The Indian Economy Blog

September 26, 2006

English Language Schools In Karnataka

Filed under: Business — Edward @ 4:44 pm

The Financial Times has an interesting post today about a decision by the Karnataka state government yesterday to start to enforce a 1994 language policy requiring compulsory Kannada-medium education in primary schools. The FT suggests that this reflects resentment among the Kannada speaking community towards the influx of relatively wealthy English-speaking IT workers into Bangalore:

More than 100,000 English-speaking children in India’s information technology capital of Bangalore will soon have to switch to schools offering lessons exclusively in a Dravidian regional language, following a crackdown on more than 2,000 English-medium institutions in the state of Karnataka.

Now before going any further let me say that this is an extremely complex question. I am based – as I keep saying – in the Catalan speaking region of Spain, and the rights of minority language speakers is a subject very dear to my heart. So, of course, I find it perfectly comprehensible that Kandan speakers want to maintain their identity (as  may speakers of any other minority languages which may well exist in the state).

The question here is in the how. Karnataka’s children need to *both* conserve a part of their own culture *and* open to the planet, and for an education administration to do this in a poor rural environment, and with all the resource (and other) problems which are only too well known in the context of Indian education is never going to be easy.

But still, this doesn’t seem to be the way. I say seem since once more I am not on the ground and can only profess my relative ignorance. Anyone who is on the ground and can add a perspective please do so. Anyway, having said all this, I am not sure that the FT is entirely right in its conclusions:

The ban on English language classes may in time further erode the competitiveness of a city that styles itself as back office to the world, at a time when it is already suffering from severe shortages of skilled labour, high wage inflation and overburdened infrastructure.

I don’t think this is the point. Part of the reason for the resentment will undoutedly come from the fact that many of the IT workers are not in fact themselves Karnatakans. Now that Bangalore is a hub these workers will continue to come. It is Karnataka’s own children who will suffer here, moving from being disadvantaged to being even more disadvantaged.

Finally, and very much to the point I think, this article from the BBC summarises a recent Pew Centre report on what the internet will look like in 2020:

The Pew report on the future internet surveyed 742 experts in the fields of computing, politics and business. More than half of respondents had a positive vision of the net’s future but 46% had serious reservations.Almost 60% said that a counter culture of Luddites would emerge, some resorting to violence.

Exclusion unfortunately feeds on exclusion. It is this version of the future which we must challenge, and not allow to happen.


  1. Hi Edward
    English is important not just for ‘competitiveness’ with regard to the IT sector but also because it has gone on to become a glue for the whole of India which has 18 official languages to preserve. Indian English is really a language on its own, as evidenced by the body of Indian writing in English, and the fact that practically all higher education is in the English language. In fact, I had read someone’s post on this site explaining very well how many Indians use only English to speak with each other. English is as Indian a language as any other.
    The issue in Karnataka cannot be explained only by the influx of English speaking IT workers (most of whom would be south-Indian engineers;a recent report on IBN-CNN showed that Banglore has 2000 expats), because these kinds of backlashes have been happening regularly in different parts of India.
    These backlashes show that civil society is not equipped to handle the kind of rapid changes that a more open economy has entailed. One huge issue is the unequal distribution of the fruits of a booming economy. English is unarguably an elitist language, spoken only by those who can afford to go to relatively expensive English-medium schools. The language has, for the past 200 years, been a sure means of upward mobility in India.
    By targeting these schools, the government is indirectly targeting that section of society who are perceived to have access to more opportunities and a better quality of life.

    Comment by Shivani Ratra — September 26, 2006 @ 7:51 pm

  2. Shivani has correctly pointed out that sectarian politics that is rising its ugly head again in India, is behind the Karnataka move. The recent move by the UPA government to extend reserervation in prestigious higher educational institutions such as the IITs and AIIMC to OBCs, with support from every political party on both sides of the aisle, is another case in point.
    Nothing sells in politics as envy. Academic apologists for the politics of envy may use a variety of euphemisms such as inequality, historic injustice, social inhibitions, yada yada, but behind it all is envy that works like magic in galvanizing those who have not made it to organize against those who have. The result will of course be that the have nots will drag the haves down, until we all reach the nirvana of mediocrity.
    I am reminded of a story that illustrates this power of envy in India. There was an exhibition of crabs in New York. Crabs from different parts of the world were on show in closed glass containers. A visitor, making her rounds, noticed that the containers in the Indian stall were unique in that none of them had any lid. Intrigued, she asked the attendant in the stall, “That’s strange! Aren’t you concerned that the crabs would crawl out and escape?” The attendant was quick to reassure her, “Don’t worry, Madam. These crabs are all from India. Where they come from, we don’t need any lid to keep them contained. If one crab tried to crawl out, the others would pull it down, so none could crawl out!”

    Comment by The Rational Fool — September 26, 2006 @ 8:52 pm

  3. In India, education is seen as a redeeming force, something that liberates people from the clutches of misery caused by poverty. It’s the ONLY hope for multitude of poor people plagued by dearth of opportunities and excess of hardships.

    It is highly undemocratic to impose such retrogressive measures which would put the ‘victims’ at clear disadvantage vis-a-vis their future competitors, and, as Shivani says, perpetuate the economic status quo. Even the communist government of West Bengal has realized the demands of reality and has begun to shed it’s anglophobic attitude.

    India has no reason to harbor any phobia in her heart. She is a country that has preserved her cultural identity since the dawn of civilization, without being inward-looking. She has been able to do that because there is some strength in her character and her value system. Her history is replete with cultural invasions but she had a capacity to absorb others without risking her own existence. The invaders fell in love with her and never came back. Those who returned back wrote volume of eulogy. She has seen it for thousands of years.

    These politicians are corrupt and/or bunch of ignoramus fools. They are instilling fear in the hearts of people. Quite unnecessarily. Let the people of Karnataka evaluate their culture and their belief in their culture in modern times without being xenophobic and inward-looking. Not doing this would be against the spirit of Indian-ness. Let all of them learn english and french. Let all of them watch friends and the other Hollywood flicks. If their culture is not able of withstand this shock, their culture must satnd aside and give them a way to their economic emancipation. But I’ve reasons to believe that the Kannada language will continue to be spoken and will continue to choose her lovers among the most ardent anglophiles.

    Comment by Abhishek — September 26, 2006 @ 10:14 pm

  4. Thanks to the three of you for some thoughtful and to the point comments.

    Comment by Edward — September 26, 2006 @ 10:52 pm

  5. Looks like the author of this article is under the impression that Kannada is a minority language. Kannada is the official state language of the state of Karnataka and is mother-tongue of a majority of the residents of the state just like French is to France. I am surprised to see knee-jerk reactions against the move by the state to impart primary education in native language. That this move would detriment the quality of future manpower or in anyway diminish the state’s IT competitiveness is ludicrous. Equally misplaced are the comments introducing retrogression, xenophobia, culturalism etc. However, I do fall short of saying this move is in it’s entirety is altogether essential to preserve the language of Kannada among Kannada speakers.

    The idea of encouraging regional languages in schools should be seen in the light of growing unpopularity of these languages with English increasingly becoming a global mass communication medium. English undoubtedly is essential in today’s world be it any part of the world but that does never say that English can not coexist with local languages. In today’s elitist circles in India it is rather naively feared that promotion of regional languages would interfere with sophistication in english language. As a result, most of today’s urban educated kids have suffered standard language skills and understanding in their native language. In my opinion, paying due regard to the regional language would amount to imparting reading, writing and literary and historical knowledge for all the native speakers. For non-native speakers it would not be possible for states to do the same with limitation in resources. Central (Kendriya) schools take this role of imparting multiple languages to some extent.

    Though the idea of primary education in Kannada by the state government is in right direction – promoting a regional language – it is unsupportive to the interests of non-locals and needs suitable amendments. It is defective in many other fronts e.g., by totally lacking in measures to impart modern english language and by the possbility of distancing the young learners from certain required vocab that is in vogue in scientific literature. These valid fears taken care of, the move towards encouraging the familiarity with native language is worthy of praise. It is simply beacuase knowledge can be gained in any form. And regional language can be a no inferior good.

    Comment by Sridhar Sankranti — September 27, 2006 @ 2:47 am

  6. Sridhar Sankranti wrote:

    the move towards encouraging the familiarity with native language is worthy of praise. It is simply beacuase knowledge can be gained in any form. And regional language can be a no inferior good.

    The objection to the move by the Karnataka Government is not about its desire for “encouraging the familiarity with native language”. And, no one is saying that knowledge cannot be gained if sought through the medium of Kannada, or that Kannada is an inferior good. The objection is to the government’s curbing of a parent’s choice of what his/her child’s medium of instruction should be.

    The state may have a right to decide to promote the majority language by choosing it as the medium of instruction in the government run schools. Even this is debatable. It certainly does not, and must not, have the right to force it down my child’s throat, whether I am a native(?) Kannadiga or not. That’s a dangerously slippery slope.

    Comment by The Rational Fool — September 27, 2006 @ 7:38 am

  7. The move to teach students in Kannada medium must be welcomed. Most of the educationists and UNESCO are of the view that mother tongue is ideal medium of education.

    Moreover, it is rediculous to see people saying that India is ‘progressing’ because of English, as if they are unable to see China, Japan, Brazil, Russia and many other countries.

    I am of the firm view that unless India gets rid of Engish emperialism, India will not become ‘self-reliant’ , we will remain doing second grade jobs and seeking them.

    Comment by Anunad Singh — September 27, 2006 @ 9:24 am

  8. Sridhar

    “Looks like the author of this article is under the impression that Kannada is a minority language.”

    If you look again at what I actually say in the post I wasn’t saying this. When I said the following:

    “as may speakers of any other minority languages which may well exist in the state”

    All I meant to imply by this was that there may well be other autoctonous languages in use in Karnataka, and that the situation may be a complex one, I was not seeking to imply that Kannada was not the majority language of Karnataka inhabitants. Indeed I also said:

    “I say seem since once more I am not on the ground and can only profess my relative ignorance.”

    and I said:

    “I find it perfectly comprehensible that Kandan speakers want to maintain their identity”

    you say:

    “Kannada is the official state language of the state of Karnataka and is mother-tongue of a majority of the residents of the state”

    I think this is clear, in the same way that Catalan is the mother-tongue of a majority of the residents of the region of Spain known as Catalonia. Actually France is a very bad example here, since the French attitude towards regional languages inside the French education system has really been quite lamentable, with the discrimination suffered by Catalan itself and Breton being good cases in point.

    “Though the idea of primary education in Kannada by the state government is in right direction – promoting a regional language – it is unsupportive to the interests of non-locals and needs suitable amendments.”

    You see really we agree. You need to both conserve and promote your identity and open to the world, this is all I am saying.

    But the issue I was commenting on was this one:

    “More than 100,000 English-speaking children in India’s information technology capital of Bangalore will soon have to switch to schools offering lessons exclusively in a Dravidian regional language, following a crackdown on more than 2,000 English-medium institutions in the state of Karnataka.”

    The issue here doesn’t seem to be one of using public funds to promote the Kanadan culture, but one of *prohibiting* something else. This is what the FT is suggesting, and if this report is accurate then this is *not* the way to go. I am very familiar with this type of issue, since we live with it every day here. In Catalonia the regional government invest large sums of money in promoting Catalan in both the public and private schools (by providing subsidies), and Catalan is now the main teaching language (it is incidentally the main language I use with my friends, I am very much a ‘native’ Catalan these days). But they are also promoting English, and encouraging teachers to give some non language classes in English to older children (science subjects eg). What they would never dream of doing is prohibiting Spanish as an education medium. Any independent school which wishes to offer classes in Spanish has a perfect right to do this (for children of people from other parts of Spain who come to work here, for eg), or in French for that matter (the Lycee Français).

    “The objection is to the government’s curbing of a parent’s choice of what his/her child’s medium of instruction should be.”

    This I think is the point.

    Comment by Edward — September 27, 2006 @ 9:46 am

  9. I agree with ‘the rational fool’ when he so rightly differentiates between promoting Kannada and banning English medium schools and links it with totalatarianism. The state govt has a duty to promote their regional language but not at the expense of others’ freedom. It’s retrogressive and anti-democratic.

    And someone refused to accept this as a retrogressive and xenophobic reaction. But if he correctly remembers the Karnataka Govt’s banning of non-Kannada movies in Diwali last year, perhaps he’d see the reality in better light. What is this if not inward-lookingness?

    Also, Kannadigas are seen as the most culturally threatened people today. There are many hate communities on where they voice their popular opinion that the ‘outsiders’ are responsible for the ruin of Bangalore. Their hostility towards ‘others’ is no more concealed now. Many friends of mine have recounted their bitter experiences. But this is strange. Any rational person knows that outsiders dont make policies. They are creating unnecessary regionalism and alienating ‘others’. This new ruling is not exactly new for those who keep their eyes open. This is just another symptom of the same disease.

    Educated and reasonable people should understand the underlying political motive and the cultural implications of such acts.

    Comment by Abhishek — September 27, 2006 @ 1:10 pm

  10. In my previus comment I simply respected the state goverment’s intent to promote regional language. I am not interested in attributing any political motives to the incumbent govt with their new policy. I also meant that the policy in it’s present form is unaccomodative, draconian and needs suitable amendments. But I clearly am not against the very idea of introducing the language to the native speakers. If you have grown in any major liguistic state in India, you will understand that the regional language is swiftly being sidelined by the growing fancy for english. I know of schools that have totally abstained from introducing regional language to young school goers.

    To the point – if young non-native kids should be exempted from regional language as a medium of instruction – I say YES. There needs an alternative if they choose so. But for the native speakers they should appreciate the idea of grounding of regional language in the initial period of school education. Weather the natives need to be given an choice between native language and English – the question would not arise unless they think their own language is unproductive, inefficient or unnecessary. It’s all in the mindset. Germans have been no less competitive than Americans in any science tough they have not compromised on the use of German language. The Dravidian languages of the four linguistic states of South India have a rich linguistic history to boast about. Preserving them does not mean confining them to museums and libraries. Promotion of regional languages would never mean limiting the choices of non-locals, because, that is not what we are talking about. It’s the modus operandi that could be a subject of debate.

    And by the way about one of the quote above from the FT, there are actually no “english speaking” children in Bangalore if they have originated in India. The quote was probably about English medium schools where children learnt in English.

    We have not given up our traditional music after listening to exotic music. They have coexisted well and most times they blended so well.

    Comment by Sridhar Sankranti — September 27, 2006 @ 10:55 pm

  11. I think the problem has been misunderstood. The problem in Karnataka is that the government is trying to make Kannada as the medium of instruction. (This happened after the Gokak movement in 1994) However, according to the Indian Constitution (Article 350A) (There is a supreme court ruling to the same effect) the medium of instruction for linguistic minorities has to be their own mother tougue and the schools must be equipped to provide this. And the normal way to ensure that English be avoided is that English isn’t the mother tongue of anyone. So, it needn’t be used. So, if the schools are not equipped then there must be some action taken against them. But the unfortunate thing is that this very order from the Karnataka government has been challenged in the court and the judgement is pending.
    This article talks about the issue and the case.

    Comment by Ramki — September 27, 2006 @ 10:57 pm

  12. Sridhar Sankranti wrote,

    To the point – if young non-native kids should be exempted from regional language as a medium of instruction – I say YES. [emphasis mine]

    I think you miss the whole point. Exemption implies a rule. It’s the rule that should be objected to by those who cherish their freedom to choose. Perhaps, you don’t, and that’s ok. If I felt that Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, English, whatever, was “unproductive, inefficient or unnecessary”, that’s my prerogative. The last time I heard, India was a democracy!

    I don’t like to be bound by an accident of birth. If you don’t mind, please leave me alone.

    Comment by The Rational Fool — September 28, 2006 @ 7:36 am

  13. RF wrote: “If I felt that Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, English, whatever, was “unproductive, inefficient or unnecessary”, that’s my prerogative.” As I said, it’s all in the mindset and has really nothing to do with outcomes. If you don’t cherish your roots that’s a different thing – responsible governments and policies precisely – will take the role of impressing/reminding the general public on the need to respect and cherish one’s own roots and culture. However, since responsible and civilized governments are no Taliban, democratic character will let the choice of deviants prevail. But democracy does not mean succumbing to a few overly-liberal/radical clout and bring about needless transformations in an otherwise sound society.

    Comment by Sridhar Sankranti — September 28, 2006 @ 9:15 am

  14. Sridhar Sankranti, please wake up. This is just another way the political establishment creates issues out of nothing and attempts to impose some form of sanction on those who it sees as “others”. All in the name of democracy, of course. People should be free to get educated whatever they please. The state can encourage the spread of Kannada among Kannada (and even non-Kannada) speakers, but this is the wrong way to go about it.

    Comment by Nanda Kishore — September 28, 2006 @ 11:17 am

  15. This is a fascinating debate everyone. I mean for all the poster-boy publicity given to Bangalore, I have never seen all this out in the open before.

    And before going further, can anyone point me to anything interesting about how it was that Bangalore became Bangalore, and why it is in Karanatka? The history of this seems very interesting.

    Part of the debate is about a freedom to choose thing, and I understand this, but don’t let’s miss the fact that there is a bigger picture here.

    India is modernising, and undergoing a huge transformation, and as a result all the basic issues about cultural identity – which maybe have been to some extent buried – are now coming out. This is very familiar terriitory here in Europe – and my guess is that you are going to be different, but more like Europe in this sense than you are like the US.

    In a certain sense you have a battle going on here between the ‘Swedish’ and the ‘French’ models. There are no native English speakers in Sweden either, but you can find English language programmes on TV. So the swedes have opened to English, while also maintaining their own culture and identity. The French very much have a closed and negative (defensive if you like) model in this sense. Karantaka seems to be going (or trying to go) down the French road, and what I am suggesting is that being like Sweden is much more interesting for you.

    OTOH it is interesting that this debate is happening at this time, since in many ways this all forms part of the ‘reform process’, learning how to be with one another in a new and changing world.

    Sorry if this all sounds ‘euro-centric’, this isn’t the intention, I’m just trying to contextualise, and get across the idea that a modernisation process has many levels.

    I’m also becoming increasingly interested in comparisons between your Delhi bureaucracy and our Brussels one. Each has good and bad points.

    Comment by Edward — September 28, 2006 @ 7:18 pm

  16. Let me preface my comments saying I am a native of Karnataka, grew up in Bangalore; now living in the Washington, DC area.

    I see similar discomfort playing out here between recent Hispanic immigrants and the English-speaking majority. And I gather (from Edward’s posting and talking to my friends from across the pond) that Europe is grappling with many of the same questions.

    Set aside the usefulness/practicality/marketability of English for a moment. How can anyone say that learning a second or third language is a bad thing? For a civilization that has long cherished the growth of knowledge, closing doors to English is, surely, a retrograde step.

    Kannada needs to be taught in schools. Only not at the expense of English. Make it compulsory to learn Kannada as a language, whether the kid is a native of Karnataka or not. If you live in Karnataka, you learn the *majority* language of the people who live there. (I understand and appreciate Edward’s clarification.) Think of taxes as an analogy. If you work and earn money in Karnataka, wouldn’t you pay taxes to that state – irrespective of whether you are a native of Karnataka or not?

    Making Kannada the medium of instruction, however, is unnecessary. I will elaborate in another post.

    Comment by Naresh — September 28, 2006 @ 8:36 pm

  17. As Naresh suggested, making Kannada a compulsory language in school curriculum would be sufficient instead of replacing the English medium schools overnight. It serves both the goverment’s purpose of promoting Kannada and supporting increasing role of English in everyday life. However, an act to this effect is not unnecessary in recognition of growing neglect of regional languages. I am not a Kannadiga myself but can see the plight of regional languages in face of India’s economic prosperity and global convergence. The outright rejection of the government’s idea without a meaningful debate suggests unwillingness to listen to some genuine concerns.

    Comment by Sridhar Sankranti — September 28, 2006 @ 10:42 pm

  18. Re: Ramki’s post (and a link to ). Article 350A of the Indian Constitution obligates State and local governments to ensure that primary school education is taught in the mother-tongue of linguistic minority groups. I don’t see how this applies to Kannada being taught in Karnataka. Kannadigas might be a minority in Bangalore, but Kannadigas are hardly a linguistic minority in Karnataka! If the intent of Article350A was to promote regional languages (Kannada, Telegu, Tamil, Bengali, etc.), perhaps it should have been more specific. For instance, it could have said languages defined in the 8th schedule of the Constitution.

    Re: Edward’s note on what makes Bangalore, Bangalore; why it is in Karnataka. In the past 8-10 centuries, modern day Karnataka has seen three main seats of power. First came the Vijaya-nagara kingdom (14th-16th century). It was boomtown Hampi back then. Accounts of the ridiculously rich city are recounted in the history books and are part of popular lore.

    The power center then shifted to Mysore (pronounced My-sooru) after the collapse of the Vijaya-nagara kingdom. (Hampi dwarfed Mysore till then). Mysore kings ruled from the 16th-20th century. During the first half of this period, the Brits had a hands-off policy. In early 19th century, though, they annexed Mysore; grabbed lands; shifted the capital to Bangalore. That gave a big boost to Bangalore. (50 years later, in late 19th century, the unseated Mysore king “sued” and won in the British courts. He was reverted as king, and the seat of Mysore kingdom returned to Mysore). Bangalore would wait till Indian independence to be the capital city of a big state.

    There are several stories surrounding the birth of Bangalore. The general consensus seems to be that it came into being as a village around the 11th century. The picture becomes clearer in a couple of centuries after that. In the 16th century, it was fortified by Kempe Gowda, who is generally regarded as the founder of Bangalore city.

    These kingdoms give a historical perspective of nationalism/regionalism. Vijayanagara, a Hindu kingdom, rose in response to the Delhi Sultannate that was making deep inroads in South India. Mysore was its logical successor. Mysore royals were also Hindus, but recognized and rewarded merit with responsibility irrespective of religion. For instance, Sir Mirza Ismail was made the Diwan of the state. (Diwan=chief administrator; Ismail, like Sir MV was one of the better ones).

    This is where the genesis of Bangalore diverges slightly from the rest of Karnataka’s power centers. The establishment of the Cantonment in Bangalore had perhaps as big as an impact as the city’s fortification by Kempe Gowda. Its proximity to the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu (TN) and Andhra Pradesh (AP) ensured that it attracted working population from those states.

    Industrialization saw the establishment of several factories in Bangalore. After independence, Nehru’s ‘temples of modern India’ rapidly mushroomed in Bangalore. Today, many of these public sector companies are struggling or have folded up. Ironically, they are one of the main reasons for Bangalore’s software success story today. The factories created a burgeoing middle class, which demanded good education for their kids. The number of schools and colleges exploded in response. Plus, the city had several science centers – Indian Institute of Science, Indian Space Research Organization, National Aeronautics Lab, etc.

    In the 1980′s, a couple of things happenned – Texas Instruments set up shop; and Infosys was born. Mix the local talent pool, add TI and Infosys. Stir well with “good” weather (discounting today’s pollution). Voila, India’s silicon valley is ready.

    Comment by Naresh — September 29, 2006 @ 12:38 am

  19. Thanks for this Naresh, that was useful.

    It is a sort of law of unintended consequneces thing. This also seems to apply to the car components situation. Back in the 80s many laughed at the attempt to produce ‘home grown’ outdated cars, but along the road certain key skills were acquired. Now the experience of these early ‘silly’ efforts mean that Indian can go for it as a global components centre, something which China is still struggling with.

    In economic growth things aren’t always obvious.

    Comment by Edward — September 29, 2006 @ 12:35 pm

  20. In other news…

    Comment by G Raja — September 29, 2006 @ 8:33 pm

  21. The tragedy is that even students from English medium schools in Karnataka are poor in English and are just able to scrape by in IT and call center jobs. Making Kannada the medium will only erode the English skills of Karnataka students even further making them virtually unemployable in the IT/BPO sector. Students from neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala already speak better english with Andhra not far behind. Such restrictions will be gleefully welcomed by Karnatka’s neighbour states who already are dominant in the IT/BPO sectors as far as employment goes

    Comment by Sanjay — September 30, 2006 @ 4:05 pm

  22. Glad to see a post on this issue in a major blog. The Karnataka government obviously has no right to decide what language children should study in – that is a decision for their parents to make. And in a country like India, where fluency in English is a prerequisite to success in virtually any career, forcing kids out of English medium schools is ridiculous. The Karnataka government must focus on hgiher priority issues than thrusting Kannada down the throat of citizens – such as getting rural kids into school, and ensuring that teachers in government schools attend work. For its complete lack of a sense of priorities, I have given the Karnataka government an award for the Looniest Government in India

    Comment by Unknown Indian — October 7, 2006 @ 4:47 pm

  23. The original report is not a correct reflection of the facts.

    A notice was issued by Karnataka Goverment to a set of schools which had taken license as Kannada medium schools and were running as english medium schools and had refused to oblige reminders.

    This was wrongly reported by some media as a notice to english medium schools to compulsorily teach kannada. Now time has been given to these schools until the end of the academic year to make amends.

    More recently, Karnataka Government has introduced English as a subject from Standard I in all schools. Media of course did not make any effort to support the Government on this issue. Despite the opposition from some section of the public, the Government has stood firm on this decision.

    Comment by Naavi — October 28, 2006 @ 3:22 pm

  24. Tragedy of the situation in Karnataka is that even kannadigas are, in a way, forced to send there students to schools which do not teach kannada at all.
    Most good schools (to name a few DPS, NPS etc..) adhere to CBSE standards and shear number of non-kannadiga student force them not offer kannada at all!! Just imagine a class with 50 student and 40 out them are non-kannadigas. This results in a situation where even kannadigas are not learning Kannada. This is actually happening on the ground; my own nephew who is 6 years old talks in kannada, reads in English and is learning Hindi! (Hindi at the age of 6 huh). Yet he cannot read Kannada at all. I found out that in his school Kannada will be taught to student who are in class 5 or above (as if it were some foreign language). I am giving the above example just to show how , today, there is a systematic degradation of kannada in own town ( try talking in kannada in any of the famous malls or shopping streets )

    The real concern behind all the hulah-bulah is not that Non-kannadigas are not making an effort to learn kannada but that our own children will not learn kannada. We will create a situation where in there is no demand for kannada. In Karnataka, kannadigas are supposed to learn Hindi and English so that people who come from ‘outside’ have much easier time ‘adjusting’ to the city; thats like rubbing salt on the wound. Today there are so many people from outside that they live in a bubble of their own, often being insensitive to the locals[By locals, I mean kannadigas in general].

    I know I sound like a “language terrorist” but the fact is no kannadiga will accept anything less than a first class status to kannada (and to himself eventually).

    [ I am a normal IT guy and a Bangalorean (and bit of a leftist !!) ]

    Comment by Pavan — November 17, 2006 @ 3:26 pm

  25. Like every Indian should learn Hindi, every person who wants to live in Karnataka should learn Kannada. This is required to retain the Kannada language and Kannada peoples culture in Karanataka. Otherwise situation which is happening to Kannadiga kids in Cosmo Bangalore English Medium schools who do not give an opportunity to learn Kannada for a Kannada mother toungue kid will happen. People other Indian states who want earn and live in Karnataka should understand and learn to promote the survival of Kannada language rather than killing it.

    Comment by Hemana — February 25, 2007 @ 12:20 am

  26. I’m a semi-retired native English speaker from the US teaching English in Thailand. My original occupation was as a factory manager. For the first time in my life I got a chance to examine the English language in excruciating detail. I also had a chance to learn the Thai language well enough to read a computer book. It greatly surprised me to discover that I could understand computer books written in Thai language much more easily than with my native English! I also did some research on the artificial language called Esperanto which can be learned with some degree of proficiency in about 6 weeks. I’m tired of watching my students struggle with English. Wake up world!! English is part of the problem and Esperanto (which meams “our hope”) is our only rational hope out of this linguistic dilemma. Why should 95% of the world be compelled to learn a difficult language like English when all of us (that means POOR people too!)can communicate in a easy language like Esperanto?

    Comment by Kevin Kordo — December 22, 2007 @ 9:10 pm

  27. I write from London, the alleged centre of the English-speaking world and I whole-heartedly support Kevin’s contention that English is part of the problem. As a building manager in the centre of London, my biggest problem is the inability of polish building workers to speak English. Yet people are being duped into beleiving that English is already the “global language”. What arrogant nonsence!

    Next year the United Nations has named 2008 the “International Year of Languages” Let’s use the year to seriously consider Esperanto’s potential.

    Comment by Brian Barker — December 23, 2007 @ 3:19 pm

  28. The real problem posed not only to Kannada but to all regional languages in India is not from English but rather from Hindi ! Hindi-speakers expect everyone else in India to speak their language and make no effort whatsoever to learn regional languages. At this rate all regional languages are in danger.

    Comment by Anon — January 31, 2008 @ 4:26 pm

  29. english is necessary for all

    Comment by g prasad — February 21, 2008 @ 11:46 am

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