Shivalingappa R. Kanthi or S.R. Kanthi is remembered for various reasons. One of the reasons he is remembered is his tenure as chief minister. He presided as Chief Minister for Karnataka between the 14th of March 1962 and the 20th of June 1962. His brief 96 day stay in the Chief Minister’s chair was succeeded by S. Nijalingappa.
S.R. Kanthi – A Visionary
Kanthi was one of the few men of his time to strongly voice his opinion for the education and equality of women in a patriarchal society. He was a man who fulfilled his vision and dreams by constructing and dedicating an institution to the empowerment and education of women.
He was constantly aware of the shortsighted insistence on keeping women tied to the kitchen stoves. He was convinced that the first step in helping women help themselves was tied inextricably to education. The lack of patriotic zeal and enthusiasm towards their country in women, according to Kanthi was due to the lack of any formal education.
His intention to bring back the zeal and fervor associated with Rani Kittur Chenamma and Jhansi bai made him think about the kind of education that the women were offered. He found his answer in the Sainik schools in the country. Hoping to invoke the spirit of Rani Chenamma, he planted the seeds for a residential school on a ridge in the hills of Kittur. The school was open to students by the year 1969. Today the school is called Kittur Rani Chenamma Residential School for girls. The school has stood the test of time and has stayed true to the vision of the great visionary.
Chief Minister and Education Minister
Prior to his election as Chief Minister, S.R. Kanthi was the speaker at the Legislative Assembly of Karnataka. His tenure as Chief Minister of Karnataka was regrettably limited. During his 96 days in the Chief Ministers office, he did effect change and bring about some betterment to the state of society at the time.
As with the previous Chief Ministers of Karnataka or what was hitherto Mysore State, S. R. Kanthi was also a member of the Indian National Congress. When Nijalingappa rose to power as the Chief Minister, S. R. Kanthi was assigned to be the Minister of education. S. R. Kanthi to this day is remembered for his role not as the Chief Minister but as the Education Minister.
As Education Minister, S. R. Kanthi was instrumental in effecting sweeping changes across the mindset of the citizens of Karnataka. He made it acceptable and even desirable to educate women and empower them. It was during his tenure that the Kittur Rani Chenamma Sainik schools and the formidable Bangalore University were established and nurtured.
Several other institutions that were established both during and after his tenure as Education Minister were accredited to S.R. Kanthi and his vision. These institutions to this day carry forward S.R. Kanthi’s vision of a more educated society with women and men participating in all avenues of life.