Academics, Activists And Corporates Fight Over English Medium in Kannada Schools

Kumaraswamy later defended his actions, saying the comments were made in a fit of rage.

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.

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.

On Wednesday, she posted a detailed explanation on her Twitter page both in Kannada and English.

Ahuja was backed by other well-known Bengalurians like Dr. Sudarshan Ballal and T V Mohandas Pai.

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.