Kodagu First a Celebration. Positive News, Facts & Achievements about Kodagu, Coorgs and the People of Kodagu – here at Home and Overseas
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    The coffee business will get an impetus from the reduction in basic customs duty from 7.5% to 5% on specified coffee plantation and processing machinery. Some say it could even encourage home-brewing of coffee.

    Coffee growers, brewers, grinders, roasters, processors, curers and retailers will now be able to import machinery and equipment at a lower cost. It will allow more farmers to import farming equipment like weed cutters, berry pluckers, grading and cleaning machines, sprayers and other plantation machinery. Coffee retailers may be able to import coffee dispensers, vending machines, blenders, shakers etc at a lower cost.

    Anil Bhandari, president of the India Coffee Trust, said most of these equipment are imported now and therefore the cut in import duty will give a boost to the coffee landscape in general.

    Marvin Rodrigues, chairman of Karnataka Planters’ Association, said the reduction in import duty would complement Coffee Board’s mechanization scheme. “The board has been pushing for mechanization, taking cognizance of the acute labour shortage and wide-spread labour migration in the plantation industry. The only way to survive is to introduce mechanization,” he said.

    Bose Mandanna, member of the Coffee Board and a large coffee planter from Coorg, said any reduction in import duty would benefit the entire coffee eco-system, be it growers, roasters, curers or retailers.

    The coffee culture in India is becoming stronger. The country’s per capita coffee consumption now is 100 grams, up from just 60 grams three years ago. In England it is 9 kilograms, and in the US 5.5 kg.

    “Coffee consumption is growing at 40% per annum in northern states, where it has not been the traditional beverage. The favorable duty structure will also help kick start a home-brewing culture. If coffee brewing machines are available in the Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 range, many households will be interested in them. Currently they are well over Rs 10,000,” said Bhandari.

    source: http://www.articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / Business> Budget 2012> Union Budget / TNN / March 17th, 2012

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    In Coorg, where men once loved hunting, K M Chinnappa broke the tradition by turning his gun to protect the forests. Anita Pratap captures the spirit of the man, and Mahesh Bhat his image

    By Anita Pratap and Mahesh Bhat

    Hunting was a way of life in the verdant forests and foothills of the Western Ghats in Karnataka’s Coorg area. It was an integral part of tradition, folklore, manhood, sport, food and commerce.

    From poor, forest-dwelling tribesmen to the flamboyant royalty and courtiers in bustling Mysore, everyone loved hunting. But one man stood tall to end this way of life. His name is K.M.Chinnappa.

    K M Chinnappa was the Range Forest Officer of Nagarahole for over two decades and was single-handedly responsible for making it one of the finest national Parks of India

    Born in 1941 in Kumtur village near Nagarhole to a soldier who fought in the First World War, Chinnappa spent his youth roaming the forests of his ancestral land, listening to birds, watching the cavalcade of animals in their habitat, absorbing the every day miracles of the rich eco-system.

    An enduring love for nature was thus born in him. Like his father, he too would become a mustachioed soldier. But with a difference. He would become a gun-toting, frontline warrior of the forests, dedicated to protecting wild life. Says he simply: “Wildlife is the purpose of my life.’

    In 1967, he joined the Nagarhole National Park as a forester. The park was in ruins. Hunting had taken its toll. There were hardly any deer left, forget tigers and other big game. To cultivate rice, villagers had encroached on the swamps – the beloved play-ground of the elephants.

    Tribesmen lived in clusters deep within the park to collect forest produce, ranging from honey to berries. Livestock herders grazed their cattle on the park’s grasslands. Hunters preyed on animals and birds.
    Poachers hunted tigers for their skin; elephants for their tusks. Timber logging was a thriving mafia business. Sandalwood smugglers roamed with abandon.

    The destroyers of Nagarhole’s environment used a range of weapons – hunters shotguns, tribesmen used snares and livestock herders used poison. Wild life protection laws were weak and the Forest Department concentrated on logging, misguidedly uprooting the diversity of natural vegetation to replace them with the monocultures of teak.

    Rued Chinnappa: “If this devastation continued, I was dead certain that there would be no wild life left in Nagarhole in 30 years.”

    He became a one-man army to reverse this process. And he succeeded. In less than a quarter of a century, Nagarhole revived, expanding from a 250 sq km part to 640 sq kms.

    The poachers have retreated, the encroachers have gone and the hunters are virtually extinct, restoring Nagarhole to its rightful inhabitants – tigers, panthers, leopards, sloth bears, jackals, wild boars, porcupines, hares, langur and varieties of deer.

    In the bad old days, tigers had to roam 200 sq kms before they could find prey. Now they can find it within 12 sq kms. The elephants are back where they belong: in the lush swamps and bamboo groves. The trick? Explains Chinnappa: “All you have to do is to stop human interference. Just leave the forests alone and they will regenerate themselves”.

    Chinnappa was the right man at the right time. In 1972, in the wake of a groundswell of opinion generated by several leading Indian conservationists, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi took a slew of measures to protect the environment.

    Several laws were enacted and sanctuaries in Kanha, Corbett, Ranthambore, Bandipur and Nagarhole among others were pulled back from the brink of destruction.

    Forest departments had new direction, muscle and teeth. Still, keeping the humans out of the forests was not easy. Chinnappa paid a high personal price to fulfil his mission to safeguard Nagarhole. He was arrested, jailed, transferred. His home was burned down. But he has no regrets. Says he with his characteristic robust optimism: “What’s the use of just going to office. I led a colourful life.”

    To protect wild life, Chinnappa had to take on a range of human beings who lived on the wild side of life. He captured a large number of poachers and smugglers and filed court cases against them. But they were all acquitted in no time and were back to their wicked ways.

    He realized he would have to terrorize them, make it really dangerous for them to hunt and poach. He took up the gun and did not hesitate to shoot. He recalls: “No body used high-calibre guns. I had only a 12 bore rifle. And I used only buckshot. But at that time, it was enough.”

    He remembers the legend of a tribesman whom the locals nicknamed “parari Thimma” – vanishing Thimma. He was a notorious poacher who nimbly eluded forest guards. Chinnappa began tracking him and one day shot at him. And then he vanished forever!

    Chinnappa became the local legend. Supporters hailed him as a hero, the phantom of the jungles. Poachers called him “The Devil” who stalked their hunting grounds.

    Chinnappa used his immense knowledge of forest trails, tracking spoor, jungle craft, fabled night vision and stealth maneuvers to ambush the poachers and hunters. Guided by moonlight, he silently crept upon the forest brigands and opened fire. And the old way of life began to end.

    But not without resistance. In no time, the threatened “vested interests” – profiteering poachers, unscrupulous smugglers, wealthy hunters, criminals, mafia operators and politicians all ganged up against Chinnappa.

    In 1993 after voluntarily retiring from Karnataka Forest department, Chinnappa started Nagarahole Wildlife Conservation Education project reaching out to the local students, youth and the public.

    Even the villagers rose in revolt. For Chinnappa, life took a curious turn. On the one hand, the regeneration of Nagarhole won high praise. He bagged the Karnataka Chief Minister’s Gold Medal in 1983, received an award from the Wildlife Conservation Society and foreign environmentalists showered glowing tributes in books and magazines.

    His spartan way of life, incorruptibility and military discipline became legendary. Says Ullas Karanth, a leading wildlife biologist: “Chinnappa is a man of integrity. He is tough, efficient and incredibly courageous in the face of grave physical danger. His accomplishments in Nagarhole are undoubtedly a major milestone in the history of Indian wildlife conservation.”

    He was admired and respected by his peers. But some of the locals feared and hated him. In 1988, one of Chinnappa’s guards publicly shot a local coffee planter who had killed and eaten his pet samba deer.

    The dispute spun out of control and soon local poachers instigated a public agitation, accusing Chinnappa of masterminding the murder. Bowing to political pressure, Chinnappa was arrested and jailed for 12 days. Eventually he was cleared of all charges and reinstated

    But vested interests continued to persecute him. He was implicated in the killing of a poacher in 1992 and a riot erupted. A frenzied mob ransacked the Forest Department’s buildings, burnt vehicles, assaulted staff, set fire to large swathes of forest land and set ablaze Chinnappa’s ancestral home.

    Once again, he was cleared of all charges, but this time, Chinnappa decided to quit. He could understand why the poachers, smugglers and politicians ganged up against him. But the fact that they could enlist the support of villagers had a profound impact on him.

    He realized he needed to move to another plane of conservation: education. He had to make the locals realize the practical and moral imperative to protect their environment. It was not merely the job of foresters. It was a collective responsibility.

    And so in 1993 he retired prematurely from the Forest Department and started his NGO, the Nagarhole Wildlife Conservation Education Project to educate the local people and especially the children on the need to protect the environment.

    His motto was simple: “Without humans, the forest will flourish. Without forests, we humans cannot flourish.” Through forest camps, discussions and slide shows, he opens the doors to a magical kingdom of flora and fauna, encouraging children to take delight in observing nature instead of hunting animals.

    His mission also involves fighting legal cases. As President of Bangalore-based NGO, “Wildlife First”, Chinnappa and a group of conservationists documented the ecological devastation caused by the iron ore mine operators in Kudremukh. In retaliation, they were slapped with 12 criminal cases.

    Says Bittu Sehgal, editor of environment magazine, ’Sanctuary’: “Law suits are filed by those who have money or power on their side to prevent public minded citizens from ‘interfering’.” The cases dragged on for years and wound up in the Supreme Court, which ordered the closure of the mines in December 2005.

    Chinnappa’s accomplishments are all the more laudable because they were won against the stiffest odds. He endured setbacks, difficulties, threats, attacks, vilification, arrests and court cases.

    But, remarkably, he has emerged unscathed, his innocence, courage, dedication, honour and optimism intact. He is completely devoid of bitterness. He chooses to forget the troublemakers who made life so difficult for him and his loyal wife Radha, but remembers fondly the senior officers and lowly guards who stood by him.

    Through all his trials and tribulations, one thing remained undiminished: his sheer will to save the forests. With deep conviction he says: “If you have the will, you can do wonders.”

    Today, Chinnappa derives enormous satisfaction from the guns – the yesteryear symbol of manhood – that lie rusting in many a Coorgi home. Cheering the end of that bygone era are the sights and sounds of a promising new life, symbolized by the swaying foliage and barking deer.

    (Extract from the book ‘Unsung’ by Anita Pratap and Mahesh Bhat)

    source: http://www.theweekender.com / Home> Causes> Gun Reversal /vol. 2, issue. 50 / 16-22 December, 2011

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    Keekira A. Thammaiah, who was the first Asian Mayor of the Harrow City, London, passed away on Mar. 29, 2011 in London. He was my contemporary in Bangalore from 1960 to 64 while practising Law, though senior to me. While in Bangalore, we were very close friends and when he left for London, we were in touch with each other through letters, Christmas, New Year greeting cards and whenever he came to India. 

    While I was in London in 1992, he hosted a dinner at his house where he had invited two MPs and some Labour Party friends of his, he himself being a La-bour Party North Harrow Council Member. Later, once again while I was in London, I had an opportunity to spend some time with him and he was the Mayor of Harrow at that time.

    I remember the evening I was having dinner in his house with other friends over drinks when I had a call from Mahaguru Yogi Arka of Mysore, who was camping in London at that time, as anticipated asking me to meet him. Since we were partying, we were already into our third peg of whisky and I was in a dilemma if I should go and meet Yogi Arka, who at that time was on the ascendance on his path to the stature of a Godman. I sought Thammaiah’s advice and with his trademark smile on his visage said, “Well, don’t worry, the place is just five minutes drive from here.”

    He volunteered to drive me to the place, assuring me that visiting the Yogi after consuming alcohol should not be a problem as Rishis of ancient India were known to enjoy Somarasa and Bhang, which are intoxicants.

    Naturally, in his passing away, I have lost a very good friend. Immediately, I wrote a letter of condolence to his wife Naila and son Ponnu.

    Acknowledging my letter, they sent me an e-mail giving me some more information about the last journey of my friend.

    As in life, so also in death, he was well-honoured by the community people, friends and politicians as well. His civic funeral was attended by a large number of people, dignitaries, Mayors, MPs and the media.

    He was elected President for the forthcoming World (Europe) Kannada Conference to be held in London in August 2011. He had hosted a meeting at his place in this connection just the day before he passed away.

    His wife Naila sent me a copy of the tributes paid to Tham-maiah (known among Coorgs as Thammy) by Kodagu Association of UK and also by Kannada Balaga of UK, which is being produced below:

    The tribute

    Born: 10.02.1935 Died: 29.03.2011

    Late Mr. Keekira Thammaiah was born in Birunani, Coorg, India. He did his schooling in Coorg and Pre-University (A levels) at Government College, Bangalore.

    He went on to do his Bachelors in Arts at St. Joseph’s college, Bangalore.

    Whilst at University, he displayed his leadership qualities and political ambition by becoming the ‘President of Students Union.’

    He pursued his education in Bombay at University College, Bombay and obtained M.A & LLB between 1957-60. At the University, he was the Chairman of the Students Union.

    He returned to Bangalore in 1960 and was an Advocate at the Bangalore High Court until 1964 when he moved to United Kingdom to do Bar exam. He married Naila in 1971, who would be for the next 29 years, his pillar of support.

    He went on to be a Lecturer in Business Law at West-minster and other colleges.

    He was elected as the Labour Councilor in 1994, Deputy Mayor of Harrow in 1999 and became the first Asian Mayor in May 2000.

    He was very active in his community and took his civic duties very seriously. He raised considerable amount of money for the Northwick Park Hospital Children’s wing (£20,000) and was the Governor of 3 schools in Harrow.

    He rubbed shoulders with royalty in that he met the Queen three times, had tea with Princess Margaret and spoke at the Parsi community gathering in the presence of Prince Edward & Sophie.

    He retired in May 2010 after 20 years service to the local community. His friends fondly called him ‘Keeki.’

    He is survived by his loving wife Naila of 30 years; Son: Ponnu; Daughter-in-law Sunali and two young grandsons Adit and Alok.

    Funeral service was held on 4th April, 2011 at 12.00 pm at Golders Green Crematorium, Hoop Lane, London, NW 11 7 NL.

    Mourners joined the family for refreshments afterwards at Members Lounge, 1st Floor, Civic Centre, Harrow, Middle-sex HA1 2XY.

    Memorial donations in memory of K. A. Thammaiah may be made to Diabetes UK, 10 Parkway, London NW1 7AA.

    source: http://www.starofmysore.com / by K.B. Ganapathy



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    It will be held at the Patrika Bhavan on June 23

    Kodagu District Kannada Sahitya Parishat, in association with the V.K. Gokak National Trust, Haveri, is organising a one-day programme on the life and literary achievements of V.K. Gokak, a Jnanpith award winner, on the Patrika Bhavan premises here on June 23.

    The programme will be inaugurated by the former president of Kannada Sahitya Parishat, Bangalore, Chandrashekar Patil (Champa), the president of the parishat, T.P. Ramesh, told presspersons here on Friday.

    Many writers and intellectuals did not believe that Gokak would provide justice to Kannada when the Gokak Commission was set up by the State Government during R. Gundu Rao’s regime. However, when the reports came out on according top priority to Kannada as a medium of education everyone was surprised, he said.

    The Gokak movement went on successfully in Kodagu for one and half months where Kannada activists staged dharnas in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here, organised a Kodagu bandh and took out torchlight parades, apart from programmes in the taluks, Mr. Ramesh said.

    He recalled the incident of Kannada activists courting arrest for waving black flags during the visit of the then Chief Minister, late R. Gundu Rao, demanding the implementation of the Gokak report.

    Mr. Ramesh would preside over the inaugural function while Taltaje Vasanth Kumar from Uppinangadi would deliver the main speech.

    An elocution competition would be conducted on the Gokak movement in the State involving pre-university students, teachers training college students and ITI students on June 20 at the Patrika Bhavan, Mr. Ramesh said.

    On the same day, a folk song competition would be conducted for SSLC students.

    Teachers from schools would be involved in an essay competition on the life and literary achievements of Gokak.

    They would have to submit the essays to the president of the Kodagu District Kannada Sahitya Parishat, Madikeri, before June 22, Mr. Ramesh said.

    M. Ramakrishna, professor from Bharati College, Mandya, would deliver the valedictory address at 3 p.m. the same day.

    Writer N. Mahabaleshwar Bhat would preside over the function. The president of the Madikeri unit of the parishat, K.T. Baby Mathew, and the honorary secretary of the district unit, Bharati Ramesh, were present.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / Staff Correspondent / National / Karnataka / Madikeri / June 19th, 2010


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