Karnataka: two messages on language issue

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Fri Sep 22 13:22:32 UTC 2006

1. Minister plunges Karnataka Govt. into another row

Bangalore, Sept. 21 (PTI): A remark made by a BJP Minister in Karnataka on
Mysore warrior Tippu Sultan questioning his commitment to Kannada during
his rule has landed the ruling BJP-JDS coalition in another controversy.
The remarks by Minister for Higher Education and senior BJP leader D H
Shankaramurthy, a staunch RSS follower, that Tippu Sultan, who ruled
Mysore was against Kannada language and promoted Persian, has come under
attack from a section of leaders including those from the Muslim
community. Shankaramurthy's Cabinet colleague and Minister for Labour
Iqbal Ansari of JDS has also flayed the minister's remark. The controversy
comes close on the heels of the bribery charge levelled by suspended BJP
MLC Janardhana Reddy against Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and closure of
more than 1400 private schools for violating language policy by adopting
English as the medium of instruction instead of Kannada for which they
were given permission.

Shankaramurthy's statements have been assuming political overtones, as
they drew flak from Congress and Muslim outfits calling for his
resignation, a demand the minister has flatly rejected. Even some Kannada
protagonist organisations have flayed the minister's remarks, which
Shankaramurthy has been stoutly defending saying "it was not against the
muslim community, but only against Tippu Sultan." The new controversy may
figure in the coordination committee meeting of the BJP and JDS.



2. Bangalore: 'Fault' of teaching English: 1400-odd schools closed down


From: Newindpress

BANGALORE: Education Minister Basavaraj Horatti has successfully closed
down 1400-odd primary schools - yes schools, not arrack shops. Their
crime? They taught some English to children while they were supposed to
have educated their pupils in Kannada. The result is that around two lakh
children have now been left by the wayside, and the minister does not
appear to be bothered that they all come from poor, backward class and
dalit families. In one stroke, the minister shattered the dreams of
thousands of parents, many of whom live in slums. The Minister may well
argue that the government shut the schools because they flouted the
State's language policy. But he is blind to the fact that this violation
did no harm to Karnataka. It only helped children learn some English -
something only children from rich families have access to.

Horatti, perhaps, requires some education himself about the policies in
other parts of the country. In West Bengal, the ministers were humble
enough to admit that they committed a sin by denying English to children
from Class I. In Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa
etc., English is taught from Class I. In Andhra Pradesh, it is being
introduced this year. Clearly, as the use of English gained ascendancy in
Karnataka in recent years, the government began moving backwards. Earlier,
the Kannada medium schools taught English alphabets from Class III, later
it progressed to Class IV and V before finally settling at VI standard.
So, a child has to wait till it turns 10 years to learn alphabets.

Even before Horatti's era began in the Education department, the Karnataka
Assembly had debated the issue threadbare, and there was a consensus to
introduce English from Class I. But the proposal was dropped the moment
some stray voices of protest were heard. Later, dalit groups launched a
campaign for English, but they were ignored. The Minister now had the
opportunity to revive that old proposal. Instead of doing that, he is
pursuing his own ideas that harm the interests of people who voted him. By
blocking English, he may have protected Kannada, but clearly, he has
sacrificed Kannadigas. And the result of his actions is there for all to
see. With no knowledge of reality, the Minister has ordered that these
children join other schools.

The Minister, perhaps, is not aware that these children joined the schools
they did because they could not afford better ones.



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