The Vishwa Kannada Sammelana or World Kannada Meet was inaugurated on Friday(March 11, 2011) evening in Belgaum by Infosys founder, Narayan Murthy. A special appearance was made by Mangalore beauty and global sensation Aishwarya Rai.
The function was aimed at honouring the people of Karnataka for their excellence in various fields. Ash received the honour for her contribution to arts and culture.
Earlier in the day, Aishwarya Rai had been asked by the Shiv Sena to reject her invite, because the party alleges that Maharashtrians are discriminated against in Belgaum. The choice of Belgaum as a venue is seen as a political point being made to neighbouring Maharashtra, which has argued that the region belongs on the other side of the border.
However, the former Miss World arrived in a special aircraft at Sambra airport on Friday evening to attend the event. The beauty was dressed perfectly in Indian Silk Saree and was the cynosure of all eyes at the event. Waving her hand at the crowd Aishwarya sat in between Karnataka chief minister Dr BS Yediyurappa and Prabakar Kore the key man of Belgaum district.
Addressing the mammoth crowd of 70000 plus, Aishwarya surprisingly began her speech in Kannada, which impressed one and all. Thanking the chief minister and other organisers for inviting her, she said, “I am happy to be here. I salute the people of Karnataka for giving me this opportunity to come here.”
Some writers had also objected to the prominence given to Mr Narayana Murthy, accusing him of speaking in English at public events rather than Kannada. He countered those arguments with these – in Kannada. “I have worked in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Paris so I know some other languages. But in my heart I am always a Kannadiga. My language at home is Kannada – even if my business language is English…When I come to Bangalore and drink the coffee – that is when I feel good,” he said to massive applause.
After the event the actress and others attended the dinner hosted by Prabhakar Kore.