On Monday, 7 August, the Kannada Development Authority (KDA) directed the regional heads of all nationalised, rural and scheduled banks to make it mandatory for their non-Kannada-speaking staffers to learn Kannada within six months.
If the employees do not learn Kannada, they will be fired from their jobs.
To ensure that the rules are adhered to and progress is made, KDA personnel will pay banks regular visits.
In a circular issued to the banks, Chairman of the KDA SG Siddaramaiah (not to be confused with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah) said, “If employees who do not know Kannada fail to learn the language within six months, they should be relieved of their services in accordance with the recruitment rules.”
“I have sensed that there has been a lack of will in implementing the local language in many banks. We can’t ignore the fact that not paying due respects to the local language can lead to conflicts in future. The banks have to take up the said measures on emergency basis,” Siddaramaiah said, as reported by The Times of India.
The Kannada Development Authority is a Karnataka government-appointed body tasked with the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of programmes for Kannada development and propagation of Kannada as an administrative language. (More here)
“Kannada unit” to be set up
The KDA also said a “Kannada unit” must be set up in all the branches of the banks, like the way Hindi units were opened while implementing Hindi earlier.
“Currently, they have forms and challans in Hindi and English. They have to ensure that the three-language formula is followed strictly even in advertisements and annual reports. People should be able to fill out forms in Kannada. This is very important in grameena banks as they cater to the rural population,” Siddaramaiah was quoted by The News Minute as saying.
The Authority said that the three-language formula must be followed in all the advertisements used by the banks. “Also the annual reports of the banks must come in three languages keeping Kannada as the main language and they must be circulated among customers,” the circular said.
“Banks have to follow the three-language policy according to the Reserve Bank of India. While hiring employees in Karnataka, banks must ensure that they know Kannada. If they do not, they have to learn the language within six months. If not, they will have to be relieved from duty. This rule must be followed strictly,” the KDA Chairman’s letter states.
Legislative election around the corner
The move comes before next year’s Legislative Election in the state. It also follows the much-publicised row over the usage of Hindi on the boards of Bengaluru Metro’s recently inaugurated Green Line. The state government – in particular the KDA – has since then taken it upon itself to champion the propagation of Kannada.
On Tuesday, 8 August, the state bureaucracy was directed to send monthly reports on the extent of Kannada implementation in each government department to the KDA.
The Logical Indian take
The Logical Indian has always been against the imposition of any language in India. In the past, we opposed the moves by the centre to impose Hindi through various means and we criticised ministers for making misleading statements calling Hindi the national language.
The logic behind recent moves by the Kannada Development Authority is no different from the logic that justifies Hindi imposition in the eyes of the centre.
Both are imposition of one language on a diverse population.
Both are government encroachment upon the functioning of private enterprises.
Both seem like righteous concern for culture and people when in fact they are false nationalism and political opportunism.
If the KDA and the Karnataka government are concerned about Kannada, they should spend their time and resources popularising Kannada literature, sparking a conversation about the way Kannada is dealt with in the local film industry, funding NGOs and non-profit student groups that teach non-Kannada-speaking citizens in Bengaluru the basics of the language, sponsor free workshops to spread knowledge of the language, its history and the culture of its people.
Framing stringent rules that reek of linguistic supremacy a few months before state-wide elections is neither productive nor welcome. It is a transparent attempt of populist sabotage. In an election campaign, voters should be hearing their leaders talk about why Bangalore’s traffic woes are endless, why the city’s lakes are burning, why north Karnataka remains undeveloped, why the state’s water woes remain unchecked, why the Silicon Valley is facing a jobs crisis, what steps have been taken to popularise Kannada literature, how much of taxpayer money has gone to constructive language development, etc.
The voters should not be hearing their leaders talk about how they want to force bank employees to learn Kannada.