local villagers to take up the road formation. This smacks of vote bank politics.

The road through the forests would have brought short-term gains to the villagers as this would have cut down distances to various towns. But on the flip side, the road would have benefited the timber smuggling lobby.

The tragedy of the entire episode is the blatant involvement of the top officials of the Kodagu district administration, headed by the Deputy Commissioner, who had the temerity to direct the entire operation, despite opposition from forest officials.

It may be recalled that Air Marshal Cariappa who had opposed the road formation and several other environmentalists, including Col C.P. Muthanna (retired), were threatened by the local BJP goons.




Madikeri Gaddige (royal tombs) gets a new look

On 11/02/12


The Gaddige at Madikeri, one of the historical monuments of Kodagu, has got a new look following a beautification drive launched by the Madikeri Urban Development Authority.

Over the years, Gaddige, the mausoleums of the former rulers of Kodagu, had become a haven for anti-social elements, land-grabbers, and vandals. Miscreants had burnt the doors of one of the mausoleums last year.

The monuments built in Indo-Saracenic style of architecture by the Kodagu Rajas with domes and turrets, tower over the scenic Madikeri town.

Much of the grounds around the Gaddige were encroached by illegal occupants who were encouraged by politicians to gain their votes.

Following the beautification drive which is almost under completion, a butterfly garden, a lotus pond and flower gardens and lawns have come up on the four-acre land at an estimated cost of around Rs 60 lakhs.

To prevent tress-passers from the neighbouring Azadnagar, a huge gate has been erected at the entrance. The area has been fenced to keep out motorists, cattle and children playing cricket. The authorities eventually plan to introduce tickets for entry.

Lingarajendra’s tomb was built in 1820. There are also the tombs of a Raja’s priest and that of two army commanders. A commemorative
plaque, eulogizing the bravery of General Biddanda Bopu who fought
Tipu Sultan has been recorded by Dodda Veerarajendra in an inscription.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The Kodagu district administration should be complimented for beautifying the Gaddige which has been in neglect for many years. But the authorities should not rest on their laurels. In the past also such beautification drives were undertaken without much effect.

First and foremost, the security around the Gaddige should be stepped up to keep away tress-passers from the neighbourhood. Entry should be through tickets. This way, all unauthorized persons could be barred entry.

Finally, the government should evict encroachers who have occupied the Gaddige lands after re-locating them elsewhere in the town. This is critical for restoring the monument for posterity.



Madikeri Kodava Samaja felicitates P.M. Belliappa, Coorg Person,2011

On 04/02/12


The Madikeri Kodava Samaja on Friday felicitated Mr P.M. Belliappa, retired IAS officer of Tamil Nadu, on his being chosen as the ‘Coorg Person of the Year 2011’ at a well-attended function at Madikeri Kodava Samaj.

Mr Belliappa was selected ‘Coorg Person of the Year’ by Kodagu’s first news portal www.coorgtourisminfo.com, for his illustrious career and on his being decorated with the Most Excellent Order of the ‘Member of the British Empire (MBE) last year by the Queen of England.

In his reply to the felicitations, Mr Belliappa urged the members of the Kodava community to focus their attention on becoming “good professionals”.

He said: “This century is an era of innovation and globalization. The Kodavas will do well if they become good professionals.”

Mr Belliappa noted that education was the key to becoming a good professional. He pointed out that since Kodavas were independent by nature, they should strive for “excellence” in their chosen fields as the community was numerically small, unlike other major communities.

The retired IAS officer recalled that his late father Pemanda Monappa had a ‘modest’ beginning. “Education helped my father to excel in his career as a police officer and he headed the police force of three states, a rare record which was difficult to be broken.”

Mr Belliappa stated that he would be the “happiest” person if a Kodava was selected for the ‘Pemanda Monappa Scholarship’ in perpetuity, established by him in memory of his father at the Cambridge University, a top university in the world.

The retired IAS officer who lives in Chennai and has already extended huge donations to various projects in the native place of his father, assured that he would extend more donations for promoting educational activities in Kodagu.

Among the others who spoke on the occasion include, the President of the Madikeri Kodava Samaja Mathanda M. Chengappa, Vice President Mandepanda M. Kuttaiah, and the promoter of www.coorgtourisminfo.com, journalist and author P.T. Bopanna.

The function was attended by a large number of the members of the Pemanda clan, close relatives of Mr Belliappa, and members of the various ‘keries’ of Madikeri.










Jamma Bane row: Experts feel new Bill lacks clarity

On 06/01/12


The BJP leaders in Kodagu are busy congratulating themselves on their ‘feat’ in solving the long-pending Jamma Bane land problem. However, experts feel that the new legislation passed by the Karnataka Assembly recently has instead added to the existing confusion.

One of Bangalore’s leading advocates, K. Sarojini Muthanna, has opined that the newly passed the Karnataka Land Revenue (Third Amendment) Bill, 2011, has proved to be a great disappointment to the people of Kodagu who were looking forward to a legislation which would save their traditional Jamma land tenure system.

“It has on the other hand served not only to disintegrate the Jamma tenure but also the joint families of Kodagu,” she added.

According to her, except for burdening the people with further payment of revenue to the government, the new amendment has the effect of disintegrating the Jamma land tenure and breaking up joint families by the unbridled sale and disposal of family lands “resulting in infringement by the Government of the Kodava community’s right to preserve their culture and traditions which is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution.”

Ms. Muthanna has suggested that the government should carry out further amendments to the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, devoting a separate chapter for the Jamma lands of Kodagu.

She said until the above amendments are brought about, the operation of the Karnataka Land Revenue (Third Amendment) Bill, 2011, be suspended without giving effect to the same.

Another expert, Mr T.C. Thammaiah, retired Tashildar, was of the view that the amendment was pushed through in haste.

According to him, the amendment lacks clarity and there is a lot of ambiguity. “This would definitely lead to further clarifications and further amendments.”

The retired Tashildar has expressed the view that those who drafted the amendment Bill have failed to recognize the fact that apart from Jamma Bane lands, there are other types of Banes and ‘Hithlu’ lands.
Importantly, Mr Thammaiah says that the latest amendment has not specified timber rights of the Jamma Bane land owner.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The way the legislation was passed in the Assembly without much debate, gives the impression that the people’s representatives from Kodagu were not interested in solving the problem of the Jamma lands, but only trying to score political brownie points.

As pointed out by the experts, the legislation was a badly drafted one which will not stand legal scrutiny.

The people’s representatives in Kodagu should come to a consensus on the issue and bring in a legislation which would find a lasting solution to the problem.







Retired Tamil Nadu IAS officer P.M. Belliappa is Coorg Person of the Year 2011

On 02/01/12


Mr P.M. Belliappa, a retired IAS officer of Tamil Nadu, who was decorated early this year (in picture above) with the Most Excellent Order of the ‘Member of the British Empire (MBE)’ by the Queen of England is the ‘Coorg Person of the Year 2011’.

Pemanda Monappa Belliappa was given the MBE award for his contribution towards improving the Indo-U.K. relationship, especially in his capacity as President of the Association of British Scholars (ABS), over many years.

Mr Belliappa was selected ‘Coorg Person of the Year’ in a poll conducted among the members of www.coorgtourisminfo.com, a news portal of Kodagu (Coorg).

Presenting the MBE award, Mike Nitharvrianakis, British Deputy High Commissioner in southern India, had said that the award was in recognition of Mr. Belliappa's services to environmental protection and for promoting Indo-U.K. alumni relations.

Mr Belliappa, in his 35-year-long service in the IAS, had occupied important posts, starting as District Collector and also held the posts of head of the National Hydro Electric Corporation of India and the Chairman and Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Corporation of India.

He was leader and member of several Indian delegations to ESCAP, UNIDO, World Bank and other leading international institutions. He served as Chairman of International Workshop on “Clean Technologies” organized by the Regional Institute of Environmental Technology (R.I.E.T.) Singapore, a European Union sponsored institution.

He established the ‘Pemanda Monappa Scholarship’ in perpetuity, in Cambridge University in the name of his late father, Pemanda Monappa, former Karnataka Inspector General of Police, which will enable one student from the southern states of India to pursue a Masters course.

Mr Belliappa has Masters degrees in both Economics and English, and also a law degree. He was a Research Fellow at the Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge University and also obtained a Diploma in Development Administration from Manchester University, United Kingdom.

Among the others who were nominated for this year’s ‘Coorg Person of the Year 2011’, include, M.C. Nanaiah, MLC, N.U. Nachappa, the head of the Codava National Council, Ashwini Ponnappa, badminton champion, and Sarita Mandanna, author.

The past winners of the ‘Coorg Person of the Year’ are Dr Kavery Nambisan, novelist, 2005; Dr Boverianda Nanjamma Chinnappa, researcher, 2006; Robin Uthappa, cricketer, 2007; Dr Moodera Jagadeesh Subbaiah , scientist, 2008; Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa, Retd., environmentalist, 2009; Tennis player Rohan Bopanna, 2010.

The news portal www.coorgtourisminfo.com has been promoted by senior journalist and author P.T. Bopanna.







Jamma land row: A.K. Subbaiah not happy with the new Bill

On 21/12/11


Former MLC A.K. Subbaiah (in picture above) has opined that the Jamma Bane land issue in Kodagu is yet to be resolved completely even after the recent passage of a Bill in the Karnataka Assembly.

The Assembly had passed the Karnataka Land Revenue (Third Amendment) Bill, 2011, to resolve the contentious Jamma issue.

Addressing a news conference at Madikeri on Tuesday, Mr Subbaiah, who is also a legal expert, said: “The amendment does not speak of ‘Sagu Bane’ and tree ownership rights.”

He said the amendment had brought non-agriculture Jamma Bane land under the purview of revenue. Now the government has to fix tax on Jamma Bane land. “This will check the harassment of land owners by the officials. The officials have a greater responsibility in fixing the revenue for Jamma Bane land,” he added.

Mr Subbaiah claimed that he had submitted a detailed note on the issue to Speaker K. G. Bopaiah. He said: “If it was implemented fully, then all the problems would have been solved. I would have felicitated Bopaiah in public.”

Meanwhile, Mr Bopaiah stated that the proposed amendments will bring Jamma Bane lands in Kodagu under the Karnataka Land Revenue Act and the land owners will be getting the ownership of the land.

The Karnataka Land Revenue (Third Ammendment) Bill 2011 has been sent to the Governor for approval.



Saritha triumphs: Case booked against Speaker Bopaiah

On 13/12/11


The Lokayukta police have booked a case against Speaker of the Legislative Assembly K.G. Bopaiah, who is also the MLA representing Virajpet constituency in Kodagu district for alleged misuse of funds.

The case was booked against Bopaiah on the direction of Kodagu district and sessions judge on a complaint filed by Kodagu Zilla Panchayat member Saritha Poonacha of the Congress party.

Saritha, the rising star of the Congress in Kodagu, had recently filed the complaint in the Lokayukta Special Court alleging misappropriation in the Rs 1.20 crore tribal scheme to develop Reshmhadlu lake in Tithimathi gram panchayat limits in Virajpet taluk in 2006.

The Judge Ashok G. Nijagannavar has directed the Lokayukta police to submit a report before January 19.

Along with Bopaiah, cases have been booked against Zilla Panchayat member A. S. Rajarao, Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer N. Krishnappa and Nirmiti Kendra Project Director Yoga Narasimha.

According to a media report, though the Zilla Panchayat engineering department had stated that the project was not of much use to the local residents, Bopaiah allegedly handed over the project to Nirmiti Kendra. Though the lake is located in the forest area, Bopaiah had failed to take the permission from Forest Department.

According to the complaint, though Rs 59 lakh was given to Nirmiti Kendra of which work estimated at Rs 40 lakh had been completed on paper, in reality, hardly any work was physically taken up.

It may be recalled that a couple of months ago, Sarita Poonacha was forced to leave the Zilla Panchayat meeting hall when she tried to level corruption charges against Speaker Bopaiah in the same scandal.

The ZP President Ravi Kushalappa had gone to the extent of summoning the police to remove Sarita from the meeting hall, but the latter walked out before the police could physically remove her.

The trouble was sparked off after Sarita questioned the “special interest” Bopaiah was taking in entrusting work to government-owned Nirmiti Kendra for building canals and ponds.

Meanwhile, another BJP MLA from Kodagu Appachu Ranjan has alleged that the charges against Bopaiah were politically motivated.




Journalist P.T. Bopanna's new book 'The Romance of Indian Coffee' released

On 01/12/11


The newly launched book ‘The Romance of Indian Coffee’, authored by senior journalist P.T. Bopanna, offers a 360 degree view of Indian coffee - the fascinating history of coffee, many charming facets of coffee culture, its symbiosis with nature and what makes coffee such a captivating brew.

The book highlights how Indian coffee is unique and stands out in the global market. Unlike the coffee produced in other countries, Indian coffee is totally shade-grown, and is much in demand internationally.

The author has chronicled the contribution of Ivor Bull, the British planter from Coorg, who conceived the idea of the ‘pooling system’ to save the coffee industry during the Second World War.

For those interested in the variety of ways in which coffee can be prepared, a separate chapter has been devoted in the book on how to prepare a good cup of coffee, especially South Indian filter coffee. Recipes for other interesting and popular coffee concoctions, including recipes for making coffee liqueur have also been included.

There is an interesting chapter on how the pioneering British coffee planters spent their days in the estates in 1880s. The book also deals with the current issues that threaten planters - deforestation, climate change, fluctuating prices, and man-animal conflict.

Brand specialist Harish Bijoor, who has a vast experience in the coffee industry, has written the foreword for the book. Among those who have contributed articles for the book include, agriculture scientists, Dr. Anand Titus Pereira and his wife, Mrs Geeta Nanaiah Pereira, who have been working diligently on their model coffee farm on sustainable technologies.

The book has been published by Prism Books Pvt Ltd, Bangalore, and is priced at Rs 270.






Defiling Field Marshal Cariappa statue: Who is to be blamed?

On 17/11/11


The defiling of the statue of Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa at Madikeri on Tuesday morning by miscreants is a reflection on the prevailing state of affairs in Kodagu. A shoe was found hanging from the statue, located near the Sudarshan Circle.

A few years ago, it was unimaginable that anybody would have dared to commit such an act involving one of the most respected sons of India in his home town.

The authorities should partly take the blame for the despicable act as miscreants had reportedly broken the lock of the enclosure six times in the past at night.

The Madikeri municipal president H M Nandkumar was quoted as saying: "After the statue was installed, a committee used to maintain it, but later on, the responsibility was handed over to the municipality. Now, the only alternative left is to arrange security in this place.”

According to reports, the area around the statue has not been kept clean and the thick growth of weeds has emboldened anti-social elements to indulge in provocative acts to breach the peace in Kodagu.

In the first place, the spot chosen for the statue was not any ideal one for the most illustrious son of Madikeri. The spot is located in a corner, unlike the statue of General K.S. Thimayya, which is located at a prime spot. It will not be a bad idea to shift the statue to the centre of the town.

Protest meetings, bandhs, etc., have been held all across Kodagu and Mysore city against the desecration of the statue.

EDITOR’S VIEW: With the influx of outsiders into Kodagu, and the migration of the indigenous people to cities like Mysore and Bangalore, anti-social elements have begun to have a field day. Kodagu is being controlled by the timber lobby and the land mafia.

The proliferation of unauthorized home stays and resorts, is attracting tourists of the wrong kind who indulge in immoral activities. The people’s representatives are busy feathering their nests, instead of attending to the problem of the citizens like bad roads.

The people of Kodagu should start a movement like the ‘Anna movement’ to make the leaders accountable and transparent.



Protests over Storm Music Fest at Napoklu

On 12/11/11


The organizers of the Storm Music Festival should reconsider their decision to go ahead with the festival in January, 2012, in the wake of protests over apprehensions that the festival could lead to drug menace in Coorg (Kodagu) and cause damage to the ecology of the region.

The mega music festival, spread over two days was scheduled to be held from November 11, at a river bank at Napoklu, on the Western Ghats, one of the eight biodiversity hotspots in the world.

The festival to be held on the lines of Woodstock of 1960s was postponed abruptly. The show was to be hosted by well-known DJ, Nikhil Chinapa (in picture above).

N.A. Lavin Uthappa, the managing director of LiquidSpace Entertainment, the organizers of the event, was quoted in the media as saying: “It’s been raining quite heavily in Coorg, making the situation quite unhygienic and difficult. The unexpected untimely rains during this time of the year have made the festival venue slushy and muddy and many parts of the venue have been water logged making it inaccessible for people as well as vehicles.”

"Keeping our patrons in mind, and a promise to deliver an experience of Coorg, music and responsible enjoyment, Storm Festival has been postponed to the 20th and 21st of January 2012.”

The apprehensions of the local people are justified because the organizers went about their business in a clandestine manner. Though banners were put up in Bangalore regarding the music festival, there was no publicity in Coorg about the event. So much so, hardly any of the locals knew about the festival.

As soon as the locals came to know about the festival, organizations like Cauvery Sene, which is in the forefront in fighting environmental issues, expressed their protests and urged the authorities to ban the festival in Coorg.

The booking for the festival, sponsored by major corporates, was done through the internet, and most of the publicity, including on Facebook, was done on the Net.

Keeping the local people in the dark was not the right thing to do when thousands of people from outside and some of the top bands in the country were going to converge on an environmentally sensitive area. The invitees were expected to stay in tents put up on a river bank spread over 28 acres.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The organizers will be doing a great favour to Coorg by shifting the venue of the festival out of the district.

Despite the promise to keep the festival free from drugs, this is not bound to happen because the use of drugs is part of such music events. What is worrying is that the organizers want to make the festival an annual feature.

The family of organizer Lavin Uthappa (Nellamakkada clan) have done much for the game of hockey in Coorg. Now, the younger members of the clan should keep up the reputation by not holding the event at Napoklu, the heartland of Kodava culture.

Similarly, DJ Nikhil Chinapa (Kalengada clan) who is hosting the event, also hails from Coorg and is a role model for the youth in the area.

Though a section of people, especially the youth in Coorg may want the festival to be held in their district, those really concerned with the future well-being of the place, would want the organizers to shift the event to a place outside.

Already, a large number of people are addicted to liquor in Coorg. Adding drug to the problem could be a deadly cocktail and wipe out the Kodava race in the long-run.






Storm music fest organisers say a big 'No' to drugs

On 06/11/11


N.A. Uthappa, Managing Director, Liquidspace Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., the organizers of the Storm Music Festival slated to be held on Novermber 11 in Coorg (Kodagu), has clarified that action would be taken to prevent the use of drugs during the event as well as to contain damage to the eco-system.

The clarification was issued following apprehensions expressed in the columns of this portal that the music festival being held in the core area of the Western Ghats could cause environment damage and also make Coorg a haven for drugs.

The statement said: “We promise that we would not do anything that will hurt the culture and ecosystem of Coorg. The basic concept of Storm is to emphasize ‘responsible tourism’ by communicating various social awareness causes like ‘Ban Plastics’, ‘Ban Drugs’, ‘Love for the Environment’ etc, through a medium called music, to the youth and people alike. Storm was conceptualized as a platform to bring together the community of pure music loving individuals trying to voice out relevant concerns in the present world’s scenario.”

“Storm Festival is being perceived as a clean, environment friendly and a ‘DRUG FREE’ festival. To aid this initiative of ours, we are seeking the support from the concerned authorities to help us to enforce the same. Besides this, the festival is a completely secure area with barricading all along the periphery of the venue. The Venue will be under continuous CCTV surveillance, with over 150 private security personnel. Thus, the eventuality of any untoward incidents can be ruled out.”

“The very first step of restoring the eco-system is by creating awareness, and this is where Storm Festival would play a role in spreading the message through print, online and electronic media. We are taking an initiative to only use recyclable material all over the festival, thus preventing littering and harm to the environment. We at Storm are attempting to make this festival the ‘Cleanest Music Experience’, and we do this with bounteous pride.”

“Firstly, Storm Festival is not a hard rock festival. It is a pure music festival with a multitude of genres, but none of the artists are playing hard rock. There are a variety of bands playing carnatic/ folk music.”

“Storm Festival cannot in any way be compared to Woodstock. We are in no way portraying the ‘hippie-culture’ or ‘counter-culture’. We are only promoting music and love for nature.”

“To promote the culture of Coorg, there shall be flea markets within the venue, selling local handicrafts made in Coorg, which in turn, gives a lot of visibility to the local industry. We shall also have local artists performing at the venue, which shall further raise awareness.We are using latest waste-management techniques to recycle the waste generated, thus making sure the grounds are not polluted.”

EDITOR’S VIEW: Though the assertions made by the organizers to prevent the use of drugs during the two-day event seem genuine, it would be impossible to monitor what goes on outside the venue. In the Indian context, normally the participants at such festivals have their ‘fix’ before entering the venue.

What is worrying is the fact that the organizers have been quoted in the media as saying that the festival would be an annual feature. This could have a cascading effect in the proliferation of the drug menace in Coorg.

Moreover, even if the organizers of Storm succeed in providing a drug-free event, there is no guarantee that similar events in future by other bands would bother to conform to the norm.

Further, the statement does not throw much light on how the organizers plan to contain damage, especially noise pollution, as the venue is in the core area of the Western Ghats, one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world.




Storm Music Fest: Coorg will go the Goan way

On 03/11/11


Coorg will become a haven for drugs like Goa if the Storm Music Festival on the lines of Woodstock is held as planned for two days from November 11.

The mega rock festival is being held at Napoklu near Madikeri, the district headquarters of Kodagu (Coorg), which is being hosted by well-known DJ Nikhil Chinapa.

The Storm Music Festival offers 37 performing artists (Bands & DJs) from India and across the globe on a 28 acre land in the ecologically fragile Western Ghats. The noisy music and the presence of thousands of hard rock enthusiasts could pose a threat to the environment.

The groups scheduled to play at the festival include, Indian Ocean, The Raghu Dixit Project, Leslie Lewis, Swarathma, Soulmate, Faridkot, Ankur and The Ghalat Family, Yodhakaa, Astitva, Agam, Aurko, Rishi inc, La Pongal, Airport, Projekt Square.

The camp-out music festival is being organized by Liquid Space, a company headed by Lavin Uthappa. Sachin Bopanna is one of the directors of the company.

Though organizers of the festival have claimed that “no drugs” will be used at the festival venue, it is a well known fact that hard drugs go hand in hand with such music festivals where rock groups perform.

The organizers have taken corporate sponsorship for the event. A tourism organization of the Karnataka government is also one of the sponsors of the festival.

EDITOR P. T. BOPANNA’S VIEW: It is not a good idea to stage such music festivals in ecologically sensitive areas. The Western Ghats is one of the eight hot spots of biodiversity in the world and holding such festivals will lead to ecological disaster.

Though Coorg has been fairly free from the drug menace, the festival could herald the arrival of drugs in a big way in the picturesque hill district.

Moreover, other music groups will also start holding their events in Coorg, as the place is a few hours drive from Bangalore.

The authorities should withdraw permission to the festival, if any such permission has already been granted.

The presence of so many bands gives the impression that the organizers are planning something on the lines of Woodstock Music and Art Festival, a rock event which was held at Bethel, a rural town in New York in 1969. Woodstock exemplified the counter-culture of the 1960s and the "hippie era"






Killer tiger on prowl in Kodagu

On 02/11/11


Fear grips the residents of south Kodagu, especially around Srimangala, after an elusive tiger went on a killing spree.

In the past week, the tiger has mauled 16 domestic animals, including cows, goats and dogs, in the villages of Kanoor and Kothur. On Sunday, the tiger killed a cow belonging to Machamada Mani Uthaiah of Tavalageri village.

Following a hue and cry from the planters, the forest department has pressed into service around 50 officials of the Hunsur forest range, armed with guns loaded with tranquilliser darts to shoot the tiger which has strayed into Srimangala hobli from the Nagarahole National Park.

The forest officials have deployed three cages near private residences to trap the wild animal.

According to forest officials, the tiger could be an aged animal as one of its canines had fallen and another could be half broken after assessing the wound marks on the dead animals. That tiger was not able to eat the carcass fully was an indication that it was old.
The villagers of Kanoor and Kothur have begun offering prayers to village deities to ward off the menace.

The Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly, K.G. Bopaiah, who is also the local MLA, visited the affected villages and urged the forest officials to take effective action to curb the tiger menace.



What an idea! North American Kodava newsletter

On 21/10/11


It is a matter of pride that a bunch of well-meaning Kodava residents of North America have started a monthly web newsletter www.amerikodava.com to promote their culture and spread goodwill among those living thousands of miles away from Kodagu.

Already, two issues (August and September) have come out. Going by the contents, the newsletters are of superior quality and highly readable. The high quality content is natural because the cream of the Kodava community had migrated to the United States in search of higher education and better opportunity.

The newsletters contain anecdotes from Kodagu history, information on Kodagu culture and also about events held by the Kodavas across the United Sates. It is also proposed to offer tips to students planning to pursue higher education in America.

The Editor of this portal was impressed by the article ‘The AmeriKodava – An Evolution’ written by Mallengada Neeraj, which is about the dilemma faced the ‘Facebook’ generation of Kodagu.

The editors of the newsletter should try to showcase Kodagu recipes, instead of using those from outside.

Those behind the newsletter should ensure that they do not run out of steam after a while. They should avoid other pitfalls.

For instance, the Bangalore Kodava Samaja also brings out a quarterly newsletter. Most of the content is nothing but glorification of the office-bearers. This should be avoided because issues involving the community are more important, than personalities.

The editorial team of the North American newsletter include Ballachanda Appachu, Ballachanda Naina, Koopadira Deepthi, Maj. Gen. Kotera M. Bhimaya (Retd), Maleyanda Monica, Mallengada Cauveri, Mallengada Neeraj, Maneyapanda Bhamini, and Maneyapanda Jamuna.






Virajpet doctor's unique way to spread wildlife message

On 10/10/11


Dr S.V. Narasimhan, a medical practitioner of Virajpet in Kodagu, who is a well-known birdwatcher, sends out individually hand-painted wildlife message cards every year to mark the wildlife week.

The editor of this portal is one of the lucky recipients of the card every year during the past few years.

Dr Narasimhan is the author of the valuable book ‘Feathered Jewels of Coorg’, published by the Coorg Wildlife Society.

The famous bird-watcher from Kodagu has been sending out these hand-painted cards for the past 27 years to spread wildlife awareness among the people.

Altogether, he has painted 55,320 cards in the last 27 years, including 1450 cards this year. This year’s hand-painted card had the picture of a painted stork with the message “You do not have to save the earth. Make it worth saving!”

In a note issued to mark the wildlife week, Dr Narasimhan said: “Man has considered himself as having the capacity for thought and a high degree of reasoning when compared to all other life-forms on this Earth. But greed has overtaken all his virtues.”

“Let us join hands to make our only Earth, a place where all elements of life can live in health, happiness and harmony.”

For previous year’s messages, please visit http://drsvnarasimhan.blogspot.com.

www.coorgtourisminfo.com has a section on ‘bird-watching in Coorg’ by Dr Narasimhan.



Cricketer Robin Uthappa baptised into Christianity

On 18/09/11


International Kodava cricket player Aiydua Robin Uthappa has formally embraced Christianity. The hard-hitting batsman, aged 25, was baptised by Bangalore archbishop Bernard Moras at a ceremony in the Holy Ghost Church at Pillana Garden in Bangalore on Saturday.

Robin’s father, Venu Uthappa, an international hockey referee, confirmed to this portal that his son was baptized at a confirmation ceremony.

According to reports, Robin’s sister Sharon Uthappa too was baptized on the occasion. The ritual involved the archbishop asking the parents whether they wanted to baptize their children into Christianity.

Robin’s mother Roselyn is a Christian and hails from Kerala. Both the parents attended the ceremony along with about 50 friends and relatives.

The dashing batsman known for not showing any mercy to bowlers is a born-again Christian and showed his affinity to Christianity on the field by his gestures.

The ceremony involved pouring water over the head by the archbishop and anointing with holy oil on the forehead and covering Robin with a white garment.

During the ceremony, Robin and Sharon prayed: “Lord help us to be committed Christians, growing in relationship with You, the church and the world around us. May our prayers be more people-centered, lifting up needs of others, to improve the quality of our lives.”

Robin has represented India in more than three dozen one-day internationals and also a former captain of the Karnataka cricket team.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The news of Robin being baptized into Christianity will not go down well with the Kodava community to which he belonged by virtue of the fact that his father Uthappa was a Kodava (Coorg).

Kodavas are a proud community and pride themselves on their rich culture and customs. Even during more than a century of British rule in Kodagu (Coorg), the Christian missionaries found it almost impossible to convert Kodavas into Christianity. For this very reason, the Kodavas will find it difficult to accept that one of their well-known clansmen has embraced a different faith.







Police called to throw out whistle-blower Sarita in Kodagu ZP

On 16/09/11


In a shocking development, whistle blower Sarita Poonacha, who has been exposing the corruption in the BJP-ruled Kodagu Zilla Panchayat, was forced to leave the meeting hall when she tried to level corruption charges against the controversial Speaker K.G. Bopaiah in Madikeri on Thursday.

In an act which amounts to boorish and undemocratic behaviour, the ZP President Ravi Kushalappa summed the police to remove Congress member Sarita from the meeting hall, but the lady walked out before the police could physically remove her.

The trouble was sparked off after Sarita questioned the “special interest” Bopaiah was taking in entrusting work to government-owned Nirmiti Kendra for building canals and ponds.
This led to pandemonium with the BJP members demanding Sarita to apologise to Bopaiah.

Sarita thundered: “I did not make any false allegation. Member Raja Rao, ZP President Ravi Kushalappa and Speaker Bopaiah did have a role to play in Nirmiti Kendra getting the said two projects. I can produce documents to prove the same. It is clear that misappropriation of Rs 1.20 crore has taken place. Should I apologise for exposing the misuse of funds.”

Standing her ground, Sarita alleged some members, including the ZP President himself, were involved in the illegal purchase of materials and alleged corruption in the purchase of furniture and fixtures to Zilla Panchayath meeting hall.

As the skeletons in the BJP cupboard started tumbling, the ZP President summoned the police to remove Sarita.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The act of summoning the police to remove an opposition party member making serious corruption charges against the ruling BJP administration amounts to bulldozing the opposition by the ruling party.

This also exposes the weakness of the Congress in Kodagu, whose members failed to go to the rescue of Sarita who has been consistently exposing the corrupt deals involving the BJP.

Instead of trying to suppress dissent through his storm-troopers, Speaker Bopaiah should introspect on his poor performance and neglect of Kodagu. Bopaiah should answer why the roads in his Virajpet constituency have become such a nightmare for vehicle owners.



New book 'Coorg State: Udaya-Pathana' is ready for release

On 09/09/11




‘Coorg State: Udaya-Pathana’ is the Kannada translation of journalist P.T. Bopanna’s most successful book ‘Rise and Fall of the Coorg State’, which mainly deals with the circumstances leading to the unpopular merger of the erstwhile Coorg State (now known as Kodagu) with Karnataka in 1956.

The English version of the book was published in 2009. Journalist B.K. Ganesh, who also hails from Kodagu, has translated the book into Kannada. The book has been published by the Press Club of Bangalore.

The book tries to find answers to some of the questions like why the key players, including the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, took such a short-sighted decision resulting in the snuffing out of the prosperous Coorg State forever from the Indian map.

The book also discusses the neglect of the district after the merger with Karnataka and the growing demand for separate statehood for Kodagu.

Commenting on the latest book ‘Coorg State: Udaya-Pathana’, Bopanna says: “When the book ‘Rise and Fall of the Coorg State’ in English was first published, I was not sure how the book would fare in the market. There were reasons for my apprehension.”

“Firstly, because I was publishing the book myself. Though I had approached several publishers, none showed any interest in the project. Maybe because the subject matter of the book was about an issue which was more than 50 years old and confined to one of the smallest districts in Karnataka.”

“However, I was taken by surprise when the entire stock was sold out within two months of the publication, mainly in Kodagu.”

“I was keen to bring out the Kannada edition of the book to reach out to the Kannada readers as I felt that people in the rest of Karnataka should understand the feelings of the people in Kodagu.”

Even though Kannadigas were overjoyed by the integration of Kodagu with Karnataka following the linguistic reorganisation of the state in 1956, a large section of the local people in Kodagu still feel that they would have been better off had they remained an independent State.

The policy makers in Bangalore should try to remove this feeling of alienation by striving for the all-round development of Kodagu, considered by many as a jewel in the crown of Karnataka.

The book priced at Rs 80 per copy will be available for sale after its formal release sometime later this month.




Illegal sale of land in Kodagu: Govt cracks the whip

On 24/08/11


In a major crackdown on illegal sale of land in Kodagu, the Karnataka government has ordered mass suspension of revenue officials in the district for facilitating sale of agriculture land to outsiders in violation of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act.

The government has directed the district administration to suspend village accountants, revenue inspectors and shirastedars who had facilitated the sale of lands in 26 cases during 2005-10. Besides, the deputy commissioner has been asked to recommend suspension of tashildars of the three taluks.

The officials had allegedly enabled outsiders to purchase farm lands, though the law bars purchase of agriculture land by persons with family income from non-agriculture sources exceeding Rs 2 lakh per year.

After purchasing the agriculture land, the accused had allegedly changed the land-use by taking up construction of hotels and resorts.

The issue was initially raised by M.C. Nanaiah, MLC (in picture above), who had written to the government on the illegal land deals which had led to shrinking of agriculture area in the district.

Based on Mr Nanaiah’s complaint, the government had ordered an inquiry by the regional commissioner of Mysore. The inquiry had found violations relating to 12 cases in Madikeri taluk, 10 in Somwarpet and four cases in Virajpet.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The latest land scam is only a tip of the iceberg. The scam involves only technical violations of purchase by non-agriculturists.

It is no secret that outsiders have been purchasing even Jamma lands which cannot be alienated (sold) without government permission. Lands sharks from outside the district and state have been purchasing lands in collusion with officials and local politicians.

The exodus of outsiders into the district could in future lead to law and order problem. Unless the government wakes up to the situation, there could be serious repercussions.

The government should immediately put an end to purchase of land in the district, till all the previous land transactions are reviewed.






Fear grips Kodagu: Elephants attack planters

On 11/08/11


Fear grips Kodagu as coffee planters are increasing becoming the target of wild elephants on the rampage.

At least three persons, including two coffee planters, were attacked in the past one week, with one of the planters being targeted very close to the house, leading to his violent death.

Kallichanda N. Thammaiah (Vasu), aged 72, a resident of Nittoor village in Balele, was taking an early morning walk on his estate when he was taken by surprise by the charging elephant. As he tried to run away, the elephant managed to pin him down and flung him 20 feet away. He died on the way to hospital. Thammaiah is survived by wife Gangamma and son Deepak.

In another incident, planter Chendrimada Raji Subbaiah was waylaid by a wild elephant near his house in Kutta while he was driving in his car. Subbaiah suffered bruises on his face as the elephant had damaged the windshield of the car.

Though Subbaiah managed to flee, the angry elephant damaged his car and pushed the vehicle for about 50 feet.

In another incident reported from Sunticoppa, Lakshmi, aged 46, who was being taken to hospital for chest pain by her husband in an autorickshaw, was attacked by two wild elephants on the main road near Sunticoppa.

While her husband and the autorickshaw driver ran to safety, Lakshmi was not able to run because of her ill health. One of the elephants, lifted her from its trunk and threw her in the air. Another elephant attacked the autorikshaw. Lakshmi was shifted to Madikeri hospital in a critical condition.

EDITORS VIEW: The authorities have failed to curb the menace posed by the wild elephants in Kodagu. A rise in the population of elephants, denudation of forests and encroachment of the elephant corridor, has worsened the situation.

The situation calls for out of the box solution. The authorities should consider popularising an early warning system developed by Shimanta Kumar Goswami, a nature lover from Assam.

The innovative and cost-effective system not only alerts farmers of straying jumbos, but also drives them back into the forest. The early warning system uses strong, two plus nylon ropes, a few poles and an alarm bell. The rope is tied to the poles, at a height of about 6 feet and the poles are fixed to the ground at a gap of 200 meters. This network connects to an electric bell on a watch tower. As the elephant comes in contact with the nylon rope, the hair on its head gets caught between the plies of the rope and the resultant tension pulls the hair out. Instinctively, the elephant turns away and simultaneously, the alarm bells too are triggered warning the villagers.




Coffee boom: 2000 new cars registered in Kodagu

On 03/08/11


Is it a case of all dressed up, but nowhere to go for the planters of Kodagu?

Nearly 2,000 cars were registered in the tiny district during 2010-2011, raking in a revenue of around Rs 20 crore from road taxes to the Karnataka exchequer.

However, the condition of roads in Virajpet taluk has continued to worsen, thanks to the preoccupation of the local MLA K.G. Bopaiah, now a Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly, with issues to divide the people.

Buoyed by the coffee boom, planters have gone in for new cars, but will have to keep their showpieces in the porch of their bungalows, for want of motorable roads.

According to statistics, 6,243 new vehicles were registered in Kodagu during 2010-11 as against 5,436 vehicles registered the previous year. Of the total number of vehicles, 1,959 were cars. The RTO revenue was Rs 20 crore, as against the targeted Rs 17.5 crore.
The RTO revenue had declined in the late 1990s and early 2000 due to the low coffee prices.

Though the Mysore-Madikeri road has got a brand new look, the roads in South Kodagu are in disrepair.
Speaker Bopaiah has been promising to restore the roads, but the assurance has not been implemented.

The roads in the Kutta segment involving the towns of Ponnampet, Kanoor, Srimangala, Hudikeri are in a pathetic state.

Last year, several organizations had observed road bandhs in the area, but the government has failed to respond to their demands to improve the condition of the roads.

EDITOR’S VIEW: Speaker Bopaiah, the MLA from Virajpet, should take the blame for the poor condition of the roads in his constituency. Instead of promising to provide gun licence exemption to all the indigenous people of Kodagu, he should first improve the roads. Instead of implementing a developmental agenda for the over-all progress of the district, Bopaiah seems to be pitting the Kodavas against the non-Kodavas by harping on provocative issues.



Hottest female Nidhi Subbaiah going places

On 23/07/11


Model and actress Nidhi Subbaiah has emerged as one of the most glamourous actresses in Sandalwood (Kannada film industry) after she was ranked fourth in the recent Times of India poll for the ‘hottest female of 2010’.

She was ranked in the fourth place after Neha Sharma (Crook), Barbara Mori (Kites) and Shradhdha Kapoor (Teen Patti). Others in the list are Aruna Shields- Prince, Sonakshi Sinha- Dabangg, Amrita Puri- Aisha, Zarine Khan- Veer, Trisha Krishnan- Khatta Meetha and Pallavi Sharda- Dus Tola.

Bollachanda Nidhi, an engineering student from Mysore, shot into fame after she modeled for fairness cream Fair and Lovely. There has been no looking back for Nidhi ever since.

She has worked with actors like Ramesh Arvind in ‘Krishna Nee Late Aagi Baaro’. One of her films ‘Pancharangi’ was a huge hit which received rave reviews for her bubbly role.

Her latest movie ‘Krishnan Marriage Story’ has been running to packed houses across Karnataka.

Presently, Nidhi is in Mysore shooting for her latest movie ‘Shoki’. She has also acted in other South Indian language pictures.

Nidhi keeps shuttling between Bangalore and Mumbai as her modelling assignments keep her busy.





Kambeyanda Gulshan making waves in Bollywood

On 11/07/11


Upcoming film actor Kambeyanda Gulshan Devaiah has been making waves in Bollywood.

The 31-year-old graduate from NIFT has made a splash in Bollywood, thanks to his role as Ricky, the drug peddler in Dum Maro Dum. The Kodagu-born actor has played the role of KC in the film "Shaitaan".
A member of the cast of Harami Theatre's "Butter and Mashed Banana", Gulshan grew up in Bangalore. In the last three years, Gulshan has done three films with three top film makers.
His first film was Anurag Kashyap's "That Girl In Yellow Boots". However, he arrived with his role as a drug peddler in "Dum Maro Dum". His first attempt in films was in 2002 with a film called 'Bride Wanted', which is yet to see the light of day.
Gulshan who was brought up in Bangalore, studied at Cluny Convent and then at St Joseph's for his PUC. Then he went on to study fashion at NIFT. He worked in the fashion business for 10 years and taught fashion at a college. He has been active in amateur English theatre since 2000.
Gulshan has done Kodagu proud by making it to Bollywood without any godfather.



Madikeri wedding hall stinks

On 01/07/11


Though wedding halls in Madikeri in Kodagu charge exorbitant rent, the service offered to those hosting weddings, is pathetic.

The Editor of this portal recently attended a wedding at Crystal Hall, Madikeri. He had gone there with lots of expectations because he had enjoyed his outing there a few years ago.

Some of the Editor’s friends and relatives sat around a table to chat and enjoy their drinks. But the stink from the table cloth was nauseating. Either the hotel staff had not changed the linen after the previous wedding (or weddings?), or they had spread the linen which was yet to dry up after the wash.

The issue was not confined to the linen. Even the food served at Crystal Hall was of poor quality, lacking in taste. It is learnt that those hosting the wedding are not allowed to bring in outside caterers and have to compulsorily avail of the food served by the hotel.

It was given to understand that initially ‘Serenity Hall’, a new wedding hall at Virajpet, too did not allow outside caterers. Since this started affecting their business, the management recently decided to allow outside caterers on payment of a fee.

The Editor had an occasion two years ago to attend a wedding at a resort located at Kadagadal on the outskirts of Madikeri. Since he had to pass through the kitchen of the resort to reach his room (it was raining), he saw bandicoots running around in the kitchen. Apparently, the hygiene at the resort kitchen was appalling.

In recent years, people from Kodagu have begun to host their functions at a popular hotel in Mysore on Hunsur Road because of the sub-standard quality of service offered in Kodagu. The Editor had an occasion to attend a wedding reception there a couple of weeks ago. Though the quality of food served had deteriorated, the general ambiance and service was much better than what is available in Kodagu.




Heritage tag for Kodagu forests: Minister hand-in-glove with forest mafia?

On 17/06/11


Is Karnataka’s forest minister dancing to the tune of the timber mafia in opposing the world heritage status for sites in the Western Ghats, including the Pushpagiri, Brahmagiri and Talacauvery wildlife sanctuaries in Kodagu?

The UNESCO, a body of the United Nations, has short-listed 10 sites in the Western Ghats in Karnataka to accord the world heritage status with a view to protect and conserve the natural heritage for future generations.

Though the move has the backing of the Union government and other state governments in south India, only Karnataka has opposed the proposal.

The forest minister C.H. Vijayashankar has gone to the extent of equating UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) with the British East India Company.

According to experts, the world heritage tag would add value and protection to biodiversity hotspots and encourage tourism. It does not in any way affect the property rights in the area as UNESCO has no power to interfere in the affairs of the local governments.

Opposing the world heritage tag, the forest minister stated: “Why do we need UNESCO branding our wealth when we know how to protect them? Why should we allow foreigners to control us indirectly?”

In the past, the move to accord the world heritage status had met with resistance in Kodagu and a UNESCO team had to face the wrath of a section of the local people. This happened mainly because there was no proper debate on the issue and also due to the apprehension that tree rights of the people would be affected.

But these fears have no basis because the sites identified in Kodagu are already protected areas and form part of the reserved forests.

Since the heritage tag would involve strict enforcement of forest laws, this would affect the free run of the timber mafia and also the resort lobby, who are trying to set up businesses in the core areas of the forests.

Kodagu forests have already been plundered by the forest mafia with the backing of powerful politicians of all hues. It is time the people saw through the game of the politician-mafia nexus.



After Darjeeling Hill Council, an autonomous Kodagu Council?

On 08/06/11


With the West Bengal government signing an agreement with the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) for a new Darjeeling Hill Council with more autonomy, the Karnataka government could initiate similar steps to pave the way for an autonomous hill council in Kodagu (Coorg) on the lines of the Darjeeling Council.

The newly elected chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee signed the agreement with the GJM on Tuesday after the later agreed to put its demand for a separate ‘Gorkhaland’ in the backburner.

The creation of an autonomous hill council could remove the sense of alienation being felt by the people of Kodagu after the latter’s merger with Karnataka following the reorganization of the states in 1956.

Kodagu, which was an independent State prior to its merger with Karnataka, suffered neglect at the hands of successive governments in Karnataka. A number of organizations started demanding separate statehood for Kodagu.

Though an autonomous hill council was set up in Darjeeling in 1988, the council collapsed after Subhash Ghising of the Gorkha National Liberation Front was forced to resign as head of the council by the supporters of Bimal Gurung led by GJM.

Asked what was the magic formula that resolved the dispute, the West Bengal chief minister replied: “The magic formula is our heart. If the intention is good, there is always a way out and the magic formula is peace.”

EDITOR’S VIEW: The demand for a separate state for Kodagu is no more a viable proposition. The need of the hour is economic development of Kodagu, especially its woeful infrastructure. This can be better achieved by an autonomous council with adequate financial powers.

This is the ideal time for the Codava National Council led by N.U. Nachappa to give up his impractical demand for a ‘Codavaland’, an exclusive home land for the Kodavas (Coorgs). Nachappa should carry all sections of the people living in Kodagu to demand an autonomous hill council to ensure the all-round development of the neglected region.




Shocking: Resort encroaches on Devarakadu near Igguthappa Temple

On 01/06/11


In a brazen act, a private resort management has felled a large number of trees in the vicinity of the Igguthappa temple near Kakkabe in Kodagu district, sparking protests from local villagers.

The resort management has allegedly encroached on Devarakadu (sacred groves) forest near the Igguthappa temple, the second most important temple for the Kodava community after Talacauvery.

The villagers around Kakkabe, Ballamavati and the surrounding areas staged protest on Tuesday against the destruction of trees on Devarakadu and demanded action against the resort management.

According to reports, trees had been felled on 100 acres and work was on to construct a tank encompassing an area of one acre inside the resort coming up on the road en route to Malma hillock.

Ravi Chengappa of the Cauvery Sena said the villagers would stage a demonstration in front of the forest office at Madikeri on June 3 to protest against the plunder of Devarakadu.
The Managing Director of Thamara Coorg Resort Mathew has claimed that “no rules have been violated.”

Mathew maintained that “license has been taken from the Gram Panchayat for constructing the resort. The work was started after taking permission from tourism and environment department.”

An official of the resort was quoted as saying that in the first phase, 30 cottages had been constructed. In the second phase, 26 more cottages would be built.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The district administration of Kodagu should immediately stop giving permission for building resorts in forest land, especially near Devarakadus.

Though the Thamara Coorg Resort management has claimed that they have obtained all governmental clearances, it is no secret how unscrupulous elements manage to obtain these licences.
The resort should not be allowed to function if they have encroached on forest land.

The Madikeri municipality is trying to extend its jurisdiction to neighbouring villages with a view to allow conversion of agricultural lands into commercial areas. This should not be allowed under any circumstance to happen because this could damage the fragile ecology of the region. As it is Madikeri is facing severe water scarcity.





Attack on Kodava wedding: Gandhigiri, not dadagiri is the answer

On 28/05/11


I congratulate the Editor of the Poomaale Kodava Weekly for starting a debate on ‘inter-caste marriages’ involving the Kodavas.

As expected, there have been strong reactions to my article in Poomaale in which I had condemned the behavior of Kodava activists during a wedding at Kodava Samaja, Bangalore. The activists had barged into the wedding hall and physically prevented the groom belonging to the Mukkatira clan from following Kodava wedding rituals because he was marrying a non-Kodava.

In my article, I had termed the actions of the activists as akin to that indulged by ‘Taliban’ elements. Probably, the use of the word ‘Taliban’ has not been liked by the activists and their small band of sympathizers.

I wish to clarify that when I used the word ‘Taliban’, what I meant was that the activists were playing the role of ‘culture police’ which is prevalent in some of the medieval countries. I did not mean that the activists were ‘terrorists’ as understood by some of the so called sympathizers of the activists.

In your issue dated May 25, 2011, you have carried two articles in which the writers have taken strong exception to my first article dated May 11, 2011.

I wish to comment on the articles of the two writers separately. However, I want to note that both the writers have justified the action of the activists in taking law into their hands at a private function for which the “misguided elements” were not invited. Interestingly, one of the writers is a lawyer who is supposed to uphold the majesty of the law!

In his incomplete article, Mr Mundyolanda P. Somanna (Ravi), of Calicut, has asked the Editor of Poomaale not to carry my articles in future in his esteemed news weekly. Besides, he wants me to apologise to the Kodava community for writing against the activists.

I wish to point out to Mr Somanna that we do not live under an ‘Emergency regime’ where fundamental rights of individuals are curtailed. Debate and discussion are the essence of democracy. I should have every right to have my say in the affairs of my community.

Moreover, I would like to bring it to the notice of Mr Somanna that I am a professional journalist and it is my duty to speak for the voiceless masses and not to be cowed down by the actions of a few misguided elements.

In his article, Mr Boverianda D. Poovanna, Advocate, Bangalore, has justified the actions of the Kodava activists. Being an advocate, Mr Poovanna should know that the actions of the activists violate several sections of the Indian Penal Code. Prima facie, the activists can be booked for unauthorized assembly, trespass, criminal intimidation, etc.

I reiterate that the law of the land has to be respected. Kodavas have always been known for their respect for rule of law.

I wish to clarify that I do not support inter-caste marriages among the Kodavas. However, I believe that every citizen has a right to choose his or her life partner.

I appeal to the activists to focus their energies for constructive work to bring unity in the community, through ‘Gandhigiri’!

EDITOR: The above article is a rejoinder issued by the Editor of this portal P.T.Bopanna to Poomaale Kodava Weekly, Virajpet in Kodagu District, Karnataka, in response to two articles featured in the Weekly on inter-caste weddings involving the Kodava community.





Machamada Cup 2011: Lady luck eludes Kaliyanda clan

On 18/05/11


Lady luck eluded the Kaliyanda clan on a day when they lost the ‘Machamada Cup 2011’ to Palanganda clan by a solitary goal on Sunday at Ponnampet Junior College Grounds in Kodagu district of Karnataka.

Though the Kaliyanda players dominated the finals of the prestigious Kodava family hockey festival this year, they failed to convert 14 penalty corners. The lone goal was scored by the young Palanganda Muthanna in the first half.

Despite the fact that the crowd cheered for the Kaliyanda boys, the 15th edition of the hockey festival in which 228 Kodava families had participated, they had to suffer defeat at the hands of the Palanganda clan, the defending champions who had lifted the ‘Maneyapanda 2010 Cup’ last year.

The Ponnampet Ground proved to be lucky for the Palanganda clan which has tasted victory at the venue thrice, including the ‘Kallichanda Cup’.

Though the mercurial international player Palanganda Amar Aiyamma failed to perform as expected by the crowds in the finals, he walked away (rather sped away on a motorcycle presented to him by the TVS Group) after he was adjudged the player of the Machamada Cup tournament.

The Cheppudira family team defeated the Koothanda team by 3-2 goals in the tie-breaker to clinch the third place on Saturday.

The Machamada clan, the hosts, should be complimented for putting up a cultural programme involving Kodava folk dancers before the start of the match. The commencement of the closing ceremony was delayed by 15 minutes, making the crowds restless.

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who was scheduled to be the chief guest, failed to show up because of the political developments in Bangalore.

The next edition of the family hockey festival will be hosted by the Iychettira family at Ammathi in 2012.

Picture above: courtesy Poomaale Kodava Weekly



Is Kodava culture being Talibanised by misguided elements?

On 09/05/11


Is Kodava culture being Talibanised by a bunch of misguided elements? In a despicable act, a mob of so-called Kodava activists barged into a wedding hall a couple of days ago at Kodava Samaja, Bangalore, and disrupted a wedding ceremony on the grounds that it was an “inter-caste marriage”.

A boy from Mukkatira family had married a non-Kodava girl and the wedding rituals were being performed in the Kodava tradition.

The protesters contended that they had no objection to the boy marrying a non-Kodava girl, but they argued that the wedding could not be held as per Kodava rituals.

The activists, holding placards, barged into the wedding hall and stopped the proceedings. Further, they forcibly stopped the playing of ‘Kodava Valaga’.

The behavior of the activists, who took law into their hands, raises many questions. The activists had no business to interfere with the goings-on at a private function.

The law of the land allows people to marry from outside their caste and religion. The actions of the activists smacks of a Taliban mindset.

In the first place, the activists should set their own house in order. They should pay more attention to the farce that is enacted during the ‘Sammanda Kodupa’ (bestowal of rights to the bride) ceremony at most Kodava weddings. And also the drunken binges at the ceremony which follows the ‘Ganga Puje’.

The writer of the article has not named the organizations which indulged in the uncivilised behavior, because any publicity to these organisations is like providing oxygen to the spread of their movement.

It is time that organisations like Kodava Samajas paid more attention to promoting Kodava culture and bonding among the members of the community, instead of turning these samajas into “marriage halls” to rake in funds.





Residents panic as mild tremor hits Madikeri town

On 27/04/11


There was panic in Madikeri town in Kodagu district on Wednesday morning due to a mild tremor followed by a loud noise. It is learnt that the tremor was felt around 10.55 a.m. which lasted for five to 10 seconds.

Mr Ganesh Uthappa, who runs a departmental store in Madikeri town, told this reporter:
“I felt the tremor. The building shook. There was a noise akin to a boulder rolling down.”

Mr G. Rajendra, the Editor of Shakthi Kannada daily, said that following the tremor, newspaper bundles rolled out of the vehicle parked outside the newspaper office.

However, no reports of damage to property or casualties reported so far. Though most of the residents did not feel the tremor, residents in some areas of Madikeri town rushed out of their houses after they sensed the tremor.

Even though Madikeri is free from serious seismic activities, the town has become vulnerable to natural disasters due to the encroachment of the hillocks around the town by illegal migrants. There have been many land slips around the town.

There was a mild earthquake in the Somwarpet region of Kodagu in June, 2005, in which several houses were damaged.

The reckless deforestation of Kodagu in the recent years has affected the ecology and environment of the district, triggered by the tourist boom and the mushrooming of resorts.



Machamada Cup Kodava hockey festival begins at Ponnampet

On 23/04/11



The Machamada Cup 2011, the 15th edition of the Kodava hockey festival, got off to a colourful start at Ponnnampet in Kodagu on Friday.
As many as 228 teams are participating in the hockey festival. The finals will be held on May 15.
Kodava men in their traditional attire fired 15 gun shots to mark the occasion. This was preceded by a colourful procession at Ponnampet town. The students of Cauvery College, Gonikoppal, performed Bolkat and Ummathat, the traditional Kodava dances.
Pandanda Kuttappa (Kuttani), the founder of the Kodava hockey festival, tapped the ball with a silver hockey stick to inaugurate the festivities. Mr. Kuttappa recalled that the festival was started by him in 1997 along with his brother Kashi.

Last year, Palanganda family had won the Maneyapanda Twenty 10 Cup which had participation from 214 Kodava families.
There was an exhibition match on the occasion between Karnataka and Kodagu teams which ended in a draw.
Cheranda Kishan, vice president of Ten Sports, Rekha Shridhar, Ponnampet town panchayath president, and Ajjikuttira Muthanna, vice president of Tata Coffee, were the guests.




Kodagu shining: Arjun Halappa named Indian skipper

On 11/04/11


Kodagu’s Arjun Halappa has been named the Indian skipper for next month’s Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Malaysia .

A team man to the core, the 30-year-old Halappa is among the most skillful players in the world. The midfielder who made his first international tour as a junior in 1999, is also the only player in the present squad to have played three World Cups. Halappa played a key role in India lifting the junior World Cup in 2001. Though one of the senior most players, captaincy of the Indian team had eluded him in the past few years.

He is the son of B K Halappa and Pramila from Somwarpet and married to Bhavana. Arjun’s father was also a well known hockey player.
Arjun, an employee of Air India, was a key player in the Asian Games at Guangzhou 2010 where India won a bronze medal.

Kodagu, considered a nursery of Indian hockey, has produced some of the finest hockey players in the world, including the legendary B.P. Govinda who also hailed from the Somwarpet area.




Kikeera Thammaiah, former mayor of Harrow passes away

On 05/04/11


Kikeera Thammaiah, aged 76, the first mayor of Asian origin of Harrow, passed away recently in the United Kingdom following a heart attack on his sofa while his wife Naila was making dinner in their kitchen.

Popularly known as ‘Keeki’ among his friends, Thammaiah, who was elected from the Labour Party as a Councillor in Harrow in 1992, served the borough up until last year, and was appointed mayor in 2000. He was a proud son of Kodagu.

Thammaiah, known for his genial nature, practiced in the Karnataka High Court in the early 1960s before moving to London.

He taught at Wembley in the 1970s before moving on to City of Westminster College in 1985.

Thammaiah is survived by wife Naila, son Poonu, granddaughter Sonali and grandsons Adit and Alok.



Mysore-Kerala rail link via Kodagu spells disaster

On 15/03/11


Rail Roko, Rasta Banao!
(By: C.P. Belliappa)

Normally, when the government announces railway tracks to be laid to a new destination, it is welcomed. However, the proposed rail-link through Kodagu to Kerala will spell disaster to the ecology of Kodagu which is considered to be one of the pristine areas on the Western Ghats.

There are many in Kodagu and elsewhere who argue that this railway connectivity should be welcomed. Environmentalists have repeatedly pointed out the damage railways can cause to a region such as Kodagu. It is estimated that an area of 5000 acres will be lost to the tracks, stations and other infrastructure that will have to be put up to bring about this connectivity from Mysore-Hunsur-Thithimathi-Gonikoppal-Bittanagala to Kerala.

The huge cost that will be involved will not justify the minimal benefit for Kodagu. The damage to the fragile eco-system, the flora and fauna will be immeasurable. Likewise, the hit the environment of Kodagu will take will be unrecoverable. For our neighbouring State this railway line will be a boon, and they are actively pursuing this project with all the political clout they wield.

We in Kodagu need to protect our environment which should not be sacrificed solely for the benefit of another State. Railways through Kodagu will forever alter the demography, topography and the geography of this region.

The only viable rail-link to Kodagu that has some merit is the one proposed from Mysore to Kushalnagar. I will not be the first one to say: improve our roads on priority. Roads in Kodagu need to be properly designed to withstand the weather conditions, the increased load, and volume of traffic.

Well-laid broad roads, bridges, culverts and proper drainage systems are the projects to be urgently taken-up in Kodagu. People of Kodagu, with the support of our elected representatives, need to debate this issue. Survey for this project is going to start in the near future. Various Growers Associations, Samajas and NGOs should deliberate on the wisdom of having railways cut through the heart of Kodagu. In my opinion: ‘Rail Roko, Rasta Banao!’


*********





Protecting Kodagu: 'One Last Chance' campaign to save Kodagu launched

On 09/03/11


A group of concerned people from Kodagu has launched a ‘Save Kodagu’ campaign. The following is the text of the appeal:

“We all wanted to do something to Kodagu during our lifetime, isn’t it...? And most of you have never had a chance to support your eagerness and excitement to work for Kodagu. Well, you have one which we might term as ‘One Last Chance’ to save Kodagu.

What is the Chance?: By all your wishes and efforts, Kodagu could be declared as an ‘eco sensitive zone’ by the Western Ghats Ecological Expert Panel. This would be a blessing to Kodagu if it is notified as one.

What is an eco sensitive zone?: The Environment Protection Act of 1986 (Section 3 and 5), empowers the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to take all measures that it feels are necessary for protecting and improving the quality of the environment and to prevent and control environmental pollution.

Any location/zone that is ecologically important which is endangered is eligible to be declared as an eco sensitive zone (after it meets the required criteria). This also includes the catchment areas and water sheds which feeds the rivers. Some of the areas that are already declared as eco sensitive zone are - Mount Abu, Sultanpur, Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani, Aravalli, Matheran to name a few.

Problems faced by Kodagu: The Kodagu landscape is under sever threat and stress due to rapid and unplanned urbanization, mass influx of tourists, and large scale encroachments of river banks, sacred groves and forest lands. Apart from these dangers, a number of projects such as railway lines, power lines and highways are being planned. These projects are for the benefit of neighbouring areas, but will rip tiny Kodagu apart and will also lead to loss of our lands and assets.
What happens if Kodagu is notified as an eco sensitive zone?:

Urbanisation: It would restrict the extension of existing town/city limits without approval of monitoring body, restriction on conversion of wet lands and coffee plantations into commercial sites for development of residential layouts or other non-agricultural purposes and restriction on heights of buildings and on number of storeys.

Tourism: Constitution of a tourism regulatory body. A cap on issue of licenses for construction of any new tourist resort or expansion of existing facilities, until a complete review is carried out with regard to carrying capacity and effects of tourism and a total ban on new tourist resorts within 10 Km of Protected Areas.

Immigration: Since this would restrict the conversion of lands and tourism, it automatically reduces the immigration and investment/interest by outsiders in Kodagu.

Encroachments: Formation of core committee to look into encroachments. This should include revenue and forest department officials. Proper boundary demarcation of forest areas, river banks and sacred groves would be done. It also includes the removal of encroachments from forests, river banks and sacred groves.

Land stability: Building permission would be denied on hill sides with slopes in excess of a prescribed incline. Regulations on road construction in hills should ensure that there is minimal disturbance to hill slopes. No fresh licenses shall be issued for mining or quarrying. Renewal of existing leases will be subjected to approval from the monitoring committee.

Forest cover: Setting up an Eco-TA unit for Kodagu. Such units are carrying out excellent work in other regions of India. The manpower is from retired Defence service personnel, with a core team of serving army officers, junior commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers. The unit in Kodagu would take up key tasks like prevention of poaching and illegal logging and raising nurseries for saplings of indigenous tree species.

Pollution and water contamination: Only non-polluting industries to be permitted to function. All industries and towns would have proper sewage treatment facilities. At present, untreated raw sewage is released directly into rivers and streams that feed the tributaries to river Cauvery. Proper garbage and disposal and waste management facilities would be set up in towns

Livelihood and financial security: Setting up agro/plantation based industries in Kodagu, such as coffee and pepper processing plants, fruit canning units, etc. Implementing schemes related to animal husbandry, bee keeping, floriculture etc., with sizeable subsidies for the local farmers. Providing assistance for GI certification of Kodagu produce to include Kodagu coffee and Kodagu honey.

What can you do?:

To attain the eco sensitive zone status, 50% priority is given to the criteria that need to be met as per the Environment Act for and the other 50% is for the public opinion. We all could express in favour of this status and the panel would definitely consider our views in favour of the status for Kodagu.

All you got to do is send an e-mail requesting the ‘Western Ghats Ecological Expert Panel’ that Kodagu should be notified as an eco sensitive zone. The appeal should be addressed to the Chairman and members of Western Ghats Ecological Expert Panel. One mail from you would be considered to be a vote in favour of Kodagu being notified as an eco sensitive zone. Please draft the mail in your own words requesting the above.

Things to note while drafting the e-mail:
Email to be sent to support@westernghatsindia.org and with copy to info@westernghatsindia.org.
Mail to be addressed to the Chairman and members of ‘Western Ghats Ecological Expert Panel’.

Please do mention your Kodagu mailing address in the mail as any other address would be considered as invalid. Draft the mail in your own words requesting the Chairman/Panel to Notify Kodagu as an eco sensitive zone with immediate effect.

The Panel will be sending their 1st draft by the end of March,2011, and the final decision will be taken by June, 2011. Kavery Sene, led by Ravi Chengappa has done most of the ground work on this, assisted by other associations in Kodagu.”

For any clarification, people from Kodagu could get in touch with:
Col. CP Muthanna - colmuthanna@hotmail.com
Kademada Poovanna - poovanna.ks@gmail.com
Mundanda Indu Mandanna - indumandanna@gmail.com
Suraaj Machaiah - surajmachaiah@sify.com




Is Kodagu turning into a communal tinder box?

On 27/02/11


Prohibitory orders have been clamped on Madikeri town following group clashes between the major and minority communities in the past few days.
The clashes were preceded by certain unsavory developments where suspected members of the minority community set fire to the door of the Gaddige (Rajas’ tombs) at Madikeri, one of the historical monuments of Kodagu.
A few days prior to the Gaddige incident, the Clock Tower at Virajpet suffered minor damages during a procession taken out by the members of the minority community.
The immediate provocation for the trouble in Madikeri was sparked after miscreants stoned shops belonging to the minorities during the Hindu ‘Shobha Yatra’ on February 24.
The minority community retaliated the next day by closing down their shops and allegedly pelting stones at the shops of the majority community traders. The police resorted to baton-charge to disperse unruly mobs.
The district administration has ordered the closure of schools and colleges in Madikeri till a peace committee meeting is held on Sunday to sort out the mistrust between the two communities.
EDITOR’S VIEW: The Kodagu district administration has to take the blame for failing to maintain the law and order.
The lunatic fringe elements from both the major and minority communities have been responsible for creating communal tension in Kodagu.
It is a known fact that jihadi elements have been taking shelter in Kodagu for several years now. Nazir, who was allegedly involved in the Bangalore bomb blasts is reported to have hatched the conspiracy during his sojourn in Kodagu.
The police should have made foolproof arrangement for the Hindu rally at Madikeri in the backdrop of the Gaddige incident which had infuriated the majority community.
It is time the district administration woke up from its slumber and dealt firmly with the miscreants.








Coffee cultivation: Vietnam model is not suitable for Kodagu planters

On 17/02/11


Though the coffee planters in Vietnam do not follow eco-friendly cultivation practices, the planters in Kodagu have to take notice of the fact that from nowhere, this small country in South-East Asia has emerged as the largest producer of Robusta coffee and the second largest exporter of coffee in the world.

A delegation from Karnataka, which included former Chairman of the Coorg Planters’ Association, Mr K.P. Uthappa, recently visited Vietnam to study the phenomenal progress achieved by Vietnam in coffee production.

According to a report prepared by the team from Karnataka, Robusta coffee still accounts for almost 97 percent of total coffee production, although Arabica production is slowly increasing due to the expansion of growing areas in the provinces of North and Central Vietnam. Vietnam is the largest robusta coffee producer in the world, accounting for 35% of the world production.

In the last 25 years, the area of coffee in the entire country has increased from from 40,000 hectares to 500,000 hectares, and the production has gone up from 22,400 tonnes to a phenomenal 1,046,500 tonnes.

Vietnam's production is characterized by the attempt to pursue an intensive high-input strategy. Intensive farming by using more fertilizer and water is a risky method. Robusta coffee growing in the Central Highlands has very high yields, more than two tons per hectare on average and four to five tons of green coffee beans per hectare for a large area.

In order to get higher yields, farmers have cultivated coffee intensively using the following methods: Cutting down shade trees to take full advantage of the solar energy to maximize production; using more chemical fertilizer (organic fertilizer is rarely used because there is no organic fertilizer producing tradition in the coffee producing area). A small amount of low quality micro-organic fertilizer is used instead of organic fertilizer such as cow-dung, green manure or compost; Increasing watering in the dry season (650 litres are usually needed for each coffee tree each time with a frequency of once every 20 to 25 days).

Through government encouragement, the cultivation of coffee transitioned from large plantations to large state owned farms and finally to small farmers with an average farm size of 1.2hectares. Accompanying this shift toward small plot land ownership, the Vietnamese government dismantled the system of state farms and progressed towards a market beside economy, which in turn stimulated an exponential increase in coffee cultivation area and output.

Coffee was originally brought to this area by missionaries and by the 1890’s. The majority of coffee trees originally brought into Vietnam were of the Arabica variety; however after World war II the Hemileia Vastarix attacked the Arabica plants and depleted the output from 64.5% in 1945 to 1.7% in 1957.The only coffee to survive this disease was the Robusta variety. After this disease eliminated nearly all of the coffee plants in Vietnam, the French colonial administration rescinded their encouragement of coffee cultivation and instead suggested that its inhabitants concentrate on annual crops such as rice.

After the end of French colonial rule in 1954, most of the Vietnamese coffee cultivation remained in large plantations. The new Government in Vietnam also encouraged coffee cultivation, yet they did not desire to limit cultivation to only plantations. In the late 1970’s, the government provided incentives of clear and fertile land to induce the ethnic majority to migrate to the less populated high land region. The government’s promotion of coffee was much more successful than the French colonist’s attempts as seen in the increase in the population density in the highlands from 3 persons per sq km in 1940 to 77 persons per sq km in 1997.

The coffee planted in Vietnam is mainly of the Coffee Canephora variety of Robusta. The main coffee growing areas are the basalt red soil areas in the Central Highlands and other provinces in the south east such as Dong Nai, Binh Phuoc, Ba ria Vung Tau, etc. Coffee has also spread to the North from Huong Hoa (Quang Tri), Phu Quy (Nghe An) of the Central Vietnam to Son La, Dien Bien of the North West of Vietnam with Arabica coffee. Most of the coffee plantations in the Western Highland are situated at an altitude of 500 to 700m. The high differences in temperatures between day and night result in high quality and good aromatic flavor.



Ravi Kushalappa is Kodagu ZP President

On 08/02/11


Shanteyanda Ravi Kushalappa was elected president and H.M. Cauvery vice-president (in picture above), at the elections held for the first 20-month term of the Kodagu Zilla Panchayat. Both belong to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
This is the first time that the BJP has come to power in the Kodagu Zilla Panchayat.
There are 29 seats in Kodagu Zilla Panchayat. The BJP had won 21 seats in the recent elections.
Kushalappa, who won from Makkandur in Madikeri taluk, and Cauvery, from Ammathi in Virajpet taluk, were the only candidates to have filed nomination papers for the post of president and vice-president.
The post of president was reserved for general category and the vice president was reserved for SC (woman).

Ravi Kushalappa is a close associate of Assembly Speaker K G Bopaiah. Kushalappa was Makkandur Mandala pradhan in the past. He had also served as Madikeri taluk BJP president.

EDITOR’S VIEW: Though Kodagu has emerged as a stronghold of the BJP, the district has hardly seen any development in the past few years.

The Speaker, who enjoys the confidence of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, should use his influence to get funds for the development of the district.

If the condition of the roads in Virajpet taluk is the criterion for judging the performance of Bopaiah who represents the Virajpet Assembly constituency, the Speaker has a lot of explaining to do. It is time the Speaker concentrates on the development of Kodagu, instead of indulging in political machinations.





Arabica planters hit gold in Kodagu

On 23/01/11


With the price of coffee shooting through the roof, planters in Kodagu in Karnataka are in a celebratory mood. However, what is playing the spoil-sport is the acute shortage of labourers to pick the ripening coffee berries in the estates.

The Arabica variety growers are laughing all the way to the bank due to the all time high record prices because of the steep fall in production.
It is learnt that the production of Arabica coffee has drastically fallen in Brazil, Columbia and India during the year. However, the rise in the demand for coffee in the international market for Arabica coffee has reached all time high.

A number of coffee producing and exporting countries, such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Colombia, have seen lower-than-expected output. Brazil, the largest coffee grower, has been facing weather-related uncertainties, and its output may be down by 23%.
Now the market price of Arabica parchment coffee for 50 kg is around Rs 9,500. Arabica cherry fetches Rs 4,500 to Rs 4,800. In 1994, Arabica parchment coffee was fetching Rs 8,500 (for 50 kg bag).

The untimely rain in coffee growing region, berry border disease, shortage of labour has led to the overall decline in coffee production.

As against the Coffee Board estimate of 3,03,000 metric tonne coffee,
the actual production could be 2,80,000 metric tonne in India.

As there was less availability of Arabica coffee in America, Germany and Italy, growers expect the Robusta variety to fetch good price this year.

Now, Robusta cherry is fetching Rs 2,600 (50 kg bag) and parchment is priced around Rs 4,200.





New Coorg home stays website launched

On 13/01/11


To cater to the growing number of tourists visiting Coorg, an exclusive website on ‘Coorg home stays’ has been launched.

www.coorghomestays.co.in has an exhaustive listing of home stays spread across Coorg (Kodagu).

The new home stay website has been promoted by the group which started www.coorgtourisminfo.com, the first news and tourism portal in 2005.

Referring to the home stay site, its promoter and senior journalist P.T. Bopanna, said: “Though my tourism site had a home stay section, I felt the need for an independent home stay site to cater to the growing number of people looking for information on home stays.”

Besides listing of the home stays, the website has other related information and articles on the legendary hospitality of the Coorgs (Kodavas). The other features include links to Coorg-specific weather forecast, fact file, KSRTC bus-timings, map, tourist spots, etc.

The home stay site has links to other sites promoted by the Group, including www.coorgrecipes.com, a Coorg recipe and lifestyle portal started in 2007.



Brig Muthanna's appeal for support for education of Kodagu children

On 01/01/11


This portal received an appeal from Brigadier Muthanna (in picture above) seeking donations for supporting the education of less privileged Kodavas. The letter is reproduced below:

My fellow Kodavas,

I am Kodendera Arjun Muthanna (son of Lt Col Kodendera Muthanna and Pattamada Ganga Muthanna). I am a Brigadier in the Indian Army and currently on deputation to Karnataka State Police in Bangalore, assisting them in developing Counter-Terrorism capability.

Recently I met a group of Kodavas who informed me that there are a very large number of Kodava children in Kodagu who are facing great difficulty in meeting expenditure for school (secondary and senior secondary) education - in terms of fees, books, uniforms and transport to and from school. Many children are dropping out of school. This in turn denies them equitable opportunities and would affect the well being of the entire Kodava community.

The reasons vary from small incomes from small holdings, low yields due to high rainfall in certain areas, lack of other resources to fund their education, fathers with no income due to various reasons. A great effort has been made to compile lists of these 'under-privileged’ Kodava children with verification from school authorities and locals.

Around 4000 (yes! four thousand) children have been identified in 90 government- unaided schools and 70 government-aided schools. The fees for government-unaided schools is approximately Rs 5000/- (Rupees five thousand) per annum and for government-aided schools Rs 600/- (Rupees six hundred) per annum. In addition, there are costs for books, van fees and uniforms.

As part of the effort to help these ‘underprivileged’ children, a group of Kodavas are taking care of the fees of 100 students in 6 schools. The approach, so far, has been to establish contact in the school and identify a list of Kodava students that require assistance. A local Kodava coordinates and verifies the list. Contributions are made directly by cheques in favour of the school's official bank account. The donor receives a letter from the school confirming that the amount has been received and that the fees of the beneficiary children have been paid.

Details of the schools and the recipients are known only to the persons coordinating the contribution. Details would be made available to the donor. The donor would have a chance to speak to the head of the school, visit the school and even meet the parents. Other contributions in the form of laptops and desktop computers (used and new) and books are being coordinated from various IT professionals (and companies) who dispose off old laptops and desktop computers after 3-4 years.

Some schools that have been assisted are:
1. Triveni School Virajpet, run by Kodava Samaj Virajpet. Fees of 25 students are met by donors, a school building worth Rs 8 lakhs has been constructed by one of the volunteers through her company.

2. Appacha Kavi School, run by Kodava Samaj Ponampet. Fees for 22 students are being contributed. A library would be set up and computers will reach them shortly.

3. General Thimmayya School, Madikeri, run by Kodava Samaj, Madikeri - Five laptops have been donated to the school. A list of students requiring assistance is available with the volunteers. Books for the library are on the pipe line.

4. Kakkabe School: Contributions for fees have been received.

5. Cheyandanne School: Contributions being collected.

Apart from this list of the above mentioned schools, there are list of other schools being compiled by the group of Kodavas. Fees of some students have already been paid, and contributions are being collected for others.

My personal experience: I have seen some lists. (A few family names I can recall are Udiyanda, Kodimanyanda, Boliyadira, Aiyanervanda). The lists have been issued by the school authorities with details of the children and parents. Our local Kodava volunteers in Kodagu are verifying the details given by the school. Members of the group of Kodavas who are reaching out to help these children are undertaking personal visits to these schools to further verify the details. Contribution in the form of a crossed cheque to the school bank account has been acknowledged by both school authorities and the local volunteers.

My suggestions: Personally, I have found it to be a worthwhile cause to support for three reasons. First, it protects the future of the Kodava community. Second, it gives the under-privileged Kodava children a better shot at life and third, the entire contribution goes to the fees of the beneficiary, as there are no administrative costs.

The Appeal: Kodavas and their friends interested in assisting in this venture may please contact Pandiyanda Suraj Machaiah {Mob: 8144418910}, Indu Mandanna ( Mobile - 9845569987), Maletira Ajith Pooovanna ( Mobile - 9880825484), and many more who can act as volunteers.

References: I would only be too happy to talk about my experience to anyone who would like to speak with me.

Regards and best wishes

Kodendera Arjun Muthanna

Brig KA Muthanna
Office of Addl DG of Police (Internal Security Division)
60 Richmond Road
Bangalore - 560025
Tele - 080-22943818
Mob - 9686271311, 9480800604.



Indian Davis Cup player Rohan Bopanna is Coorg Person 2010

On 23/12/10


Indian Davis Cup player Rohan Bopanna who overcame the trust deficit between warring neighbours India and Pakistan to reach the US Open men’s doubles tennis championship with his Pakistani team-mate Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, is the ‘Coorg Person of the Year, 2010’.

Perhaps for the first time in the troubled history of the two South Asian neighbours, Rohan Bopanna, hailing from Coorg (Kodagu) in Karnataka and his Pakistani doubles partner showed to the world that there was hope for peace if only the two nations began trusting each other and buried their turbulent past of the last six decades.

Nicknamed the "The Indo-Pak Express", the duo reached the US Open this year where they ended runners-up to the legendary Mike and Bob Bryan of the United States.

Rohan Bopanna was selected ‘Coorg Person of the Year’ in a poll conducted among the members of www.coorgtourisminfo.com, a news portal of Coorg.

This year’s US Open finals was a historic occasion as a lot of Pakistanis and Indians in the crowd cheered for the team. There was no way of telling who was Pakistani and who was Indian as the crowds from the two nations joined together to support the same team.

Though Bopanna and Qureshi, 16th seeds, were playing their first ever Grand Slam final, they made the world number one pair work hard for points and played enthralling tennis for more than one-and-a-half hours.

Commenting on the match, Stephen Cohen, an expert on South Asian politics at The Brookings Institute, a non-profit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., said “It’s pretty much a cold war relationship and these guys are breaking through it. Just trying to be normal people with abnormal governmental relations and I give them a lot of credit for it. They want to ignore politics for human relationships.”

The first time Bopanna and Qureshi realized their potential for change was in 2007, at a tournament in Mumbai. The pair had advanced to the final, but before it started, they watched India and Pakistan play in the cricket World Cup from the players’ lounge.
Qureshi and his father watched the match in which Pakistan lost the match. Qureshi recalled that his disappointment faded when he stepped onto the court and came across hundreds of fans with India’s flag painted on one cheek and Pakistan’s on the other.
“It’s something I’ll never forget. I never expected that we would be able to create such a high”, Qureshi was quoted as saying after the match.
The duo met in India more than a decade ago as youngsters on the ITF Junior circuit and became friends. In 2003, they began playing as a team, and have since won an ATP World Tour title, along with advancing to four other finals in the last few years.
While Bopanna’s tall, lanky frame provides the blistering serves for which he has earned nickname ‘Bofors Bopanna’, Qureshi, a more accomplished singles player, sets up the points.
Bopanna started playing tennis when he was 11 years old. Son of Machanda G. Bopanna and Mallika, coffee planters from Coorg, Bopanna was initially trained by Mahesh Bhupathi’s father C.G. Krishna Bhupathi.

Among the others who were nominated for this year’s ‘Coorg Person of the Year 2010’ were Commonwealth Games badminton gold medalist Machimanda Ashwini Ponnappa and social activist Kimmudira Ravi Chengappa, who heads Cauvery Sene in Kodagu.

The past winners of the ‘Coorg Person of the Year’ are Dr Kavery Nambisan, novelist, 2005; Dr Boverianda Nanjamma Chinnappa, researcher, 2006; Robin Uthappa, cricketer, 2007; Dr Moodera Jagadeesh Subbaiah , scientist, 2008; Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa, Retd., environmentalist, 2009.




Powerful politician behind move to dilute Kodava gun privilege?

On 16/12/10


Is a powerful politician from Kodagu behind the diabolical move to marginalize the Kodavas (Coorgs) by taking away their gun privilege?
According to sources, the move to dilute the privilege has the backing of the politician from the district holding an important constitutional post in Karnataka.
It all started with the demand of the Kodava Takk Janangakarada Okkoota (Kodava-language-speaking groups) in Kodagu, comprising 18 groups, for ‘exemption certificates' (ECs) to possess firearms, on the lines of the privilege enjoyed by ‘Coorg by race and Jamma tenure landholders' in the district.
The Kodavas and the Jamma-holders, including non-Kodava groups, have the privilege of possessing firearms without licence granted to them first by the British and then under the Indian Arms Act after Independence.
The Okkoota president wrote to the Kodagu deputy commissioner in February this year to include these Kodava-speaking groups in the ‘Coorgs by race’ category.
The groups mentioned were Heggade, Amma Kodava, Airi, Koyava, Kodava Savita, Banna, Kudiya, Kembatti, Kaniya, Meda, Kodava Madivala, Kodava Nayar, Maleya, Panikka, Boonepattama, Koleya, Golla and Baniya.
Apparently at the instance of the powerful politician from Kodagu, the deputy commissioner wrote to the Karnataka principal home secretary in June seeking an opinion.
The home department replied in October that it was for the deputy commissioner to ascertain whether the 18 groups came within the ambit of ‘Coorg by race' or ‘Jamma tenure landholders' and consider granting the exemption.
The President of the Akhila Kodava Samaja Mathanda C. Monnappa and the head of the Codava National Council N.U. Nachappa have strongly opposed any move to include other communities in the ‘Coorg by race’ category.
It is a well known fact that the Kodavas are a unique race and this fact has been recorded by the British historians. Most of the other Kodava-speaking groups in Kodagu migrated to Kodagu from outside.
In his Gazeetteer of Coorg published in 1870, G. Richter says: “The Coorgs, or Kodagas as they are properly called, are the principal tribe of the country and from time immemorial the lords of the soil. For the last two centuries they are known as a compact body of mountaineers who resemble more a Scotch clan than a Hindu caste…. it ought to be the pride of the Coorgs to discard the notion of caste altogether, which in fact does not apply to them, and to stand upon their own merit as “Kodagas”, the remarkable mountain clan of Coorg.”

EDITOR’S VIEW: The move by the Okkoota to include the 18 Kodava-speaking groups under ‘Coorg by race’ category, is a political conspiracy to marginalize the Kodava community. Including the groups in ‘Coorg by race’ is not going to help these groups in the long run. These groups have their own culture and traditions which form the mosaic of the Kodagu heritage. The people of Kodagu should resist the move of the politicians to divide the people.





US-born Trish Taylor Ponappa's drawings touches the heart of Kodagu

On 28/11/10


P.T. Bopanna, web editor of this portal writes: During my last visit to Madikeri in Kodagu to promote my books, I visited ‘Nambikay’ store run by an NGO where my books are kept for sale. I was drawn to an impressive set of drawings depicting the Kodagu people and life. I took down the e-mail ID of the artist, Trish Taylor Ponappa (in picture above), to congratulate her on her wonderful work. As usual, laziness, combined with other routine preoccupations, came in the way of writing a word of praise for the artist. Out of the blue, a cousin of mine from the UK, sent me an interview of Trish done by my friend Kishor Cariappa who runs a website www.kodagucommunity.com. Reproduced below is the e-mail interview conducted by the Oman-based Cariappa.

Cariappa: Can you give us a brief background about yourself, your works, and your association with Kodagu/Kodavas?

Trish: I grew up in the U.S., in the state of Idaho, in a rural environment. I obtained my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Idaho, and I worked as a graphic artist for many years before coming to India. I met my husband, Dr. Tilak Ponappa (Kuppanda) in the U.S. where he was studying and then working as a scientist. He knew that eventually he would have to come back to Kodagu to fulfill his familial obligations as the only son. After much consideration and deliberation, we decided to relocate to Kodagu in 1999.

Cariappa: What is the motivation for you to document Kodava lifestyle and people in the form of drawings?

Trish: For several years after coming here, I really didn’t do much with my artwork; just an occasional volunteer project now and then. For me, I have to be in the right frame of mind for the artwork to turn out successfully. After initially coming here, I had a lot of adjustment issues that I had to work through; so when I did artwork at that time, it often didn’t turn out as I had hoped and I would become very frustrated. But, after a time, I started doing some graphite pencil drawings of the native crop plants and turned them into prints and note cards.

Some friends and relatives were opening a resort and I did a little brainstorming with them as to the artwork they would require, and they wanted art that highlighted Kodava culture. So I started doing some drawings relating to that. As things go here, the building kept getting delayed, so I started making prints and cards of the drawings that I had done. I hooked up with ‘Nambikay’ in Madikeri and people started to show an interest in them. My goal was to make them simple and affordable.

Cariappa: Do you come up with new drawings every now and then?

Trish: Yes, I try to do new drawings and paintings on a regular basis. But that is also dependent on my time, as I do my own framing (so when I get a lot of orders for prints, it tends to cut into my time for producing new works). Lately, the new pieces I have done are more oriented to the natural aspects of Kodagu, but I have ideas for more cultural pieces as well.

Cariappa: Are you based in Kodagu?

Trish: Yes. My husband and I live in Konankatte, which is a small village located near Balele. We live on a coffee estate so we are both busy with all that entails, and we have a large herd of pets including 15 dogs (most of those are adopted strays and their offspring that we were not able to find homes for), 9 cats, 3 geese, and 8 chickens. I love nature and animals (obviously) and since Kodagu is so rich in biodiversity, it offers an endless array of subject matter for my work.

Cariappa: What are your impressions about culture and tradition of Kodavas?

Trish: It is a rich heritage where in times past, the customs and rituals were based on necessity, and survival. Today, these same practices are often symbolic. But in performing them, the past is remembered and the traditions are kept alive. The main social events of the community are centered around the cycle of life: weddings, funerals and naming ceremonies. It is a celebration but also a chance to meet friends and relatives and catch up on what has been happening in each other’s lives.

Cariappa: How do you think the next generation can be made aware of the rich heritage of their ancestors in Kodagu?

As the world becomes smaller and ways of life become more similar, I think it is really important to keep one’s cultural heritage alive because it is the differences that make people interesting. There have been so many books published now by Kodava authors about Kodagu that reading those books should be encouraged within families. Also, participation in the community gatherings such as Puthari. My husband has fond memories of viewing the Puthari dances in Patti Bane near Bittangala. We attended several times, as spectators, and it sets a scene of the past and future coming together. The regal Kodavas in their traditional attire, performing the Kol and Pariya Kali in the glow of the afternoon sunlight is truly picturesque. Unfortunately, I think many of these events are not as well attended as they used to be.

Editor’s Note: Due to technical constraints, it is not possible to display the works of Trish in these columns. The prints of her drawings are for sale at Nambikay Store, Madikeri.

It is of interest to note that Kodagu has a home grown artist of great stature. Dr S.V. Narasimhan, a medical practitioner based at Virajpet, draws wildlife cards of birds in Kodagu and sends it across to people to raise environmental awareness. Dr Narasimhan is the author of the book “Feathered jewels of Coorg’ brought out by the Coorg Wildlife Society.





Minister Shobha in a dubious land deal in Kodagu

On 19/11/10


It is a well know fact that politicians have been parking their ill-gotten wealth in Kodagu by purchasing lands.

Perhaps for the first time, the name of a politician has come in the open for entering into a dubious land deal.

Karnataka energy minister Shobha Karandlaje has come under scanner for purchasing 166 acres in Kodagu for Rs 5.10 crore. The land is located at Tannimani near Bhagamandala.

In a dubious land deal, Shobha floated a company Manjushree Apparels Ltd in 2007 with a fictitious address. This came to light during a Lokayukta investigation. She was the managing director of the company and her brother Lokesh was a director. Shobha is single. Shobha who is close to chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, won the Assembly election from Yesthwanthpur constituency in Bangalore. She claims that she borrowed Rs 3.5 crore from Adarsh Developers to purchase the land in the name of her apparel company.

Shobha who originally hails from Puttur and studied MSW, purchased the land from one B. Abdul Rahaman who bought the land from Mohammed Kunhi. The land originally belonged to Venkataramana Bhat.

It is apparent that Shobha has undervalued her property to evade stamp duty. The cost of the land is easily above Rs 25 crore, whereas the stamp duty was paid for a much lesser value.













Badminton champion Ashwini Ponnappa making waves

On 03/11/10


Machimanda Ashwini Ponnappa has been making waves ever since she won a gold medal in the recent women’s double event of the Commonwealth Games badminton championships in Delhi.

Besides bagging this year’s Karnataka Rajyotsava award, she featured in actor Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Kaun Banega Crorepathi show’ where the legendary actor spoke highly of the Generals from Kodagu.

The 21-year-old Ashwini paired with Jwala Gutta, both attractive women in the Indian sports arena, and pulled off a historic victory, which was least expected by Ashwini.

Speaking on her victory, Ashwini said: "Honestly, I didn't know we would win gold, medals yes, but gold...it was such a sweet surprise. Of course, we did play well against the toughest of players. Whoever says there was no competition, I request them to take to the court, play and then speak. We put up a great fight, only then did we get the gold."

Ashwini completed her schooling in Bangalore and moved to Hyderabad for her Bachelor's Degree. In 2001, she won the Indian junior championships. She won the gold medal at the South Asian Games held in 2006. Ashwini and Jwala have been on a career high when they had reached No. 13 in world ranking. "I was so thrilled when we reached No. 13. That was our best so far. But nobody even noticed us. I was so hurt, not because I want to be in news but because I think badminton deserves to be in news as much as any other sport, especially if players are performing well”, she said.

Ashwini has played singles as well as mixed doubles. But she enjoys the women's doubles the most. "That's because I get to 'hit, hit, hit' from the back. I don't particularly like playing from the net because I am good at smashes and those are played well from the back."

Her father Ponnappa who works for the Reserve Bank of India at Hyderabad was a hockey player and was in the Indian hockey camp during the 1982 Asiad. He has attributed his daughter's success to hard work and devotion to the game. Ashwini has won the State championships in the Under-16, U-19 women's categories in the singles and doubles events and is a recipient of the State Ekalavya award and Karnataka Olympic Association award.



Protests over world heritage tag for Kodagu forests

On 23/10/10



A section of the people in Kodagu are worried over the secretive way in which the authorities are trying to include some of the wildlife sanctuaries in Kodagu in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
The environmental groups are justified in their actions to protect and conserve forest wealth in Kodagu. However, this should not be achieved clandestinely by keeping the local population in the dark.
Local groups, led by the ruling BJP leaders, hackled a team from the International Union for Conservation of Nature who were on a visit to Madikeri to evaluate the wildlife sanctuaries in Kodagu and recommend them to the UNESCO for inclusion in the list of World Heritage Sites.
According to the UNESCO team members, Dr Wendy Strom from Switzerland and Brin Furzaf from Australia, the Central government has submitted a proposal to UNESCO, seven years ago requesting for the heritage tag for nine regions in Karnataka, including 39 hotspots of Western Ghats. “The study was started seven years ago and this is the last round of the procedure to declare the world heritage tag,” they said adding that the report will be submitted next month. They added that they would mention the protests from the locals in the report.
The team was supposed to visit the Pushpagiri and Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuaries in Kodagu. The protesters expressed their apprehension that the inclusion of the sanctuaries in the World Heritage List would displace the local people from their lands.
The protesters claimed that certain local environmental groups were behind the move to get the heritage tag for their selfish reasons.
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife division) Swaminathan who was accompanying the UNESCO team, clarified that neither is there any role of environmentalists behind it nor will the local residents be asked to vacate the land.

He stated that the project will be taken up only after taking the local residents into confidence. “Even after the tag, the ownership of the land will remain with the Government of the respective country itself. UN cannot interfere in matters of local governing bodies.
If the local governing bodies fail to conserve the spots, then the UN will withdraw the heritage status,” Mr Swaminathan added.
It may be recalled that n 2003, many environmental groups had urged the then Chief Minister S M Krishna to submit a report to the UNESCO for declaring Pushpagiri, Talacauvery and Brahmagiri region as ‘world heritage zone’.





New coffee table book 'Coorg: Land of Beauty and Valour' released

On 12/10/10


The new coffee table book ‘Coorg: Land of Beauty and Valour’ captures the natural beauty of Coorg and gives practical hints on where to go and what to see in this picturesque land. Unlike the usual coffee tables books, this pictorial book is affordable, though not lacking in quality.

The phenomenal success of his first book ‘Discover Coorg’, a travel book, prompted writer and journalist P.T. Bopanna to go in for a coffee table book.

While ‘Discover Coorg’ was largely tourist-centric, the new book has a fair amount of history and culture, besides tourism. Another area which has received special attention in this book pertains to food and lifestyle.

Commenting on his new book, Bopanna says: “I felt that only a coffee table book could capture the natural beauty, the unique culture and the colourful lifestyle of the Coorgs (Kodavas), known for their martial traditions and hospitality. At the same time, I wanted to make the book affordable. Generally, a coffee table book is beyond the reach of the average reader.”

In the new book, Bopanna has showcased the writings of some of the finest writers in Coorg. Each writer has been allotted a section pertaining to his or her area of interest. This makes for variety and interesting reading.

While researchers Boverianda Chinnappa and Nanjamma Chinnappa have contributed articles on Kodava customs, writer C.P.Belliappa has written on Coorg history. Anthropologist Kambiranda Kaveri Ponnapa has written on food and festivals. Kaveri, known for her culinary skills, has contributed Coorg recipes for the book. Textile designer Chindamada Arati Monappa has written on Coorg lifestyle. The foreword for the book has been penned by writer Pattadamada Sundar Muthanna.

The book has also pictures from internationally renowned wildlife photographers, Krupakar-Senani.

Bopanna’s book ‘Rise And Fall Of The Coorg State’, published in 2009, had created a record of sorts for a book on Coorg, in English. The book was reprinted within two months of its release. ‘Datline Coorg’, a compilation of his articles on Coorg in the last two decades, came out this August.

‘Coorg: Land of Beauty and Valour’, has been published by Prism Books, Bangalore, and priced at Rs 280.

The book is available at all the leading book shops in Bangalore, including the Gangarams on M.G. Road and all the branches of Sapna Book House. The book is also available at Sapna Book House in Mysore, located next to Gayathri Bhavan on Narayan Shastry Road. You can also shop online at www.sapnaonline.com.

The book is available at the following shops in Kodagu:

Daily Needs, Gonikoppal
Nilgiri Super Market, Gonikoppal
Arun Stores, Madikeri
Nambikay, M.G. Road, Near Raja’s Seat, Madikeri
Komal Stores, Madikeri
M.S.R. Supermart, Virajpet






Kodagu DC's offices to be shifted out of Madikeri Palace

On 01/10/10


In a welcome move, the authorities have finally decided to shift the offices of the Kodagu Deputy Commissioner from the premises of the Madikeri Palace, a historic monument.
The Kodagu district administration has made up its mind to shift the Deputy Commissioner’s offices to the Central Workshop building.
The relocation of the Deputy Commissioner’s office was long overdue because the Madikeri Palace built in 1814 by Lingarajendra Wodeyar II comes under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The Palace was in a state of neglect because the ASI was not in a position to take up the conservation of the structure as it housed the Deputy Commissioner’s offices.
Though the government had earlier planned to build the Deputy Commissioner’s offices at Karawale Badaga near the golf course on the outskirts of Madikeri, the location did not have many takers because of the distance from the city centre.
The defunct Central Workshop building had been lying idle and the government decided to take over 2.20 acres of land for the construction of the offices.
The district administration has put up a proposal for a new office complex at an estimated cost of Rs 6.7 crore. The administration was already in possession of Rs. 3.15 crore released by the Government to construct the complex at Karawale Badaga village.
Although the land was in the possession of the Central Workshop for 44 years, there were no records to prove that it belongs to the Workshop. Hence, the Kodagu administration concluded that the land belonged to the Government.
The brick and mortar Madikeri Palace is located inside the Fort. The two-storied structure is 110 feet long. The British renovated the structure twice and in 1933 added a clock tower and portico to park the Commissioner’s car.
The Coorg State Assembly during 1952-56 functioned in the premises of the Madikeri Palace. The premises is in a state of neglect as the state government has hardly released any funds for its upkeep, in keeping with the lackadaisical attitude of successive governments in Karnataka towards Kodagu.





Great loss to Kodagu: Former CAG Somiah passes away

On 15/09/10


Codanda G. Somiah, one of the greatest sons of Kodagu, who held some of the top civilian posts in India, passed away in Bangalore following a brief illness.

The late Somiah (79), known popularly as Codanda Raja in Kodagu family circles, was an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, and was recently in the news for his bestselling autobiography ‘The Honest Always Stand Alone’.

He held some of the top posts in the country, including Planning Commission Secretary, under the chairmanship of Manmohan Singh, Home Secretary when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister, Central Vigilance Commissioner and finally the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

It was during his tenure as Financial Controller of the Asian Games Organising committee that the 1982 Asiad was held in Delhi. Later as Home Secretary he was closely involved with the signing of the Punjab, Assam and Gorkhaland accords.

As CAG, he chaired the United Nation’s Audit committee, the first time an Indian was appointed to this high post.

In his autobiography, Somiah, known for his true Kodava quality of outspokenness, shared his experiences as an IAS Officer, from his first posting to Orissa as Assistant Collector to the more heady days of fighting terrorism in Punjab, keeping an eye on the country as Home Secretary and Central Vigilance Commissioner and, finally, a six-year tenure as CAG.

It was stated that his efforts to stem corruption resulted in a loss of promotion for two years. His colleagues were upset about his plight and some of them were of the view that it was not prudent to defy corrupt politicians who can harm one’s career. Somiah, however, heartily disagreed with them!

The autobiography recalls the exciting days of Rajiv Gandhi’s prime ministership and gives a glimpse into the discussions that took place at the highest political level.

Very few know the fact that the late Somiah pulled strings from behind the scenes to stall the move of the Union government to scrap the gun exemption privilege given to the Kodavas in the early 1990s following pressure from the Andhra Pradesh government after guns from Kodagu reached the hands of Maoists.

Somiah is survived by his wife Indira, son Anand and daughter Pria Alva Somiah, who is married to Nikhil Alva, son of Uttarakhand Governor Margaret Alva.

Somiah’s sister Rathi Vinay Jha was also an IAS officer and has contributed considerably for promoting tourism in Kodagu. She is also the moving force behind the Kodava Heritage Centre near Madikeri.





P.T. Bopanna's new book 'Dateline Coorg' released

On 29/08/10


The newly released book 'Dateline Coorg' is a compilation of articles on Kodagu (Coorg) written by senior journalist P.T. Bopanna over the last two decades.

The success of his last book ‘Rise and Fall of the Coorg State’, which went into a reprint within two months of its release, prompted him to bring out ‘Dateline Coorg’. The book also contains the text of the full bench judgement of the Karnataka High Court on the controversial Jamma lands in Kodagu.

Commenting on his new book, Bopanna says: “As a journalist based in Bangalore, I had taken active interest in the affairs of Kodagu in the last quarter of a century. This book will come in handy for those wanting to understand the major socio-economic issues prevailing now in Kodagu. Besides, the book is intended to serve as an important reference for students of history in the future.”

The author was one of the first to report on the Union government’s move in 1993 to withdraw the exemption given to Kodavas (Coorgs) and Jamma-holders to possess firearms without licence. The Centre wanted to withdraw the privilege after guns from Kodagu reached the hands of the banned Maoists in Andhra Pradesh.

Through his reports, Bopanna was able to put across to the policy makers in Delhi that people of Kodagu not only worshipped their weapons, but seldom misused their privilege. It was pointed out that the gun-running was the handiwork of a couple of gun dealers in Kodagu who had brought a bad name to the district.

There is a special chapter on India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s lurking fear of a military take-over and his unease with the two most popular Generals of independent India, Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa and General K.S. Thimayya, both hailing from Kodagu.

The articles in the book are diverse in nature, ranging from serious issues pertaining to separate statehood for Kodagu, Jamma land tenure, gun licence exemption, looting of forest wealth, etc., to subjects like the experiments involving the DNA study to explore the origin of the Kodavas and the moves to develop a script for the Kodava language by a German.

At the end of some of the chapters, a postscript has been added to incorporate the developments that have taken place after the articles were written. Published by Rolling Stone Publications, Bangalore, the book is priced at Rs 100.

Bopanna is the author of ‘Discover Coorg’, the bestselling handbook on Kodagu, published in 2006. The book has already run into three editions. Besides, a Kannada edition of the book has also been published.

‘Dateline Coorg’ is available at all the leading book shops in Bangalore, including the Gangarams on M.G. Road and all the branches of Sapna Books. The book is also available at Sapna Book House in Mysore, located next to Gayathri Bhavan on Narayan Shastry Road. You can also shop online at www.sapnaonline.com.Besides, the book is available at the Kodava Samaja Sports & Recreation Club, Vasanthnagar, Bangalore.

The book is also available at the following shops in Kodagu:

Daily Needs, Gonikoppal
Arun Stores, Madikeri
Nambikay, M.G. Road, Near Raja’s Seat, Madikeri
Komal Stores, Madikeri
Nilagiri Super Market, Gonikoppal
Devi Stores, Gonikoppal
M.S.R. Supermart, Virajpet






Kodavas abroad: A journey down memory lane by Nadikerianda Rana Nanjappa

On 08/08/10


The Kodava passage out of India took off during the middle of the 20th century - driven by prospects for higher education and career opportunities. The path was the same as for all other Indians – graduate studies, job, green card/work permit; and then marriage. Children were educated in the host country, and the cycle continued.

Early on, in the United States, Kodavas maintained contact mostly by mail or phone. The festivals of Kailpolud, Puthari, etc., were celebrated in individual households or in local community gatherings. Food was brought from participating households and always included Kodava specialties. There was no national network for the community. However, starting around the 1960’s, with the spread of the community, Kodava weddings began to be celebrated in the U.S. The network grew, bringing the community closer.

Weddings abroad exemplify the extent of adaptation of traditions and customs to new and foreign cultures. A lot of improvisation was needed to recreate the ambience of a Kodava wedding. Men and women wore their Kodava dress and jewellery. The customs were followed as closely as possible, with copies of the Pattole Palame (cover picture of the book above) being in high demand. If a Kodava was marrying a non-Kodava, the non-Kodava family enthusiastically joined the rituals; especially the Sammanda Kodupa. English translations of rituals were made available and modified to suit the norms of a new time and place. Food was catered, but home-cooked Kadambuttu and Pandi curry were always served. Even the ceremony of Bale Birudu (cutting of banana stumps) was followed; at times, the stalks were flown out from the Caribbean countries, if not from Florida or California. Local touches such as toasts and cake-cutting were added. Kodava paat (music) and aat (dance) were a must while also accommodating the Bhangra and Salsa!

In 1988 the first attempt to have an annual Kodava gathering was made in Washington DC. The occasion was a rousing success. From there on the baton was passed to a new city every year. Since 1988 there have been 23 such conventions in various cities around USA and Canada. These conventions, held around the Fourth of July weekend, are two-day affairs – the first day is for sight seeing and an informal do; the second is a formal occasion. The attendance is usually around two hundred, including guests from India and elsewhere. Other countries like UK, Australia, UAE, and Singapore also have annual conventions. Interestingly enough, in the UK there have been annual meetings of British coffee planters who lived in Coorg and their descendants.

The advent of the Internet drew the community even closer. During the 1997 US-Canada convention in New Jersey, the conveners launched www.kodava.org. The website has addresses of Kodavas in USA and Canada accessible by location or family name, a lively chat room, a forum and many links. Of interest in this website is the Kodava Address Book and Statistics. According to this compilation, there are Kodavas living in 41 countries. Sadly, this website is no longer active.

Kodavas abroad are actively converting nostalgia into reality. Yet, wherever they are, Kodavas always come home to Kodagu! Be it for a wedding or to the Balyamane to celebrate festivals. Age-old traditions are passed on from one generation to the next. The bond between Kodavas and Kodagu is always there. And as they move to distant lands, it seems to grow stronger. May it always be so!

Nadikerianda Rana Nanjappa, the author of the above article, moved permanently to the USA in 1970. Now retired from AT&T, he spends his time between homes in India and the USA.




Delayed onset of monsoon brings hope to Kodagu

On 31/07/10


It has been raining copiously across Kodagu after the monsoon had failed to pick up momentum in the past few weeks. The people of Kodagu were worried about the failure of the monsoon as it posed the threat of drinking water scarcity.

Though the monsoon had set in normally in the first week of June, suddenly dry conditions had prevailed, affecting agriculture operations.

The heavy downpour in the past week has rekindled the old memories of monsoon.

The Lakshmantheertha river is flowing in full strength. Harihar, Kanoor and Nittur areas are facing threat of floods due to increasing water level in Lakshmantheertha. The river was flowing above two feet over the Nittur bridge.

Holidays have been declared to all schools and colleges till the weekend.

Bhagamandala and Triveni Sangama were flooded for the first time during this monsoon. Water also flooded the Napoklu-Ayyangeri road.

With increased inflow of water to Harangi reservoir, four crest gates were opened and 10,000 cusecs water was released to Cauvery river on Wednesday.

The resumption of the monsoon augurs well for the people in the Cauvery basin, especially for the residents of Mysore and Bangalore who depend heavily on the Cauvery for their drinking water.





Week-end planters: May their tribe increase

On 18/07/10


A new breed of Kodavas (Coorgs), known as ‘week-end planters’ have sprung up in Kodagu (Coorg).

These are the Kodava professionals working in cities like Mysore and Bangalore, a few hours drive from Kodagu.

During the week, they are busy in their offices pursuing their careers. In the week-ends, they take off to Kodagu to look up their ageing parents and tend to their coffee estates.

It is not an easy task to have one leg in Kodagu and another in Bangalore. Not with the kind of labour shorage in Kodagu. But still many manage to do the tight-rope walk. This involves the payment of exorbitant wages to the estate labourers. This may not be to the liking of resident planters who cannot match the money power of the week-end planters with deep pockets.

What has come in handy for the week-end planters is the emergence of new firms who contract to pick the raw coffee berry from the estates with their own labourers. This avoids the bother of week-end planters having to cart jeep loads of labourers from the ‘paisari’ labour settlements to pick the coffee berries.

Besides being week-end planters, some of the Bangalore-based professionals also have to practise their professions during the week-ends. This doctor from Bangalore, a cancer specialist, will have patients waiting for him at his residence in Balele when he visits Kodagu.

There are some week-end planters who have found it difficult to manage two shows simultaneously.

Prince Monnappa, a former Manager with Cognizant Technologies (in picture above), quit his well-paying job in Bangalore and moved to Kodagu three years ago. By deploying his managerial expertise on his farm, he became a ‘model farmer’. For his efforts, Monnappa was recently given an award for being a progressive farmer by the local farmers’ organization.

Besides raking in the extra money, it is a sort of stress-buster for the week-end planter to be in the green environs of a coffee estate. The fact that road conditions have improved between Bangalore and Kodagu, have made it comfortable to drive down to Kodagu.

There is another major advantage from being a week-end planter. There is no need for one to sell the estate merely for the sake of a career in the cities. As long as one can have the cake and eat it too, why worry!



Green activist Col Muthanna sees red over haphazard tourism in Kodagu

On 27/05/10


Environmentalist Col C.P. Muthanna has urged the Karnataka government to regulate tourism in Kodagu, instead of allowing the haphazard growth of resorts and hotels.

Excerpts from Col Muthanna’s letter to the state tourism minister is given below:

1. Kodagu district is a vital catchment area of Cauvery River that sustains millions of people in South India. It is therefore in the national interest to protect and preserve the environment and eco-systems of Kodagu. It is for consideration that Kodagu is a hilly area with heavy rainfall which embodies a very fragile ecology that could be easily degraded. Kodagu is also the homeland of several small indigenous communities who will be rapidly marginalized if they are separated from their land.

2. In this context, it would be extremely important to regulate tourism in Kodagu so that it does not meet the same fate as other hill areas such as Shimla, Mussoorie, Ooty, etc. These regions have seen severe degradation of the landscape due to massive tourist influx.

We are therefore happy to note that the Karnataka Tourism Policy 2009-14 [Annexure 1] makes a special mention of this aspect. Para 3 of the Introduction states: “Eco- tourism in Western Ghat Districts like Kodagu, Chikmaglur and Shimoga is an important component of Karnataka Tourism. In order to preserve the serene atmosphere of these locales, it is important not to encourage construction of large hotels------”.

However, despite this, it is a matter of deep concern that a number of hotels and resorts are proliferating all over Kodagu. Such projects are enjoying substantial government subsidies through the Tourism Department.
3. While the promotion of tourism in any region is beneficial up to a point, we note with deep concern that Kodagu has already reached a stage where massive tourist influx threatens the fragile and precious ecology of Kodagu and the very societal fabric of the indigenous communities. Towns such as Madikeri are already reeling under water shortage and lack proper waste management systems. Kodagu is also losing hundreds of acres of tree cover due to construction of resorts and hotels. In several cases, the constructions are on steep slopes that have been gouged to make the hotel foundation. A photograph of a recently constructed hotel close to Madikeri is attached. Pollution and improper location of hotels is another aspect. A photo is attached of a newly constructed hotel in Gonikoppal town that is located very close to the edge of a stream that is already heavily polluted. During a recent weekend the streets of Madikeri were clogged with vehicles and there were chaotic scenes due to the entry of thousands of tourists. Madikeri was once a serene, peaceful town. Today, tourism has turned it into a dirty and polluted city like Ooty.

4. I have also attached a newspaper report which shows the degradation of the Irupu fall in South Kodagu due to uncontrolled entry of tourists. This is one of the sacred spots for the people of Kodagu. There is a growing resentment of further efforts to developing tourism in Kodagu without taking the opinion of the people. For example, the plan to introduce heli-tourism in Bhagamandla is coming under flak from local organizations. A related newspaper report is attached. Due to large scale purchase of land for tourist resorts and hotels, the people are tempted to sell their land. Separating the land from the people will have serious long-term repercussions on the indigenous communities of Kodagu who have very small populations.

5. In the light of the above facts, it is apparent that tourism in Kodagu needs to be carefully ‘regulated’ rather than ‘promoted’. Some of the steps that we recommend are as follows:

A. All subsidies for hotels and resorts should be discontinued till a proper assessment is carried out on the environmental impact of the hotels and resorts in Kodagu and the carrying capacity for tourists in the District.

B. Other financial inputs for promoting tourism in Kodagu should also be restricted for a period of at least three years till the assessment is completed.

C. The District tourism committee should include some well known NGOs of Kodagu such as the Coorg Wildlife Society, Kodagu Model Forest Trust and Cauvery Sene.

D. There is growing resentment among the people of Kodagu due to the heavy tourist influx that is defiling our places of worship such as Talacauvery and Irupu. The tourist department must make an attempt to ascertain the true mood of the indigenous communities of Kodagu.

6. In the ultimate analysis, heavy influx of tourists into areas such as Kodagu would bring some economic benefit only to a small section of society. But even this is at a very heavy cost. Continued encouragement to the tourist industry would lead to the ruination of the fragile socio-environmental fabric of Kodagu. I have enclosed a copy of an e-mail that I recently received which is being circulated in Kodagu.

7. In view of the facts given in this letter, I request you to give urgent consideration to regulating and moderating tourism in Kodagu, rather than promoting and encouraging investment in the tourism industry in the District







Apparanda Chitra and family killed in Mangalore air crash

On 23/05/10


Apparanda Chitra (40), of Kakkabe Yavakapadi in Kodagu, and her husband Jayaram Kotian (42) of Mangalore, and their four-year-old son Rahul, were killed in the air crash at Mangalore on Saturday in which 158 persons perished.

Jayaram who was working in an advertising agency at Dubai had recently changed his job and was visiting Mangalore in connection with work related to change of visa.

Chitra, a commerce graduate, was living with her family in Dubai for the last 10 years. Rahul was planning to join school this academic year.

Chitra’s mother Machamma has been inconsolable after she heard about the tragedy, according to Chitra’s brother Apparanda Venu.



Is the Kodava family hockey festival going the 'IPL' way?

On 11/05/10


Is the Kodava family hockey festival turning out to be another ‘IPL’ in the making? The just concluded Maneyapanda Twenty 10 Cup played at Ponnampet was a case of commercial interests taking over the game of hockey. This may spell disaster for the game in India’s hockey nursery.

Though the Maneyapanda family put up a grand show, the over-commercialisation of the event, led to a situation where the crowds expressed their disappointment by booing when the chief guest Maneyapanda A. Ganapathy, IPS, was addressing the gathering.

In a way, Mr Ganapathy, IG of Police, Uttarakhand, should partly take the blame for coming over 20 minutes late for the function. The packed crowds numbering around 25,000, sitting in the sultry afternoon sun, were growing restive for the match to start.

There were too many ‘commercial breaks’ in between the speeches. The whispers in the galleries was that the Maneyapanda show was hijacked by an industrialist, who is also a member of the Maneyapanda clan. The dais was packed with the ‘friends’ of the industrialist, which included a Kannada actor.

Though the real credit for the mega show should have gone to the core committee, including members like Brig. Viju and Maj. Bopanna, the impression was given that the show was the sole effort of the Bangalore-based industrialist belonging to the clan.

Those compeering the programme spent more time in praising the ‘achievements’ of the ‘friends of the industrialist’. The person compeering the programme in Kodava Tak, did not bring glory to his mother-tongue!

There were repeated announcements of how one of the chief guests had offered to build an indoor stadium for the Ashwini Sports Academy. Though Ashwini needs all the support in her sports ventures, this was not the occasion to make such announcements by the master of ceremonies. Any such announcement of donation could have been made by the chief guest himself.

Without doubt, the chief guest, Maneypanda Ganapathy, IPS, made the best speech. Being a local lad from Ponnampet, the hosts had made a good gesture by making him the chief guest. The IPS officer had turned up in a simple attire, as is common in Ponnampet, and spoke from his heart about his childhood days in Ponnampet. However, the spectators were not prepared to listen to the speeches and wanted the game to start.

Though the game needs sponsors, one has to be careful in selecting the sponsors. One of the major sponsors of the Maneyapanda Cup was a notorious land shark from Bangalore. If red-carpet is extended to such elements, they would use the opportunity to start their land-grabbing operations in Kodagu.

The finals of the Maneyapanda Cup was won by the Palanganda clan (in picture above) who beat Mukkatira (Bonda) by 4-2 goals. Though it was a thrilling match (some said the Mukkatiras’ played a better game), Amar Aiyamma’s hat-trick helped the Palangandas’ to clinch the trophy. The umpiring was shoddy at times.

EDITOR’S VIEW: The Kodava Hockey Academy should take corrective actions to ensure that the Kodava family hockey does not become totally a commercial proposition.

In the event of the function not starting on time due to the non-arrival of the chief guest, the Pattedara of the tournament hosting family, should be authorised to start the function without waiting for the chief guest.

There is need for ensuring that those compeering the programme in Kodava Tak should be well-versed in the language.

The family hockey tournaments should showcase the Kodava culture and not turn the event into some tamasha.







Sarita Mandanna's Tiger Hills making waves

On 03/05/10


Novelist Puttichanda Sarita Mandanna’s recently released novel ‘Tiger Hills’, set in Kodagu (Coorg), has started making waves. Sarita is scheduled to speak on her book this week in London.

New York-based Sarita was in the news last year following reports that she had received the largest advance Penguin India had ever paid for a debut novel (Tiger Hills).

Sarita, daughter of Col. Kambeyanda Ben Mandanna and Dr Charimanda Rani Mandanna, is married to Puttichanda Siddarth Apaya, son of Puttichanda Indra (who served in the merchant navy) and Avani Poovaiah.

Tiger Hills is a sweeping popular narrative which also has elements of romance in it. The plot of the novel is interesting.

The year is 1878. As the first girl to be born to the Nachimandas in
over sixty years, beautiful, spirited Devi is adored by her entire
family. She befriends Devanna, a gifted young boy whose mother has
died in tragic circumstances. The two quickly become inseparable,
'like two eggs in a nest', as they grow up amidst the luscious
jungles, rolling hills, and rich coffee plantations of Coorg in
Southern India; cocooned by an extended family whose roots have been
sunk in the land for hundreds of years. Their futures seem inevitably
linked, but everything changes when, one night, they attend a 'tiger
wedding'. It is there that Devi gets her first glimpse of Machu, the
celebrated tiger killer and a hunter of great repute. Although she is
still a child and Machu is a man, Devi vows that one day she will
marry him. It is this love that will gradually drive a wedge between
Devi and Devanna, sowing the seeds of a heartbreaking tragedy that
will have consequences for the generations to come".

According to sources, Tiger Hills is likely to be released in India sometime in July this year.

Sarita is an investment banker. She did her MBA in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, a post-graduate degree in management from the Indian Institute of Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from the Shriram College at Delhi.









Maneyapanda Twenty 10 Kodava hockey festival inaugurated

On 19/04/10


The 14th edition of the Kodava family hockey festival was inaugurated on April 18 by Union Sports Minister M.S. Gill at Ponnampet in Kodagu district.

The tournament known as Maneyapanda Twenty 10, being hosted by the Maneyapanda family, has participation from 214 Kodava families.

After releasing balloons in the air to mark the occasion, Mr Gill said: “Kodava family hockey festival is unique in the history of Indian hockey. About 800 families come together without seeking any financial aid from Centre and State governments to organise the hockey tournaments, which is highly commendable.”

Lieutenant General Ballachanda K Chengappa, GOC, Southern Command, and the founder of the Kodava hockey festival Pandanda Kuttappa, were present on the occasion.

At an exhibition match, the Kodagu team led by Olympian C S Poonacha defeated Indian Olympian Star team led by Dhanraj Pillai by 3-2 goals.

The finals of the Maneyapanda Cup will be held on May 9. The winners will take home Rs 1 lakh, runners-up Rs 75,000 and the third-placed team Rs 50,000.



Jamma Bane circular kicks up dust yet again

On 10/04/10


The Karnataka government has once again triggered a controversy over the Jamma tenure in Kodagu by claiming that Jamma Bane lands belong to the government.
A circular issued by Revenue Department on February 11, 2010, has stated that all “Bane” lands belong to the Government and landholders do not have rights over such land in Kodagu.
According to the circular, the Bane lands came under the purview of the Forest Department and could not be granted without the permission of the Government of India.
The issue of the Bane lands went before the Karnataka High Court and a full bench of the Court held in its judgement delivered in October, 1993, that Bane landholders had limited privileges for grazing, supply of firewood and timber for the domestic and agriculture purposes, but had no right to exploit the trees for commercial purposes, unless the holder had paid full timber value to the government. The Court also held that the land-owner had no right in the sub-soil.
Way back in October, 2006, the Revenue Department had issued a circular which stated that holders' rights over “Bane” lands were limited and no conversion of these lands would be allowed. Applications for conversion which had been granted should be annulled.
A clarification was issued in January, 2007, stating that such restrictions would not apply to “redeemed Bane” land in the district, for which the owner would have paid the value of land and trees to the Government.
There was an agitation in Kodagu last year which was spearheaded by the Bane Hakku Rakshana Samiti and Kodagu Asthitva Horata Samiti. The Jamma-holders protested against the circulars and demanded their revocation.
The time has come to review the Jamma tenure and strengthen the institution. In the past, Karnataka politicians have threatened to scrap the Jamma tenure on the contention that the land belonged to the government. Such ignorant announcements would only encourage forces that are fighting for a separate Kodagu state.
Instead of issuing frequent circulars, the government should enact a legislation to deal with the Jamma tenure to the satisfaction of the Kodagu people.







Balele bandh against 'anti-Kodava' book

On 25/03/10


Several Kodagu organizations, including the Kodava Samaja at Balele town in Virajpet taluk, have called a ‘Balele bandh’ on March 29 to protest against the alleged derogatory references to the Kodava community (Coorgs) in a book authored by a lecturer of the Vijayalakshmi Junior College at Balele.

According to the President of the Balele Kodava Samaja, Malchira Bose, the lecturer, Dr J. Somanna, in his book ‘Dalita Lokada Novu-Nalivu’ had made unwanted references to the style in which sari was worn by the Kodava women and also had allegedly made blasphemous remarks against Goddess Cauvery, the presiding deity of the Kodavas.

The President of the Samaja has demanded that Dr Somanna must apologise to the Kodava people and withdraw his book. He clarified that the bandh would not disturb the ongoing examinations.

Bose pointed out that Macchamada family and Podamada family were responsible for the starting of the Vijayalakshmi PU College and hundreds of Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe students were pursuing their education in the college. Dr Somanna had been serving the college since 1990.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Dr somanna had apologized for the unfortunate developments. He was quoted as saying: “The statement by leaders that my book has hurt the sentiments of Kodavas has hurt me. If my book has hurt the sentiments of the people, then I tender my apology.”

He clarified: “I have documented local people’s views. The book is being published with the assistance of Kannada and Culture Department. All the remarks are not my personal views. I have great respect for Kodava culture and tradition. I never intended to hurt their sentiments. I do not have any association with the Naxal movement. Let the police clarify whether I have any connection with Naxals.”

EDITOR’S VIEW: Since the author of the book has reportedly tendered an apology, the agitators should call off their plans for the bandh.

In a democratic system, a writer has every right to express his views and espouse the cause of the downtrodden sections of the society. The people of Kodagu are known for their peace-loving nature and should desist from disturbing the peace, especially when students are taking their examinations.

If any writer tries deliberately to create rifts among people, such things should not be tolerated. There are legal remedies to tackle such issues.

The occasion calls for an introspection on the plight of the local tribals like Yaravas and Kurubas and efforts should be made to improve their living conditions.



Environmentalist Col Muthanna opposes railway line through Kodagu

On 08/03/10


Col C.P. Muthanna, Principal Advisor, Coorg Wildlife Society (in picture above), has strongly opposed the proposed survey of the Mysore-Madikeri-Mangalore railway line through Kushalanagar. Col Muthanna’s article has been reproduced below:

In many respects, the proposed railway line through Madikeri could be like the final nail in the coffin for the people of Kodagu. It is with a sense of dismay and disbelief that one sees politicians and others rejoicing over Union railway minister Mamata Banerjees’ approval for a survey of the railway line through Kodagu.

It is more than obvious that there is excellent connectivity to Kodagu with the existing bus services. It only needs to be ensured that the roads are maintained in good condition. Without going into any kind of detailed analysis of the issue, let use take a commonsense approach to see how the railway line will cause serious damage to the land, forests and the people of Kodagu:

The railway line will pass through forests of the Somwarpet sub-division. This area already has one of the most severe levels of Human Elephant conflict in the entire country. The Harangi and Chiklihole dams together with other pressures has isolated a population of about fifty elephants that are literally trapped North of Cauvery River. The Railway line will only add to the woes of both people and elephants. Calf elephants will not be able to clamber up the steep rail embankments. This will further restrict the movement of entire sub-herds that are struggling to cope with severely fragmented forests. Already there are calls to trans-locate the entire herd. It would be a tragic situation of removing the species rather than saving and improving the habitat. To the West, as the railway line exits through the Western Ghat forests of Kodagu, it will compound the degradation and destruction of our precious evergreen forests. Due to various disturbances in the Kadmakal and Pattighat Range, elephant intrusion into villages near the forests is very frequent. In villages like Hammiala, the situation is so bad that during the past decade, the bulk of the villagers have migrated outside the district to take up jobs as security guards etc. These are the very people who had lived proudly for centuries in the land of their birth. Owing to the remoteness of the area, media coverage is low and the plight of these villagers receives little attention.

Kodagu is already buckling under demographic pressures where the indigenous communities are being steadily marginalized by outsiders. A railway line will accentuate this problem; the deadly process of ‘Bloodless Ethnic Cleansing’ will speed up as the trains smash their way in. Does this sound familiar? Yes, very much like the railway line to Lhasa, touted as a ‘marvel’ of Chinese engineering. The real intention is to flood the Tibetan plateau with Han Chinese, reduce the Tibetans to a helpless minority in their own home land and kill their spirit for ever. It may seem far-fetched to compare Tibet with Kodagu; but there are similarities that cannot be wished away.

We are told that among various benefits of the railway line, the tourism industry in Kodagu would receive a tremendous boost. While tourism has its benefits to some extent, we have already reached a point where the pressure of tourists has exceeded the carrying capacity of Kodagu. Many people are fed up with the tourist influx. During weekends, when thousands of tourists descend on Madikeri, the local citizens feel like strangers. If Madikeri reels under water shortage every summer, one of the main reasons is the extra burden of supplying water for resorts and meeting the needs of tourists. While tourism has resulted in our sacred places and pristine areas being converted to garbage dumps, hundreds of acres of land are being sold to outsiders for construction of resorts and hotels. There is definitely no need to ‘promote’ tourism in Kodagu. What we require is for tourism to be ‘regulated’ to the extent possible.

Lastly, the railway line will not be constructed in thin air. It will pass through private properties: hundreds of acres of coffee and large tracts of wetlands will be destroyed. The rail line will go like a rocket, taking the shortest possible alignment. It would pass through estate infrastructure such as drying yards, pulp houses, godowns, labour lines etc. If required, the line may even require the demolition of several houses that come in the way. Along the entire Somwarpet-Madikeri axis and further to the West, the landscape would witness a devastating transformation.

In Dec 2006, the Minister of State for Railways, Mr R. Velu had stated that surveys had been conducted during 1998-1999 for the Channarayapatna–Kushalnagar line and during 2003-2004 for the Mysore-Mangalore line via Madikeri. The cost estimates as of those dates had been Rs 107.54 crores and Rs 1138.38 crores respectively. The Minster had also mentioned that the project had been shelved as it had been assessed as being financially unviable and also due to lack of resources. By the time the fresh surveys are completed and the actual work commences, the costs could exceed Rs 2000 crores. Such a huge quantum of money could well be invested for setting up projects in Kodagu that are in consonance with coffee and other agro-based or horticulture products of Kodagu. One excellent example is the unit of the Coorg Orange Growers Cooperative Society established in Gonikoppal several years ago by the late Dr K.M. Aiyappa. Such industries would ensure that processing and packaging of Kodagu produce is carried out within the District. This would create employment for the people of Kodagu and improve our economy. But NO! There is no such depth of vision. Instead, more than Rs 2000-crore would be pumped in to put an arrow through the heart of Kodagu! The people of Kodagu must stand united to oppose the project.





























Finally Madikeri town gets better roads. Private bus-stand to be relocated

On 23/02/10


It is encouraging to note that the civic infrastructure in Madikeri town has shown marked improvement in the last few months with the authorities, especially the City Municipal Council (CMC), taking a number of steps to improve and beautify the town.
Concreting of several arterial roads had been completed. Asphalting of main and cross roads was on.
In a significant development, the BJP government in Karnataka has finally managed to find a solution to the shifting of the private bus-stand at Madikeri.
The proposal had been hanging fire for many years. At a meeting called by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, it was decided to hand over three acres of land belonging to the University of Agriculture Sciences (UAS) at Madikeri to the CMC for relocating the crowded private bus-stand.
The UAS has already handed over the land to the CMC, in exchange for eight acres of land next to the Agriculture Research Station in Ponnampet to be given to the UAS.
The main problem facing Madikeri town is the shortage of drinking water. Both the government and civic agencies should take up the matter on a priority basis.
It is gladdening to note that the CMC had embarked on a drive to ban use of plastics in Madikeri town.




Awards conferred on three outstanding persons from Kodagu

On 05/02/10


Kalengada Muthanna Cariappa of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), has been conferred the Indian Police Medal for Meritorious Service by the President of India on the occasion of this year’s Republic Day celebrations.
Cariappa (in picture above) is an Assistant Director and has the rare distinction of receiving the award for his work in Public Relations and Perception Management. He is a civilian Officer in the SSB, which is a Border Guarding Force mandated to guard the Indo Nepal and Indo Bhutan Borders. In the last two decades, he has been instrumental in driving the Comprehensive Border Management works of the Force and thus enabling the Force to nurture an endearing relationship with the people of the border for the benefit of the nation. He facilitates and oversees perception management works across the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
He completed his M.A., M. Phil in Parliament and National Security Policy of India from Bangalore University. After completing his Public Relations from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bangalore, and a three year stint with the Times of India in Bangalore, he joined the Special Services Bureau under the Cabinet Secretariat in New Delhi, in 1989. Here he picked up the nuances of perception management of people on the International borders and gravitated it to the optimum benefit of the organization. He broke new grounds to change the contours of the achievements in public relations and publicity of the organization.
He is a practitioner of phrenology. He has divined the craniums of over 30,000 people through phrenology and has analyzed people from all walks of life. He entered the Limca Book of Records in 1993 in the human endeavors section with a single piece 3mm elephant carved out on chalk. He has over 100 pieces carved depicting various spheres of life.
Puttichanda Vinod Thimaya and Vivek Madappa, twins, have won the Emerging India Award-2009 for Travel and Tourism for their innovative hospitality business chain Humming Bird Suites Pvt. Ltd., that offers corporate executives a roomier alternative to the expensive star hotels in five cities in India.
The Award, instituted by CNBC TV 18 and powered by CRISIL, is given to small and medium scale entrepreneurs having the potential to grow in major industries in the future. Home Minister P. Chidambaram presented the award in New Delhi recently.
Humming Bird is one among the seven winners out of the three lakh applications received by the CNBC under seven business categories.
The Bangalore-based twin brothers have done their MBAs from Mumbai's Bajaj Institute (JBIMS).




Book on the romance of a Coorg Princess and the missing Coorg jewellery

On 27/01/10


The romances of a Coorg Princess, the amazing affection bestowed on the young Princess by Queen Victoria, the Empress of India, and the disappearance of the Coorg Crown jewellery are the stuff of the latest book by well-known writer C.P. Belliappa.

The book - Victoria Gowramma, the Lost Princess of Coorg - focuses on Chikka Veerarajednra, the exiled Raja of Coorg, and his 11-year-old daughter Gowramma, who were the first Indian royals to land in Britain in the summer of 1852.

Chikka Veerarajendra, the last King of Kodagu, who was banished from his land by the British in 1834, used the pretext of his daughter embracing Christianity and acquiring a Western education as a ruse to secure permission to visit England.

Author Belliappa has proved his talent as a storyteller to spin out yet another interesting book on Coorg (Kodagu). His other books are Tale of a Tiger’s Tail and other Yarns from Coorg, and Nuggets from Coorg History.

In the process, Belliappa has unearthed hitherto unpublished material that throws light on Veerarajendra’s and Princess Victoria Gowramma’s life in England.

Though the story of the last Raja of Coorg occurred more than 150 years ago, Belliappa has managed to keep the flow of the story, by deploying certain amount of dramatizing, at the same time keeping intact the historical facts and occurrences.

What is extraordinary is the fact that Belliappa managed to gather so much information by sitting in his room located at Home Estate, his house near Gonikoppal in Kodagu, by getting a lot of information from the search engine Google and surfing the archives of The Times, London.

In the book, Chikka Veerarajendra, emerges as a tragic figure, who lost his kingdom because of his lack of tact in dealing with the British and his atrocities against the Kodavas who were alienated to the point of supporting the British in taking over the administration of the kingdom. The last Raja was initially taken to Vellore in Tamil Nadu and subsequently banished to Benares in 1836. The book deals with the Kodagu royal family’s life in Benares and his remarkable journey to England in 1852 along with his 11-year-old daughter Gowramma.

Chikka Veerarajendra was the first deposed Indian ruler granted permission to sail to Britain on the ground that he wanted his daughter to be raised as a Christian and given a Western education. But the real reason for the Raja to visit England was to fight a legal battle against the British East India Company to claim interest on the deposits with the Company made by his uncle Dodda Veerarajendra. The British refused to pay him the interest on the ground that ‘What is in the treasury belongs to the people of Kodagu, and will be used for their benefit.’

The British saw the visit of the Raja of Kodagu to England as an opportunity to convert a member of an Indian royal family to Christianity. Not only that. The clever British imperialists saw an opportunity to form a matrimonial alliance between the Princess of Coorg Gowramma and Maharaja Duleep Singh of Punjab who too had sailed to England.

The British hoped that a union between Maharaja Duleep Singh and Princess Gowramma would act as a catalyst in encouraging voluntary conversion to Christianity amongst the upper castes in India, especially the Hindu rulers. Belliappa says: “For the evangelists, there was the delightful possibility of eventually a predominant Christian India emerging, which would owe allegiance to the Church of England.”

Queen Victoria took a personal liking for Princess Gowramma and was personally present for her baptism ritual performed by none other than the Archbishop of Canterbury. Her Majesty amazed everyone by announcing herself as the godmother of Princess Gowramma. The Queen presented Gowramma a leather-bound autographed copy of the Holy Bible, embellished with gold-plated trimmings.

Much to the disappointment of the British, Maharaja Duleep Singh was not keen to enter into matrimony with Gowramma. He was put off by the coquettish behaviour of the Coorg Princess who was quite a flirt, making eyes at all the young men, including the then Prince of Wales. Though Duleep Singh was fond of the Princess, he was not keen on taking her as a life partner. Gowramma’s affair with a stable boy led to a major scandal in the British high society which disappointed the Queen.

Maharaja Duleep Singh played matchmaker and helped in forming an alliance between the 19-year-old Gowramma and 50-year-old Col John Campbell, who had served in the Army in India. Campbell, the blue-eyed, handsome and dashing equestrian was mainly interested in the wealth of the Coorg Princess.

After Chikka Veerarajendra lost his legal battle to claim interest for his deposits from the East India Company, Campbell began neglecting Gowramma whom he had married. The couple had a child named Edith Victoria Gowramma.

Campbell, who was into gambling, began eyeing the Coorg Crown jewellery which had been handed over to her by Veerarajendra prior to his death.

The developments devastated Gowramma who succumbed to tuberculosis when she was 23 years old. Soon after Campbell vanished with the black bag containing the jewellery and was not seen after that. The disappearance of the Coorg Crown jewellery still continues to remain a mystery.

Victoria Gowramma, published by Rupa & Co is priced at Rs 295.










Saving Western Ghats: Air Marshall Cariappa gives credit to fellow environmenalists

On 08/01/10


Air Marshall K.C. Cariappa (retd) who was recently nominated as ‘Coorg Person of the Year’, has given credit to his fellow environmentalists in Kodagu in Karnataka for ably supporting him in his fight to prevent the formation of a road across the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats.

Reacting to the news on his nomination as ‘Coorg Person of the Year’ by the members of www.coorgtourisminfo.com, the first news portal of Kodagu, the Air Marshal said in a letter: “I confess to being surprised and indeed honoured that my fellow Kodavas/Kodagina should have approved of me. It is important to put into perspective that the moving force behind the public interest litigation (filed before the Supreme Court) was Wildlife First and its many dedicated personnel.

“Here in Kodagu, we have KM Chinappa and Thammoo Poovaiah to name just two stalwarts, and in Bangalore there is Pravin Bhargava who is quite indefatigable in his quest for an environment-friendly population. That stated, Colonel CP Muthanna (President of the Coorg Wildlife Society) has, I think been singularly responisble for the Coorg Wildlife Society getting due recognition for its conservation efforts.”

In a blatant violation of the law, the Kodagu district administration, backed by the two Kodagu MLAs, and supported by local villagers attempted to lay a road through the Pushpagiri reserve forest, amid opposition from Karnataka forest officials. This was opposed by the Air Marshal and his fellow environmentalists.

The controversial road is a seven km stretch between Madikeri and Subramanya near Mangalore in Dakshina Kannada district. Over 400 villagers from Galibeedu near Madikeri, deployed earthmovers to make the road. Their contention was that the road would shorten the distance between Kodagu and Subramanya.

Air Marshal Cariappa is the son of the late Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army.




Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa is Coorg Person of the Year 2009

On 30/12/09


Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa (retd), an environmentalist who took on the powerful timber lobby in Kodagu district of Karnataka is the ‘Coorg Person of the Year, 2009’.

Air Marshal Cariappa, son of Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, topped a poll conducted by www.coorgtourisminfo.com, the first news portal of Kodagu, to select the Coorg Person of the Year.

The others who were in the reckoning for the title, include another hardcore environmentalist and President of the Coorg Wildlife Society, Col C.P. Muthanna (retd) and New York-based novelist Sarita Mandanna, who has been given the largest advance by Penguin India ever paid to a debut novelist for her novel ‘Tiger Hills’, set in Kodagu.

Taking a pro-active role, Air Marshal Cariappa went beyond the ‘call of duty’ and approached the Supreme Court of India to restrain the timber mafia, backed by the Kodagu district administration and sundry politicians to prevent the formation of a road across the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Kodagu in the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats.

Following a public interest litigation filed by Air Marshal Cariappa, the Apex Court directed the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to make an on the spot study of the situation and file a report.

In a blatant violation of the law, the Kodagu district administration, backed by the two Kodagu MLAs, and supported by local villagers attempted to lay a road through the Pushpagiri reserve forest, amid opposition from Karnataka forest officials.

The controversial road is a seven km stretch between Madikeri and Subramanya near Mangalore in Dakshina Kannada district. Over 400 villagers from Galibeedu near Madikeri, deployed earthmovers to make the road. Their contention was that the road would shorten the distance between Kodagu and Subramanya.

In a mockery of justice, the villagers were provided ‘police protection’ to form the road by the district administration, headed by the then Deputy Commissioner Baldev Krishna.

The top district officials, including the Superintendent of Police, went to the extent of publicly humiliating forest official Anil Rathan who protested against the road being formed through the reserve forest.

Air Marshal Cariappa was commissioned into the Indian Air Force in 1957 and he was shot down in the 1965 India-Pakistan war while carrying out attacks on enemy positions and taken Prisoner of War (POW). When President Ayub Khan of Pakistan, an old buddy of Field Marshal Cariappa, offered to release his son forthwith, the later famous said: “They (other POWs) are all my sons, look after all of them.”

After retirement from the Air Force in 1996, Air Marshal Cariappa has been living at Madikeri in Kodagu. He has been taking a keen interest in environment and was the President of the Coorg Wildlife Society for four years. Two years ago, Air Marshal Cariappa wrote the biography of his father, which brought out his literary talent as a writer. He is a keen student of international and military affairs.

Dr Jagadeesh Subbaiah Moodera, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and winner of Oliver E. Buckley Prize, was the Coorg Person of the Year, 2008.

The past winners of Coorg Person of the Year include cricketer Robin Uthappa, researcher Dr Boverianda Nanjamma Chinnappa, and novelist Kaveri Poonacha Nambisan.





New book 'Rise and Fall of the Coorg State' demands autonomous council for Kodagu

On 17/12/09


The newly released book on Coorg – Rise and Fall of the Coorg State – tries to throw more light on the circumstances leading to the unpopular merger of the erstwhile Coorg State (now officially known as Kodagu District) with Karnataka in 1956. The book also deals with the neglect ever since of the scenic Kodagu district by successive governments in Karnataka.
Authored by journalist P.T. Bopanna, the book finds answers to some of the questions like why the key players, including the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, took such a short-sighted decision resulting in the snuffing out of the prosperous Coorg State forever from the Indian map.
The book discusses the growing demand for separate statehood for Kodagu and suggests the political road map for the future of the district.
The author argues that the time is not ripe for an independent statehood, but favours the setting up of an autonomous council on the lines of the Darjeeling Gorkha Autonomous Hill Council in West Bengal to look after the developmental needs of the neglected region.
In view of the general belief among the locals in Kodagu that the then Chief Minister of the Coorg State, C.M. Poonacha, was mainly responsible for the merger of Kodagu with Karnataka, Mr Poonacha’s son and noted writer C.P. Belliappa has written a chapter in the book, explaining the circumstances in which his father had to agree for the merger of Coorg with Karnataka.
Well-known political scientist Dr Sandeep Shastri has given an ‘outsider’s’ perspective by writing a chapter on the feasibility of seeking separate statehood for Kodagu. He has also prescribed the ideal road map for political action by those demanding separate statehood.
Mr C.M. Ramachandra, former Editorial Advisor of The Hindu, Bangalore, who was the Coorg Correspondent of the Hindu newspaper in the 1950s when the crucial decision was taken to merge Kodagu with Karnataka, has written the foreword for the book.
The well-researched book with tables and other illustrations, has a chapter on how politicians in Karnataka have deprived Kodagu of its rightful share in Cauvery River water by diverting the water to irrigate the farm lands in their assembly constituencies.
There is an exclusive chapter on the Freedom Movement in Kodagu. The book also analyses the reasons for the shrinking population of the local Kodavas, and the exponential growth of the migrant population leading to an Assam-like situation.
Author Bopanna has nearly three decades of experience in journalism working for various national dailies in Bangalore. He is the author of ‘Discover Coorg’, the bestselling handbook on Kodagu which was recently translated into Kannada. Bopanna also runs the popular Kodagu websites www.coorgtourisminfo.com and www.coorgrecipes.com.
Published by Rolling Stone Publications, Bangalore, the book is priced at Rs 100. The book is available at all the leading book shops in Bangalore, including the Gangarams on M.G. Road. The book is available at Sapna Book House in Mysore, located next to Gayathri Bhavan on Narayan Shastry Road. The book is available at select shops in Kodagu, including Daily Needs, Gonikoppal, Komal's, Madikeri, and MSR Mart, Virajpet. You can also shop online at www.sapnaonline.com





Shocking! Terror training camp in Kodagu unearthed

On 13/12/09


In a shocking development, police investigation has revealed that Nazir alias Ummer Haji, the Indian Mujahideen operative, of Kerala origin, arrested recently in Bangladesh for masterminding the Bangalore serial blasts last year, had been running a terror training camp in Kodagu.

According to police investigation, Nazir Tarian Dabede (25) had taken five acres of land on lease at a village near Madapura in Somwarpet taluk in 2007, for ginger cultivation, and had set up a training camp for jihadis. He had put up a temporary shed on the land. The land belonged to Ajeej, a former taluk panchayat member.

After the local residents grew suspicious of the ginger farmer receiving strange visitors, Nazir moved out of Kodagu along with his accomplices. He was allegedly involved in imparting training to the youth belonging to a minority community in terror tactics. In fact, Nazir had taken shelter in Kodagu as he was wanted by the Kerala police in a murder case involving a RSS activist.

Nazir escaped to Bangladesh after masterminding the Bangalore serial blasts in 2008.

The ongoing investigation has revealed that Nazir was associated with Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and was mandated to carry out terror strikes in south India.

Nazir and his accomplice who were handed over to India by Bangladesh Rifles near the border in Meghalaya are currently being interrogated by a special team of Karnataka police.

The Kodagu police too have swung into action and questioned several people involved in helping Nazir to take land on lease for ginger cultivation.

In the recent years, local people of Kodagu have been recklessly leasing out lands to people of Kerala origin for the cultivation of ginger. As it has come to notice that several of these ginger cultivators are also involved in nefarious deals, the people of Kodagu should check the antecedents of the persons before leasing out land to dubious characters.






Road rage: Potholes in Kodagu to be named after ministers

On 21/11/09


Fed up with the condition of the roads in Kodagu, the villagers of Kanive near Kushalnagar have come up with a novel idea to draw the attention of the rulers in Bangalore to the worsening condition of the roads.

The villagers have sought the ‘permission’ of Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to name the potholes on the roads after the ministers in the Cabinet. They have hinted that the biggest pothole could even be named after the Chief Minister himself.

This shows the desperation of the people of Kodagu to their neglect by the rulers of Karnataka. The villagers are horrified by the condition of the road linking Kushalnagar to Hassan. The authorities have not responded to the appeal of the villagers to attend to their woes.

The ‘pothole contest’ comes close on the heels of a road blockade held by the people of south Kodagu. Last Wednesday, the villagers of Kanoor, Kutta, Shrimangala, Hudikeri, Nalkeri, Birunani and Ponnampet observed a successful and peaceful bandh against the condition of the roads.

The Deputy Commissioner Ashwath Narayana Gowda visited the affected areas and assured the villagers that the administration would try to improve the condition of the roads. In the past, such assurances have not been kept up by the district administration.




Expert to conduct research on Kodagu cobras

On 07/11/09


Renowned researcher and herpetologist, Gowrishankar, of the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station in Shimoga district has said that research work would be taken up on the cobras in Kodagu.

Gowrishankar who was recently at Gonikoppal, said Kodagu district in Karnataka which comes under the Western Ghat region, has favourable climatic condition for cobras as the region receives between 3,500 and 4,000 mm rainfall.

He said: “Our aim is not only to conduct research on cobras, but also to protect them from being killed. Efforts will be made to spread awareness.”

Mr Gowrishankar noted that a survey would be taken up to identify the habitats of cobras in the district. In the second phase, he added awareness will be created through slide shows, seminars and demonstrations.
The King Cobra is probably the longest venomous snake in the world. It is also the only snake that builds a nest to lay eggs.
A book on snakes in Kodagu, authored by herpetologist Satish, has been published by the Coorg Wildlife Society.
The book gives insight into snakes and their habitat. Besides, the book provides scientific information on various types of snakes in Kodagu.
Satish, who is known as ‘snake’ Satish, has made attempts to dispel myth about snakes and the fear that exist among the people about snakes in his book.




Diplomat C.B.Muthamma passes away. Her legacy will endure

On 17/10/09


Kodagu has lost one of its great daughters in the passing away of Chonira B. Muthamma, the first woman Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer in the country.

Muthamma died in Bangalore on Wednesday at the age of 85.
Born in Kodagu in 1924, she completed her schooling at St. Joseph’s Girl School in Madikeri, and graduated with distinction from the Women’s Christian College in Chennai. She did her post-graduation in English Literature from Presidency College, Chennai. She retired from the IFS in 1982 after 32 years of service.
Muthamma passed the all-India civil services examinations in 1949 and served in her diplomatic career in many capacities in Europe, Asia and Africa. In 1970, she was posted as India’s Ambassador to Hungary, the first career woman from within the service to be appointed Ambassador. Her last posting was as Indian Ambassador to The Hague.
She will be most remembered for her successful fight for equality for women in the male-dominated Indian civil services of her time. She moved a petition in the Supreme Court against the government of India on the ground that she had been overlooked for promotion, arguing that the rules governing the employment of women in the service were discriminatory. Her case was upheld in 1979 in a landmark judgment by a three-member Bench headed by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer.
After her retirement, she was nominated as the Indian member of the Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues set up by the then Swedish Prime Minister, Olaf Palme. She continued to write prolifically and on a range of interests during her retirement, from a collection of scholarly articles titled “Slain by the System: India’s Real Crisis” (2003) to a cookbook on Kodava cuisine.
Muthamma was a spinster and donated lakhs of rupees to educational institutions in Kodagu without much publicity.
She had all the traits of a true Kodavathi. Kodava women should emulate the example set by her.




Preparations in full swing for Cauvery Thirthodbava on Oct 17

On 10/10/09


Kodagu district is all geared up for the ‘Thirthodbava’ at Talacauvery at 4.35 p.m. on October 17.
On the Tula Sankramana day, water gushes out from a pond at an auspicious moment at Talacauvery, the birthplace of river Cauvery, 44 km from Madikeri.
The Kodagu district administration officials headed by the Deputy Commissioner K.H. Ashwatha Narayana Gowda, reviewed the preparations for providing the facilities for the pilgrims.
Over 700 police personnel will be deployed to ensure smooth flow of vehicular traffic and regulate the crowds at Bhagamandala and Talacauvery temples. Arrangements will be made for providing food and clean drinking water.
Meanwhile, the Bangalore Kodava Samaja located at Vasanthnagar, has made arrangements for celebrating the Cauvery pooja and distribute Cauvery ‘thirtha’ on October 18.





Home-coming for descendants of Kodagu royal family

On 29/09/09


It was home-coming for the descendants of the last ruler of Kodagu, Chikka Veera Rajendra, of the Haleri dynasty, who ruled Kodagu for more than 200 years.
Lakshmi Devi, the great granddaughter of the last ruler of Kodagu, and her sons, Dr Sardesai, an ENT specialist serving in Hyderabad and his brother Praveen, a businessman, and their family members were accorded a reception by the Kodagu unit of the Akhila Bharata Veerashiava Mahasabha.
The British who had wrested power from Chikka Veera Rajendra in 1834, had banished him and his family from Kodagu and prohibited them from entering Kodagu.
However, after the Independence, the family members had visited Kodagu on a couple of occasions on private visits.
A spokesman for the Mahasabha has clarified that the visit of the descendents has nothing to do with laying claim to any property in the district.
The clarification comes in the wake of the claim laid by one of the descendants that Madikeri Fort and other properties should be handed over to him as they were taken over by the British from the family illegally.
The members of the visiting descendants are staying at a private resort in Kakkabe, near Napoklu.
The family members were felicitated by Shantamallikarjuna Swamy of Arameri Kalancheri Math near Virajpet on Monday.
Lakshmi Devi is the great granddaughter of Chikka Veera Rajendra and granddaughter of Gangamma, one of the three daughters of Chikka Veera Rajendra. Gangamma was married to a zamindar in Hyderabad.




Kannada version of the book 'Discover Coorg' released

On 16/09/09


The Kannada version of journalist P.T. Bopanna’s ‘Discover Coorg’, the bestselling handbook on Kodagu, has been launched.

The book titled ‘KODAGU: MUNGARU MALEYA VISMAYADA NADU’, has been translated into Kannada by Mr T.S. Gopal, Principal of Srimangala Junior College in Kodagu district.

On the new book, the author, Bopanna, who is also the editor of the portal, www.coorgtourisminfo.com, said: “In view of the phenomenal success of the English version of my book ‘Discover Coorg’, I decided to bring out the Kannada version. The decision to bring out the Kannda edition was reinforced by the fact that hardly any book on Kodagu in Kannda was available in the book shops. While the English version was basically aimed at the tourists from outside the state, the Kannda edition is meant to open a window to Kodagu for the rest of Karnataka. I hope I will succeed in my mission.”

Mr Gopal who has translated the book into Kannada, had earlier undertaken the work of bringing out a Kodava-Kannada dictionary.

The foreword for the book has been written by Mr C.M. Ramachandra, former editorial representative of The Hindu, at Bangalore. Mr Ramachandra was the Kodagu correspondent of The Hindu for several years in the early 1950s.

Most of the articles in the third English edition of ‘Discover Coorg’ have been incorporated in the Kannada edition. These include the articles of Mrs. Bollera Jajie Mandanna, well-known consumer activist and former president of the Bangalore Kodava Samaja, on Kodava wedding, Dr S.V. Narasimhan's article on birds of Kodagu, Dr Boverianda Nanjamma Chinnappa’s article on Kodava cuisine, Mrs. Chindamada Arati Monappa’s articles on Kodagu jewellery and on the Huthri harvest festival.

The book is priced at Rs 120. The book contains more than 40 colour photographs, including the photographs of the renovated Bhagamandala and Talacauvery temples. The cartoons of Ponnappa, and photographs from internationally renowned wildlife photographers – Krupakar-Senani, figure in the Kannada edition also.

The book has been published by Prism Books, Bangalore, who had published the English editions.

The book is available at all the major book shops in Bangalore and Mysore. The book will be made available shortly in Kodagu.














Madikeri private bus-stand circle named after war hero Ajjamada Devaiah

On 09/09/09


To honour a war hero from Kodagu, the Madikeri City Municipal Council has named the Madikeri private bus-stand circle as “Squadron Leader Ajjamada B. Devaiah Circle”.
Ajjamada Devaiah was awarded the Maha Vira Chakra posthumously for his heroism during the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
The late Devaiah’s wife Sundari (in picture above) and daughters were present at a function held at the Madikeri bus-stand on Monday which was attended by Air Marshal Rajkumar (Retd).
The Squadron Leader who was taken as missing in action, emerged as a war hero following the publication of the book “Battle For Pakistan” written by a British author.
In the book, the author had quoted an episode narrated by Flight Lieutenant Amjad Hussain of Pakistan Air Force on how an Indian Air Force pilot had fought valiantly even though his aircraft was almost damaged.
Devaiah was a member of a strike force assigned to attack the Sargodha airfield on September 7, 1965. However, Devaiah failed to return to the base after the raid on the airfield.
The Pakistani pilot had narrated in the book how he had intercepted the Dassault Mystere aircraft piloted by the Indian pilot (Devaiah) while he flew the supersonic F104 star fighter aircraft.

Going by the account of Flt. Lt. Amjad Hussain in the book, Devaiah was piloting a Dassault Mystere aircraft which was intercepted by his supersonic F104 star. In the dog-fight, Devaiah’s aircraft was badly damaged, but this did not stop him from going after the Pakistani aircraft which was shot down. The Pakistani pilot managed to eject and lived to tell the story.
Apparently, Devaiah was killed either while failing to maintain control of his aircraft, or while attempting low-level ejection.
Only after the book of the British author was published, the Indian nation came to know the bravery of the pilot from Kodagu who was conferred the Maha Vira Chakra posthumously during the Republic Day and the award was received from the President of India by Sundari Devaiah.
The Madikeri Municipal Council should be complimented for honouring the war hero from Kodagu who laid down his life fighting the enemy. The Pakistani pilot should also be given credit for bringing the episode in the open and giving credit to a member of the Indian Air Force.





Madikeri hockey turf: A case of all dressed up, but nowhere to go!

On 25/08/09


Though work on laying the synthetic hockey turf at Madikeri was completed last year, the ground is yet to be thrown open for national and international competitions due to bureaucratic red-tape.
Kodagu, one of the nurseries of Indian hockey, now boasts of a Rs 3.5 crore synthetic turf facility imported from Australia.
The ground has not been used for competitive hockey due to the fact that it was not certified by a technical team from the International Hockey Federation (FIH). A team from Australia inspected the ground three months ago and certified it as “fit for play”.
According to reports, the new ground will be inaugurated in September following a decision taken at the monitoring committee meeting of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) recently at Madikeri.
Union Sports Minister M.S. Gill is likely to inaugurate the ground.
The land for the ground has been leased by the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore, to the Coorg Hockey Association (CHA), whereas the synthetic turf was laid by the SAI.
According to Prince Karumbaiah, Administrative Officer of the SAI, Madikeri, discussions at Wednesday’s meeting focused on the issue of sharing the ground facility by the SAI and the CHA.
The CHA proposes the construction of a Club House at one portion of the ground.
The preliminary work at the ground was done by the Central Public Works Department, which was entrusted with the job by the SAI, New Delhi, last year.
Once the ground is commissioned for competitive hockey, the youth of Kodagu could take full advantage of the facilities.

EDITOR’S VIEW: Though many people in Kodagu feel that the Kodava family hockey tournaments could be held at the new synthetic turf, this portal is of the view that the family tournaments should be held at playgrounds in small towns to improve the infrastructure.

For instance, the Kallichanda hockey tournament held at Ponnampet helped in improving the infrastructure at the local junior college.



Effect of 'black magic'? Four of a Kodava family commit suicide

On 20/08/09


Four members of the Kambayenda family committed suicide by jumping into a pond at Kunjila village near Napoklu over a property dispute allegedly involving the sisters of Nithya Bheemaiah (40).
Besides Bheemaiah, the victims have been identified as Vincy (36), wife of Bheemaiah, daughter Mridula (14), student of Francis Xavier School in Bangalore, and son Raj Devaiah (aged three).
The family had celebrated the birthday of Mridula on Sunday after which Nithya had reportedly hatched a suicide pact, unable to withstand the harassment meted out by his parents and sisters.
According to a report, in a letter handed over to his nephew, Bheemaiah had alleged that his sisters Shobha, Tara, father Subramani and mother Ponnamma had been performing black magic against them following a property dispute.
Bheemaiah was upset because he had borrowed huge loans to develop his 10-acre property for which his sisters had allegedly staked a claim.
The suicides came to light on Monday when an estate worker found the main door bolted from outside with a copy of the letter placed on it, indicating that their bodies could be found within the estate.
The worker came across the bodies inside the pond. He alerted the neighbours who summoned the police.
According to a report, all the four had consumed sleeping tablets before jumping into the well.
Bheemaiah had left behind the copies of the suicide notes for the police and the media. The police have registered a case of unnatural death.



Urbanisation will sound the death-knell of Kodagu, says Col. Muthanna

On 05/08/09



The Kodagu we know will soon cease to exist, warns Col. C.P. Muthanna (picture above), Secretary of the Kodagu Model Forest Trust, in the following article:


For Kodagu and its people, a new threat looms large on the horizon. The danger is very real. It is a growing menace that must be tackled immediately; we just do not have the luxury of time. The threat is the rapid urbanization of Kodagu, cloaked under the cover of ‘development’. Most of our towns are steadily growing in every possible direction. Let us take the example of Gonikoppal. To the east, Gonikoppal has merged with Harishchandrapura and is fast extending to Seegethod. To the west, Gonikoppal and Kaikeri will soon become one. Kaikeri is already reaching out to Hathur and Hathur to Bittangala. In turn, Bittangala is growing into a small township and will head towards Virajpet, while Virajpet itself extends to the east towards Bittangala. To the north, Gonikoppal is steadily gaining ground towards Athur on two separate axes. Even within towns, ‘layouts’ and ‘extensions’ are springing up and expanding in areas that were once lush green slopes overlooking the town.

Conversion of land into sites is the new way to wealth in Kodagu. Lands that are on the road side are being viewed in terms of ‘cents’ and not acres. The value is especially high if the land is close to a major town such as Virajpet, Madikeri or Gonikoppal. It could be paddy fields, coffee plantations or uncultivated land. Soon, Kodagu will resemble Kerala. Buildings and houses will dominate the landscape all along the roads. It will not be possible to discern where one town ends and another begins. The bulk of these sites will be purchased by people who have migrated to Kodagu from outside the district. In view of the recession, an estimated seven lakh people from neighbouring Kerala have lost their jobs in the Gulf and have returned home. Kerala will find it difficult to absorb them and a large segment of these people will move into contiguous areas including Kodagu. Even if five percent of them move into Kodagu, it works out to a figure of thirty five thousand! The demand for sites for houses will therefore get a huge boost, and at the same time, the marginalization of the indigenous communities will get further accentuated. In a sense, the situation in Kodagu today is already worse than Assam.


Kodagu is the catchment area of River Cauvery that sustains millions of people across South India. Therefore, protection of the forested and rural landscape of Kodagu is in the national interest. Being a hilly region, the ecology of Kodagu is extremely fragile. Ecological degradation will soon result in water-stress. In the case of Madikeri City, the annual rainfall is ninety to hundred inches. Yet the city faces water shortage during summer. The recent months have seen the worst water shortages ever faced by Madikeri. Yet, the City Muncipal Council plans to expand the city municipality limits by an additional eight kilometers! Urbanization of Kodagu will result in more bore wells, and rapid depletion of the water table. This will lead to demand for additional piped water schemes from the rivers. Consequently, there will be a scarcity of water for irrigation of plantations and agricultural land. Coffee plantations and agriculture has been the mainstay of the Kodagu economy for several generations.

There is also a serious issue of waste management. The existing waste and sewage management systems of the towns are extremely inefficient as well as inadequate. Town municipalities and Gram Panchayats routinely dump their garbage in forest areas, sacred groves, river banks and on road sides. In the face of improper waste disposal, the threat of ground-water contamination in Kodagu is real, and ground-water contamination is extremely serious because it is permanent. Further urbanization will only compound this problem.

One of the issues related to urbanization is the huge mass of tourists that descend on Madikeri during week-ends and the holiday season. There is a need to regulate tourism not only in Madikeri but all over the district, so that it does not exceed the carrying capacity of Kodagu. Tourism may bring in some money to Kodagu- but at what cost? Uncontrolled tourism will see further demands on depleting water resources and further strain the waste management systems. At the same time, we will lose more of our precious land to resorts and hotels.

There are also other serious ramifications to urbanization in Kodagu. Urbanization will bring in its wake land sharks and mafia. Crime rates will soar and we will witness greater social and societal tensions.

Kodagu could rapidly slide into the ‘urbanization trap’. Certain urgent steps that need to be considered are:

A. Town delimitation and town planning

B. Restrictions on conversion of agricultural/ plantation land for commercial purposes or for sale as sites.

C. The Zilla Panchayat should impose a three-year cap on fresh licenses for new hotels and resorts, home stays, guest houses etc, and for expansion of existing ones. This will check further loss of agricultural and plantation lands .It will also ensure that the number of tourists does not exceed the carrying capacity of the fragile hill-ecology of Kodagu.

D. Any effort to check urbanization of Kodagu will meet with stiff resistance from vested interests. There is huge money involved in land conversion, no-objection certificates [NOCs], and sale of commercial lands. This money is channelized to various echelons. However, the urbanization issue must be tackled head-on to save Kodagu. In the ultimate analysis, Kodagu must remain a rural landscape that is dominated by forests, plantations and wet lands. Apart from the plantation sector, development and employment must be in the form of agro-forestry, fruit processing industries, organic fertiliser and pesticide production, bamboo-based industries, honey production, live-stock, herbal medicine and cosmetics, etc. These are industries that are in consonance with the landscape and which will protect the long-term interests of the indigenous communities of Kodagu.

E. If we do not succeed in halting the urbanization of Kodagu, all other struggles and efforts to protect this land will be in vain. Time and again I am reminded of these sad lines from an old song-‘‘Once there were green fields kissed by the Sun- Once there were valleys where rivers used to run.”







Monsoon tourism big draw in Kodagu

On 24/07/09


Monsoon tourism is a big draw in Kodagu, unlike in the past when tourists stayed away during the rainy season.
The major water falls across Kodagu and the increasing interest in water rafting, have contributed to the growing trend of monsoon tourism.
A leading Madikeri hotelier said there was no “off season” for his hotel as tourist flow has been steady in the last couple of years even during the monsoon.
Whitewater rafting has caught up in a big way at Kakkattu-Kith river near Srimangala with the Karnataka government ministers too showing interest in the sport.
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Jagadish Shettar and the Minister for Youth Services and Sports Goolihatti D. Shekar, witnessed rafting recently near Srimangala.
Irpu Falls near Kutta, the less known Mallalli Falls in Somwarpet, the famous Abbi Falls near Madikeri, Medura Falls at Surlabbi, Geejaganda Falls near Garwale, Chelavara Falls near Cheyyandane, Devaragundi Falls at Mukkodlu and Mullanda Abbi near Mutlu are some of the water falls which provide wonderful spectacle to tourists visiting Kodagu during the monsoon.




More rain and flooding this year in Kodagu

On 19/07/09


Kodagu district has received more rainfall this year, though the monsoon was erratic.
Kodagu received 1,583.31 mm from January to July 17 this year against 940.42 mm during the corresponding period last year.
Major rivers, including the Cauvery, are in spate and have inundated vast areas of paddy fields. Several people were shifted to rehabilitation centres at Gonikoppal, Balamuri and Karadigodu areas as water entered their houses.
The Cauvery was overflowing at Bethri, cutting off road connectivity between Madikeri and Virajpet. Tandagundi bridge nearby has been submerged.
The overflowing Lakshmanateertha river has inundated paddy fields and severed the road link from Nittoor to Balele town.
The Keerehole near Gonikoppa overflowed and the water entered many houses along its banks. The Madikeri-Hakathur road stretch between Kaggodu and Hakathur was cut off for some time. The Cauvery water entered the Kottamudi road and blocked the Napoklu-Murnad road at Bolibane.
Rafts were deployed to shift the affected people at Balamuri. Situation remained grim at Bhagamandala and Aiyyangeri as the road links from Bhagamandala remained cut off for a few days. Work was in progress to clear debris on Madikeri-Chettalli road following a landslip on Wednesday.
Power supply was disrupted in most parts of the districts for days on end, including Madikeri town.
A mechanised boat was used to ferry people to and from Bhagamandala as roads to Madikeri and Aiyyangeri are under water. The old bathing ghat and the new changing rooms close to the Triveni Sangama have been submerged. Several trees have fallen all along the Bhagamandala-Madikeri route.
Deputy Commissioner Ashwatha Narayana Gowda and Assistant Commissioner Akram Pasha visited Bhagamandala to take stock of the situation.
A number of waterfalls along the Madikeri-Chettalli road and Bhagamandala-Karike road have come alive, due to the incessant rainfall. Almost all major waterfalls in the district such as Abbi Falls, Chelavara Falls in Cheyyandane, Medura Falls and Geejaganda Falls in Surlabbi, Devaragundi Falls near Mukkodlu are in full flow.




Monsoon finally arrives in Kodagu

On 06/07/09


The monsoon has finally arrived in full force in Kodagu after playing hide-and-seek for the last couple of weeks, keeping the people on tenterhooks.
Bhagamandala area has been receiving heavy downpour in the past few days, leading to floods in the adjoining areas, affecting the movement of vehicular traffic.
The rainfall in Kodagu so far has been less compared to the same period last year.
The district received a rainfall of 552.74 mm from January to July 3 this year, compared to last year’s tally of 847.24 mm in the same period.
Farmers have begun agricultural operations like sowing across the district. However, this reporter who visited Kodagu recently found that most of the paddy fields have been left fallow, apparently because of serious shortage of labourers.
The district administration has set up a control room to keep track of the situation and take up relief measures.
Madikeri has been under a thick cloud of fog. Residents living in hilly areas have been apprehending land-slips in the town which killed four people a couple of years ago.





BJP leader Advani wears the colourful Kodava dress

On 28/06/09


After holidaying for five days, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani left Kodagu in Karnataka on Sunday.
Mr Advani, accompanied by his family members was staying at the Orange County resort near Siddapur.
Though most of the time, the Advanis were confined to the resort due to security reasons, the BJP strongman turned a Kodava (Coorg) for a while by donning the colourful Kodava traditional dress. He was helped out in wearing the Kodava attire by an acquaintance who was with him in Bangalore Central Jail during the Emergency in 1975.
Ms. Kamala Advani, wife of Mr Advani, too wore her sari in Kodava style. Many who saw her photo splashed in newspapers, felt that those who helped her to wear the sari should have briefed her properly on Kodava attire. Normally, Kodava style sari is worn with half sleeve or full-sleeved blouse.





BJP leader Advani holidaying in Kodagu

On 26/06/09


Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani has been holidaying in Kodagu along with his family members.
He is staying at the Orange County resort near Siddapur. Advani flew into Virajpet in a helicopter. He recalled his association with the late Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa.
For Mr Advani, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, this is a well deserved holiday after the grueling election campaign to the Lok Sabha which the BJP lost badly.
Mr Advani is spending his time by reading and walking amidst the greenery of the sylvan resort.
He is accompanied by his wife Kamala, son Jayanth and daughter-in-law Ruthika.
Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa is likely to visit Mr. Advani on Saturday.
The police have thrown a tight security ring around the resort and only a few BJP leaders were allowed to meet Mr Advani.





Poonacha shines at 50-plus tennis in Spain

On 17/06/09


From Napoklu to Spain, it has been a long journey for Palanganda Poonacha, aged 51 years, presently working for United India Insurance company in Bangalore. Poonacha recently secured the second place in the ‘consolation event’ at the World Individual Tennis Championship at Mallorca in Spain in the 50-plus age group.

Interestingly, Poonacha started playing tennis only when he was 34 years old. During his school days at Napoklu, he used to play hockey and volleyball.

After his graduation from Mysore Open University, Poonacha (pet name Nondove), started working and in the next 13 years did not have much time for sports as he was busy in the office work.

To keep himself fit, Poonacha decided to play tennis for one hour a day. Says Poonacha:”I used to watch matches on TV to learn more and more about the game. I was impressed by players like Pete Sampras and Tim Henman. I distributed sweets when Sampras won the Wimbledon.”

Since he played volley-ball in his younger days, he could tackle big serves from the beginning. He participated in the veteran national ranking tournament and qualified in all the three tournaments. “when I was 13 in the ranking, I went to play Asian seniors open 2004 at Bangkok,” he said.

In February,2006,he injured his leg while walking on J.C. Road in Bangalore and was out of competition for nine months. But he started playing in 2008 when he played Asian seniors open at Bangkok where he came to quarter-finals and lost to second seeded player from Japan. In 2008, he was ranked number four in the national ranking and 295 in the world ranking.
Poonacha’s latest win at Spain was the icing on the cake.

The moral of the story is ‘it is better late than never!’





Kodava women on top in Kodagu politics

On 05/06/09


It is a matter of pride that, of late, Kodava women have been elected to important public offices in Kodagu.
The latest Kodava woman to hit the headline is Kechamada Sarita Poonacha who has been elected president of Virajpet Taluk Panchayat.
While Sarita will head the Taluk Panchayat, Kallira Kanthi Belliappa is heading the Virajpet Pattana Panchayat (municipality). Kanthi has been pro-active in the public affairs of Virajpet town.
While the two Kodava women are ruling the roost at Virajpet, Kelettira Chitra Nanaya has been elected vice-president of Madikeri Taluk Panchayat in the recent elections.
Shantheyanda Veena Achaiah has been a prominent of leader of the Congress in Kodagu for the past few years now and she is at present the president of the Kodagu unit of the party.
It is not just Kodava women who are making waves in Kodagu, but even non-Kodava women too have been in the forefront.
Deerghakeshi Shivanna recently stepped down as Kodagu Zilla Panchayat president after successfully completing a full term.
H.S. Subhashini is the new president of the Madikeri taluk panchayat and Geetha Basappa is the vice-president of the Somwarpet taluk panchayat.
Though the present political set-up is not conducive for women to enter politics in Kodagu, women have managed to become office-bearers by virtue of the reservation for women under the panchayat raj system.
Among the Kodava women who have been successful in public life include, Bollera Jajie Mandanna (in picture above), well-known consumer activist and former president of the Bangalore Kodava Samaja and Ms. Ichettira Prema Cariappa, former Bangalore mayor and Rajya Sabha member.






Mukkatiras of the world unite, is the latest buzzword in Kodagu

On 21/05/09


Mukkatiras of the world unite, is the latest buzzword in Kodagu.
Nineteen Mukkatira clans living across Kodagu have decided to form an association to promote the interests of the members of its clan.
Apparently, the decision to come together could be a spin-off from the recent Kodava Family Hockey Festival.
It is of interest to note that three different Palanganda clans – Kadangamurur, Murnad and Napokulu – have joined together to form the Palanganda hockey team, which has become a formidable force, thanks to the decision of the three different clans to form a single team.
The various Mukkatira families include those from Harihara, Gonikoppal, Kutta, Bondha, Pulikotu, Nelaji, Kunjilageri, Bavali, Arapattu, Aruvatoklu, Kumbaladalu, Kadagadalu, Madapur, Betri, Bittangala, Balamuri, Moovatoklu, Mukkodlu, Toochamekeri and Kunda.
Haven’t you heard the joke that each village in Kodagu has a Mukkatira Okka!
According to a Mukkatira family spokesperson, the existing rules governing a particular Mukkatira family as of now, wherever they lived, concerning deaths, births and other traditional practices, except marriage, would continue.
However, matrimonial alliances among different Mukkatira families may not continue in future, the spokesperson clarified.
Mukkatira T. Nanaiah, noted advocate from Bangalore, said that the bylaw of the association was being prepared and the association would be registered soon.




Sarita Mandanna's debut novel set in Kodagu makes publishing history

On 04/05/09


New York-based Puttichanda Sarita Mandanna’s novel ‘Tiger Hills’, set in Kodagu in Karnataka, is understood to have received the largest advance Penguin India has ever paid for a debut novel so far.
Sarita, daughter of Col. Kambeyanda Ben Mandanna and Dr Charimanda Rani Mandanna, is married to Puttichanda Siddarth Apaya, son of Puttichanda Indra (who served in the merchant navy) and Avani Poovaiah.
According to reports reaching here, David Godwin Associates Ltd, the Britain-based literary agency, has sold ‘Tiger Hills’ to Penguin Books-India for an undisclosed amount.
A spokesperson for Penguin India was quoted as saying: “It is a sweeping popular narrative which also has elements of romance in it. The style of writing is wonderful and the manuscript has been creating a flutter ever since it came to us. The whole period sweep of the book makes it a page-turner.”
Sarita is an investment banker. She is expected to make a public appearance at the ongoing London Book Fair.
She did her MBA in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, a post-graduate degree in management from the Indian Institute of Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from the Shriram College at Delhi.










Mandepanda 2009 Kodava hockey festival begins at Ammathi

On 21/04/09


The 13th edition of the Kodava Hockey Festival began at Ammathi town in Kodagu on Monday. More than 200 Kodava clans will participate in the festival being organized by the Mandepanda family this year.
The festival flag was unfurled by the president of the Mandepanda family M.B. Appaiah, in the presence of the Deputy Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly K.G. Bopaiah.
Mandepanda S. Monnappa (Monni) and Mandepanda Prakash, who have represented India in hockey, and former India basketball player, Pushpa Kuttanna, brought the ‘festival flame’ into the grounds amid cheers and applause from the spectators.
The bagpiper music band from the Indian Army’s MEG put on a good show. Kodava folk dances were performed.
For the first time, the State Government has contributed funds for the festival.
Pandanda Kuttappa (Kuttani) who conceptualized the Kodava hockey festival, inaugurated an exhibition match between Coorg XI and the Sports Authority of India, Bangalore.
Mr. Appachu Ranjan MLA, who also belongs to the Mandepanda family,thanked the main sponsors, Café Coffee Day, and the State Government and other donors.
The winning team would get Rs. 75,000 and the runners-up Rs. 50,000 and the semi-finalists would get Rs. 25,000 each, according to Shuja Kushalappa, vice-president of the festival committee.



Re-consecration of renovated Bhagamandala temples performed

On 11/04/09


After a gap of over 400 years, the re-consecration (punarprathisthapana) of the four renovated temples at Bhagmandala in Kodagu district was performed on April 9.
Rituals to mark the re-consecration of the four renovated temples had begun on April 2. Renovation of both the temples at Talacauvery, the birth place of river Cauvery and the Bhagandeshwara temple at Bhagamandala were taken up by the Karnataka government-promoted Cauvery Neeravari Nigama.
The renovated temples at Bhagamandala include Sri Bhagandeshwara, Sri Maha Vishnu, Sri Subramanya and Ashtabandha Lepa of Sri Maha Ganapathi temples at the Bhagandeshwara temple complex.
The re-consecration rituals were performed by a team of 84 priests led by Padmanabha Tantri from Neeleshwara in Kerala.
Devotees from Kodagu and outside the district witnessed the rare rituals performed during the historic occasion. The 13-day rituals would conclude on April 14.
The Kodagu district administration had taken steps to ensure smooth conduct of the event.
Slaughter of animals had been banned in and around Bhagamandala from April 2 to 14, and liquor shops were close down for a few days. Cultural programmes were held to mark the occasion.





Is Kodava family hockey festival losing steam?

On 27/03/09


Is the ‘family hockey’ concept losing ground in Kodagu? It seems so, if one goes by the fact that only around 150 teams have registered this year for the 2009 ‘Mandepanda Cup’ to be held at Ammathi in April.
Mandepanda A. Kuttanna, the spokesperson for the hockey festival, said the last date for registration of teams has been extended to March 30 to accommodate more teams.
It is a paradox that the while the budget for the hockey festival has reached a staggering Rs 35 lakh this year, the number of teams has fallen drastically.
For instance, the Kaliyanda Cup played at Napoklu in 2003, drew a record 280 teams and the Maleyanda Cup witnessed the participation of 235 teams in action.
The matches this time would be held at the Ammathi government primary school and high school grounds.
Work is on to build galleries to accommodate over 30,000 people for the semi-final and final matches of the 13th edition of the festival. Café Coffee Day will be main sponsor.
With Madikeri BJP MLA Mandepanda Appachu Ranjan being the patron of the festival, there seems to be no constraint on sponsors and funds. The organizers have even come forward to provide hockey sticks and other accessories to the needy teams. Besides, they have offered to provide vehicles to ferry the teams.
It is time for Pandanda Kuttani, who conceived the idea of family hockey to introspect as to why the number of participating teams have come down.
The reasons could be many. From recession in the economy to the obsession with cricket among the Kodava youth. Probably, the players do not want to risk their jobs in time of recession by taking leave from their work.
There have been reports that gambling dens have been coming up near the venue of the matches and people have lost interest in the game of hockey.
For the sake of Kodava unity and to encourage the spirit of the game, the Kodava Hockey Academy should draw up a road map to restore the festival to its original glory.



Supreme Court admits Air Marshal Cariappa's petition

On 09/03/09


Taking a pro-active role, the Supreme Court of India has admitted a public interest litigation filed by Air Marshal (Retd) K.C. Cariappa, to restrain the Kodagu district administration and elected representatives from forming a road across the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Kodagu.
The Apex Court has directed the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to make an on the spot study of the situation and file a report.
Sources said a CEC team is expected to visit Kodagu sometime next month to make an assessment.
In a blatant violation of the law, the Kodagu district administration, backed by Kodagu MLAs K.G. Bopaiah and Appachu Ranjan, and supported by local villagers attempted to lay a road through the Pushpagiri reserve forest in the Western Ghats a couple of months ago, amid opposition from Karnataka forest officials.
The controversial road is a seven km stretch between Madikeri and Subramanya near Mangalore in Dakshina Kannada district. Over 400 villagers from Galibeedu near Madikeri, deployed earthmovers to make the road. Their contention was that the road would shorten the distance between Kodagu and Subramanya.
In a mockery of justice, the villagers were provided ‘police protection’ to form the road by the district administration, headed by Deputy Commissioner Baldev Krishna.
The top district officials went to the extent of publicly humiliating forest official Anil Rathan who protested against the road being formed through the reserve forest.
It is learnt that Conservator of Kodagu G.A. Sudarshan, who has since been shifted out apparently as a fall-out of the ‘road formation’, was behind the move to form the road, allegedly at the instance of the timber lobby and the MLAs.
The Kodagu Zilla Panchayat even passed a resolution for forming the road and even directed the police to lock up forest officials who tried to interfere with the road laying!
It looks like that the MLAs were only interested in the votes that would accrue to their BJP party by supporting the road project to benefit the local villagers.
EDITOR’S VIEW: The road laying project across the Pushpagiri sanctuary is a suicidal step which could further damage the ecology of Kodagu.
Just for the sake of votes, the BJP MLAs cannot prevail on the district administration to allow people to take law into their hands and take up road formation, in utter disregard for forest laws of the land, including Supreme Court ruling banning felling of trees in reserve forests.
Air Marshal Cariappa, son of the late Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, and other environmental groups like the Coorg Wildlife Society headed by Col C.P. Muthanna, should be complimented for protesting against the illegal activities of the timber mafia.





Preeth Ganapathy's rare feat: First rank in BE computer science

On 21/02/09


It is a matter of pride that a Kodava girl Preeth Ganapathy has secured the first rank in computer science and engineering examination conducted by the Vishveshvaraya Technological University (VTU) in Karnataka.
This is a rare achievement because the VTU comprises of most of the engineering colleges in Karnataka. Moreover, computer science is the most sought after engineering stream.
She was awarded two gold medals for this distinction at the recent VTU convocation held at Belgaum by the Pro-Chancellor and the Minister for Higher Education, Aravind Limbavali on behalf of the Governor of Karnataka.
Preeth completed her Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science at R.V College of Engineering in the year 2008.
She completed her secondary education at the Sindhi High School, Bangalore with 92.6% and PUC at MES College of Arts, Commerce and Science, Bangalore with 95.6%.
Preeth is the daughter of Mookonda K Ganapathy and Gowri Ganapathy who hail from Bilugunda Village of Ammathy in Kodagu.
Mr Ganapathy recently retired as a superintendent of police in Bangalore. He was known for his uprightness. He was one of the few officers in the Karnataka police department who had a clean image.
Preeth is currently employed with a multi-national company. She should serve as a role model for young Kodavas.
There is a myth that Kodava youngsters are not capable of hard work, required for achieving academic excellence. Preeth has proved that good parenting and hard work could achieve wonders.



Alternate day water supply in Madikeri

On 08/02/09


It is not even summer, but alternate day water supply has become the order of the day in Madikeri, the headquarters of the Kodagu district.
This sorry state of affairs has been going for many years and the elected representatives and the officials of the district administration have to take the blame for it.
It is basically a man-made problem, though the erratic monsoon could also have contributed to the alarming situation.
It is a man-made disaster because the Kootuhole reservoir, the main source of water supply to Madikeri, has been leaking for so many years now and the authorities, especially the elected members of the Madikeri city municipal council, have not taken the issue of plugging the leakage seriously.
Interestingly, the authorities have been pumping the leaked water from Kootuhole, back to the reservoir for the past 15 days.
Thankfully, the municipal council has taken up work on the Kundamestri project. Once this was completed, water could be directly pumped to the storage and filter tanks in the city.
Most of the water supply schemes take years to complete. Unless the municipal authorities brace themselves up to complete the Kundamestri project early, Madikeri would continue to face water scarcity.
What is worrying is the fact that other sources of drinking water supply like the Roshanara tank and Pumpinakere have also been drying up.
Frequent and unscheduled power cuts had further deteriorated the water supply situation in Madikeri.
Madikeri has emerged as a leading tourist destination in the recent years. To sustain the tourist traffic, there is need for uninterrupted supply of drinking water.




Virajpet court grants bail to Pramod Muthalik

On 03/02/09


A Virajpet court has given bail to Pramod Muthalik who had recently hogged national limelight after the activists of his Sri Rama Sene assaulted women at a pub in Mangalore.
The Kodagu police had taken Muthalik to custody after a Mangalore court had released him on bail in connection with the attack on the Mangalore pub.
Muthalik was arrested by the Kodagu police in connection with a case registered against him by the Gonikoppal police in 2003 for making a provocative speech at the Hindu Virat Samavesha at the College grounds.
The Virajpet JMFC court judge R. Ashok on Monday granted conditional bail to Muthalik after he furnished a bond of Rs 1 lakh. Advocate Machamada Nanaiah appeared for Muthalik.
After his release, Muthalik told reporters: “We are against observing Valentine’s Day on February 14. Observing Valentines’ Day is against our culture. We will continue our fight without taking law into our hands.”



Karthik Somaiah's speeding car mows down 4 in Bangalore

On 25/01/09


Kundhira Karthik Somaiah (29), marketing operations manager at Sercon, driving his Honda Accord car in a rash manner, mowed down four persons in Bangalore’s Indiranagar on Saturday morning.
Karthik, a self-confessed party animal, son of K.M. Somaiah, a retired merchant navy officer, who was driving back home from a late night party, slammed a cyclist first on 100 Feet Road and then ploughed through the payment, mowing down three morning walkers.
The victims have been identified as Radhakrishnan (40), cyclist and a construction worker, Dr Ramanath Panathur (73), a medical practitioner of CMH Road, Kempe Gowda (76), a retired civil engineer, and Siddaiah (69), a retired civil defence officer.
Karthik, who was apparently drunk, fled the scene in an autorickshaw after some passers-by allegedly tried to assault him.
Though the accident occurred at 6.15 a.m., Karthik surrendered to the police only at 5.30 p.m. along with his lawyer. The police could not trace Karthik and found his house at BDA Flats, Domlur, locked with his dog inside.
Karthik told the media that he spotted a cyclist on the wrong side of the road and tried to swerve the car to the left when he lost control and hit the pedestrians. “I was very scared and ran away from the spot to avoid being killed.”
The police have charged Karthik for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Additional commissioner of police Praveen Sood was quoted as saying: “When he surrendered in the evening, still there was alcohol content in Karthik’s blood. He had partied with one set of friends till 11 p.m. on Friday night, where he drank and then he headed to another friend’s place and continued to drink. In the morning, he was driving to another friend’s place for breakfast, when the accident occurred.”
The car bearing the fancy number 008 was initially owned by Sunil Damani, of Mitsun’s Steels, who had sold the car to Karthik last year.
According to Karthik’s Orkut profile, he was huge fan of Ferrari and Formula 1 cars. To his Orkut friends, Karthik was a warm and caring person who would help anyone in trouble.
Karthik's family hails from Balele in Kodagu.



Kodava movie release on January 30 at Gonikoppal

On 22/01/09


The first full length cinemascope colour movie in Kodava thak will be released at Gonikoppal’s Nayana Theatre on January 30.

Ponnera Manas will be the first Kodava movie to be released after a gap of over 11 years.
Machettira Jenith Aiyappa, who did his schooling at Kodagu Vidyalaya, Madikeri, and then his engineering at Mysore, will play the lead role.
‘Duniya’ Rashmi, who has acted in several Kannada films will be the heroine. The film has been directed by Raj Ballal.
Jenith, who also studied at St. Anne’s School, Virajpet, has dabbled in theatre and has interest in martial arts.

Some of the other actors include Bachmada Vishu Uthappa, Singoor M Poovaiah, Appaneravanda Shanti Achappa, Kolera Joru Ganapathi, Chammattira Praveen Uthappa, Uluvangada Lohith Bheemaiah, Mechanda Dhanya Uthappa, Paleyanda Jashwini Uthappa, Choyamada Chondamma Roshan, Banangada Prathima Prashanth, and Teena Brijesh.

This writer had the privilege of watching the premier of the first Kodava feature film over three decades ago at Gonikoppal’s Mamata Picture Palace.

It is heartening to note that several Kodavas have taken up career in films, mostly in Kannada movies.









Cricket captain Dhoni visits village near Suntikoppa

On 11/01/09


Cricket fever of a different kind swept across the remote Nakoor village near Suntikoppa in Kodagu during the week-end as Indian Cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni landed up there to visit fellow cricketer Robin Uthappa.
Dhoni, who was moving around without his Z Plus security was accompanied by world billiards champion Pankaj Advani.
As the news spread, hordes of villagers and youth descended to have a glimpse of the star cricketers, some with their bats to take autographs. Dhoni declined to interact with the media as it was a private visit.
Playing host were Robin’s father Ayyuda Venu Uthappa, international hocket umpire, and mother Rozy. Dhoni offered prayers at the local Eshwara temple.





Top Kodagu officials back illegal road formation across Pushpagiri reserve forest

On 03/01/09


In a blatant violation of law, the Kodagu district administration and people’s representatives have supported villagers to lay a road through the Pushpagiri reserve forest, amid opposition from Karnataka forest officials.
The controversial road is a 7 km stretch between Madikeri and Subramanya in Dakshina Kannada district.
Over 400 villagers from Galibeedu village near Madikeri, deployed earthmovers to make the road. Their contention was that the road would shorten the distance between Kodagu and Subramanya near Mangalore.
The Kodagu MLAs Appachu Ranjan and K.G. Bopaiah supported the villagers and the road formation was backed by Kodagu deputy commissioner K. Baladevakrishna and superintendent of police T.R. Suresh. In a mockery of justice, the villagers were provided ‘police protection’ to form the road.
The top district officials went to the extent of publicly humiliating forest official Anil Rathan who protested against the road being formed through the reserve forest.
Environmentalists, including a few members of Coorg Wildlife Society, have urged the district administration to move cautiously in the matter.
The environmental groups have submitted memorandums to the district administration to obtain permission from the Union Ministry of Forests, Environment and Ecology.
They pointed out there were alternative existing roads which could be upgraded on the periphery of the forests, instead of formation of new roads through the reserve forests and wildlife sanctuaries.
The memorandum has been signed among others by by Air Marshal (retired) K. C. Cariappa, Thammu Poovaiah, and K. M. Chinnappa.



MIT scientist Dr Moodera Jagadeesh Coorg Person of the Year

On 22/12/08


Dr Jagadeesh Subbaiah Moodera, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and winner of Oliver E. Buckley Prize, is Coorg Person of the Year, 2008.

The Kodagu-born Dr Jagadeesh, who did his Ph.D in Physics from Indian Institute of Technology (Chennai), led a multinational team of researchers for developing a novel magnetic semiconductor that will greatly increase computing power and flexibility of future electronic devices, while dramatically reducing their power consumption.

Dr Jagadeesh emerged as the Coorg Person of the Year, in a poll conducted by www.coorgtourisminfo.com, Kodagu’s first news and tourism portal.

The American Physical Society will shortly honour Dr Jagadeesh with the Buckley Prize for his cutting-edge research in magnetic semiconductor material, which is seen as a major step forward in the field of spin-based electronics - or "spintronics", where the spin state of electrons is exploited to carry, manipulate and store information. Gadgets like laptops, cell phones and iPods already employ spintronics.

Dr Jagadeesh went to the United States in 1979 after his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from Mysore University and Ph.D from IIT, Chennai. His wife, Dr Berera Gita Jagadeesh, is also a scientist at MIT.

Among those who were nominated for the outstanding Coorg Person this year, include Chennai-based squash player Joshna Chinnappa, and Olympian athlete M.R. Poovamma.

The past winners of Coorg Person of the Year include cricketer Robin Uthappa, researcher Dr Boverianda Nanjamma Chinnappa, and novelist Kaveri Poonacha Nambisan.



Anonymous threat letters to Kodava planters

On 06/12/08


Anonymous letters, especially threatening Kodava planters in Kodagu (Coorg) district in Karnataka has led to apprehensions among the peace-loving Kodava community.
Besides warning the planters against their “lavish lifestyle”, the letters have “prescribed” minimum wage for workers, depending on the size of the plantations. Planters have been warned against consequences if the prescribed wages were not paid.
Copies of the letter have been sent to the Codagu Planters’ Association, Kodagu Coffee Growers’ Cooperative Society, Kodava Samaja units, and certain individual planters.
A person who had received such a letter said that Kodava community in Kodagu had been targeted.
Kodagu Superintendent of Police T.R. Suresh said the police were aware of the matter. “We are yet to identify from where the letters came,” he added.
Meanwhile, the co-convener of the Kodagu District Pragatipara Chintakara Vedike K.R. Vidyadhar, advocate, has urged the district administration to order an inquiry to pin down the individuals or organisations who had written the anonymous threatening letters.
“The anonymous letters does not have anything to do with the Vedike,” Mr. Vidyadhar stated.
EDITOR’S VIEW: The district administration should not take the issue lightly. There is already social unrest in Kodagu because of the increasing migration of undesirable elements from the neighbouring Kerala state. Probably, the letters could be the handiwork of these elements.
Besides, there have been reports that the Naxalites who have already established themselves in the neighbouring districts, could be planning to set up their base in Kodagu.
The district administration should clamp down on the subversive elements before they could cause further mischief.







CNC to approach UN for Kodava autonomous region

On 22/11/08


The Codava National Council (CNC) headed by N.U. Nachappa on Friday passed a resolution to take their demand for autonomous status for Kodava region in Karnataka to the United Nations if the Karnataka Government failed to concede to their long-standing demand.
Addressing the Codava National Day at the Gandhi Maidan at Madikeri to mark the 17th year of the movement, he reiterated that the Council would continue its peaceful struggle for creation of a Kodava autonomous region by merging the erstwhile 45 ‘nads’ (nad is a group of villages) in Kodagu.
Mr. Nachappa regretted that the movement for autonomous status was being dubbed as anti-Kannada.
Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) leader Dawa Pakrin attended the function.
Mr. Nachappa noted the CNC would not settle for anything less than conferring special status to Kodagu in consistent with Article 370 (Jammu and Kashmir) and Article 371 (North-Eastern States).
The CNC has decided to oppose any move to make Virajpet Constituency in Kodagu a scheduled area for tribal people based on the Dilip Singh Bhuria Committee report.



Ponanna pays Rs 47,000 to watch horror movie alone

On 20/11/08


A Bangalore-based advertising professional Pavin Ponanna has won the challenge posed by Bollywood producer Ram Gopal Verma to watch his horror film ‘Phoonk’ all alone.
Thirty-year-old Ponanna from Kodagu district bought all the tickets for the 10 p.m. show on Sunday and watched the film without feeling scared for a moment.
Ponanna shelled out Rs 47,000 to buy all the tickets for the show at Inox, a Bangalore multiplex, to watch the movie.
After the movie, Ponanna said: “It was a fantastic experience. I never felt scared even a moment. I took just 10 minutes to settle down. I sat on seat No. 7 in D row as seven was my lucky number. I was the only person in the theatre which has a capacity of 227 seats.”
It all started after Ponanna read an interview of Ram Gopal Verma where he had challenged anyone to watch Phoonk, a movie on black magic, all alone. Though it was not the official challenge and he had no prizes to win, Ponanna decided to take the challenge just to prove a point that he was not scared of watching the horror movie alone.
Ponanna was quoted as saying: “Kodavas are warriors. We are known to be brave and daring. In Kodagu, it goes completely dark after eight. That does not scare me, so why should this film?”
However, Ponanna did not want to take chances. He asked the multiplex to provide a doctor on call and security personnel to meet any eventuality. While he visited a temple earlier in the day, wife Shruthi also performed poojas to invoke divine blessings for Ponanna.
After the show, the hero of the movie Sudeep, also from Bangalore, was there to greet him and get his feedback.
Ponanna remarked: “Overall, the movie is superb. The acting of Sudeep is excellent.”