Legacy rediscovered

Negila Geregalu, a biography of former PM HD Deve Gowda, recently translated into Kannada by Rosy D’Souza, presents readers with unexplored parts of Gowda’s political journey

Published: 27th March 2023 12:39 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th March 2023 12:39 PM   |  A+A-

Rosy D’Souza

Rosy D’Souza (Photo | Shashidhar Byrappa )

Express News Service

BENGALURU: When HD Deve Gowda was unexpectedly chosen to lead the United Front coalition government following the 1996 general elections, the then chief minister of Karnataka knew he wouldn’t last long as Prime Minister.

Carrying only a suitcase worth of personal belongings, Gowda left for Delhi but was determined to make a mark. Eleven months later, when the coalition collapsed as he had anticipated, the impression he left on many was hardly impressive. 

In his latest book, Furrows in a Field, journalist and author Sugata Srinivasraju shed new light on the former PM’s short-yet-impactful stint at the helm of the country. Along with highlighting Gowda’s achievements, the book delves deep into his journey as a state and national-level politician and how he used his goodwill to address some of India’s most pressing issues at the time. Originally brought out in English, the biography was has been translated into Kannada as Negila Geregalu by poet, translator and Srinivasraju’s wife, Rosy D’Souza.

“I have had an intimate view into the making of Furrows in a Field, having watched Sugata research, develop and write it. I was one of the first people to read every chapter after it was written. And it always felt so close to Kannadigas. Of course, it has a national presence, so it needed to come out in English for the benefit of a larger audience. But it is also a book that has a local element to it, so it deserved to be brought out in Kannada as well,” D’Souza says, adding, “Sugata could have translated it into Kannada himself, but once he completes a project, he tends to quickly move on, never to look back. So I took it upon myself to translate it.”

During Gowda’s tenure as PM, D’Souza was in college and remembers being impacted by the former’s negative portrayal. But as she came to learn more about Gowda’s life and accomplishments during the making of Furrows in a Field, D’Souza felt a great deal of personal shame for not bothering to find out the truth. “As I watched Sugata conduct his interviews and sift through years of research for the original and later on during the process of writing, I realised that Deve Gowda has suffered a great deal of injustice.

The research started unearthing a number of accomplishments that had hitherto gone unnoticed, unspoken. When Furrows in a Field was released, we also heard a lot of Gowda’s contemporaries talk highly of him. Yet the image that I remember of Gowda during his tenure as PM is one where he is found napping at his desk. He had an eye problem fairly early in his life and had gone through surgery. He couldn’t bear light hitting his eyes, so he would close his eyes during public ceremonies. But that led to a negative portrayal,” she says.

Limited channels of information available to the public, and Gowda’s reluctance to engage in any sort of public relations campaign, according to D’Souza, only amplified the negativity surrounding his tenure as Prime Minister.  “In those days, there was no social media. Once people got an image, it would remain etched in their minds and they would only speak of that. Because they didn’t have access to a differing 
perspective. Deve Gowda never spoke about himself or his accomplishments nor did he make any attempts to clarify himself. He believed that his work should speak for himself,” she adds.


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