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  • Deccan Chronicle

Karnataka to give sops to firms only if Kannadigas get priority in jobs

BENGALURU: Industrial establishments not giving first priority to Kannadigas in jobs, as prescribed, will not be eligible for rebates, tax exemptions and incentives from the state as the Karnataka government moots wide-ranging measures for comprehensive development and promotion of Kannada at different levels.

Activists have been demanding for many years now a legal framework providing teeth to existing rules and regulations aimed at giving primacy to Kannada language in Karnataka, and to make it ”legally mandatory”.

In a major move to fulfill this long standing demand, the Karnataka government is slated to introduce a bill during the ongoing monsoon session of the state legislature this week.

Making an announcement in this regard, amid protests and anger in some quarters against observing 'Hindi Diwas', Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on September 14 had said that for the first time a legal framework is being given in the state, making Kannada mandatory, aimed at protecting the language and its users, and also to grow it further.

The 'Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Bill', in addition to defining “Who is a Kannadiga”, has penal provisions for violations of rules.

To enforce Kannada as official language, the bill proposes the Directorate of Kannada and Culture to function as a “Language Enforcement Directorate'', with committees at the State, district, and taluk levels.

The State committee will have the Kannada Development Authority (KDA) Chairman and the Chief Secretary, among others.

The first draft of the bill was prepared by the KDA. However, the Karnataka Law Commission headed by Justice S R Bannurmath after holding discussions with officials and KDA Chairman, has prepared a new draft of the 'Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Bill, 2022'.

Speaking to PTI, KDA chairman T S Nagabarana said, this bill is important as it will give statutory backing to implement the primacy of Kannada language, provide support to disseminate the language, and will give strength to Kannadigas.

“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,” he said.

Noting that the bill brings all things with regards to Kannada language like education and development of future software programmes in Kannada and jobs to Kannadigas under one roof so that it can be monitored by KDA, he said, “there was only disciplinary action for violations so far, but now there is provision for penalty and filing an appeal in the court, by bringing in penalty clause.”

According to the draft bill, it is aimed at comprehensive development of Kannada language and providing better opportunities for Kannadigas in education and jobs. It defines Kannadiga as any person who must have lived in Karnataka for 15 years with knowledge of Kannada language.

He or she must also possess any one of the following: a school certificate showing that Kannada was a subject.

The draft bill calls for 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.

It also proposes for: translation of all legislation that came into existence in English (before this bill becoming a law) into Kannada, translation of all official notifications, and usage of Kannada in all official and administrative transactions and letters.

The draft bill mandates 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. It also provides for reservation to students who have studied in Kannada medium from class 1 to 10 in higher, technical, and professional education.

Also passing in Kannada as first or second language in class 10 is a must along with other specified qualifications for a government job, or else one will have to take an equivalent Kannada test organised by the state public service commission.

The draft bill states lower courts, state tribunals and quasi judicial bodies should transact proceedings and issue orders in Kannada, but provides some provisions for usage of English language.

While mandating Kannada in programme brochures, banners of government and its funded organisations, the draft bill says, it will have to be the main language in all name boards too.

It also says workshops should be held to teach Kannada to non-Kannada speakers in industrial establishments, state or central government offices with more than 100 employees.

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