Bengaluru: Karnataka is witnessing a new, different kind of language war in the last one week. The pro-Kannada academics and some corporate leaders have locked horns over the medium of instruction. The immediate provocation is the JDS-Congress government’s proposal to introduce English as a medium of teaching in 1000 government run primary schools from the next year.
On last Thursday, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy announced this decision during budget presentation triggering widespread condemnation by a section of academics and Kannada activists. The CM’s decision was welcomed by some corporate leaders led by Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.
Criticising the academics and activists who are opposing the move, Shaw had tweeted calling them an insignificant group of attention seekers. The academics and activists led by Kannada Development Authority (KDA), a government body established to promote and safeguard Kannada language, took serious exceptions to her tweet demanding Shaw to apologise.
Eminent literary and public figures like HS Doreswamy, Prof Chandrashekhara Patil, Dr M Chidanandamurthy and others took on Shaw for her “insensitive” tweet asking her to come for a debate.
Isnt calling a constitutional body such as @kdabengaluru as trouble makers a crime? @kiranshaw @TVMohandasPai Most of the elite dislike KDA's activism is a known fact, because it is stopping them from driving Kannda out of Bengaluru. Remember outrage during #NammaMetroHindiBeda— ಜನಾರ್ದನ Janardhana (@Janardhana1956) July 10, 2018
Later in a series of tweets, Shaw clarified her stand said that she was all for Kannada language. “But in a globalised world, without English language skills poor and rural children who study at government schools won’t be able to compete,” she wrote.
Political malcontents r trying to play mischief with my tweets. I have said students shd learn both Kannada and English for good job opportunities. I stand by this for the sake of Karnataka’s youth. Pls don’t twist my comments. CM is also saying this @CMofKarnataka— Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (@kiranshaw) July 9, 2018
On Wednesday, she posted a detailed explanation on her Twitter page both in Kannada and English.
ಕನ್ನಡ ಮತ್ತು ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣವು ಜಾಗತಿಕ ವಿಶ್ವದಲ್ಲಿ ಯಶಸ್ವಿಯಾಗಲು ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಯುವಕರನ್ನು ಹೇಗೆ ತಯಾರಿಸಬಹುದು ಎಂಬ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನನ್ನ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯಗಳನ್ನು ಓದಿ. pic.twitter.com/X9JuFhfk1K— Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (@kiranshaw) July 10, 2018
For all those opposing n protesting, our fellow #proud #Kannadigas, Pl take a deep breath n read @kiranshaw 's blog link below, am sure once you read this with a calm mind, you will change your stance. https://t.co/eGeOud7TSs— Seema Ahuja (@SeemaAhuja1) July 11, 2018
Unfortunately people overlook the big picture, in their zest to protect their culture n language, they assume n sometimes misinterpret. In this case #KiranShaw msg on encouraging English medium education has been grossly misinterpreted, as reflected on Twitter in last two days. https://t.co/YTHwW6KOfJ— Seema Ahuja (@SeemaAhuja1) July 11, 2018
Ahuja was backed by other well-known Bengalurians like Dr. Sudarshan Ballal and T V Mohandas Pai.
Our students need to learn Kannada and English so that they do not miss out the opportunities outside Karnataka and the country This in my mind is a very practical non controversial issue and the matter should rest there @hd_kumaraswamy @DrParameshwara @dineshgrao @TabbuRao— Dr Sudarshan Ballal (@drballalmanipal) July 11, 2018
We bat for better quality education in a language of parents choice https://t.co/u6kDffa8eK— Mohandas Pai (@TVMohandasPai) July 10, 2018
True but why deny poor parents their right to English in their children education; has KDA advocate content? Why has this investment in content not happpened during the long years KDA existed? https://t.co/R7PQTBHxsW— Mohandas Pai (@TVMohandasPai) July 10, 2018
The Academics and activists met H D Kumaraswamy demanding him to scrap the decision on last Saturday. The CM has assured them that his government will not impose English over the children and he is willing to reconsider it.
Speaking to News18 KDA chairman Prof S G Siddaramaiah said that any attempt to introduce English as a medium in the government schools would be opposed by the Authority and the academics. He said “these Corporate leaders like Shaw are trying to impose English. It kills Kannada. We are against it. She is calling a statutory body like KDA “insignificant”. It is highly condemnable. We will never allow the government to kill Kannada medium schools. Just because these Corporates gives some money to government schools under mandatory CSR, they can’t dictate the terms to government”.
He added that medium of teaching should be only Kannada in primary schools.
However those who are backing the Government and Corporates claim that lakhs of jobs are going to outsiders because local rural and poor are deprived of English medium education in Karnataka.