[lg policy] Karnataka: Language policy: Lost in translation?

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 28 13:43:49 UTC 2009

Language policy: Lost in translation?

Ravi S JoshiFirst Published : 27 Jul 2009 08:12:34 AM ISTLast Updated
: 27 Jul 2009 10:57:43 AM IST

BANGALORE lives by a code: swalpa adjust maadi. But the Karnataka
government seems to be in no mood to grant concessions. It is still
holding on to its guns over the language policy. For those who came in
late, here’s a recap: The Karnataka High Court had ordered the
government not to force schools to adopt Kannada as the medium of

The government challenged the order and this is what the Supreme Court
had to say about it, essentially: Without English, students won’t even
get a clerk’s job… they would find it extremely hard to compete in
this world. Forcing children studying in government schools to learn
only in Kannada – or any other vernacular language – is a flawed
decision in a string of flawed decisions that governments have made.
Look at the kind of homework that kids are given. Most of the times,
parents have to struggle with the assignments.

And then there is this policy of no tests till Class V. Even though it
does take a lot of pressure off kids, but seriously, won’t we be
bringing up a generation ill-equipped to face challenges of a ruthless
world? Mukhyamantri Chandru, chairman of the Kannada Development
Authority, says that the government should have introduced the concept
of compulsory Kannada long years back. The government failed in doing
so and that is why we are in a spot, he says.

All these arguments are based on the premise that youngsters would not
like to converse in Kannada or would lose touch with their roots
unless they are forced to learn only in Kannada. And I think that
premise is wrong. I may have spent less than a year in Bangalore but
most youngsters I have met are equally at home with Kannada – and
proud of it – as they are with English or Hindi. Unlike in the North,
where most youngsters consider it a sin to speak in Hindi, youngsters
in Karnataka talk in Kannada and English in the same breath.

Unless we let people decide what is good or bad for them, they will
never be able to make the correct choice. Unless we open them up to
different cultures, they will never realize the richness in their own.
In this globalized world, we need skills that can help us compete with
the best in the business. Our youngsters need wings to soar and, at
the same time, be in touch with their roots. Special classes wherein
children learn the nuances of the language and the state’s rich
heritage will do the trick.

Kannada is a beautiful language and needs little promotion. If the
state feels there should be active encouragement, it should be by way
of incentives and special schools, and not through coercion.

m ravijoshi at epmltd.com

[Moderator's note: "swalpa adjust maadi" means something like "So get
used to it." (HS)]

-- http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Language+policy:+Lost+in+trans&artid=PA2Arhh08Z4=&SectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&MainSectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&SEO=&SectionName=UOaHCPTTmuP3XGzZRCAUTQ==
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