His mother tongue is Marathi but he has authored and significantly contributed t0 54 books in Kannada language. Dr Sarju Katkar needs no introduction to the people of Belgaum. He is one of the celebrated journalists in the city who brought the first English daily to Belgaum through Indian Express. He was born in Hubli and pursued PHD in Kannada, Marathi and Dalit literature from Dharwad University. He joined Samyukta Karnataka as a first staff reporter, also the first Staff Reporter for Indian Express in 1981 in Belgaum. For journalists, it’s a dream come true to break stories that shake the govt. He has been fortunate enough to have lived many such experiences. He recollects his bygone by narrating the KPCC President, Koujalgi’s bribery case story (where he had managed to get hold of a CD that documented the President’s taking bribe from a person) which he followed until the President was made to quit from his post. Interestingly, he is also a poet who has written 12 poems and translated poems from Gujarati, Malayalam and Urdu. In fact, one of his poems was taught in MA, “One of my Professors was teaching my poem to me only,” he quipped. He also considers himself very fortunate to have got the opportunity to get his books published by Lohiya Prakashan from Bellary. Shivaji moola kannada nela, Sakshi, Vruthanta, Helalagada kathe are some of his books that have been well received and widely sold. He is currently serving Indian Express as a Principal Correspondent.
Excerpts from the interview:
1) Do you believe in God?
I don’t believe in God. Work is worship for me. I see God in nature, in a flower, in the flowing water… Basvanna is God for me. I remember how there were ten Lingayats in the class but only my friend Ramzan and I had chosen Veerashaiva literature. I am proud that I have read Basvanna literature. Recently, I have also started believing in Shirdi Sai Baba due to some personal experiences.
2) Do you peform pooja?
I worship my parents. At our house we do pooja of our parents and seek their blessings. After I wake up in the morning and before I sleep I join hands to my parents and pray. My wife performs pooja and I don’t object. I also visit temples with her.
3) How were you as a child?
As a kid, I was very God fearing. It was when I started reading a lot. I believed that God is created by man. In most of my poems, the nucleus has always been a human which explains how we have named everything like, Krishna, the sun, and the moon.
4) Which is your favorite festival?
Everyday is a festival for me. What I understand from the significance of the festivals is that, it’s either the celebration of the victory of Aryans or Dravidians.
5) What is your opinion on other religions?
I have friends who are Muslims, Christians and I have never experienced any discrimination. I believe that, in India we Hindus should protect the Muslims and in Pakistan, the Muslims should protect the Hindus. We should understand that the one who is dying due to terrorism is a human being and not a Muslim or a Hindu.
6) What do you have to say about the Kannada-Marathi conflict in Belgaum?
The Kannada and Marathi culture are the same. Both Maratha and a Kannadiga bring home a Ganesha in Belgaum. Even the food habits are similar. The differences are created by the two states, it’s a political issue. I am a Maratha and I have not experienced any discrimination here