Patil Puttappa, veteran journalist and “conscience keeper” of Kannada culture, no more

Published : March 17, 2020 15:32 IST

Patil Puttappa. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Veteran journalist, freedom fighter and Kannada activist Patil Puttappa passed away in Bengaluru on March 16 at the age of 99. He was moved recently to Bengaluru from his hometown Hubballi for advanced medical care. Through his long career as a writer and journalist, Puttappa, or Paapu as he was popularly known, came to be recognised as the “conscience keeper” of Kannada culture. His crusade for Kannada language and culture began in the 1940s and 1950s, when he helped organise the movement for the unification of Karnataka State.

Puttappa was born in a small village in Haveri in 1921. He moved to Dharwad for his higher education, after which he studied law in Belgaum (now Belagavi). While a student, he participated in the Quit India movement of 1942. He worked as a journalist in Bombay (now Mumbai) and Hubli (now Hubballi) for a few years before moving to the United States of America in 1949 to study journalism at the University of California.

After his return, he founded a monthly magazine called Navayuga and later published the weekly journal Prapancha in Kannada which gained immense popularity. He also had a significant role in the development of the Karnataka Vidyavardhaka Sangha, an organisation founded in Dharwad for the unification of Karnataka, and helmed this organisation for many years. In 2003, he presided over the 70th session of the Akhila Bharatiya Kannada Sahitya Sammelana. Through his long career, he received many awards, including the Rajyotsava Award from the Karnataka State government and the Nrupathunga Award from the Kannada Sahitya Parishat.

Puttappa was also a member of the Rajya Sabha for two terms, from 1964 to 1972. Some of the prominent books that he authored include Namma Desha Namma Jana (Our Country, Our People), Nannadu Ee Kannada Naadu (This is my Kannada Land), Karnataka Kathe (The Story of Karnataka), Paapu Prapancha (The World of Paapu).

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