Karnataka high court verdict a big blow to language policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sun Jul 6 20:08:04 UTC 2008

Karnataka high court verdict a big blow to language policy
By M.A. Siraj (Bangalore)

6 July 2008

THE Karnataka high court verdict on choice of medium of instruction
for unaided schools has come as a big blow to the language policy of
the Karnataka Government. The verdict restores the right of
recognition of nearly 3,000 schools which were derecognised two years
earlier. By all means, it is a landmark judgment. It has said what
could not have been expressed by the simple mortals in a state where
linguistic chauvinism has often crushed the rights of the linguistic

Translated in simple terms, the verdict enables the unaided schools to
adopt any language as medium of instruction. The state will have no
right to withhold recognition if the schools adopt a language other
than the mother tongue of students or Kannada. Effectively it means
the government cannot refuse recognition to privately run English
medium schools and coerce the minorities to run schools only in their
mother tongue. Two years ago, the Janata Dal Secular government had
swooped down on English medium schools and served ban orders on 3,000
of them, mainly in southern parts of the state.

The judgment comes as a huge relief to Marathi, Konkani, Tulu, Urdu,
Malayalam and Tamil speaking communities as they can now run English
medium schools. It neither denies the government's right to fund only
Kannada medium schools, nor does it bar it from introducing Kannada as
a compulsory subject under the 3-language formula. The policy so far
restrained the linguistic minorities from choosing a language of their
choice as medium of instruction and in cent per cent cases, the choice
used to be English.

The verdict gels with the linguistic demography of the state.
Karnataka is the most polyglot among the four south Indian states.
While in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, over 92 per cent of people spoke Tamil
and Malayalam, in Andhra Pradesh, nearly 88 per cent spoke and used
Telugu. But only 67 per cent people in Karnataka speak regional and
official language, Kannada. Nearly nine per cent speak Urdu, five per
cent Tamil, and equal number Hindi and Telugu. People in the three
coastal districts use Tulu, Beary, Navayathi and Konkani. However, all
these communities are united on one count: their own mother tongue
does not adequately equip them with market skills and compelling them
to choose it as the medium of instruction will ruin the prospect of
economic integration.

But inherent in the judgment is a threat to Kannada. The verdict
undoubtedly boosts prospects of English medium education in the state
which acts as a powerful magnate to attract outsiders. With Kannada
speaking people already reduced to a minority in a cosmopolis like
Bangalore, the heat would be on other cities under the new liberalised
language policy.

BJP govt vulnerable to moneybags, caste lobby

 THE Bharatiya Janata Party government is showing signs of its
vulnerability to pressures from both moneybags and the Lingayath caste

Earlier this week, its four-time MLA A. Narayanaswamy publicly refused
the post of chairman of Slum Clearance Board. The Dalit legislator was
expecting a ministerial portfolio but was offered a humble position.
Slighted, he refused while announcing to be a loyal worker of the
party. Underlying message has not been missed by anyone. Precarious
balance of power, has made Yeddyurappa to make compromises. It was
evident from cabinet formation itself.

Three ministers were inducted from Bellary district alone, all with
background in mining business. Two of them, G. Janardhana Reddy and G.
Karunakara Reddy, are brothers and have been handed over plum
portfolios of Tourism & Infrastructure development and Revenue
respectively. Third member from the district B. Sriramulu has been put
in-charge of health and family welfare.

Opposition leaders have also alleged that government schools and
hospitals are being handed over to the Lingayath Mutts under
public-private collaboration schemes. A less than decisive mandate for
the BJP has resulted in the party setting aside principle and buying
peace from all quarters that might upset its already shaky applecart.


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