Recently we had book festivals in Bengaluru and Mangaluru. We all know that a book is the good friend of mankind. Is the youth generation in Kodagu reading enough books? The answer is a big no.
After electronic gadgets made inroads into our lives, we are all turning our back to books and libraries. In this competitive world, modern day parents are treating modern day children and students as machines of scoring marks. We have confined them only to text books. It is very surprising to observe that many teenagers don’t even know about literary giants. To me it’s very astonishing that majority of youngsters in Kodagu don’t know about the history of our district.
Kodagu is well known for defence personnel and sports achievers. Even though a tiny district, Kodagu has produced innumerable sporting icons over the years. A report recently said that over 50 players from Kodagu have represented Indian hockey team till date. Not only hockey, we have had brilliant sportspersons in other disciplines like athletics, tennis and badminton too.
From September to May Kodagu sees a lot of sports events ranging from hockey to cricket to volleyball. Track and field events are being organised every year. Thousands of young budding sportspersons participate in these.
One important question though. Does Kodagu have the appropriate or adequate sports infrastructure? Sadly, the facilities are not up to the mark. We have two turf hockey grounds, one each in Madikeri and Ponnampet. Few years ago, there was a public swimming pool in Madikeri, but today it is in a mess. Hockey is encouraged in Kodagu with many tournaments taking place around the year. But what about other sports? We have three sports hostels in our district. But the facilities available are not adequate.
Industrialise or perish is the modern-day phrase. For faster economic growth and to improve the standard of living, industrialisation has become necessary. Industries can be established in a geographical area where the administration can provide infrastructure like all-season road connectivity, railway lines, airports, 24×7 electricity etc. But in a place like Kodagu, it is a tough task to establish industries and also it is not advisable or feasible from the environment point of view.
What are the opportunities in Kodagu to generate revenue? Agriculture is the backbone of the economy of this land. But the fluctuation in the prices of agricultural products and persistent labour problems are major issues faced by farmers. Tourism is adding a substantial amount to Kodagu’s economy, but its negative impact on culture, geography and environment is hard to ignore.
Education is the crest gate of the potential reservoir called human resource. With a country of over 1.3 billion population, it is an uphill task to provide quality education to students at an affordable cost. A large amount of capital from our national income has to be spared on education.
If we confine our study to Kodagu district only, the educational setup is satisfactory. We have 15 degree colleges, a post-graduation centre in Chikka Aluvara near Somwarpet, and at two degree colleges we have post-graduation options. A B.Ed college is in Virajpet. We have two engineering colleges – one each in Halligattu near Ponnampet and Kushalnagar.
A dental college is situated in Virajpet. Just two years ago a government medical college was established in Madikeri. ITI colleges are there at three locations. We have a forestry college in Ponnampet. A Sainik school is also there. Even though we have so many educational institutions still we are lagging behind in providing technical and professional education in our district.
India is a country of hamlets with more than 60 percent of the geographical area consisting of villages. But the scenario is changing. As the migration towards cities is on a rise due to factors like employment and quality of life, urbanisation is gaining pace.
But the question is, are our cities scientifically planned? Cities and towns are expanding at an alarming pace. Factories are coming up, commercial buildings are being built by converting agricultural lands and the number of vehicles on roads are increasing by the day. Traffic gridlocks, air pollution, sewage issue, shortage of drinking water, increasing crime rate, and mushrooming slums are part of the growth curve.
‘Use and throw’ has become the mantra of modern-day consumerist world. Things are no different in Kodagu either. For the last 15 years, the garbage problem is on a rise in the district. Much of this credit goes to tourism boom.
Garbage issue which was first witnessed in Madikeri has now spread its tentacles all over the district. People from border areas of Kerala dumping waste in our reserve forests are not a new phenomenon anymore. If one visits Perumbadi and Makutta, we can understand the severity of this problem along the highway. In all the big and small towns garbage menace has become quite common. With no proper recycling measures in place, it is getting worse by the day.
There are not enough adjectives to explain the enchanting beauty of Kodagu, the tiniest district in Karnataka. Thanks to its exquisiteness, Kodagu has been seeing a tourism boom from the last two decades. As a result, too many home stays and resorts have sprung up across the district. The upgradation of Mysuru-Bantwal state highway 9 (now NH 275) a decade back saw mass flow of tourists into Kodagu from Bengaluru. With more than 15 lakhs tourists visiting Kodagu every year, the ecology of this district is under immense pressure.
An important point to be noted here is that many original inhabitants of Kodagu migrated to metros and some moved abroad. Those who purchased land here started to see monetary benefits from all nook and corners after their acquisition. As a result, many unauthorised structures were built to lure the tourists.
Increased footfall of tourists resulted in a surge of income for people who are directly or indirectly depending on tourism. On the other hand, natural resources of the district took a beating. With sustained pressure on resources to fulfil the need of visitors, the quality of these resources deteriorated.