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Bill for reservation to Kannadigas, primacy to language tabled in Assembly

The State government on Thursday tabled the Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Bill, 2022, in the Legislative Assembly for providing reservation to Kannadigas in higher education, linking incentives to industries with jobs for locals among other measures aimed at giving primacy to the language.

Kannada and Culture Minister V. Sunil Kumar tabled the Bill that seeks to ensure “extensive use and propagation” of Kannada.

Who is ‘Kannadiga’?

The Bill defines “Kannadiga” as a person or one whose parents have resided in Karnataka for not less than 15 years with knowledge of reading and writing Kannada.

As per the Bill’s provisions, the State government would constitute an Official Language Commission under the Department of Parliamentary Affairs, and the chairman and members of the commission will be nominated by the government for a five-year period. To enable its implementation, enforcement officers would be appointed at various levels.

As per the Bill, practical and functional knowledge of Kannada will be taught in higher, technical and professional education courses. Students who have studied Class I-X in Kannada medium will get reservation in higher education.

Borrowing from Karnataka’s Industrial Policy 2020-25, the Bill proposes to deny land concessions, tax rebates and other sops to private companies that do not recruit the prescribed percentage of Kanandigas.

All persons who want to get a government job should pass a Kannada language exam conducted by the KPSC or any other authority. This exam is not needed for a person who has passed Class 10 with Kannada as first or second language.

The Bill makes Kannada a must in subordinate courts, tribunals, banks and other financial institutions. The government must establish an employment portal for government offices, public enterprises, and private companies to notify vacancies.

Industries, shops and commercial establishments who violate the Bill’s provisions will be fined ₹5,000-₹20,000, including suspension of licence.

Several bodies, little action

According to the Bill, Kannada has been adopted as Karnataka’s official language and the State has enacted the Karnataka Official Language Act, Karnataka Local Authorities (Official Language) Act, Kannada Development Authorities Act, and the Kannada Language Learning Act. The State also has a statutory body called Kannada Development Authority.

“Despite aforesaid enactments, notifications and orders, there is not much progress in proper implementation of the official language in the State,” the Bill states. “Kannada language has been introduced as one of the language subjects in schools, but there is no proper provision for learning of Kannada language in higher or technical or professional education,” it said.

“Even the KDA, though a statutory body, has no proper authority and machinery to ensure implementation of Kannada as the official language at all levels,” the Bill said.