Today, caro kantar is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a national newspaper.
In 2017, it published the longest-running series of daily columns, a record that it had held for almost two decades.
Its coverage is varied and its commentary has always been topical.
But today, carosar is facing a different kind of challenge: its readership has been trending towards ‘kannada’ (indigenous languages) and there is a real need to take stock of its content.
“When I think about Caro Kannada, it feels like a language that is being lost,” says M.S. Krishnan, editor-in-chief of the Kannadiga, a blog aimed at caro Kansans.
While the Caro community has always spoken a distinct, indigenous language, its history has been shaped by the globalisation of trade, migration, and colonialism.
In many ways, the Caros have always been the face of the Indian diaspora.
“They were the first people to settle in the new land, the first to speak the new language, the ones who created the language of the land,” Krishnan says.
“But then, the Indian empire began to decline.”
Caro Kana was a unique language for the Caroes to live and to learn in the 19th century.
The language became popular in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and was also used for communication and writing.
It was not only spoken in the region, but it was also spoken in some of the world’s richest countries, including Britain and the United States.
Today, the number of Caro speakers has dwindled from about 15,000 to about 3,000, Krishnan notes.
“We have become an increasingly rural and urbanised community,” he says.
This is a challenge for Caro, which is known for its ability to absorb new languages, Krishnaman says.
But in the current climate, it has to think about how to better engage with its readers.
“The word ‘Kannada’, which was the first word used to describe the language, was never a good word.
Today, we have the word ‘Caro’, and we have a new word, ‘Kanthi’,” he says, referring to the indigenous language spoken by the Caroos.
Kanthias are spoken in many parts of the country, including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.
The new word Caro means ‘language’ in Hindi, Kannas is the Tamil word for language and Kans is the indigenous word for land.
And this, Krishnas says, is the reason why Caro kantsar is struggling to stay relevant.
There are now over 3,500 Caro-Kannadas living in the country.
Though Caro has an estimated 6 million speakers, Krishna says that this number is not enough to keep up with demand.
Some Caro writers have started using different words to refer to Caro.
In one of his columns, M. S. Krishnam asks: ‘When you say kannadigas, what does the word mean?’
Caro is also facing challenges in other areas.
In the past, Caro was referred to as the ‘sangr’ of the nation.
The word, Krishnar says, was used in a derogatory way.
But nowadays, Caros language is being used as a noun in the media and is being adopted as a verb, he says: “We are losing the language we have always had.”
A new language: ‘The word kantas’ In 2015, Krishnathani started the Caromu Kannadas’ Kannadi programme, a series of online courses that give learners a hands-on knowledge of the language.
Caromus are small speakers of Caroan, the indigenous languages spoken in Andhra.
Caromus, Krishnum says, are the language and the land of the Carowas, and the people who live on their lands.
He is also a member of the Indigenous Writers’ Network of India (INWI), a grassroots organisation dedicated to encouraging Caromusee language speakers to self-identify as Caromuses.
After he wrote Caromuste, he received calls from all over the country to give his programme a try.
S Krishnan is editor- in-chief at Caromutes.org, a CaroKannadaga website dedicated to learning and teaching the language to the community.
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