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Seminar on the occasion of the
Inauguration of the Codava People’s National Assembly 
“Codava Democratic Representation, Protection of Identity And Promotion of Growth”

By Balveer Arora
Professor of Political Science,
Former Rector & Pro Vice Chancellor
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi Capitol Village, Madikeri, 1st September 2005
 SEMINAR 

on 

"Social, Political and Constitutional Rights and entitlements of the Codavas" 

New Delhi , 10th November 2004 Venue : ISI (Indian Social Institute) 

Bangalore, 04 the February, 2005 Venue : Yavanika 

Again on 3rd September, 2006 at Madikeri & 

on 6th April 2006 at New Delhi

"The Codavas and the Composite Culture of Karnataka"

By Prof. Balveer Arora, - Renowned political scientist 

Co-coordinator, UGC - SAP, Centre for Political studies, JNU, 

Former Rector & Former Acting Vice Chancellor, JNU 

D6/34, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi - 110057, Indian 

               01. Protection and promotion of Identity of Codavas and Codavathis: Right and Entitlement to Recognition of Identity see Article 51A fundamental Duties. It shall be the duty of every citizen of India "to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture" 

02. Historical & Constitutional Dimensions : The Historical creation of a composite Karnataka State needs to be recalled. The Codavas have been concerned about the erosion of their distinctive linguistic and cultural heritage because of the steady influx of populations belonging to other communities into Codagu district distinct, and the consequential impact on their distinctive identity. While earlier the Codavas referred to themselves as a distinctive race and / or nationality, a more accurate description of the Codava people would be in terms of a linguistic and cultural community. Article 29(1) provides under Cultural and Educational Rights : "Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same". 03. Cultural Liberty In Today's Diverse World: UNDP HDR 2004 Report says three things (a) "Multicultural policies aim to protect cultural liberty and expand people's choices - in the ways people live and identify themselves - and not to penalize them for these choices". There can be many forms of penalization including loss of self-esteem, self worth: internalizing inferior /less evolved status. (b) " Multiculturalism is about building a common commitment to core, non negotiable values". Tolerance and acceptance of a non hierarchical diversity is the essence of this project. (c) "Cultural liberty i.e. the capability of people to live and be what they choose, is a human right and a vital part of human development." 04. Minorities , in the Indian context : Two types of minorities have been recognized, and separate institutional mechanisms have been devised for their protection and promotion. The National Commission for Minorities is exclusively concerned with religious minorities namely Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddists, Parsis, and now Jains, following the recent Supreme Court judgement. It is clear that the Codavas do not come under the scope of this definition of minorities, as due to historical reasons, the question of minority identity in independent India has been primarily linked to religion, whereas other types of identities are generally not covered under this nomenclature. Incidentally, there is a Commissioner for Linguistic minorities under Art. 350 (b) whose mandate is limited and whose effectiveness is doubtful. 05. Protection of language and Customary Laws : Against this background we have already suggested that the linguistic and cultural heritage of the Codavas, would best be protected through two institutional mechanisms: (a) Their language, Codava Thakk, could be recognized and included in the 8th" Schedule of the Constitution. Efforts need to be made to persuade the MHA/Govt. of India to include Codava Thakk in a similar legislation. (b) Article 371 of the Constitution provides for the protection of distinctive identities requiring special provision, notably the protection of Customary Laws and distinctive religious or social practices. Such protection has been given to the Nagas (371A), to the people of the hill areas of Manipur (371C) and the Mizos (371G). The inclusion of the Codavas as a distinctive People with their own specific customary laws and social or religious practices could form the object of a separate clause under Article 371 on lines similar of those for the Nagas and the Mizos. 06. Census Enumeration: It is also important to gather reliable statistical data on the number of persons who actually claim Codava Thakk as their mother tongue and ancestor worship (Karona) as their religion. It is, therefore important that appropriate instructions are given by the Census Commissioner well before the next general census so that both these markers of identity are properly recorded as such by the enumerators under the relevant columns. The Codavas will need to be made aware that unless they themselves claim these as distinctive markers of their identity, the efforts to seek and gain institutional recognition will not find adequate support in policy making circles. 07. Central University of Codagu: The National Commission to review the working of the constitution also took cognizance of the distinctive Codava identity and recommended inter alia the establishment of a Central University in Codagu, which would develop as a Centre for Codava studies in addition to other faculties / departments. It is important to pursue this idea, perhaps by setting up an Institute for Advanced Codava Studies, which would serve as a repository of existing documentation and a resource centre, beside providing a forum for bringing together scholars and knowledgeable persons. Such an Institute would provide the necessary support for the further development of the language and the literature of the Codavas in their mother tongue. 08. Space and Voice for the Codavas: Finally it is of paramount importance to stress that all these objectives can be achieved through peaceful means, with the cooperation and support of the Government of Karnataka. All of them fall within the framework of the Indian Constitution. An Assembly of the Codava people, which would give voice to their demands for the consideration of the State and Central Governments, would be a useful initiative in this regard and would help provide the necessary forum for discussing and articulating the various issues outlined above. 09. Three point Agenda : (1) Amendment of 8th Schedule to include Codava Thakk and development of usage in district administration. Harnessing Codava Creative energy and organizing a seminar on Codava Thakk: Linguistic and Literary Dimensions. (2) Amendment of Article 371 to provide protection for customary laws. As and interim measure, status of scheduled tribe. a) As an interim measure, status of schedule tribe for Codavas is the need of the hour. (3) Central University with a Special Centre of Military Sciences and a Museum of Military History as well as a Centre for Codava Language, Literature and Culture Studies. Creating opportunities for Codava youth, by equipping them with skills necessary for new growth sectors, as traditional avenues of employment and livelihood shrink. Education is the key to growth. Education of girls and participation of women in economic activity is the hallmark of a developed society. Declaration on the Rights of person Page No. 107 Declaration on the Right of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities Adopted by General Assembly the UNO: The Resolution 47/ 135 of 18 December 1992 The General Assembly,

 
 
  • Erosion of Identity and the Significance of Popular Assembly.
 
 

Languages and cultures encounter many challenges and can be eroded due to a variety of factors. The Codavas have been concerned about the erosion of their distinctive linguistic and cultural heritage because of the steady influx of populations belonging to other communities into Kodagu district, and the consequential impact on their distinctive identity. While earlier the Codavas referred to themselves as a race and/or nationality, a more accurate description of the Codava people would be in terms of a linguistic and cultural community, based on kinship.

 

Prof. Dr. Balveer Arora Inaugurating a seminar touching Codava Subject by Cutting Plantian Stump.

 
 
  • Minorities and Minority Status in the Indian Context.
 
 

Renowned Political Scientist Prof. Dr. Balveer Arora of JNU New Delhi

 

The United Nations declaration of 18th December 1992 on the rights of persons belonging to national ethnic religious and linguistic minorities says “The State shall protect the existence of the National or Ethnic, Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Identity of Minorities within their respective territories and encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity”. This is a comprehensive definition covering all types of groups and situations. 

However, in the Indian context, two types of minorities have been recognized, and separate institutional mechanisms have been devised for their protection and promotion. The National Commission for Minorities is exclusively concerned with religious minorities, namely Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and now Jains, following the recent Supreme Court judgement. It is clear that the Codavas do not come under the scope of this definition of minorities. Due to historical reasons, the question of minority identity in independent India has been primarily linked to religion, whereas other types of identities are generally not covered under this nomenclature. Incidentally, there is a Commissioner for Linguistic minorities under Article 350(b) whose mandate is limited and whose effectiveness is doubtful.

 
 
  • Protection of Language and Customary Laws:
 Against this background the linguistic and cultural heritage of the Codavas, would best be protected through two institutional mechanisms:
(a)   Their language, Codava Thakk, could be recognized and included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. Efforts need to be made to persuade the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India to include Codava Thakk in this legislation, which already includes 22 languages with the latest addition being the Bodo language. 

(b)    Article 371 of the Constitution provides for the protection of distinctive identities requiring special provisions, notably the protection of Customary Laws and distinctive religious or social practices. Such protection has been given to the Nagas (371A), to the people of the hill areas of Manipur (371C)and the Mizos (371G). The inclusion of the Codavas as a distinctive people with their own specific customary laws and social or religious practices could form the object of a separate clause under Article 371 on lines similar to those for the Nagas and the Mizos.
 
 
  • Census Enumeration:
 
 

It is also important to gather reliable statistical data on the number of persons who actually claim Codava Thakk as their mother tongue and ancestor Worship (Karona) as their religion. It is, therefore important that appropriate instructions be given by the Census Commissioner well before the next general census so that both these markers of identity are properly recorded as such by the enumerators under the relevant columns. The Codavas will need to be made aware that unless they themselves claim these as distinctive markers of their identity, the efforts to seek and gain institutional recognition will not find adequate support in policy making circles.

 

Eminent Social Scientist Padmabhushana Prof. Dr. T.K. Oommen with Nachappa at Codava Seminar

 
 
  • Kodagu Central University (KSU):
 
 

It is worth recalling that the National Commission to review the working of the Constitution also took cognizance of the distinctive Codava identity and recommended inter alia the establishment of a central University in Kodagu, which would develop as a Centre for Codava studies in addition to other faculties/departments. It is important to pursue this idea, perhaps by setting up an Institute for Advanced Codava studies (IACS), which would serve as a repository of existing documentation and a resource centre, beside providing a forum for bringing together scholars and knowledgeable persons. Such an Institute would provide the necessary support for the further development of the language and the literature of the Codavas in their mother tongue.

 
 
  • The Indian Constitution as a Vehicle of Protection:
 
 

Finally it is of paramount importance to stress that all these objectives can be achieved through peaceful means, with the help and support of the Government. Of Karnataka, and all of them fall within the framework of the extraordinarily rich and flexible Indian Constitution. An Assembly of the Codava people, which would give voice to their demands for the consideration of the state and Central Governments, would be a useful initiative in this regard and would help provide the necessary forum for discussing and articulating the various issues outlined above.

 
 II ‘The Codavas and the Composite Culture of Karnataka’ 
 
  • Protection and Promotion of Identity of Codavas and Codavathis:
 
 

Rights and Entitlement to Recognition of Identity under Article 51A in the chapter on Fundamental Duties was underscored. It says, inter alia, that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India “to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture”. The historical creation of a composite Karnataka state was recalled in this context. Article 29(1) provides under Cultural and Educational Righs: “Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.”

 
 
  • Space and Voice Concerns:
 
 

Against this background it was suggested that the linguistic and cultural heritage of the Codavas, would best be protected through two institutional mechanisms:

(a) Their language, Codava Thakk, could be recognized and included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. Efforts need to be made to persuade the MHA/Govt. of India to include Codava Thakk in a similar legislation. 

(b)   Recognition and inclusion under Article 371 of the Constitution, which rovides for the protection of distinctive identities requiring special provisions, notably the protection of customary laws and distinctive religious or social practices. Such protection has been given to the Nagas (371A), to the people of the hill areas of Manipur (371C) and the Mizos (371G). The inclusion of the Codavas as a distinctive people with their own specific customary laws and social or religious practices could form the object of a separate clause under Article 371 on lines similar to those for the Nagas and the Mizos. 

    To this a third dimension was added at the February 2005 Bangalore Seminar. It was suggested that other protective constitutional safeguards need to be explored, notably under article 342 which provides for protective discrimination and affirmative action in favour of scheduled tribes. This needs to be seriously discussed by the CPNA and a consensus evolved.
 
 
  • Three Point Agenda:
 
 (a)    Amendment of 8th Schedule to include Codava Thakk and the development of its usage in district administration. The aim is harnessing of Codava creative energy. In the immediate, one could think of organizing a seminar on ‘Codava Thakk: its Linguistic and Literacy Dimensions.’ 

(b)    Amendment of Article 371 to provide protection for customary laws. Simultaneously, it was sggested that the protection and safeguards available under article 342 for schedulues tribes be also invoked. 

(c)    Establishment of the Kodagu Central University (KCU) with a special Centre of Military Sciences and a Museum of Military History as well as a Centre for Codava Language, Literature and Culture Studies. This would have the additional merit of creating opportunities for Codava youth, by equipping them with skills necessary for new growth sectors, as traditional avenues of employment and livelihood shrink. Education is the key to growth. Education of girls and participation of women in economic activity is the hallmark of a developed society.
 
 III Representation and Development: Next Steps
 
 
  • Significance of the National Assembly of the Codava People (NACP):
 
 

Organising the representation, in accordance with the traditions and customs of the Codavas, of the 45 Nads that constitute the land of the Codavas in the Codava National Assembly. The first task would be to codify the rules and procedures for the functioning of the Assembly. For this it would be advisable to create advisory and consultative groups of eminent experts and other knowledgeable persons to assist in the time bound completion of this assignment.

 
 
  • Codification of Customary Laws:
 
 

Systematic study is required on the laws that require special protection under article 371. The proposed IACS would generate the requisite material to substantiate the claims of the Codavas for different types of recognition, protection and safeguards. This item of the agenda needs thorough discussion so that a consensus can be built up. The Codava National Assembly can perform a valuable role in building this consensus.

 
 
  • Five Point Action Plan for Voice and Growth:
 
 

Adequate safeguards can be obtained within the framework of the Constitution through a multi-pronged initiative comprising:

First,
        Measures already agreed upon which fall within the purview of the state legislature and government need to be pursued vigorously. Inclusion under article 342 falls in this category. 


Second,
        preparation of a comprehensive Memorandum for the proposed Commission on Centre-State Relations promised by the UPA government under the NCMP, whose terms of reference are currently being framed by a group of Ministers. This Memorandum should include the earlier proposals for a district development board as well as the establishment of the Kodagu Central University. 


Third,
        in order to secure for the Codavas all the rights, safeguards and benefits promised to them by the Constitution, it is necessary to prepare a comprehensive document which would provide an authoritative account of the state of development of Codava language, literature and culture. The publication of such a Report would help buttress the claims that would be presented to the proposed commission on Centre-State Relations. 


Fourth,
        there is a need to activate the friends of the Codavas association, and to enlist the help of the Diaspora in furthering the case to be presented to the state and central governments. 


Finally,
        it can be asserted that the Indian Constitution helps those who help themselves.

And this organization deems it fit and proper to reproduce the said paper unabridged for the benefit of all the readers and it is requested that every website user should read the research paper scribbled by revered Prof. Balvir Arora.