Dinakara Desai

(1909 - 1982 / Hondakkal, Kumta taluk, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka / India)

Biography of Dinakara Desai

Dinakara Desai poet

Dinakara Desai (ದಿನಕರ ದೇಸಾಯಿ) is a Writer, Educationist, Political activist, and poet. He is famous for his poetry form called chutuka (also known as Chutuka Brahma). Chutuka or chutuku is a quadraplet poem. This format was later adopted by other poets. He has made major contributions towards the literary development of the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka.


Desai initially intended to become a lawyer but was influenced by labour union activists M. N. Joshi and Thakkar Basha, who motivated him to contribute to the labour movement. He later became an associate to M. N. Joshi, reviewing the social issues that caused problems toward labourers. In this regard, he joined the Servants of India Society which was an organisation that was founded by Gopal Krishna Gokhale. The membership to this organisation was very stringent and the members were admitted only on an oath that they would serve the country without "expecting anything in return". His initiation to social activism was when he had to fight for the rights of the dock workers in Mumbai who were mainly Konkani people. Later, he also went to the Bijapur and Dharwad districts of Karnataka to assist in providing relief when a severe drought had set into those regions. He grew in stature and also held a position in the Mumbai City Corporation.

Later, Desai decided to focus on his native district of Uttara Kannada, where he began an "agitation against the landlords", which finally culminated in the law granting the land ownership to the person who tills the land. He later created the Kanara Welfare Trust in 1957. Under the aegis of this trust, various schools and colleges were founded in this district. He also started a Kannada language weekly Jansevaka in Ankola to create social and political awareness. One regular contributor was Gourish Kaikini.

Desai also had a career in politics and was once elected to the Parliament of India.

Poetry and Literature

Desai began his association with poetry by writing lengthy poems. His first publication (released in the year 1950) was called Kavana Sangraha (meaning collection of poems). Desai later published a collection of poems in 1955 called Hu Gonchalu (meaning bouquet of flowers). Hu Gonchalu contained poems such as Tarunara Dasare and Kadala Kannada.

Desai experimented with different forms of poetry and invented his signature format called chutuka which was essentially a four-line limerick. His chutukas were published in his Jansevak paper, which became popular. He wrote his chutukas in various themes, including satires, criticisms and humour. He also wrote a minor number of books for children and a travelogue called Na kanda Paduvana.

Personal Life

Dinakara was married to Indira Desai, who died in 2002. They had two children. Their eldest daughter named Usha Pradhan, lives in Mumbai while their younger daughter named Nisha Vengsarkar, lives in Baroda.

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