In a bid to promote Kannada, the Karnataka government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, has proposed that companies that do not prioritize kannadigas (a resident citizen who speaks the language) in jobs will not be eligible. promotional offers and incentives.

The proposal has been included in the Comprehensive Kannada Language Development Bill, which is expected to be tabled and passed during the current monsoon session of the legislature.

“The proposed bill is also expected to be presented at the next cabinet meeting and will be passed,” confirmed a senior minister from Karnataka.

Besides giving importance to language in education and communication, this bill emphasizes the teaching of spoken and written Kannada to non-Kannadigas working in the state.

Who is a Kannadiga?

So who qualifies to be called a Kannadiga?

According to the proposed bill, a “kannadiga” is defined as a person who has been a resident citizen for “not less than 15 years” and who has learned to read, write and speak Kannada as a language up to class 10. This is in line with the Sarojini Mahishi report submitted in 1984, which made 58 recommendations to safeguard Kannada and Kannadigas.

The Mahishi report recommended 100% reservation of jobs for Kannadigas in all public sector units, in group ‘C’ and group ‘D’ jobs in central government and public sector enterprises (PSUs) operating in Karnataka. He also recommended a certain percentage of jobs for Kannadigas in UAPs, private companies and multinational companies.

What does the bill propose?

TS Nagabharana, Chairman of the Kannada Development Authority, spoke to News18 about the importance of the bill, why Kannadigas need special attention and why it has become necessary to implement the rules.

“This bill gives strength to the authorities to ensure the implementation of Kannada at all levels. Previously, there were only disciplinary actions against those who did not follow KDA orders. But this bill provides penalties for violations, which makes it more effective,” Nagabharana said. News18.

The draft bill proposes several changes. Here are some of the most important:

  • The bill proposes the use of Kannada as the official state language for all communications and bills introduced in the state legislature. All ordinances issued by the Governor of Karnataka, ordinances issued by government, departments, industries and cooperative societies must be in Kannada.
  • “It is mandatory for all lower courts, state courts and quasi-judicial bodies to process proceedings and make orders in Kannada,” the bill says. However, the draft law also provides for the use of English in court proceedings.
  • All nameplates across the state must be in Kannada, as well as program brochures and banners of the government and its funded organizations must be printed in the state language.
  • Emphasis should be on teaching ‘functional kannada’ to all technical and vocational education students, who did not take kannada as a subject before class 10 (SSLC), the bill says . He also adds that students who have not learned Kannada as part of their school education should take additional lessons to understand the “Kannada culture and ethos”.
  • If a person applying for a government job is found not to have taken Kannada as a first or second language in class 10, as well as other specified qualifications, they will have to take an equivalent test in Kannada organized by the state civil service commission to qualify. The bill further recommended that workshops be held to teach Kannada to non-Kannada speakers in all public and central establishments with more than 100 employees.

Reaction

Mohandas Pai, a former Infosys director and chairman of Aarin’s capital, who has also been active in addressing several civic issues in Bengaluru, reacted to the development on Twitter. “@BSBommai @CMofKarnataka Sir, incentives and concessions come from taxes paid by all citizens regardless of language! To say that is very false and discriminatory! Employers do not discriminate on jobs! Pl spend money to train citizens not like this @narendramodi @PMOIndia,” he tweeted.

In industry

While the government sector is known to follow quota recommendations and give preference to kannadigas, the private sector has been accused of not doing so. Karnataka’s Minister of Large and Medium Industries, Murugesh Nirani, has warned against action against industries that break the rules.

“As per a clause in Industrial Policy 2020-25, individual units must provide 100% employment in Group D and 70% of total employment in Kannadigas. According to Dr. Sarojini Mahishi’s report, 85% of jobs in the state must go to Kannadigas. We will take action if industries violate this clause,” Nirani recently commented.

While the government sector is known to follow quota recommendations and give preference to kannadigas, the private sector has been accused of not doing so. Karnataka’s Minister of Large and Medium Industries, Murugesh Nirani, has warned against action against industries that break the rules.

“As per a clause in Industrial Policy 2020-25, individual units must provide 100% employment in Group D and 70% of total employment in Kannadigas. According to Dr. Sarojini Mahishi’s report, 85% of jobs in the state must go to Kannadigas. We will take action if industries violate this clause,” Nirani recently commented.

Pro-Kannada activists fear the bill proposed by the Bommai government. They believe that if the bill is not drafted in a “watertight” manner, any case against Kannada’s implementation could fall flat in court.

Arun Javagal, a software engineer who has lobbied for equality for all languages ​​and who is also the secretary of Karnataka state organization Rakshana Vedike (KRV), said that although there have been several initiatives of this type, the implementation is not satisfactory.

“If they are planning to make Kannada mandatory then they should do it in a proper way. It should be strong legally. For example, there was a rule to use Kannada on nameplates. Karnataka Labor Department was instructed to manage it. A telecommunications company filed a lawsuit against it and the government lost the case in court as it was observed that the Ministry of Labor had no role in the implementation of the said rule”, Javagal explained.

“Even now we say the government should be careful and make it efficient by ensuring there are no loopholes. It will be of great help if done well. The government should not make it a political decision, but they should do it to help the people of Karnataka prosper,” the activist added.

Redefining Kannadigas by HD Kumaraswamy

In 2019, the coalition government led by HD Kumaraswamy proposed a draft notification redefining “Kannadigas”. It completely removed the requirement to pass Class 10 with Kannada as the subject and also reduced the home period.

The effort was to increase the scope of who could qualify for employment as a Kannadiga under the mandatory quota. The notification has been made public for suggestions. However, the movement remained in limbo.

Several pro-Kannada activists and organizations opposed the move as they believed it would not only dilute the recommendations made in the Sarojini Mahishi report, but also reduce opportunities for “indigenous Kannadigas”.

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