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Incentives Only to Firms Prioritising Kannadigas: What's the New Karnataka Bill?

The legislation to promote Kannada in the state also defines who is considered to be a Kannadiga.

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka is slated to introduce a legislation seeking to implement wide-ranging measures to promote the Kannada language in the state.

The 'Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Bill, 2022' has proposed that industrial establishments that don't give first priority to Kannadigas in jobs, as prescribed, will not be eligible for rebates, tax exemptions and other incentives from the government.

Furthermore, the legislation, which also defines who is considered to be a Kannadiga, is expected to be tabled and passed in the ongoing monsoon session of the state legislature.

Besides proposing measures to promote the language, the draft bill also recommends penal actions against firms violating the rules.

The move comes after years of demands by activists, who have been seeking a legal framework aimed at establishing the precedence of the language in the state.

Incentives Only to Firms Prioritising Kannadigas: What's the New Karnataka Bill?

  1. 1. What Does the Bill Propose?

    Some of the most important provisions included in the draft bill are:

    • Usage of Kannada as the official language for presentation of all bills in the legislature, for Ordinances to be promulgated by the governor, for all orders of the government and its organisations, industries, and cooperative societies.

    • Mandating teaching of "functional Kannada language" to higher, technical, and professional education students, who have not learnt Kannada as a language till SSLC (class 10), and "cultural Kannada language" to students who have learnt Kannada.

    • Reservation to students who have studied in Kannada medium from class 1 to 10 in higher, technical, and professional education.

    • Making passing in Kannada as a first or second language in class 10 mandatory along with other specified qualifications for a government job (or mandating an equivalent Kannada test organised by the state public service commission).

    • Giving Kannadigas in industrial establishments first priority as prescribed in the state's industrial policy, and revoking all provided incentives in case of violation.

    • Penalties of up to Rs 20,000, as well as cancellation of licence in case of a shopkeeper or commercial establishment violating these rules, and not taking measures to enforce Kannada as the primary language.

    Further, the bill recommends the Directorate of Kannada and Culture to function as a "Language Enforcement Directorate,'' with committees at the state, district, and taluk levels.

    Expand
  2. 2. Who Qualifies as a Kannadiga?

    As per the bill, a Kannadiga is any person who is domiciled in Karnataka for at least 15 years, and has knowledge of Kannada language.

    They must also possess a school certificate showing that they learnt to read, write, and speak Kannada up to class 10.

    Expand
  3. 3. What CM Bommai, the Opposition Have Said

    On 14 September, amidst the anger against the celebration of 'Hindi Diwas', Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai stated,

    "Till now there had been only slogans – Kannada is compulsory. There were several committees and authorities for it, but there was no legal framework. For the first time, we are bringing in a law which will protect Kannada language, Kannada people."
    Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai

    Meanwhile, opposition leaders are viewing this as a 'political move,' interpreting this as a way to derailing the narrative that the saffron party is only promoting Hindi, ahead of the Assembly polls in the state next year.

    Former Infosys director and Chairman of Aarin Capital, Mohandas Pai, also reacted to the proposal on Twitter and wrote, "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! Please spend money on training citizens not like this."

    On the other hand, Kannada Development Authority chairman T S Nagabharana spoke to news agency PTI and said, "Orders regarding Kannada – in education, employment and implementation – are distributed among various departments, and whenever KDA was to implement those orders it had to write to departments concerned, leading to lots of issues, and there were no clear laws or the strength of law, but this bill gives that."

    Expand
  4. 4. Our 'Duty' to Promote Kannada: A Years-Long Movement

    In November 2021, CM Bommai had stressed on the importance job creation of Kannadigas while addressing the 66th Rajyotsava in Bengaluru.

    Speaking on this existing employment policy, he had said,

    “It’s not important how much money entrepreneurs invest in Karnataka, but how many jobs are they providing to Kannadigas.”
    CM Bommai

    Meanwhile, the KDA has been involved with expanding the scope of the language in the state for decades.

    In 2017, the KDA has asked Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to ensure that the name boards of all shopping malls and commercial establishments within the Palike were written in Kannada.

    The development also coincided with anti-Hindi imposition protesters – the Namma Metro Hindi Beda campaigners – taped over and blackened Hindi signs in multiple metro stations.

    "Our Kannada language has a rich history of thousands of years. It is considered as one the most profound languages with rich heritage....It’s our duty to promote Kannada, not only in Karnataka but also in other parts of the country and the globe. Kannada vachanas and folk songs should reach the length and breadth of the country,” the CM had said in a public address in 2021.

    (With inputs from PTI and News18.)

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

What Does the Bill Propose?

Some of the most important provisions included in the draft bill are:

  • Usage of Kannada as the official language for presentation of all bills in the legislature, for Ordinances to be promulgated by the governor, for all orders of the government and its organisations, industries, and cooperative societies.

  • Mandating teaching of "functional Kannada language" to higher, technical, and professional education students, who have not learnt Kannada as a language till SSLC (class 10), and "cultural Kannada language" to students who have learnt Kannada.

  • Reservation to students who have studied in Kannada medium from class 1 to 10 in higher, technical, and professional education.

  • Making passing in Kannada as a first or second language in class 10 mandatory along with other specified qualifications for a government job (or mandating an equivalent Kannada test organised by the state public service commission).

  • Giving Kannadigas in industrial establishments first priority as prescribed in the state's industrial policy, and revoking all provided incentives in case of violation.

  • Penalties of up to Rs 20,000, as well as cancellation of licence in case of a shopkeeper or commercial establishment violating these rules, and not taking measures to enforce Kannada as the primary language.

Further, the bill recommends the Directorate of Kannada and Culture to function as a "Language Enforcement Directorate,'' with committees at the state, district, and taluk levels.

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Who Qualifies as a Kannadiga?

As per the bill, a Kannadiga is any person who is domiciled in Karnataka for at least 15 years, and has knowledge of Kannada language.

They must also possess a school certificate showing that they learnt to read, write, and speak Kannada up to class 10.

0

What CM Bommai, the Opposition Have Said

On 14 September, amidst the anger against the celebration of 'Hindi Diwas', Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai stated,

"Till now there had been only slogans – Kannada is compulsory. There were several committees and authorities for it, but there was no legal framework. For the first time, we are bringing in a law which will protect Kannada language, Kannada people."
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai

Meanwhile, opposition leaders are viewing this as a 'political move,' interpreting this as a way to derailing the narrative that the saffron party is only promoting Hindi, ahead of the Assembly polls in the state next year.

Former Infosys director and Chairman of Aarin Capital, Mohandas Pai, also reacted to the proposal on Twitter and wrote, "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! Please spend money on training citizens not like this."

On the other hand, Kannada Development Authority chairman T S Nagabharana spoke to news agency PTI and said, "Orders regarding Kannada – in education, employment and implementation – are distributed among various departments, and whenever KDA was to implement those orders it had to write to departments concerned, leading to lots of issues, and there were no clear laws or the strength of law, but this bill gives that."

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Our 'Duty' to Promote Kannada: A Years-Long Movement

In November 2021, CM Bommai had stressed on the importance job creation of Kannadigas while addressing the 66th Rajyotsava in Bengaluru.

Speaking on this existing employment policy, he had said,

“It’s not important how much money entrepreneurs invest in Karnataka, but how many jobs are they providing to Kannadigas.”
CM Bommai

Meanwhile, the KDA has been involved with expanding the scope of the language in the state for decades.

In 2017, the KDA has asked Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to ensure that the name boards of all shopping malls and commercial establishments within the Palike were written in Kannada.

The development also coincided with anti-Hindi imposition protesters – the Namma Metro Hindi Beda campaigners – taped over and blackened Hindi signs in multiple metro stations.

"Our Kannada language has a rich history of thousands of years. It is considered as one the most profound languages with rich heritage....It’s our duty to promote Kannada, not only in Karnataka but also in other parts of the country and the globe. Kannada vachanas and folk songs should reach the length and breadth of the country,” the CM had said in a public address in 2021.

(With inputs from PTI and News18.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  KARNATAKA   Kannada   CM Bommai 

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