‘Kannada, Kannadigas First’: Karnataka Has The Last Word, Draft Bill Proposes 'No Sops' for Firms Flouting – News18

By: Rohini Swamy
Edited By: Manjiri Joshi
Last Updated: September 21, 2022, 08:45 IST
Bangalore, India
Pro-Kannada activists are apprehensive about the proposed bill by the Bommai government. (Twitter/@BSBommai)
In a move to promote Kannada, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Karnataka government has proposed that companies that do not give first preference to Kannadigas (a domiciled citizen who speaks the language) in jobs will not be eligible for sops and incentives.
The proposal has been included in the proposed Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Bill, which is expected to be tabled and passed in the ongoing monsoon session of the legislature.
“The proposed bill is also expected to be presented in the upcoming cabinet meeting and will be passed,” confirmed a senior Karnataka minister.
Apart from giving importance to the language in education and communication, this draft bill emphasises on teaching speaking and writing Kannada to non-Kannadigas working in the state.
So who qualifies to be called a Kannadiga?
According to the proposed bill, a ‘Kannadiga’ is defined as a person who is a domiciled citizen for “not less than 15 years” and 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 had made 58 recommendations to safeguard Kannada and Kannadigas.
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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 undertakings (PSU) operating in Karnataka. It also recommended a certain percentage of jobs to Kannadigas in PSUs, private companies and multinational companies.
T S Nagabharana, chairman of the Kannada Development Authority, spoke to News18 on the importance of the bill, why Kannadigas need to be given special focus, and why it has become necessary to implement the rules.
“This bill gives strength to the authorities to ensure implementation of Kannada across the board. Earlier, there was only disciplinary action against those who did not follow the KDA’s orders. But this bill provides for penalty in case of violation, thus making it more effective,” Nagabharana told News18.
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The draft bill proposes several changes. Here are some of the important ones:
Mohandas Pai, former Infosys director and Chairman of Aarin capital, who has also been actively working on resolving several civic issues in Bengaluru, reacted to the development on Twitter. “@BSBommai @CMofKarnataka Sir the incentives and sops come from taxes paid by all citizens irrespective of language!to say this is very wrong and discriminatory! Employers do not discriminate on jobs! Pl spend money on training citizens not like this @narendramodi @PMOIndia,” he tweeted.
@BSBommai @CMofKarnataka Sir the incentives and sops come from taxes paid by all citizens irrespective of language!to say this is very wrong and discriminatory! Employers do not discriminate on jobs! Pl spend money on training citizens not like this @narendramodi @PMOIndia https://t.co/jI6EB8jA5X
— Mohandas Pai (@TVMohandasPai) September 20, 2022
Reacting to Pai’s tweet, Kannada Development Authority Chairman TS Nagabharana told News18 that the move wasn’t meant to discriminate but to safeguard language oriented-citizens.
“Every citizen is paying taxes, no doubt, but in Karnataka what benefits does a Kannadiga get when he pays taxes in his own state? Let’s calculate the percentage of tax paid by Kannadigas and those paid by people who have come from other states. Is it that only those who are not Kannadigas pay taxes? It is not discrimination, it is safeguarding the language and language-oriented citizens, otherwise, the purpose of demarcating states on linguistic lines is defeated,” he said.
Nagabharana added that Bengaluru is a city where 107 dialects are spoken. “How do we safeguard the language when there is so much diversity in the language itself? Don’t think only IT people are paying taxes, even a small farmer pays tax. A native Kannadiga and his tax paying money is not money?” he asked.
While the government sector is known for following the quota recommendations and giving preference to Kannadigas, the private sector has been accused of not doing so. Karnataka Large and Medium Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani has warned of action against industries found violating the rules.
“As per a clause in the 2020-25 Industrial Policy, the individual units must provide 100% jobs in D group and 70% of total jobs to Kannadigas. As per Dr Sarojini Mahishi report, 85% of jobs in the state must go to Kannadigas. We will take action if the industries violate this clause,” Nirani recently commented.
Pro-Kannada activists are apprehensive about the proposed bill by the Bommai government. They feel that if the bill is not framed in a ‘watertight’ manner, any case against the implementation of Kannada could fall flat in court.
Arun Javagal, a software engineer who has been pushing for equality for all languages and is also the state organization secretary of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV), said although there have been several such moves, the implementation is unsatisfactory.
“If they plan to make Kannada compulsory, they should do it in a correct manner. It should stand strong legally. For example, there was a rule to use Kannada on nameplates. The Karnataka labour department was given the responsibility to handle it. A telecom company filed a case against it and the government lost the case in the courts as it was observed that the labour department had no role in implementing the said rule,” Javagal explained.
“Even now, we are saying that the government should tread carefully and make it effective by ensuring that there are no loopholes. It will be of tremendous help if done right. The government should not make it a political move, but they should do it to help the people of Karnataka prosper,” the activist added.
In 2019, the H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition government had proposed a draft notification re-defining ‘Kannadigas’. It completely did away with the requirement of passing Class 10 with Kannada as a subject and also brought down the domicile period.
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The effort was to increase the scope of who could claim a job as a Kannadiga under the mandated quota. The notification was made public for suggestions. However, the move remained in limbo.
Several pro-Kannada activists and organizations opposed this move as they felt that it would not only dilute the recommendations made in the Sarojini Mahishi report, but also reduce opportunities for ‘native Kannadigas’.
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About the Author
Rohini Swamy, Associate Editor at News18, has been a journalist for nearly two decades in the television and digital space. She covers south India forRead More
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